The PGA Tour season kicks off tomorrow in Kapalua, Hawaii with the Tournament of Champions. The 46 year old tournament has been played at KapalauThe Plantation Course–designed byBen Crenshaw and Bill Core– since 1999, and only champions from the PGA’s previous season are eligible to compete. This year, 39 players were eligible to play in the tournament, but only 28 have chosen to compete.
The tournament began in 1953, and has seen winners such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Phil Mickelson, and Tiger Woods. This year’s defending champion is Johnathan Byrd, of the United States.
The 72-hole individual stroke play tournament includes a $5.6 million purse with a $1.2 million prize for the winner.
There are a couple of new aspects to the tournament this year. Instead of the traditional Thursday start, Sunday finish, the tournament will begin with a Pro Am on Thursday, which will be free and open to the general public, and the tournament itself will begin on Friday morning after an opening ceremony complete with a traditional Hawaiian blessing. The tournament will end on Monday.
Our picks for winner? Since The Plantation Course has a par of only 73, we think there’ll be an inordinate number of birdies. The course however, is extremely windy with a lot of altitude changes. We think course veterans have the best shot, so look for Steve Stricker or Tiger Woods to take home the purse.