HONOLULU — William McGirt is welcoming the warm embrace of Hawaii as he prepares for this week’s Sony Open.
After dealing with temperatures in the 30s and 40s in Spartanburg, S.C. toward the end of 2017, the 38-year-old Fairmont native will enjoy temperatures in the 80s throughout the week in Honolulu.
“Good to be back at it again,” McGirt told The Robesonian on Tuesday night.
“Glad to be out of the frozen tundra and in some warm weather again. Obviously, I haven’t played much golf over the last month or so due to the extended cold temperatures we’ve had. I did to go Scottsdale (Arizona) last week to get some practice in and the weather was great, luckily.”
He also hopes to stay hot on the course, where he’s off to the best start of his PGA Tour career.
Coming off a pair of top-10 finishes to end the 2017 portion of the schedule, McGirt enters the first full-field event of the year as one of the more consistent players this season.
The 90th-ranked player in the world, McGirt is sixth on the Tour in scoring average at 69.357 per round this season. He also is 21st in putting, including sixth in putts from 20 to 25 feet, and 17th in total strokes gained. He’s No. 11 in the all-around ranking.
He finished in a tie for eighth — his best finish since a tie for third at Harbour Town last April — in November’s RSM Classic to log consecutive top-10 finishes for the first time since 2015. The payout pushed his career earnings to just over $10 millon.
“There is a lot of rust this week,” McGirt said. “I’m swinging at it better than I thought I would. The short game touch will be difficult. I hope the wind blows and it plays tough. It’s not a course where anyone will hit a lot of fairways because of the doglegs but hopefully I can keep it on the proper sides to be able to salvage some good scores.”
He had a personal-best finish at Waialae Country Club in 2016, earning a tie for 13th. In six appearances, McGirt has missed the cut just once and has an average finish of 39th.
“This is one of my favorite courses we play all year but I’m never truly prepared due to taking time off for the holidays and the cold weather,” he said. “I’m looking forward to getting cranked back up again.”
Grouped with Cody Gribble and Chris Stroud, McGirt tees off Thursday from the 10th tee box at 5:40 p.m. Eastern time.
Justin Thomas is the defending champion. He opened last season’s event with a 59 en route to a seven-stroke victory over Justin Rose to cap a two-win Aloha Swing.
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.