If you are a sports fan, there is nothing like opening day. In fact, if you are a golf fan, and live somewhere that has snow on the ground, you can’t wait for the action to get underway at the one place on earth that has perfect weather year round. The Hawaiian Islands. The PGA Tour kicks off the season this afternoon at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on the Beautiful Island of Maui at the Royal Plantation Golf Course. The Golf Channel will have coverage at 5:30 PM Eastern.
The Royal Plantation golf course is a 7400 yard monster designed by Ben Crenshaw, and features long forgiving fairways, with over-sized greens that are anything but forgiving. With the length of this golf course in mind, be sure to catch the pairing of Dustin Johnson and 2012 Masters Champion, Bubba Watson. They will tee it up at 12:45 local time in the next to last group just ahead of defending champion Steve Stricker. If you enjoy power golf, this is your tournament.
Bubba Watson lead the PGA Tour off the tee in 2012, with an average of 315.5 yards per drive. Johnson was fourth at 310.2 yards. Look for Dustin to out duel Bubba at this venue because of the ever-present trade winds. Dustin hits a more boring drive that has very little lateral movement unlike Bubba who likes to work the ball which will take some yardage off of a tee shot. Don’t forget Charlie Beljan, who is in the field based on his win at the Disney, was second in 2012 behind Watson with an average 311.6 yards.
There are 30 of the top players on both the PGA and European Tour, leading to one of the strongest field in the recent history of this tournament. Due to rules changes in 2013 where dollars earned will not be extended beyond the Tour Championship, players have an incentive to get out early, and put some dollars and FedEx Points on their resume before the world top players start showing up for tournaments.
There has been much talk this week about who is missing from this tournament. With the big guns missing this weekend like Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Tiger Woods, and Phil Mickelson, this tournament gives some of the younger players a chance to get in the winners circle. Even with the length required to play at The Royal Plantation Course, the experts are picking the likes of Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, and Nick Watney, all great putters, to win this week. After-all, Steve Stricker won here last year, and until the 2012 John Deere Classic, was one of the finest putters on the PGA Tour. Unfortunately his stroke went South just before the Ryder Cup.
So if you are a golf fan, this is your weekend. Opening day begins at 5:30. I know I’ll be tuned in, and getting the most out of that great weather. It’s time to tee it high, and let it fly, the 2013 Golf Season is here !
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