The 2015-16 PGA Tour season resumes this week in paradise -- the Hawaiian island of Maui for the winners-only Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua's breathtaking Plantation Course.
Two-time major champion Jordan Spieth headlines a strong field of 32. He's making his first start on the PGA Tour since a T7 at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions back in early November.
The oldest player in the field, 51-year-old Davis Love III, is making his first start in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions since 2009 when he tied for second. The 2016 U.S. Ryder Cup Captain punched his ticket into the exclusive event thanks to his unlikely victory in Greensboro last August.
Here are five players you'll want to keep an eye on in Maui:
5. Bubba Watson
Best finish in 2015-16 season: T35 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: Though his results haven't always showed it -- his best finish is a T4 in 2013 -- the Plantation Course would seem to be one that fits Watson with his massive length and shot-shaping abilities. He's never played terribly in Maui, but he just hasn't stepped up the way you might expect. It's a loose, fun week. Perfect for Bubba.
4. Jimmy Walker
Best finish in 2015-16 season: T50 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
Reason to watch: Just call him "Mr. Hawaii." Along with a playoff loss last year at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Walker has also won the last two Sony Opens played. He's got better vibes there than anyone on the PGA Tour for the last two seasons. Walker's length is as good as anyone out there. If his putter is hot, look out.
3. Patrick Reed
Best finish in 2015-16 season: T7 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: The defending champion in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Reed's win in Maui turned out to be his lone victory in a solid season where he finished 12th in the final FedExCup standings. Carrying dual membership on the PGA and European Tours in 2016, it'll be important for Reed to get the most out of each start. No reason to think he can't make it two in a row in Maui.
2. Dustin Johnson
Best finish in 2015-16 season: T5 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions
Reason to watch: With each new year, those closely monitoring professional golf wonder "is this finally the year DJ gets it done in a major?" He's been so close. And his losses have been devastating. Make no mistake, this week is as far away from a major as you can get, but all the players in Maui are hoping to get the new year off to an electric start. Johnson won at Kapalua in 2013. A "start to a new year" doesn't get any better than that.
1. Jason Day
Best finish in 2015-16 season: Debut
Reason to watch: The 2015 PGA Champion admitted this week that he's gone nearly three months without touching a golf club. That'll happen when you have a new baby at home. But, perhaps the break from the course will serve the Aussie well. Since claiming his first major title and getting over that huge hurdle, it sure seems as though the sky is the limit for Day. He tied for third in Maui last year.
What happens when you point a laser beam at a golf ball?
Lucky for us, someone with a YouTube account (Laser Time) pondered that same question and brings us this:
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have some company at the company.
On Monday, Nike Golf announced its latest additions to the Nike Tour staff, including Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau.
— Nike Golf (@nikegolf) January 4, 2016
— Nike Golf (@nikegolf) January 4, 2016
Here's what Koepka had to say, according to the Nike news release:
“Nike is an iconic brand,” Koepka says. “All these great, legendary athletes, such as Kobe Bryant, seem to be with Nike. I’m lucky enough to represent the best company in the world. I’m excited with what Nike will do in the future for the game of golf [and] I know that this partnership will help me achieve my personal goals.”
And from Finau:
“The best athletes in the world play for Nike and I'm glad to add my name to that list,” Finau affirms. “I look forward to striving for greatness as a lot of Nike athletes have. I know innovation is a big part of Nike and changing the mold, changing the game — that's what drew me to the Swoosh.”
PGA of America Championships
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Hazeltine National Golf Club