The field for the 2014 Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua's Plantation Course in Maui features 30 PGA Tour winners from 2013.
Here are the five you'll want to watch:
5. Zach Johnson
Best finish in 2013: Won the BMW Championship
Reason to watch: First of all, Johnson is one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour (just four missed cuts in 24 starts a year ago). Secondly, do you remember how he ended 2013? With an incredible hole-out on the final hole of the Northwestern Mutual World Challenge -- an unofficial event -- that eventually earned the past Masters champ in a playoff with Tiger Woods. Johnson took Tiger down in the playoff. We can't think of a more positive way to end a calendar year. Johnson must be thrilled to get 2014 under way.
4. Jordan Speith
Best finish in 2013: Won the John Deere Classic
Reason to watch: If 2013 is any indication, Speith is going to be an electric player to watch for years to come. To think -- when the 2013 Tournament of Champions was being contested last January, Speith had no status on the PGA Tour. He relied on sponsor exemptions, parlayed them into top finishes, won an event to snag a two-year Tour exemption, was a captain's pick for the winning U.S. Presidents Cup team and earned PGA Tour Rookie of the Year honors. And he's only 20 years old.
3. Adam Scott
Best finish in 2013: Won the Masters and The Barclays
Reason to watch: It's hard to imagine that 2014 could be a better year than 2013 was for Scott. He became the first Aussie to ever win the Masters and proved himself to be a regular contender in all the majors. Add to that three victories in his homeland at the end of the year -- the Aussie Masters, Aussie PGA and the World Cup (alongside Jason Day) -- and a narrow defeat to Rory McIlroy in the Aussie Open. Scott has been on fire. He has also announced that he'll be taking six weeks off after the Hawaii swing on the PGA Tour, which means he'll miss the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. Expect him to play great to go out on a high note before the break and certain major preparations.
2. Matt Kuchar
Best finish in 2013: Won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the Memorial Tournament
Reason to watch: Like Zach Johnson, Kuchar never makes any big mistakes. His name is just always hovering around the top of leaderboards throughout the season (15 top-25 finishes in 23 2013 starts). There's never one particular time of year when he's "hot" -- he's always consistent. Here's a look at Kuchar's last three finishes in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions: 3rd/2010; T6/2011; T9/2013. About the only thing left to do for Kuchar at Kapalua is win.
1. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2013: Won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Reason to watch: Johnson is the defending champ in Maui. And, he also won the WGC-HSBC Champions in Asia in November -- which counts toward the 2014 season. Let's face it, he's got some of the most raw talent on Tour. The only thing that seems to stop Johnson these days are injuries. If he stays healthy, 2014 could be a huge year for DJ. He'll feel extremely comfortable at the Plantation Course.
Update: Yeah, about DJ and the whole staying healthy thing -- since this story published Thursday morning, word out of Maui is Johnson has withdrawn from today's Pro-Am with a stiff neck. We'll see if that keeps him out of the field once the tournament begins Friday when he's scheduled to tee off with Adam Scott at 12:50 p.m., local time.
Follow T.J. Auclair on Twitter, @tjauclair.
No one tells better golf stories than....golfers.
And if a picture tells a thousand words - what will a year of golf photos tell?
Thus, we introduce #PGA365. We want to tell the story of golf around the country (and the world) in 2014 through YOUR eyes. We know that every day, every hour, every second - someone is playing golf and loving it. We want to share the power of that passion with the larger golf community. We can do it in the most viral and social of ways - by using our social platforms.
All we ask that if you are out playing golf - capture the day with a photo and share it with us.
Once you have it - get that photo to us. Tag it with the name of the course, the date it was taken, and use hashtag #PGA365 to indicate you want it to be considered for the feature. Upload it to our Facebook page, tweet it to our Twitter account, tag it to our Instagram page or email it to us. (You can also tweet them to me at @johnkim)
We will chronicle every day of the year with a 'Photo of the Day'. But will we look at all of them and share as many as we can with the larger audience. In time, this will be a definitive look at golf in 2014. It will show the different courses, architectures, climates and conditions that we all play in - but more than anything, it will celebrate a game that we all love tremendously.
