There's nothing not to love about the gentle entry of a PGA TOUR season. It's like the rehearsal dinner before the marriage. You know challenge awaits but you're going to enjoy the ride in the meantime.
The Hyundai Tournament of Champions features just 28 golfers, lowest of any event all year. There is no cut and the purse is $5.6 million. Salary leagues and full-season formats love the automatic dividends and the margin for error is never greater for Yahoo! gamers.
Yahoo!'s Winter Segment sets up exactly as it did a year ago. From this week's season opener in Maui through the Shell Houston Open that ends on April 1, there are 13 events to navigate. Top dog in each of three segments will receive a Nike SQ Machspeed Black driver. All weekly winners will receive one dozen Nike ONE Vapor Black golf balls. The grand prize for finishing first for the season is a prize package for two people to attend any PGA TOUR-sanctioned event in 2013.
Just as I have in the past two years, I will be furnishing my usual array of dark horses and fades in this space (beginning next week). Additionally, those coming off withdrawals or known injuries and personal matters will be included in "Medic!" (see below). Any notable early withdrawals are also cited accordingly in "Notable WDs." I will continue to publish my Yahoo! picks and stats as well as my one-and-done and duffer picks for every tournament.
Also beginning with next week's feature for the Sony Open in Hawaii, I will be adding a pair of additional sections that you will find useful. They are designed to fine-tune the returning content. Stay tuned.
Good news! The PGA TOUR Matchups game on Facebook is returning in 2012. It is expected to begin during the West Coast Swing. I'll be defending my title among the Notables and will be gunning to improve on my tie for 10th place overall.
Finally, I will be adding an entry to THE TOUR Report on most Wednesdays. It will include any relevant information that emerged after my Tuesday fantasy feature is published. Reader emails will also be shared on occasion.
Like you, the first tee time at Kapalua can't come soon enough for me, so let's get after it this year! Email or tweet me anytime for insight, opinion or whatever is on your mind.
Medic! (Yahoo! Group)
Ben Crane (C) ... Learned that he does not have a tear in the labrum of his left hip as originally thought. Tweeted on Dec. 15 that he is expecting "to play a full schedule for 2012!!!"
Notable WDs (Yahoo! Group)
Luke Donald (A) ... The 2011 money leader welcomed his second child on Nov. 11. Competed thrice thereafter abroad and secured the Race to Dubai crown on the European Tour. Will return to action on Jan. 26 in Abu Dhabi.
Rory McIlroy (B) ... Withdrew early from the Thailand Golf Championship due to a virus and general fatigue. Will be making his 2012 debut in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 26.
|Rob's Yahoo! lineup|
Dustin Johnson (B) ... Still recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Nov. 29. He's circled the Humana Challenge (Jan. 19) or the Farmers Insurance Open (Jan. 26) for his return.
Brandt Snedeker (B) ... Underwent surgery on Nov. 1 to repair the labrum in his right hip. Hoping to return to competition at the Humana Challenge on Jan. 19.
Fredrik Jacobson (B) ... Suffering from torn ligaments in his left thumb that prevented him from competing in the Dubai World Championship and Shark Shootout the same week in December. Timetables for his recovery and return are unknown.
Phil Mickelson (A) ... Elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in November. Hasn't played Kapalua since 2001.
Charl Schwartzel (C) ... Scheduled to compete in next week's Joburg Open in South Africa. He's the two-time defending champion of the event.
Adam Scott (A) ... Spending the week in Brisbane, Australia watching girlfriend and tennis star Ana Ivanovic compete. Scott's first start of the new year is TBD.
Justin Rose (B) ... His wife gave birth to the couple's second child on New Year's Day. Plans to return to competition at the Farmers Insurance Open on Jan. 26.
Martin Kaymer (C) ... Scheduled to make his first start of 2012 on Jan. 26 in Abu Dhabi where he will be the defending champion
Darren Clarke (C) ... Set to make his 2012 debut in Abu Dhabi on Jan. 26.
Rob Bolton is the freelance fantasy columnist for PGATOUR.COM. His views do not necessarily reflect the views of the PGA TOUR.