The First Look: SBS Tournament of Champions
December 31, 2016
By Jeff Shain, Special to PGATOUR.COM
- December 31, 2016
- Who's ready for some January golf in Hawaii? (Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
• COURSE: Plantation Course at Kapalua, 7,452 yards, par 73. One of the first projects by the team of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, 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, evidenced by a wind-whipped 2013 edition that required a Tuesday 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 $5.6 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, Golf for Maui Charities and the Maui Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
• FIELD WATCH: World No.1 Jason Day, making his first start since the TOUR Championship, and PGA TOUR Player of the Year Dustin Johnson head a lineup of 32 tournament winners from the 2016 calendar year. … Factor in defending champion Jordan Spieth and the red-hot Hideki Matsuyama, and Kapalua welcomes four of the top six from the year’s final Official World Golf Ranking. … Fall winners Cody Gribble (Sanderson Farms Championship) and Mackenzie Hughes (RSM Classic) head a group of 11 pros making debuts at Kapalua. … Four others haven’t been back since at least 2010, with Vaughn Taylor making his first visit in 11 seasons.
• 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: Jordan Spieth turned the page into the 2016 calendar year much like he attacked 2015, notching his seventh TOUR title with an eight-stroke romp over defending champion Patrick Reed. Rounds of 66-64-65 staked Spieth to a five-shot lead entering the final day, with no one able to close the margin to less than three shots. A finishing birdie left Spieth at 30-under 262, joining Hall of Famer Ernie Els as the only men to reach 30-under in a 72-hole event. The young Texan wound up one shy of Els’ scoring record of 31-under set in the 2003 edition. Spieth’s seventh win came in his 85th start as a professional, joining Tiger Woods as the only men to reach that total by age 22 since the PGA TOUR began keeping detailed records in 1970.
• STORYLINES: For the second consecutive year, Day will make Kapalua his first tournament since the FedExCup was handed out 3 1/2 months earlier. Last year, the Aussie shut it down after The Presidents Cup to attend to the birth of his second child. This year, it was to give himself time to heal from persistent back woes. … Matsuyama seeks to resume a year-end run that saw him win four of his final five starts worldwide, including the WGC HSBC Champions in China. His other result was runner-up at the CIMB Classic. … Spieth seeks to become the TOC’s first back-to-back winner since Geoff Ogilvy in 2009-10. … Just two other former Kapalua champs will tee it up this week, though both have done it in the past four editions – Patrick Reed (2015) and Johnson (2013).
• SHORT CHIPS: Reed and Spieth top a list of six entrants from last year’s victorious U.S. Ryder Cup team, along with Johnson, Ryan Moore, Jimmy Walker and Brandt Snedeker. No Europeans are at Kapalua. … Until Spieth’s victory last January, the last world No. 1 to win at Kapalua was Tiger Woods in 2000. … The Plantation Course yielded 24 bogey-free rounds last year, including nine in the second round. … In 18 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, 4-8 p.m. (GC). Sunday, 6-10 p.m. (GC).
• PGA TOUR LIVE: 2017 coverage begins January 19 at the CareerBuilder Challenge.
• RADIO: Thursday-Friday, 4-10 p.m. Saturday, 3-8 p.m. Sunday, 5-10 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.COM).