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Winning 8 times in a year? Optimism high at start of year

From FOX Sports - January 9, 2018

HONOLULU (AP)Hawaii brings out the highest level of optimism because it hosts the opening events of the new year, even if the season started three months ago.

Sergio Garcia won at Kapalua in 2002 and talked about winning the money list on both sides of the Atlantic, a bold plan that went awry when he finished 12th on the PGA Tour money list. Justin Thomas, Tiger Woods and David Duval are the only Kapalua champions who won multiple times on the PGA Tour the rest of the year.

So the idea that someone could have an eight-win seasondone three times by Tiger Woods, once by Vijay Singh in the last 40 yearsdoesnt seem as unlikely now as it might be at the end of the year.

I definitely think I can, said Dustin Johnson, who has won eight times in the last 30 months and will never say he cant do anything. Theres a lot of really good players out here on tour, and for me to do that, Im going to have to play some really good golf. But Im definitely capable of it.

Thomas, coming off a five-win season (and five wins in the calendar year) isnt one to shy away from a monumental task, either. He also offered some perspective when looking at the schedule of top players.

Theres a handful of guys capable of a huge-win season like that, he said. But that being said, with some of the bigger namesor guys playing lessits going to be more difficult. Guys playing 17 to 22 events, I mean that would be pretty strong. Tiger did it, but I think hes in another realm when it comes to that conversation.

Woods won eight times in 21 events in 1999, nine times in 20 events in 2000 and eight times in 15 startsa winning rate of 53 percentin 2006.

Six players won multiple times in 2017, which makes it even tougher.

Rickie Fowler wont say its impossible, though he felt the tour was simply too deep.

I dont see that separation between the top 10, 15 players in the world, Fowler said. Obviously youre seeing guysit doesnt matter their rankingshow up at a tour event, anyone can really win. And it shows you how much better Tiger really was than the majority of players in the early 2000s. I dont see it being very likely, but its definitely not impossible to have an eight- or nine-win season.

Thomas, Jason Day (2015) and Jordan Spieth (2015) are the only players besides Woods, Singh and Nick Price to win five times in a year over the last 25 years.

Five and six is a pretty special year, Fowler said. You get past that mark, just go hang up the clubs and go hang at the beach.

HOUSE GUESTS: Marc Leishman watched his tee shot on the 14th hole at Kapalua sail to the right and figured he was headed for a big number.

He didnt expect to be playing from someones backyard.

One of the peculiarities of the Plantation Course came into play last week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, and its history involves a stubborn homeowner. The 14th hole is a reachable par 4, with knee-high native grass to the right that swallows up errant shots. The PGA Tour inserted white out-of-bounds stakes at the edge of a home beyond the native grass. It was just hard to keep them there.

Turns out the homeowner didnt want them lining his yard and kept removing them. The tour would put them back. The next day they would be gone.

Some six years ago, a key Kapalua executive took tour officials to discuss this with the homeowner. He wouldnt answer the door. So the tour decided to let players hit from his backyard if it came to that.

And thats what Leishman did in the opening round. Jordan Spieth played from there, too.

It was a terrible tee shot. I thought it was out-of-bounds for sure, Leishman said. And then we called a rules official just to be sure, and he said I could play it. I left a big hole in their backyard, so when they get home, theyll be surprised.

It probably was a bigger hole than a stake would have made.

Slugger White, the tours vice president of competition, says the backyard most likely will be marked out-of-bounds next year by using white paint to mark the boundary.

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