The PGA Tour would have you believe the 2014 season started almost three months ago in early October, but this weekend marks what many still believe is the beginning of the season. The Tour's new wraparound schedule has muddled the official calendar up a bit, but the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua remains the intuitive (and actual) start to the year. The fact that some FedExCup points and Masters invites were handed out in a six-week stretch during the fall does not change the feeling that the real new season begins now -- on a beautiful Maui mountainside while most of the viewing public freezes in the first week of January.
As is now custom, the stop at Kapalua is a "winners only" invite, with the champions from the 2013 slate of PGA Tour events only allowed entry. There are 30 of a possible 35 players on hand this week, including defending champion Dustin Johnson and major winners Adam Scott and Jason Dufner. The five missing, however, are some pretty weighty names -- Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson, and Graeme McDowell. Most of us would jump at a January work trip to Maui, but the biggest (and most well-paid) superstars have passed on the event and wait to make their year debut in the continental 48.
Johnson and Scott will anchor the tee times on Friday, going off at 5:50 p.m. ET (12:50 p.m. local). The PGA Tour got a little unorthodox creating that pairing, allowing fans to vote online for the defending champ's playing partner. Scott won the vote over Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar, who will also go out in the last four groups of the day. With just 30 players in attendance, it's a pretty clean tee sheet that allows for a bit of flexibility at the start of the season (save for that persistent ridiculous wind that forced a 54-hole Tuesday finish in 2013).
Here's the tee sheet for Friday in Maui -- all times ET:
|3:30 p.m.||Ernst, Derek||Austin, Woody|
|3:40 p.m.||Laird, Martin||Brown, Scott|
|3:50 p.m.||Duke, Ken||Bae, Sang-Moon|
|4:00 p.m.||Gay, Brian||Thompson, Michael|
|4:10 p.m.||Blixt, Jonas||Reed, Patrick|
|4:20 p.m.||Henley, Russell||Moore, Ryan|
|4:30 p.m.||Walker, Jimmy||Merrick, John|
|4:40 p.m.||English, Harris||Kirk, Chris|
|4:50 p.m.||Weekley, Boo||Points, D.A.|
|5:00 p.m.||Haas, Bill||Streelman, Kevin|
|5:10 p.m.||Dufner, Jason||Woodland, Gary|
|5:20 p.m.||Snedeker, Brandt||Horschel, Billy|
|5:30 p.m.||Spieth, Jordan||Simpson, Webb|
|5:40 p.m.||Johnson, Zach||Kuchar, Matt|
|5:50 p.m.||Johnson, Dustin||Scott, Adam|