Power Rankings: Hyundai Tournament of ChampionsMELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 21: Matt Kuchar of the USA hits a tee shot during day one of the World Cup of Golf at Royal Melbourne Golf Course on November 21, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)December 31, 2013
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist
No matter its position on the PGA TOUR docket, the qualifying criterion for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions remains the same: Win and you're in.
Now batting seventh in the lineup (and first in the restart), the winners-only gathering at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort on Maui boasts 30 of the 35 that hoisted hardware in a total of 46 tournaments in calendar-year 2013. All 13 first-time qualifiers made the trip, including Jimmy Walker, who opened 2013-14 with his breakthrough at the Frys.com Open.
Kapalua measures 7,452 yards from the tips and plays as the only par 73 on the PGA TOUR. To compare its course statistics of 2013 to its recent years as host would be irresponsible. You may recall that relentless trade winds made it unplayable for a good portion of the allotted time frame (Friday-Monday). The event concluded on Tuesday and was shortened to 54 holes. Still, in the land of extremes, it's worth noting that Kapalua's greens are among the largest on TOUR. The golfers will hit in excess of 80 percent of their greens in regulation on average, so they're advised to leave any holiday rust on the putter at home.
Periodic rain and pesky winds cannot be ruled out again this week, but the forecast does not include the same kind of Armageddon-like conditions of 2013. Seasonable high temperatures in the low 80s are expected.
Power Rankings: Hyundai Tournament of Champions Rank Player Comment Adam SCOTT Red hot. Nearly converted the Australian Triple Crown, settling for second at the Aussie Open. Added a third at the World Cup of Golf. Webb SIMPSON Bookended his win in Vegas with a solo fourth at East Lake, a T7 at Seaside and a solo fifth at Sherwood. T3 at Kapalua in 2012. Dustin JOHNSON The defending champ padded his legacy in less-than-optimal conditions with a four-shot win. Added a title at the WGC-HSBC Champions. Harris ENGLISH Only first-timer to already validate his breakthrough with title No. 2 early in 2013-14 (OHL Classic at Mayakoba). Poised for a huge season. Matt KUCHAR The two-time 2013 winner was busy (and successful) to close out the year. After a T7 at Seaside, he added three top-fours worldwide. Zach JOHNSON Only one top 15 in six tries at Kapalua (T6, 2009), but he enjoyed a torrid second half of 2013 with two wins and another six top 10s. Chris KIRK After his one-stroke triumph at Seaside, he celebrated the holidays with the birth of his second son. Placed T7 at Kapalua in 2012. Ryan MOORE Third appearance (T6, 2010; T28, 2013). Four top-11 finishes in his last six starts, including a win in Malaysia and a T7 in South Africa. Jordan SPIETH A first-timer and Kapalua requires a bit of a learning curve. Opened his second season on TOUR with a solo 17th at the WGC-HSBC Champions. Jimmy WALKER Fresh off a career year (and his first full season with coach Butch Harmon). Set a career-high in greens in regulation (66.07 percent). Gary WOODLAND Chased a nine-point win in Reno with a T2 at Liberty National and a solo second in Kuala Lumpur. Solo 24th in only start at Kapalua (2012). Billy HORSCHEL Broke through in New Orleans. Recovered from a post-victory slump to reach East Lake. Two top 15s in his last three starts. Martin LAIRD The all-or-nothing Scot has flourished at Kapalua, finishing T4 in 2010 and solo second in 2012. T20 in his last start (World Cup of Golf). Brandt SNEDEKER First start since injuring his left knee falling off a Segway in China two months ago. The terrain at Kapalua will offer a firm test. Scott BROWN Went quiet after winning in Puerto Rico, but started 2013-14 strong after putting Nike's new VR_S Covert Tour 2.0 driver in his bag. Bill HAAS Making his fourth consecutive appearance, but the results are going in the wrong direction: 8th (2011), 20th (2012), T23 (2013). Jason DUFNER Tied for 18th in his debut last year, but came on like gangbusters down the stretch. Unlikely to win any putting contests. Jonas BLIXT Only 2012 PGA TOUR rookie to reach Kapalua twice; placed T18 last year. Also advanced to the 2013 DP World Tour Championship (solo 12th). John MERRICK First-timer via a hometown win at Riviera. A dark horse at Kapalua given he's annually among the leaders on TOUR in greens in regulation. Boo WEEKLEY Let off the accelerator after winning at Colonial; hasn't posted a top 10 in 15 starts since. Last trip to Kapalua: T15 in 2009. Russell HENLEY First-timer and last winner of a PGA TOUR event in Hawaii (Sony Open), but enters amid a drought of zero top 25s in his last 13 starts. Kevin STREELMAN While recent trips to Malaysia, China, Australia and South Africa were tiring, he's also a first-time father (and first-timer at Kapalua). Sang-Moon BAE Since breaking though at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, recorded only one other top 10, that a win in South Korea in September. Patrick REED The first-timer has struggled since emerging in a playoff at Sedgefield. Best finish in his last six starts is a T40 at the CIMB Classic. D.A. POINTS Ranked outside the top 125 in GIR and strokes gained-putting in 2013, but picked off a win in Houston and a solo second in New Orleans. Ken DUKE First-timer via a playoff victory at the Travelers Championship. Just one top-45 finish in 12 events since (T15, Shriners). Michael THOMPSON Zero top 20s among seven cuts made in his last 13 starts. First-timer at Kapalua via surprising title at PGA National. Brian GAY Only one top 25 in his last 26 starts (T4, McGladrey). Under par in all eight rounds at Kapalua, but no better than 70 (four times). Derek ERNST Has yet to back up his breakthrough at Quail Hollow with another top 40 in 17 starts of which he missed the cut in 11. Woody AUSTIN Playoff victory at the Sanderson Farms Championship is his only top-10 finish dating back to July of 2011 (a stretch of 23 starts).