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January 2 2013

9:30 AM

Five thoughts: Hyundai TOC

Keegan Bradley led the PGA TOUR in the all-around category in 2012. (Dunn/Getty Images)

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- New year, new season.

The Hyundai Tournament of Champions starts Friday and with it serves up some interesting nuggets as things tee off in 2013:

• Last season was the year of the comeback. Seven players won coming from at least six strokes back on the final day, and just 16 of 44 54-hole leaders went on to win in 2012. Given the depth of talent on the PGA TOUR, expect a similar number this year.

• Of the 37 different winners on TOUR in 2012, 15 of them were under the age of 30, accounting for 19 victories. Eleven players under 30 are in the field at Kapalua.

• Speaking of the number 30, 16 of the top 30 from last year’s FedExCup standings are in Maui -- the most in the FedExCup era. Of the last 20 winners there, only one (Daniel Chopra in 2008) failed to reach the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola that year. The bad news? The last three Hyundai champions failed to win again the rest of the year.

• Steve Stricker, who was one of those three after capturing last year’s opener, led the field in scrambling on his way to finishing 23 under. More importantly, no one had more one-putts and fewer total putts -- both key stats, especially at Kapalua, where the greens are the biggest on TOUR -- than Stricker.

• Which leads me to Keegan Bradley. At last year’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, he led the field in strokes gained-putting, outperforming the field by a very large 12.068 strokes. Bradley made 11 putts from outside 10 feet. If he does that at Kapalua, he’ll have a very good chance of winning. Here’s another reason why I like his chances: He led the TOUR in the all-around category last year, too.

SHORT-SIDED: FedExCup champ Brandt Snedeker had more sub-par rounds than anyone during last year’s FedExCup Playoffs with 14. He also led the TOUR in strokes gained-putting at +.860 strokes per round (or nearly 3 ½ strokes per four-round tournament). He should be a factor at Kapalua. … For the first time in 15 years, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions will be shown on broadcast television with NBC’s third-round coverage leading into Golf Channel’s primetime telecast on Sunday. Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller will lead NBC’s third round lead-in coverage on Sunday and Golf Channel’s final round on Monday. Rich Lerner and Frank Nobilo will host Golf Channel’s coverage Friday-Sunday. … To start the first competitive round of 2013, there will be a traditional Hawaiian blessing 40 minutes prior to the first tee time on Friday. Players will also do their own introductions with each shown on a large video board with his name, hometown and the 2012 tournaments won.

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