After a short break, believe it or not, the 2012 PGA Tour season is already upon us.
This week, the Tour is in paradise -- the Kapalua Resort in Maui, Hawaii -- for the 2011 winners-only Hyundai Tournament of Champions. There's been a little tweak this year in order to accomodate fans. Rather than the traditional Thursday start, the Tournament of Champions will begin on Friday and have a Monday finish. That means it won't have to compete with the NFL playoffs with a Sunday finish.
Also, right around the time the Tournament of Champions ends on Monday, the BCS Championship for college football will be kicking off.
Before the tournament started up, we sat down for a chat with Plantation Course PGA Head Professional Scott Carroll for a little Q&A.
PGA.com: Happy New Year to you, Scott, and what better way for the PGA Tour to start the season than in beautiful Maui? Let's get right into it. There's a big change in store for this year's tournament -- a Friday start and a Monday finish. The change was made so not to compete with the first round of the NFL playoffs on Sunday. How excited are the people at Kapalua about this change?
Carroll: Hopefully the Monday finish will work out well. It should work nicely into the television schedule as the final round won't be competing against the NFL playoffs Sunday. Then on Monday, viewers can tune into the BCS National Championship right after finishing up here at Kapalua. All in all, it should be a great way to kick off the 2012 PGA Tour!
PGA.com: You've got a number of first-time PGA Tour winners teeing it up this week, including PGA Champion Keegan Bradley. In the past, we've seen that the Plantation Course has been kind to long hitters, and Bradley fits that bill. What do you expect from him in 2012? As a rookie with two wins -- including a major -- I'd imagine 2011 would be pretty difficult for him to top.
Carroll: I wouldn't be surprised to see one of the 2011 rookies play well here. There are some very solid players amongst that group that I believe will play well in 2012 and Keegan would definitely be one of them. It's very difficult for me to call any one person out as a clear favorite, so I won't, I'll leave that to the analysts. As a whole though, I believe the winner will putt really well and will avoid too many "big numbers."
PGA.com: Typically, it's the winds that dictate the scores at the Plantation Course. Can you talk a little about this week's forecast and how those winds will play a factor?
Carroll: The most recent forecasts show a fairly "normal" weather pattern shaping up, light to moderate trade winds with a few showers possible. I expect the weather will have some influence on the outcome and I do believe we will have a few moments of apprehension, but in the end it looks like a great week with warm tropical trade winds blowing a few blessings our way.
PGA.com: What do you think will be the biggest storyline in golf this 2012 season?
Carroll: I believe the resurgence of Tiger Woods will be one of the major stories of 2012.
PGA.com: Final question for you, Scott. What's your favorite aspect of the job as PGA Head Professional at The Plantation Course, one of the most breathtaking golf destinations in the world?
Carroll: I feel very fortunate that Mike Jones and Gary Planos gave me the opportunity to take on the responsibilities as Head Professional here at The Plantation Course back in 2008. I've been in this position for almost four years now and it is really neat to experience and be a part of the start of the PGA Tour each year. We are now managed by Troon Golf and that management team and all the people it incorporates is only proving to enhance the overall golf experience here at Kapalua. My favorite aspect of the job is the team I work with. The staff here at Kapalua is like family and we really appreciate where we live and work.