Maui Sports

Best PGA Golfers at Hyundai Tourney in Kapalua

January 7, 2015, 11:42 AM HST
* Updated January 8, 11:10 AM
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Zach Johnson celebrates with his sons, Will (L) and Wyatt (R), after winning the 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America.

Zach Johnson celebrates with his sons, Will (L) and Wyatt (R), after winning the 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club. Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America.

By Rodney S. Yap

The PGA Tour begins 2015 on Maui with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Kapalua Resort. Defending champion Zach Johnson leads the strong, select field of 34 players who collectively have accounted for 100 PGA Tour wins.

Johnson heads the winner’s-only event with 11 PGA Tour wins, followed by Geoff Ogilvy (8), Matt Kuchar (7), Bubba Watson (7) and Hunter Mahan (6) round out the top five.

First-round action of the 72-hole event begins Friday at 11:30 a.m. (HST) and can be seen live on the Golf Channel (30, 216).

Johnson fired a closing round of 66 to finish one shot ahead of Jordan Spieth in the first event of the 2014 calendar season. It was a tense final day at Kapalua’s Plantation Course as no fewer than five players held at least a share of the lead during the last round.

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2015_Schedule“My best moment of the year was the Hyundai Tournament of Champions,” Johnson said. “It was special, especially with my family there.”

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Johnson’s win at Kapalua made him the ninth player to win both of the PGA Tour’s Hawaii events at least once; he won the Sony Open in 2009. This will be his eighth start in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

In addition to his victory, Johnson recorded 11 other top 25s in 26 starts last season, his steady play earning him a trip to Atlanta for the Tour Championship by Coca-Cola.

Johnson is one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour. He earned his PGA Tour card via the Web.com Tour, where he was the Player of the Year in 2003.

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With five top-10 finishes under his belt, including one win, Johnson finished the 2013-14 season ranked No. 18 in the FedExCup standings. It marked Johnson’s sixth trip to the FedExCup Playoffs in his career.

2014-15 PGA TOUR Storylines

  • The Hyundai Tournament of Champions marks the eighth official event of the PGA TOUR’s wraparound 2014-15 season schedule.
  • Year nine of the FedExCup consists of 47 events including the four FedExCup Playoff events.
  • The Hyundai Tournament of Champions field includes winners from the 2014 calendar year, including the seven official events played last fall. The Hyundai event marks the resumption of the 2014-15 PGA TOUR schedule after a seven-week break from official events.
Views of West Maui from The Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort. Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR.

Views of West Maui from The Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort. Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR.

Breakdown of the 34-player field:

  • Winners of six major championships including 2014 Masters champion Bubba Watson. Other major winners include Zach Johnson, Angel Cabrera and Geoff Ogilvy
  • The field includes three players with multiple wins in the 2014 calendar year:
    • Bubba Watson – Northern Trust Open, Masters Tournament, World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
    • Patrick Reed – Humana Challenge in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship
    • Billy Horschel – BMW Championship, TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola
  • Six players who competed in The Ryder Cup 2014 are in the field: Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker.
  • There are 12 first-time winners in the field – Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Chesson Hadley (2013-14 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year), Brian Harman, Matt Jones, Ben Martin, Hideki Matsuyama, Seung-Yul Noh, Kevin Stadler, Robert Streb, Nick Taylor, and Brendon Todd.
  • 14 of the top 30 from the 2014 final FedExCup standings.
  • 11 of the top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking, including Bubba Watson (4) and Jason Day (8).

A closer look at the field:

Bubba Watson. PGA TOUR photo.

Bubba Watson. PGA TOUR photo.

Bubba Watson

  • After three wins in the 2014 calendar year (Northern Trust Open and Masters Tournament in 2013-14 season and World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in 2014-15 season), Bubba Watson returns to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions for the fourth time.
  • Watson moved into the top five in the FedExCup standings with the win at the Northern Trust Open and never fell further than sixth over the course of the season. His final standing of fifth was his career best.
  • Watson’s triumph at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai was the first World Golf Championships win of his career, and he won it in dramatic fashion. Needing an eagle to force a playoff on the par-5 closing hole in the final round, Watson holed out from a greenside bunker and defeated Tim Clark with a 20-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole.
  • One of Watson’s most memorable shots came in the 2011 Hyundai Tournament of Champions when he hit a driver off the deck on the par-5 18th hole from 305 yards to 10 feet in the first round, which led to an eagle.
  • Due to his victory at the HSBC Champions, Watson enters the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at No. 4 in the 2014-15 FedExCup standings.
Billy Horschel. PGA TOUR photo.

