Always keen to eat into as many other world tours as possible, the PGA Tour kicks off this weekend in Hawaii.
The Hyundai Tournament of Champions is held at the Kapalua Plantation Course on Maui and is a 30-man field restricted to golfers who won an event on the PGA Tour the previous year.
It should be a bigger field though as 37 golfers qualified for the event by winning in 2012. Its early schedule means some golfers are reluctant to shorten their end of year break to make the event and subsequently, the absentees are notable ones: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald have all elected to skip the season opener in Hawaii.
Australia has a great record at this event. Most Aussie golfers who gain a berth in the field often play right through the summer back home and are in pretty good shape when The Tournament of Champions rolls around. Stuart Appleby practically owned the tournament for a few years winning three in a row from 2004 to 2006. Geoff Ogilvy went back to back in 2009 and 2010 and looked set for another in 2011 before injuring his hand while swimming just before the event began.
Australia’s lone representative in the field this year is Marc Leishman courtesy of his victory at the Travelers Championship. If past Australian form is anything to go by, Leishman may be a good chance this week and his form in Australia at the end of last year was pretty good too.
Leishman looks to be hitting the ball back in the centre of the driver after losing a bit of distance in the past year or two. Keep an eye on Leishman this year, I’m predicting a return to to form for the boy from Warrnambool.