KAPALUA, Maui -- Stephen Ames played alone in the first round of the Mercedes-Benz Championship on Thursday, the first off in a field with an odd number of players, 31. He didn't turn it into a sprint, but he did play in barely three hours and finished five holes ahead of the next pairing.
"It was fun, actually," he said. "That's the pace of play we should play every week, but that's not going to happen again."
Ames shot a one-under par 72 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort, a score good enough to ensure that he wouldn't play alone again by virtue of the re-pairing done after every round here. When he came off the course, he feigned bewilderment. "I don't have a (score)card to sign," he said.
On those occasions when a player is without a partner, he has the option of employing a marker to play along. Players rarely use it, however, particularly when they have an open course ahead of them.
Enhancing Ames' enjoyment of his solo pursuit was the fact that he played well, notwithstanding a three-putt bogey at 18.
"My swing felt pretty good," said Ames, who qualified for the event by winning the Children's Miracle Network Classic last year. "I haven't played golf since the Skins Game (in November), if you call (the Skins Game) playing golf, nine holes a day (for) two days."
Ames' expectations coming into the Mercedes were "zero," he said. "It's more of a kick start than anything else. This is kind of getting the juices flowing again."
-- John Strege