Billy Horschel. PGA TOUR photo.

Billy Horschel

  • To say that Billy Horschel gained momentum towards the end of the 2013-14 PGA TOUR season would be an understatement. It would be more accurate to say that Horschel’s road to Kapalua picked up steam like a freight train at the end of the season, as he captured the BMW Championship, the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola and the FedExCup title to earn his second trip to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
  • Horschel entered the FedExCup Playoffs at No. 69 in the standings, but found his game in Boston at the Deutsche Bank Championship, where he contended and finished second. Though he came up short, the confidence returned to his game, and he clicked off two consecutive victories at the final two events of the season.
  • This will be Horschel’s second start in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, as he played in last year’s event after winning the 2013 Zurich Classic of New Orleans — he finished tied for sixth.
  • To add drama to his FedExCup victory, Horschel’s wife Brittany was expected to go into labor at any moment. But all ended well, and she gave birth to the couple’s first child, daughter Skylar, the next week.
  • Horschel is an avid Florida Gators fan and can often be seen sporting blue and orange. He even did the Gator “chomp” on the green at East Lake following his victory.
Matt Kuchar. PGA TOUR photo.

Matt Kuchar. PGA TOUR photo.

Matt Kuchar

  • The most consistent player on the PGA TOUR over the last five years, Kuchar made 22 cuts in 24 starts in the 2013-2014 season, including 11 top-10 finishes and his seventh career victory at the RBC Hertiage.
  • Since missing the start of the 2010 season, Kuchar has 48 top-10 finishes, the most of any player over that period.
  • Kuchar entered the final round of the RBC Heritage on the road to Kapalua trailing fellow Luke Donald by four strokes, but stormed out of the gate with a 6-under 30 on the front nine en route to a 7-under 64 and one stroke-win over Donald.  It was a range of emotions for the veteran on the final two holes. After appearing on the verge of building a two-stroke lead on the 17th hole, he three-putted from 4-feet, 3-inches to drop into a tie at 10-under, with Donald. On the par-4 18th hole, he then holed a 56-foot, 7-inch bunker shot for a birdie-3 to move back to 11-under for the eventual one-shot win.
  • This will be Kuchar’s sixth trip to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. He has finished in the top 10 in four of his five previous appearances, including a third-place finish in 2010.
Jason Day. PGA TOUR photo.

Jason Day. PGA TOUR photo.

Jason Day

  • Jason Day was able to overcome a left thumb injury to win the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Match Play over Frenchman Victor Dubuisson in extra holes, earning him his second trip to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and first since 2011, when he tied for ninth.
  • The championship match in the Cadillac Match Play was one of the most memorable rounds on the PGA TOUR during the 2014 calendar year, as Dubuisson orchestrated a comeback and made two miraculous par saves from the cacti before eventually losing to Day on the 23rd hole.
  • Day has five top-five finishes in major championships, including a couple of runner-ups at the Masters.
  • He enters the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at No. 8 in the Official World Golf Ranking, one of two players in the field in the top 10 (Bubba Watson-4th).

Geoff Ogilvy

  • Geoff Ogilvy. PGA TOUR photo.

    Geoff Ogilvy. PGA TOUR photo.

    After struggling through an inconsistent and disappointing 2014, two-time Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner Geoff Ogilvy came very close to skipping the Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nevada. After deciding to play, the 37-year-old Australian capitalized on a five-point eagle on the 13th hole (the tournament utilizes the modified Stableford scoring system) to pull away for his eighth career PGA TOUR victory and his first since the 2010 Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

  • This is Ogilvy’s fifth career trip to the Hyundai Tournament of Champions; he won back-to-back titles at the Plantation Course in 2009 and 2010.
  • Ogilvy is one of four major championship winners in the field (Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson, Angel Cabrera).
  • He joins Steven Bowditch, Jason Day, John Senden, Matt Jones as one of five Australians in the field.

Full-field list includes: Sang-Moon Bae, Steven Bowditch, Angel Cabrera, Tim Clark, Ben Crane, Jason Day, Matt Every, Chesson Hadley, Brian Harman, Russell Henley, Charley Hoffman, J.B. Holmes, Billy Horschel, Zach Johnson, Matt Jones, Chris Kirk, Matt Kuchar, Hunter Mahan, Ben Martin, Hideki Matsuyama, Ryan Moore, Seung-Yul Noh, Geoff Ogilvy, Patrick Reed, John Senden, Kevin Stadler, Scott Stallings, Robert Streb, Kevin Streelman, Nick Taylor, Brendon Todd, Camilo Villegas, Jimmy Walker, and Bubba Watson.

 

 

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