The PGA season kicks off 2017 tomorrow with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Only winners of the PGA Tour in the 2016 calendar qualify for the event, which takes place in the beautiful Kapalua Resort in Maui.
The defending champion is Jordan Spieth of Dallas, Texas. After a fascinating 2015 golf season where Spieth won the Masters and the U.S. Open, Spieth cooled off in 2016, but still won two events. He also won the Dean & DeLuca Invitational in Fort Worth, Texas in May.
There will be Canadian representation at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions this year. Mackenzie Hughes of Dundas, Ontario will be participating after he won the RSM Classic in Sea Island, Georgia in November. Hughes delivered a huge win in a playoff over Americans Blayne Barber and Billy Horschel, Sweden’s Henrik Norlander and Colombia’s Camilo Villegas.
In other golf news this week, do not expect Australian superstar Jason Day to compete in the RBC Heritage event in South Carolina in April or the RBC Canadian Open this year. That is because he has dropped the Royal Bank of Canada as his sponsor and aligned with Nike. In golf pools where participants choose players at the beginning of the year, you may want to go with golfers who play a lot throughout the season, such as American Matt Kuchar, Justin Thomas or Patrick Reed over Day.
When choosing golfers for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, take a look at past champions. Americans have dominated the event in recent years and have been victorious in each of the last six years. The winners have included Jonathan Byrd, Steve Stricker, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Reed and Spieth.
Of those six, Dustin Johnson, Reed and Spieth will be competing in Maui this week. Dustin Johnson, who is the reigning U.S. champion, could benefit the most if the high January winds in Hawaii come into effect. Johnson is excellent off the tee, and could make the green regularly with ease.