At this moment there are seemingly a couple of hundred million or so Americans freezing their collective posteriors off.
Winter has a big chunk of the United States in its icy grip.
That’s not the case far west off the mainland on the island of Maui, the one just northwest of the Big Island.
It’s hovering between 78 and 81 degrees at Kapalua, the wonderful resort where the boys of Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring have gathered. This is invitation only. Just the elite — the winners from the 2017 PGA Tour season.
They’re on Aloha time and the only thing they had to concern themselves with on Thursday were the Kona winds that made the Plantation Course a harder task than usual at the season-opening Tournament of Champions.
Winds in the neighborhood of 15-25 miles per hour greeted the guys. In calm conditions, they take the Plantation course apart like a kid tearing through his Christmas packages.
Wasn’t the case on Thursday. The Plantation course goes up, down and sideways and yes, there’s the grain on the greens that confounds the best.
Jordan Spieth couldn’t buy a putt and with his bank account he can buy anything he wants these days. But when his putter doesn’t help him, Spieth looked like a rag doll dangling from a flagpole. As a result, he shot 75 — his worst score ever out there and the first time he’s been over par on this golf course. He walked off 18 looking totally bamboozled, not to mention pissed off by his performance or lack thereof.
Spieth found himself nine shots back of first round leader Marc Leishman, the highest ranked player from Australia. Did you hear that Jason Day?
Leishman grew up in a coastal Aussie town — Warrnambool is its name — trying saying that 10 times real fast. The winds whip that place daily and wind doesn’t bother Leishman. It showed as he made his way around in just 66 shots.
Coolest guy in town, the cool kid was back at it again.
The last time we saw Rickie Fowler he was shooting 61 at the Hero World Challenge and putting everyone on notice that he might actually be getting serious about this game.
Fowler was the epitome of the Aloha Spirit Thursday, wearing a tradition Hawaiian shirt in floral blue, untucked, totally Maui-chic. Fowler finished his day by going four-under par over the last five holes, including an eagle at the 18th where he holed a 21-foot putt for the three. He shot four-under (69) and was right in the hunt.
“Eighteen was a nice way to finish after a little hiccup,” proclaimed Fowler, who bounced back after an untimely double-bogey at the 13th.
Maybe it was the shirt.
“It’s very Maui,” Fowler said, “I think. Very Kapalua.”
Joining Fowler at four-under par was the world’s top dog — Dustin Johnson.
Johnson did nothing special and still shot 69, made it look pretty easy. He couldn’t get the speed of the greens down to his liking. He left three or four just short, dead center, one revolution from the bottom of the cup. Pretty hard to imagine he won’t be in the hunt come Sunday afternoon, Island Time.
So over the next three days, the elite field of 34 will continue. No cut, no worries, unless you’re Brooks Koepka whose bogey-bogey-double-bogey start left him dead last — 78, five-over par.
Still, we’d all love to be there walking with him, Jordy, D.J., Rickie and the rest.
It’s Island Time. Warm, windy, wonderful.