Golf: Field review of Hyundai Tournament of Champions

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Ken Pereira

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  • Golf: Field review of Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Golf: Field review of Hyundai Tournament of Champions

PGA's season opener is finally here and it will be hitting the sandy beaches of Hawaii. Yes, the PGA Tour is finally going to kick off with Hyundai Tournament of Champions on 6th January at Kapalua Golf Club.

The tournament carrying a purse worth $5.6 million is compact with a field that has been resting for three weeks on stretch. Ever since Chevron World Challenge ended, PGA tour players exclusively the Americans have been revitalizing on stamina and energy. Now that the time is here, all of them are bidding on the title that currently belongs to an Aussie. Geoff Ogilvy is the winner from last year event. The veteran is bidding once again for the title against 33 professionals.

The field is small, but the composition is dangerous. There are 21 Americans in the star stellar field, which is a high proportion against the Europeans and Australians. Apart from the quantity, the Americans have few head bangers as well. Veteran like Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, and rookies like Rickie Fowler make a good team.

However, there is an issue regarding all these men. They have been invisible in front of Europeans in last season. Take the example of Ryder Cup, where Europeans over took each Punter and proved the world that no one knew golf better than the people on other side of Atlantic did. If the evidence is not enough then recall the last round of Chevron World Challenge in Florida where Graeme McDowell defeated Tiger Woods by a stroke. Once again, the battle was between the two sides.

After a gap of four months, the scenario is being repeated and it seems a mini Ryder Cup in process. However, there is a slight difference and that is because of the presence of Aussies and South Africans. Starting with the Australians, there are names like Geoff Ogilvy, Stuart Appleby, Jason Day, and Adam Scott. Appleby thrice won the title in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and his resilience had such a strong impact that Ogilvy followed his footsteps and twice lifted the trophy starting from 2009.  After looking at the winning stats, chances are that once again an Aussie will take the crystal trophy.

Apart from these foreigners, there is a strong international presence in the field. Ernie Els, Charley Hoffman, and Tim Clark are representing South Africa, whereas, Carl Pettersson is the only Swede in the 4-day tournament.  All four veterans demonstrated brilliant performance in 2010 and hence reflect a promising form. 

In the same category falls, Ian Poulter, Justine Rose, and Graeme McDowell. Ironically, all three veterans are Europeans, but they have opted for the PGA tour as their circuit. Rose is ninth on PGA money list, McDowell is fifth on Official World Golf Ranking, and Poulter is on fire with two victories on the European Tour. Apart from these three, Francesco Molinari is also on the cards. The Italian carded a lone victory in 2010, but is catching up on skills and pace, which makes him on equal footings with other Europeans.

With $1.12 million worth of winner prize and 500 Fed Ex points on offer, a blood-filled battle is expected on the course of Kapalua Golf Club. Players like Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, and Zach Johnson will be teeing off on Thursday to mark the season open.

Europeans are apparently in a stronger form, but the Americans have home advantage. Meanwhile, the Aussies have ruled the course for seven consecutive years, which gives way to notion that either of three would end in the top.

But, what if Ernie Els steals the show the way he did in 2003? After all, even then he was least the expected to strike back.





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