x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

PGA opener is a yawner and needs overhaul

The Tournament of (Many) Champions opened the US PGA Tour last weekend on Hawaii and Steve Elling writes the tournament needs an overhaul.

Dustin Johnson hits a tee shot on 18th hole during the final round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Hawaii. Johnson won the tournament, which attracted only 30 players and was the US PGA Tour opener..
Dustin Johnson hits a tee shot on 18th hole during the final round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, Hawaii. Johnson won the tournament, which attracted only 30 players and was the US PGA Tour opener..

The US PGA Tour this week completed its first event of 2013, a sleepy Hawaiian get-together that has been derisively tagged the Tournament of (Many) Champions. Critics claim it represented the weakest season-opening event in any established professional sport.

Among the eligible players who declined to show up for the supposedly elite, winners-only event were Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Tiger Woods and Justin Rose, better known as the top four in the world ranking. With draw cards Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia staying home – each is a past winner – there wasn't much reason for fans to care.

Aficionados for years have argued whether the limited-field event, which featured 30 players this year, is the best format to open the season.

Circumstances are set to change, perhaps not for the better. The US tour moves to a wraparound calendar with the new 2013/14 season, which means the TOC will lose the lustre of being the opener. Several suggestions have been floated to spice up Kapalua, including making tournament winners over a two-year period eligible, adding European Tour winners or making it mandatory for winners in the previous year. None have been implemented.

Aloha famously means both hello and goodbye in Hawaiian. Coming or going, the event stands on the precipice of irrelevance – and that is not a crack about the host course's famously scenic vistas. This is a tournament in need of overhaul.

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