SBS opens PGA Tour
When the PGA Tour opens its season at Kapalua for the 12th year tomorrow the name will change, but the face and fame remain the same.
The SBS Championship, formerly the Mercedes Championships and Mercedes-Benz Championship, returns to The Plantation Course. Seoul Broadcasting System signed a 10-year agreement with the tour in May to take over title sponsorship. SBS has been the tour's broadcast partner more than 15 years.
The tour's first 2010 stop brings together all of last year's winners, with three exceptions — Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson. There are 28 golfers playing for $5.6 million. The last-place finisher gets $70,000 and a week at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua.
Welcome to golf's version of stimulus money.
Geoff Ogilvy scooped the $1 million-plus first prize last year, winning by six shots over Davis Love III and Anthony Kim. Ogilvy played the Plantation in 24-under par, seven off Ernie Els' record set in 2003. Ogilvy shot in the 60s all four days. In two previous trips to Maui he had never broken 70.
Kapalua "rookies" — or first-time winners — this year are Y.E. Yang, who chased down Woods at the PGA Championship, Pat Perez, Paul Casey, Bo Van Pelt, Nathan Green, Ryan Moore and Martin Laird.
Yang, the first Asian to win a major championship, will be joined by the other major champions from 2009 — Angel Cabrera (Masters), Lucas Glover (U.S. Open) and Stewart Cink (British Open). All will also play in next week's Sony Open in Hawai'i, the first full-field event of 2010.
The Sony field has added former champions Els and Vijay Singh to its unofficial field (commitments are final Friday), along with Love, Justin Rose and Luke Donald.
Light trade winds are predicted to return to Kapalua in time for the tournament, which could put Els' record in jeopardy. The average winning score at Kapalua is 20-under 272, while the average wind speed is 15 to 30 mph. The Plantation has the largest greens on tour and most forgiving fairways. Both were designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore with big winds in mind.
Steve Stricker, who led the tour in putting last year, is the highest-ranked player on Maui, at No. 3. He lost a playoff with Daniel Chopra at Kapalua in 2008.
Stricker is followed by Casey (8), Kenny Perry (10), Ogilvy (14), Sean O'Hair, Cink (16), Retief Goosen (19), Glover (20), Zach Johnson (22) and Cabrera (23). Johnson, who will defend his title at Waialae Country Club next week, and Perry tied for sixth last year. Yang, who had to go to the 2008 Q-School to keep his card, is now ranked 31st in the world.
The Golf Channel will broadcast live high-definition coverage all four days, with replays. The channel's new travel documentary series, Destination Golf, premiers this week and features Kaua'i, Maui and Lana'i.
The second year of the Kodak Challenge starts at The Planation's closing hole, which is the longest on tour (663 yards). Created to "celebrate the beautiful holes and memorable moments in golf," the Challenge requires golfers to play at least 18 of 30 Kodak Challenge holes throughout the season to qualify for a $1 million prize.
Today's Pro-Am Tee Times
At Kapalua Plantation Course
7 a.m. — Steve Stricker; 7:10—Geoff Ogilvy; 7:20—Lucas Glover; 7:30—Angel Cabrera; 7:40—Heath Slocum; 7:50—Stephen Ames; 8—Dustin Johnson; 8:10—Y.E. Yang; 8:20—Zach Johnson.
11:20 — Kenny Perry; 11:30—Retief Goosen; 11:40—Stewart Cink; 11:50—Troy Matteson; Noon—Martin Laird; 12:10 p.m.—Parker McLachlin; 12:20—Tadd Fujikawa.
7 a.m. — Sean O'Hair; 7:10—Nick Watney; 7:20—Matt Kuchar; 7:30—John Rollins; 7:40—Ryan Moore; 7:50—Bo Van Pelt; 8—Jerry Kelly; 8:10—Paul Casey; 8:20—Rory Sabbatini.
11:20 — Brian Gay; 11:30—Mark Wilson; 11:40—Pat Perez; 11:50—Nathan Green; Noon—Michael Bradley; 12:10—Jason Dufner; 12:20—Dean Wilson.
Tomorrow's First Round
8:50 a.m.—Martin Laird; Michael Bradley. 9:00 a.m.—Troy Matteson; Nathan Green. 9:10 a.m.—Paul Casey; Stephen Ames. 9:20 a.m.—Ryan Moore; Bo Van Pelt. 9:30 a.m.—John Rollins; Pat Perez. 9:40 a.m.—Rory Sabbatini; Matt Kuchar. 9:50 a.m.—Stewart Cink; Mark Wilson. 10:00 a.m.—Y.E. Yang; Angel Cabrera. 10:10 a.m.—Brian Gay; Jerry Kelly. 10:20 a.m.—Lucas Glover; Retief Goosen. 10:30 a.m.—Nick Watney; Dustin Johnson. 10:40 a.m.—Heath Slocum; Kenny Perry. 10:50 a.m.—Sean O'Hair; Zach Johnson. 11:00 a.m.—Geoff Ogilvy; Steve Stricker.