January 4, 2017 - 1:19pm
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T.J. Auclair
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Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth
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Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth will be the marquee pairing at Kapalua this week. Both players are major winners and both have won at Kapalua.

After a month-and-a-half long layoff, the PGA Tour's 2016-17 schedule resumes this week in paradise -- the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort on the Hawaiian island of Maui -- for the SBS Tournament of Champions.

As the tournament's name indicates, criteria for eligibility of this event requires players to have won on Tour over the last 12 months.

In all, 32 players will be teeing it up this week, with world No. 1 Jason Day headlining and making his first start since having to withdraw die to back discomfort at the Tour Championship back in September.

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Here's a look at three pairings you'll want to focus your attention on in the first two rounds of the tournament...

3. Justin Thomas and Hideki Matsuyama. Arguably two of the best young players in the game today, both players already boast victories in the new season. Thomas was a repeat winner in October -- his first PGA Tour title defense -- at the CIMB Classic.

For his part, it's safe to say that Matsuyama is the hottest player on the planet going into Kapalua. The Japanese star enters 2017 after closing out 2016 win three consecutive victories, including the WGC-HSBC Champions and the unofficial Hero World Challenge. He's had a stretch of five tournaments with four victories. The 24-year-old, already a three-time PGA Tour winner, could be the breakout star of the new year.

2. Patrick Reed and Jason Day. Remember Patrick Reed's interview a few years back when he said he considered himself a "top-5 player in the world," and we all laughed at his brash arrogance? Though he hasn't reached top-5 status just yet, the joke could be on all of us very soon. The Ryder Cup USA hero begins 2017 as the No. 8-ranked player in the world... and his last two starts at Kapalua have resulted in a playoff win (2015) and a runner up (2016). With a strong finish to the 2015-16 Tour season and that awesome performance at Hazeltine, there's no reason to think Reed won't be a tough customer at Kapalua.

As we already mentioned, Day will be making his first start since the Tour Championship. The current world No. 1 withdrew in his last two starts on Tour back in September because of back problems. Are those behind him now? We'll see soon enough. But it's always exciting to see the Aussie in action, a player who has racked up eight wins on the PGA Tour since February of 2015.

1. Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson. These Ryder Cup USA teammates will be "THE" pairing to follow through the first two rounds at Kapalua, a course where the pair of major champions have a win apiece.

Over the last several years, both players have proven themselves to be contenders nearly every time they tee it up. That should be no different this week. Spieth enters as the fifth-ranked player in the world, while Johnson comes in at No. 3 after a career year on Tour in which he won his first major championship (the U.S. Open at Oakmont).

Kapalua is already a birdie-friendly venue. With these two, the "best ball" number will be crazy, crazy low. 

PGA Tour: Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth headline marquee groups at Kapalua
December 27, 2016 - 1:46pm
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