On Day 1 - we asked via Twitter for some help. The response was overwhelming. From Torrey Pines to the Florida coast - from beautiful sun to snow a foot deep - we received some incredible photos. All we ask is that you keep playing golf - and keep the photos coming.
We said we'd select one photo for Photo of the Day. And here it is: From Joe Leenheer, PGA and their New Year's Day tradition at Silver Lake Country Club in Silver Lake, Ohio.
— Joe Leenheer, PGA (@JLeenheerPGA) January 1, 2014
Thank you in advance for your support. You've already shown that you love and promote golf in the most extraordinary ways. This is simply adding to that already awesome story.
This is how you start the year on a high note! (Assuming "Yes!" is an actual proposal - they never did actually specify that)
Two-time major winner Rory McIlroy and long-time girlfriend and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki just announced (via what else, Twitter) that they are more than simply dating. The two are in Australia and sent out these two tweets as they welcomed in the year .
— Rory Mcilroy (@McIlroyRory) December 31, 2013
Happy New Year everyone! Rory and I started 2014 with a bang! ... I said YES!!!! pic.twitter.com/J7c2pXgsdC
— Caroline Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki) December 31, 2013
Rumors about the couple have swirled all year and every golf and tennis event where either showed up without the other seems to have exacerbated all the speculation as to whether they were still an item or not. Hopefully, the ring will mean that the two can focus on their respective sports now without the constant scrutiny and distractions of tabloid speculation.
Oh, but planning that wedding...
You can follow John Kim on Twitter at @johnkim
As if Harry Houdini himself was coaching from the sidelines, Auburn twice (against Georgia with 25 seconds to play and vs. Alabama with no time on the clock) found the magic to steal a pair of victories this college football season.
In tribute to the War Eagles, the favorite birds of reigning PGA Champion Jason Dufner, let’s take a look at what may be 10 of the best walk-off moments in golf history.
10. Tweet, Tweet, Birdie – 2005 U.S. Women’s Open - Cherry Hills Country Club, Englewood, Colo.
South Korean Ju-Yun “Birdie” Kim, competing in her first U.S. Women’s Open, was standing in a greenside bunker at 18, tied for the lead with Morgan Pressel, who watched from the fairway. Kim blasted the ball out of the sand from 90 feet and floated it onto the green. It bounced a few times, then rolled and rolled toward the cup and disappeared. When Pressel, needing a birdie to tie, failed to hole her chip shot from in front of the green, Birdie Kim won the way no golfer in the men's or women's Open ever had - holing out from a bunker on the final green.
9. It was In the All the Way, Mate – 2004 Ford Championship – Doral Country Club, Miami, Fla.
Australian Craig Parry reached for a 6-iron and holed out from 176 yards for eagle on the famed 18th at the Blue Monster at Doral, beating Scott Verplank on the first playoff hole. Parry said that his brother, who was his caddie, said “I feel like a Shaun Micheel at the PGA coming on.” Micheel’s 2003 approach at Oak Hill Country Club stopped two inches from the flagstick, while Parry had the pleasure of a dunk on one of the most challenging closing holes on the PGA Tour.
8. Gamez had the Right Number - 1990 Nestle Invitational – Bay Hill Club, Orlando, Fla.
Robert Gamez had his adrenaline pumping, and decided to shift down to a 7-iron on the 441-yard 18th hole at the Bay Hill Club in the 1990 Nestle Invitational. Trailing Greg Norman by a stroke, Gamez hit his approach from 176 yards at the flagstick, and watched as the ball went out of sight for an eagle. ''When the ball went in,” said Gamez, “I was relieved the round was over and that I didn't have to make a putt for birdie.”'
