Mercedes Championships at Kapalua Resort
David Duval pocketed $468,000 and the keys to a sporty and luxurious Mercedes-Benz SL500 coupe/roadster for winning the Mercedes Championships on Kapalua's Plantation Course Jan. 10. But he was just one of many other winners to reap the rewards from this PGA TOUR season-opening tournament.
Competing in a field of 30 players who won at least once last year on TOUR, Duval broke the tournament scoring record with a 26-under-par total of 266, good for a nine-stroke victory over Mark O'Meara and Billy Mayfair.
Other winners were the local charities and golf fans, many of whom had the opportunity to watch the Mercedes Championships live in primetime on ESPN, a first for this event.
"The 1999 Mercedes Championships was an unqualified success," said Mike Jackson, president of Mercedes-Benz of North America. "For the thousands of fans on site at Kapalua, we assembled the strongest field of PGA TOUR pros Hawaii has ever seen. For the millions of people watching at home, we presented big-time golf live in prime-time. Our congratulations to David Duval and our thanks to our partners at Kapalua, ESPN and the PGA TOUR."
The Thursday through Sunday telecasts with more than 8 ½ hours of live coverage on ESPN were a hit, drawing a 1.5 cable rating average. That translates to nearly 11 million homes in the U.S. Sunday's final round alone drew a 1.9 rating. In addition, countless other homes around the world also were able to tune in to the tournament coverage. On site, an estimated crowd of nearly 21,000 attended the four days of competition, including close to 10,000 for the final round.
Not to be overlooked are the charity dollars generated by the Mercedes Championships. More than $180,000 total was raised by the tournament's host organization, Kapalua Maui Charities, Inc. for local non-profit organizations -- - American Cancer Society, Maui County Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scout Council of Hawaii, Friends of the Children's Advocacy Center, J. Walter Cameron Center, Maui Junior Golf, Maui Economic Opportunity, and The Art School at Kapalua.
"Across the board we are pleased with every facet of the Mercedes Championships and its move to Hawaii," said PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem. "The folks at Kapalua did a tremendous job. They did everything we asked to get this golf course ready for another level of competition. They worked very hard on the golf course. They spent significant resources to improve it and they passed up a fair amount of revenue in terms of limiting play so it would be in optimum condition. We appreciate all they've done in making it a great week."
While the traditional trade winds did not blow until the final day, making scoring conditions ideal, The Plantation Course proved a worthy test of golf and was received favorably by the players.
"The Plantation is a nice golf course. The fairways are wide and fair and the greens roll good," said Tiger Woods. "There's a lot of grain on them, which is a little different than what we're used to playing this early in the year. … But you definitely get a good feel for it right away."
"I like this golf course," added Jim Furyk. "Obviously, it's different than almost any golf course we play all year. Considering the course conditions with the severe winds, it's very well done. It's a good place to play. It's a place you have to get used to. The long holes tend to play down wind, down grain and down hill and the shorter holes just the opposite so there's not a lot of premium on playing to yardages as much as you play by feel and instinct. I really like the changes made for the Mercedes Championships."
The Plantation Course, a par-73 layout of 7,263 yards designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, is one of three fine designs at Kapalua Resort which are open to the public. The other courses are The Bay Course, designed by Arnold Palmer and Francis Duane, and The Village Course designed by Arnold Palmer and Ed Seay.
For more information on the Mercedes Championships and Kapalua Resort, call 1-800-KAPALUA or visit the resort's website at www.kapaluamaui.com.
The 2000 Mercedes Championships is scheduled for January 3-9.