THE FIRST LOOK
Hyundai Tournament of Champions
January 02, 2016
By Jeff Shain, Special to PGATOUR.COM
- Rickie Fowler is playing in his second Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He finished T6 in 2013. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
• FULL FIELD: Hyundai Tournament of Champions
• COURSE: Plantation Course at Kapalua, 7,452 yards, par 73. One of the first Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw collaborations, the Plantation course opened in 1991 and offers some of the most breathtaking views of the entire season. With that beauty, though, comes an exposure to the elements that can flirt with the extreme, as shown during the wind-whipped 2013 edition that went to a Tuesday marathon finish. In most years the trade winds stay gentle enough for the winner to approach 20-under par over four days.
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.
• CHARITY: More than $5.3 million has been raised to benefit Maui charities since the Tournament of Champions moved to Hawaii in 1999. This year’s event lists a half-dozen beneficiaries, including Hale Makua Health Service, Lahainaluna High School Foundation and the Maui Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
• FIELD WATCH: World No. 1 Jordan Spieth and fellow major winners Jason Day and Zach Johnson head a lineup of 32 tournament winners from the 2015 calendar year. … With Spieth and Day providing the TofC’s first 1-2 rankings punch since 2005, the field lists six entrants from among the top 10 – including Rickie Fowler, THE PLAYERS champion. … Current FedExCup leader Kevin Kisner and fellow fall winners Emiliano Grillo, Smylie Kaufman, Justin Thomas, Russell Knox and Peter Malnati head a group of 14 making debuts at Kapalua. … Another first-timer is Padraig Harrington, The Honda Classic winner who never made the trip while winning major titles in 2007 and ’08. … Davis Love III, winner of the Wyndham Championship at age 51, returns for the first time since 2009.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 261, Ernie Els (2003).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 62, K.J. Choi (3rd round, 2003), Graeme McDowell (4th round, 2011), Jason Day (4th round, 2015), Chris Kirk (4th round, 2015).
• LAST YEAR: Patrick Reed made up a four-shot deficit over the final four holes of regulation, claiming his fourth career victory when his playoff birdie dispatched the faltering Jimmy Walker. Reed sandwiched birdies around an 83-yard eagle during the final four holes of regulation, finding himself in an unexpected playoff when Walker bogeyed No. 14 and missed two birdie chances inside 10 feet down the stretch. The momentum carried into the playoff, as Walker’s chip missed the green and Reed wound up draining an 18-foot birdie. Reed joined some elite company as just the fifth player since 1990 to notch four wins by age 25, joining Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Spieth would join that group a few months later.
• STORYLINES: Spieth and Day, who swapped the No. 1 ranking in the fall, pick up their budding rivalry as the PGA TOUR’s 6 ½-week holiday break comes to an end. It marks Day’s first start since the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, taking the rest of 2015 off to attend to the birth of his second child. Spieth made starts in China and Australia. … Seven entrants this week are under age 27 – Spieth (22), Thomas (22), Grillo (23), Kaufman (24), Reed (25), Danny Lee (25) and Brooks Koepka (25). … Reed seeks to become the TofC’s first back-to-back winner since Geoff Ogilvy in 2009-10. Four former Kapalua champs in all will tee it up, with Love seeking a second win 23 years after the first.
• SHORT CHIPS: After four years of a Friday start and Monday finish, the tournament reverts back to a standard Thursday-Sunday schedule in 2016. The previous four had been timed to end less than an hour before college football’s national-title game. … Bill Haas, who won the deciding Presidents Cup match in South Korea, is among 10 U.S. team members at Kapalua. Just two Internationals are in the field – Day and Lee. … In 17 years at Kapalua, the event has seen just a single hole-in-one. Lucas Glover aced the 203-yard eighth in 2006.
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 6-10 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 4-6 p.m. (NBC), 6-8 p.m. (GC). Sunday, 6-10 p.m. (GC).
• RADIO: Thursday-Friday, 5-10 p.m. Saturday, 3-8 p.m. Sunday, 5-10 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).