The Tournament of Champions has always been an annual celebration of PGA Tour winners from the previous year. Now it’s a celebration of winners … and a handful of other golfers as the PGA Tour has included everyone who made the season-ending Tour Championship to bring the field total to a meaty 42 players.
Because of this move — obviously engendered by a truncated season because of the pandemic — the Tournament of Champions is far more loaded with talent than usual as the PGA Tour released its field list over the weekend. Of the very biggest names in the sport right now, only Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Tiger Woods are missing, and eight of the top 10 in the world will tee it up this week at Kapalua.
Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas will get the lion’s share of the headlines — and they should given that they represent four of the top five in the Official World Golf Rankings (Rory McIlroy declined an invitation) — but Tony Finau, Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, Adam Scott and Webb Simpson will also be in attendance.
DeChambeau, as he’s been for the last few months, will be the main event and undoubtedly try to hit a golf ball 500 yards in his first look at the Plantation Course with his new body and swing speed. Last season, three of the nine longest drives on the PGA Tour came at this course with Lanto Griffin, Jon Rahm and Cameron Champ all hitting drives over 410 yards.
Finau will be of interest as well as he enters 2021 with only one career win and the pressure mounting. Theoretically, this course suits him perfectly as it’s a decent facsimile for Augusta National (where he thrives) and allows him to open up the driver and let it fly a little bit. Unfortunately for Finau, the last several years have not gone so well for him on Sundays (as this excellent post points out), and that’s going to be a talking point for his career until he erases it.
Lastly, as Ben Coley recently pointed out, there is also the somewhat humorous scenario in which Scheffler or Abraham Ancer could win for the first time on the PGA Tour at an event meant for players who have previously won on the PGA Tour.
We’ll have a mega-preview coming later this week with picks and more storylines as the PGA Tour enters a new year. There’s always a good deal of excitement that comes with those first few reminders of late evening golf to kick off a new year \, even though most of the rest of the country is frigid and unplayable. This year, we get to enter into that with an even better field than normal, which means that 2021 already looks a lot better than most of 2020.