KAPALUA, Hawaii --- Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson were among four PGA Tour winners who decided to stay home from the Mercedes-Benz Championship, which marks the start of the 2008 season.
Boo Weekley thought he might be staying home, too, although not by choice.
He left his tiny town in the Florida Panhandle at the crack of dawn Friday and didn't arrive in paradise until the early morning hours Sunday. That he made it as far as Kapalua was a minor miracle.
Airport security found two bullets from his rifle in his carry-on bag.
"That was kind of like, right out of the gate started the whole week for me," Weekley said Monday. "They put the red flags on me. I had the cops there. I thought I was going to jail."
He used that bag during a hunting trip to Illinois and never saw the bullets when he packed for Hawaii. But as Weekley soon discovered, those airport scanning machines don't miss much.
"I just begged and pleaded," he said. "I just sat there and shook my head like I was an idiot, you know? They confiscated the bullets and then broke down a bunch of stuff, got in everything and put a flag by me."
Once he got out of that mess and arrived in Atlanta, he missed his connection by minutes and had to spend the night. Weekley, his wife and son, and her parents then caught a flight Saturday morning to Los Angeles, where they spent nine hours in the airport because of delays.
But it was good to finally arrive and soak in the view from his villa of the Pacific Ocean.
"I live on the water down where I live. It's just a different name for it. It's called the Pacific here instead of the gulf," Weekley said.
The Mercedes-Benz Championship is for winners only, but it will have only a 31-man field when the season begins Thursday. Woods is skipping for the third consecutive year. Mickelson hasn't been to Kapalua since 2001. British Open champion Padraig Harrington typically takes a break in Ireland this time of the year, and Adam Scott said he would be absent because of exhaustion.
Weekley is among 14 newcomers to Kapalua. That includes Sony Open winner Paul Goydos, whose only other PGA Tour victory came in 1996, when the Mercedes-Benz Championship was held at La Costa.