by Jeff Skinner
Oh, the poor life of a 2011 PGA Tour Champion. With all their holiday celebrations now a thing of the past, this week they get to start their “Happy New Year” on the PGA Tour. Twenty eight of last season’s winners have to drag themselves away from the comfort and relaxation of their homes and get back to work.
Yes, those unfortunate golfers have to start their season in the sun and warmth of Hawaii, away from the impending winter on the mainland. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.
However, I don’t think there will be much complaining as they tee off at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. After all, they earned their way here with victories during the 2011 season and it is Hawaii. I know Steve Stricker is a homebody but somehow I don’t think he’ll have a problem spending some time on Maui instead of beating balls from his practice trailer in the freezing temperatures of Wisconsin.
The PGA Tour does this right, opening the season with the champions playing in paradise on a world class resort. The Plantation Course at Kapalua is always good for plenty of great golf, tremendous vistas and a dramatic finish.
And all the names should seem familiar after all these guys were hoisting trophies last year. Webb Simpson, Bill Haas, Keegan Bradley, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson, Rory Sabbatini are some of the names that will join defending champion Jonathan Byrd when they start play on Friday, that’s right Friday.
In another smart move, the PGA Tour has pushed the start to Friday so the tournament will finish on Monday. And with the time difference that means some prime time golf on Monday evening away from the behemoth that is the NFL Playoffs. A Monday evening finish will allow the tour to get a bit more exposure as the tour won’t have to compete with the NFL on Sunday afternoon for their finish.
We all know that PGA Tour players have a fairly good life, all right, an amazing life and this week is certainly a pretty good gig. Just think back to last year when a young rookie like Keegan Bradley was watching Byrd win at Kapalua. Bradley made the trek from the mainland for his first start the next week at The Sony Open in Honolulu and failed to make it to the weekend. Well a few months later he won at The Byron Nelson and then he shocked the world with his win at The PGA Championship. Oh, what a difference a year and a major championship make.
Airtimes on The Golf Channel
Friday 5:30-10 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)
Saturday 5:30-10 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)
Sunday 5:30-10 p.m. (Live) / 10:30 p.m.-3 a.m. (Replay)
Monday 4-8 p.m. (Live) / 9 p.m.-1 a.m. (Replay)