7. Mr. Aoki Rises – 1983 Hawaiian Open – Waialae Country Club, Honolulu
Isao Aoki holed out a 128-yard wedge for eagle from the left rough of the 18th fairway at Waialae Country Club, defeating Jack Renner by one stroke in the 1983 Hawaiian Open. The shot was heard around the world, making Aoki the first Japanese player to win a PGA Tour event. Renner, who buried his head in his hands after Aoki’s shot caused the gallery to erupt, bounced back. One year later, on the same course, he defeated Wayne Levi in a playoff.
6. A Zinger of an Ending – The Memorial Tournament - Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio
Trailing his closest friend, Payne Stewart by one stroke in the 1993 Memorial Tournament, Paul Azinger dumped his approach on the 18th hole into a left-hand greenside bunker. Stewart, meanwhile, had blasted from a bunker to eight feet above the hole. It was Azinger’s turn. He opened the face of his wedge, blasted out and watched as his ball just cleared the lip of the bunker and rolled 15 feet into the hole. Azinger pulled off his visor, raised his club in the air with his other hand and sunk to his knees in the sand. Stewart then three-putted to finish third, as Corey Pavin slipped into second.
5. Why They Call him King -- 1960 Masters – Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga.
Arnold Palmer followed a birdie on the 17th hole at Augusta National Golf Club by hitting a 6-iron to within six feet of the flagstick at 18 and making that to capture the 1960 Masters, his second green jacket. It was the catalyst for what would be a signature year for the King, as he went on to win the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills with a classic comeback and was runner-up in the Open Championship.
4. Holy Toledo, Bob! – 1986 PGA Championship – Inverness Club, Toledo, Ohio
Tour sophomore Bob Tway rallied to catch 54-hole leader Greg Norman on the back nine at Inverness Club. Tway, however, hit his approach on the 18th hole into a front greenside bunker. With his head barely able to peek over the steep bank, Tway blasted out and saw the ball track into the hole. Tway jumped up and down in the sand like a schoolboy who had won a date with the homecoming queen. He became the first player in modern history to win the PGA Championship with a birdie on the 72nd hole.
3. Big Shot for the Little Guy – 1995 U.S. Open – Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, Southampton, N.Y.
Corey Pavin uncorked a 209-yard 4-wood on the 18th hole like he had a tuning fork for a baby grand, and won the 100th U.S. Open Championship at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. Pavin’s approach shot landed just short of the slippery, sloping green and ran up and came to rest five feet from the hole. Pavin broke into a run and sprinted a few yards ahead. When he saw his ball stop, he raised his arms in triumph. He two-putted for par, which was two strokes better than Greg Norman.
2. Local Boy Magic – 1987 Masters – Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Ga.
Again, Greg Norman is a victim of a shot that is etched in golf history. The 1987 Masters came down to a sudden-death playoff featuring Seve Ballesteros, Norman and Augusta native Larry Mize. Ballesteros three-putted the first extra hole, the 10th, to bow out. On the par-4 11th hole, Mize’s approach landed to the right of the green and 140 feet from the hole. His chip bounced twice up a grassy bank and once on the putting surface before it rolled halfway across the green into the hole. What is forgotten is that Mize birdied the 72nd hole after hitting a perfect 3-wood, a perfect 9-iron and a perfect six-foot putt.
1. Misty Legend in the Pines – 1999 U.S. Open – Pinehurst (N.C.) No. 2
Tied for the lead with playing partner Phil Mickelson as a fine mist fell, Payne Stewart hit a 90-yard wedge approach to 18 feet below the hole at the 18th green at Pinehurst No. 2. Mickelson watched from the edge of the green. His wife, Amy, was home expecting to give birth at any time to the couple’s first child. Stewart stroked home the par putt, thrust his fist into the air with one leg stretch out behind. Less than five months later, Stewart died in a plane crash. A bronze statue of Stewart in that victorious pose rests behind the 18 green today.
PGA of America Championships
Pete Dye Course
French Lick, Ind.
Westchester Country Club
Philadelphia Cricket Club
Hazeltine National Golf Club