Golfing in a place that looks like paradise must be amazing. Getting paid for it must be even better. On Friday, the annual Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Maui will commence.
The 72-hole tournament runs from Jan. 3-6 and features 30 of the top players in the world. To qualify, each golfer had to win a tournament during 2013, so every player in the field has experienced some level of recent success.
There will be no cut line for the event, so fans can follow their favorites throughout—even if they have fallen out of contention.
Though this tournament isn't technically the beginning of the golfing season, the HTOC is a marvelous way to begin the new year in the sport. As Golf Channel points out in this image from its Instagram account, the ball has dropped:
Here's a look at the TV schedule for the event, tee times and other tournament specifics.
When: Jan. 3-6
Where: The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort, Maui, Hawaii
Purse: $5.6 million (per Kapalua.com)
Winner's Purse: $1.12 million
|Friday, Jan. 3||5:30-10 p.m. EST||Golf Channel|
|Saturday, Jan. 4||2:30-7 p.m. EST||Golf Channel|
|Sunday, Jan. 5||3-4 p.m. EST||NBC|
|Sunday, Jan. 5||4-10 p.m. EST||Golf Channel|
|Monday, Jan. 6||4-8 p.m. EST|
Tee Times and Pairings, EST (per ESPN.com)
3:30 p.m: Derek Ernst, Woody Austin
3:40 p.m: Martin Laird, Scott Brown
3:50 p.m: Ken Duke, Sang-Moon Bae
4:00 p.m: Brian Gay, Michael Thompson
4:10 p.m: Jonas Blixt, Patrick Reed
4:20 p.m: Russell Henley, Ryan Moore
4:30 p.m. Jimmy Walker, John Merrick
4:40 p.m: Harris English, Chris Kirk
4:50 p.m: Boo Weekley, D.A. Points
5:00 p.m: Bill Haas, Kevin Streelman
5:10 p.m: Jason Dufner, Gary Woodland
5:20 p.m: Brandt Snedeker, Billy Horschel
5:30 p.m: Jordan Spieth, Webb Simpson
5:40 p.m: Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar
Think the players are the only ones who have it good at Kapalua? Think again. Everyone on site at the beautiful course gets to soak in views like the one shown above.
Golf Channel writer Jason Sobel teases less fortunate fans and peers who won't get an opportunity to cover the event in beautiful Hawaii.
Sobel's colleague Ryan Lavner tweeted this image, which was captured by PGA Tour pro Jimmy Walker. In a word: stunning.
Things may not stay this beautiful throughout the tournament, though. According to the forecast, rain could dampen the view and experience.
Who's Not at Kapalua
This is nothing new. Tiger and Lefty have routinely skipped this event despite the prestige and hefty purse awarded to the winner. They aren't alone, though.
Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson are three other high-profile players who won't play in the event.
Front-Runners and Sleeper
Dustin Johnson Is the Defending Champion
In 2013, Dustin Johnson took home the title at Kapalua, and he figures to be a factor this year as well. Widely regarded as one of the most physically talented players on tour, fans and experts wonder when the 29-year-old will establish himself as an elite player.
NBC's Mark Rolfing thinks Johnson's times is now. He told Alex Myers of Golf Digest, "I think it's going to be a really big year for Dustin."
If Johnson is going to prove Rolfing and other believers right, it would behoove him to get the year started off with a win in Hawaii. Defeating a good—but not great—field could give him confidence moving forward.
Adam Scott Is Riding High but Is Ready for a Break
Adam Scott had a remarkable 2013. The 33-year-old ascended to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He won the Masters in a playoff with Angel Cabrera. It was the first major championship of his career. The Australian also had top-five finishes at the Open Championship and PGA Championship.
As hot as he's been, Scott is apparently in need of a bit of a break. Per Golf.com, he will be taking a six-week vacation once the HTOC is over.
If he plays well in Hawaii and comes back refreshed from his vacation, 2014 could be an even bigger year than 2013. Scott's popularity is certainly at an all-time high.
In a vote to decide who would be paired with the defending champion, fans chose Scott to be Johnson's playing partner in the opening round.
Brandt Snedeker Is Back and Healthy
After battling injuries in 2013, Brandt Snedeker is hoping to make 2014 a successful comeback story. A freak scooter accident in Shanghai in November was the latest incident that put Snedeker on the shelf.
He described the mishap to Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press (via Yahoo! Sports): "I had been on one [scooter] all day in this pro-am. I was going down the last hole, seeing how fast I could get it going. I hit a sprinkler head, lost control a little bit and jumped off. I landed on my knee and my knee popped."
Originally, Snedeker thought he had torn his ACL. Instead, it was a small tear, a cracked tibia and a deep bone bruise. He missed three tournaments as a result.
He told Ferguson that he feels fine aside from "a few aches and pains."
In his seven years on tour, Snedeker has missed time due to hip surgeries and rib injuries, but there is no doubt he's a force when healthy. For now, he seems fit and ready to go.
With Tiger, Phil and other stars not in attendance, this could be the perfect time for Snedeker to sneak in and grab a much-needed victory.
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