PGA Tour rookie Will Wilcox of Birmingham is among those entered in this week's Sony Open in Hawaii. He has a strong season last year on the Web.com Tour. (File photo)
- OK, the Hyundai Tournament of Championswas an appetizer of sorts to get the's 2014 season started. Today, theTour's first full-field event gets under way with the at WaialaeCountry Club in Honolulu. And while some of the fan favorites and bigger namesare not playing, the field includes some popular players and a lot of rookiesgetting their start.
It is also a field that includes a lot of players withconnections to the state of Alabama. The list begins with Jason Dufner, StewartCink and Michael Thompson and includes Bud Cauley, Will Wilcox, Joe Durant,Heath Slocum, Lee Williams and Will Claxton.
The four-day tournament will be played on the par-70 WaialaeC.C. course - quite a change from the par-73 course of last week'slimited-field event won by Zach Johnson - and wind often plays a factor in thescoring.
FIVE TO WATCH: I'mfeeling good about the start of the Five to Watch season: Each of my five pickslast week finished among the top 11 and Zach Johnson, one of my picks, won theevent. Granted, it was a 30-player field which made picking a winner easier, mathematicallyspeaking, still I'll revel in the success for now. In review, I picked ZackJohnson (1st), Dustin Johnson (tied for 6th), Adam Scott(T6th), Matt Kuchar (T6th) and Brandt Snedeker (T11th).
This week's full-field event makes the task more difficult,but we're giving it a shot. And when you have a hot player you don't put him onthe bench, so Zach Johnson is on the list again this week. He'll be joined thisweek by Charles Howell III (who has played well in this event in the past),Will Wilcox (to add some local and rookie flavor), Jason Dufner (now thatAuburn's season is over his concentration can return fully to golf) and JordanSpieth (he finished second last week and looked to be playing well).
WILCOX'S START: WillWilcox earned his PGA Tour card last year with a stellar season on the Web.comTour. He was one of the original 25 to earn this season's playing card. He finishedfirst in total driving and second in birdie average on the Web.com Tour andshot a 59 in the final round of a tournament in Utah. He is one of severalrookies entered in the field.
OFFER REJECTED: BrandtSnedeker, who lives in Nashville and played at Vanderbilt, offered Commodoresfootball coach James Franklin "free golf lessons for life,'' via a Twitterpost, if Franklin remained head coach of the Commodores. Apparently, that deal-sweeteningoffer wasn't enough for Franklin, who reportedly has accepted the head coachingjob at Penn State.
WHO TO FOLLOW: Hereare your best Thursday and Friday groupings to watch at the Sony Open: AdamScott, Dufner and Matt Kuchar are all in the same playing group, as are MichaelThompson, Stewart Cink and Marc Leishman. Then there's Zach Johnson, K.J. Choiand Tim Clark.
TV TIMES: The GolfChannel will televise the Sony Open from start to finish. Fans can watch theevent from 6-9:30 p.m. CST today, Friday and Saturday. Sunday's final roundwill be televised from 6-9 p.m.
LPGA ADDS NEW TWIST: TheLPGA Tour announced Wednesday it is introducing a new aspect to its tour - a year-long,points-based competition, similar to the FedEx Cup on the PGA Tour - the Raceto the CME Globe.
Points are earned based on performance in every LPGA Tourevent, with the points values the same at each tournament with the exception ofthe five major tournaments in which players can earn 25 percent more points.
The competition begins with the first tournament of theseason - the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic, Jan. 23-26 - and continues throughthe Lorena Ochoa Invitational. At the conclusion of the Ochoa tournament, thetop 72 players in the points standings, as well as any player who won a LPGAevent during the year who is not in the top 72, will earn a spot in the season-endingCME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., where the Race to the CME Globewinner will earn a million payday.
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