Hey Will MacKenzie, out of nowhere, you’re our new hero, man
WILL MacKenzie is making noises, half rambling half yelling. Talking to himself.
"Fal-do!" he says. "Faldo ..."
He stops for a second, for reflection, to let the revelation set in.
Then: "That guy's awesome!" he says.
He says "awesome" the way Wooderson would. The way Jeff Spicoli once did. You could just hear this guy Will MacKenzie uttering that immortal Sean Penn line, "My dad's a TV repairman. He has an awesome set of tools!"
That's how he said it.
This is who is tied for third, a 65, two back, after yesterday's Sony Open in Hawaii first round.
Will MacKenzie is crazy. He's nuts. I mean that in a good way. In the best way.
After finishing 5 under yesterday he was summoned to the TV tent to take questions from the aforementioned Nick Faldo. Jeff Spicoli hanging out with golf's Mr. Hand.
"To me," MacKenzie said, "Faldo is golf."
That guy's awesome.
They both are, it seems.
THEY SAY MacKenzie does bird calls. In your life, you have probably known a guy who walked around doing bird calls. MacKenzie is that guy.
In his PGA Tour bio it says this: "Lived out of his van in Montana for five years."
Where's he staying this week? "In a hammock," he said. "Hammock 29."
He's crazy, in the very best way.
A character. And we need one. Golf does. We do, this week. We're looking for heroes, at this Sony Open in Hawaii. Ernie Els isn't here. Vijay Singh is 1 over. Michelle Wie is already out of it. ("Obviously at first it was just, who knows what happened," she would say.) Dean Wilson could still make a move, but it would have to be a really, really big move.
Taddy Boy Fujikawa, the Moanalua Menehune, has a shot at the cut, and what a fairy tale that could turn out to be. That kid's got more personality than nine PGA Tour pros.
But we're looking. We need someone. Yesterday's leader, 7 under, was Luke Donald, an Englishman. Which is great, I love the accent. How can you not love the accent? He's a blond Hugh Grant. You expect him to hit a 9-iron, then hit on Bridget Jones.
But he's unflappable. He's even-keeled. He's so ... English.
He's the opposite of MacKenzie, who is Spicoli, is Wooderson. MacKenzie's a character. He's crazy. He's fun. He's as American as they come.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Will MacKenzie has had a good start to the PGA Tour season in Hawaii, opening last weekend with a tie for fourth at the Mercedes-Benz Championship on Maui and continuing yesterday with a 65 that left him two shots back of leader Luke Donald.
SO WE'VE FOUND our hero for this Sony, and it's only a bonus that the guy can flat play, too. He had six birdies yesterday, and left another on the course when he three-putted on 18. He's right there. Two back.
And he hasn't even hit his stride yet.
"I haven't felt awesome with my golf swing the first two weeks so far," he said.
And he said it the way you just heard it in your head.
But that's OK. He's getting there. He's a real pro. Characters can be serious golfers, too. He's sought out Faldo's knowledge. He takes classes. He's given his golf game a lot of thought.
With most of these guys, that's all there is. MacKenzie?
"Since Sunday," he is saying, "well, I've turned into sort of a hypochondriac."
And he launches into another winding adventure, the kind of story you'd expect to hear from a guy who says "awesome," and is a professional kayaker and does bird calls, who once gave up the game for almost 10 years. You know, that guy.
"Monday, I go to a dentist thinking I need a root canal because I mean, I didn't brush my teeth for about five years," he said.
Don't worry, he made it, Dr. Yee saved him, no root canal, he went surfing, got a massage. And then we got back to the topic that he was 5 under, third in a tournament, holy cow.
He was asked to go over his scorecard, and PGA Tour pros do this, after a round. Their recall is amazing, every distance, every club.
MacKenzie: "I'm going to have a tough time remembering these holes, man."
He sounded like Elvis.
It was awesome.