PGA Tour Awakens from Holiday Slumber to Start New Season this Week

After what seems like a long time - actually, it's only been since the Disney in mid-November, the PGA Tour is on the cusp of another new season. The circuit's traditional opening event, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, starts Friday - with a Monday finish - on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort in Maui.

The field is open only to winners from the previous year. Thirty of the 37 qualifiers will tee it up on the 7,411-yard, par-73 course designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. Players skipping the $5.7 million event include the top-four players in the latest world ranking - in order, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald Tiger Woods and Justin Rose - as well as Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia.

By virtue of his only victory in 2012, Steve Stricker will return to defend his title. The Wisconsin native fired rounds of 68, 63, 69 and 69 to edge Scotland's Martin Laird by three shots.

Also on hand will be Ben Curtis, Bill Haas, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson, Carl Pettersson, Charlie Beljan, Dustin Johnson, George McNeill, Hunter Mahan, Ian Poulter, J.J. Henry, Jason Dufner, 2012 Rookie of the Year John Huh, Johnson Wagner, Jonas Blixt, Keegan Bradley, Kyle Stanley, Marc Leishman, Mark Wilson, Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney, Rickie Fowler, Ryan Moore, Scott Piercy, Scott Stallings, Ted Potter Jr., Tommy Gainey, Zach Johnson and Webb Simpson.

All told, the field includes two major champions -Watson (Masters) and Simpson (U.S. Open) - and 16 players who finished in the top 30 in the 2012 FedEx Cup standings, including the FedEx Cup and Tour Championship winner, Snedeker.

Count Watson among the players pleased to be in Hawaii in early January. "Every year that we can get into Hyundai means that we've played well the year (before) and that we've won a PGA Tour event, which is the goal to start every season," the four-time Tour winner said in a press release.

"For us to play in a tournament of champions is an honor. It's great to go there with my family in beautiful Maui. It's a fun golf course and an exciting place to play and start the season."

Golf Channel and NBC will split the broadcast duties for the 72 holes. For more information and live scoring, visit