Aloha and Happy Golf New Year from Hawaii, where 2017 got underway on the PGA Tour at the SBS Tournament of Champions.
Cody Gribble, winner of the Sanderson Farms Championship and paired with Mackenzie Hughes (RSM Classic) in the opening twosome, had new-year honors on Kapalua’s Plantation Course. His tee shot on No. 1, a stunningly dramatic downhill 520-yard par-4, strayed several yards into the right rough. From there he steered a hybrid wide left, pitched over a trap onto the undulating green and took two to get down — thus recording the calendar year’s first bogey on Tour (Gribble also bogeyed the third, but then made six birdies and finished T5 at 4-under par).
Hughes, meantime, recorded 2017’s first par, while in the very next group Pat Perez (the OHL Classic at Mayakoba winner) sank a 20-footer for the calendar year’s first birdie.
The Wins That Got Them Here: Playoffs
Three players in the 32-man Tournament of Champions field lost a playoff but won another event:
- Brandt Snedeker lost the Sony Open, but won the Farmers Insurance Open.
- Si Woo Kim lost the Barbasol Classic, but won the Wyndham Championship.
- Ryan Moore lost the Tour Championship, but won the John Deere Classic.
Others in the field thanks to playoff victories
- Aaron Baddeley (Barbasol Classic)
- Jason Dufner (CareerBuilder Challenge)
- Tony Finau (Puerto Rico Open)
- Fabian Gomez (Sony Open)
- James Hahn (Wells Fargo Championship)
- Mackenzie Hughes (RSM Classic)
- William McGirt (Memorial Tournament)
- Brian Stuard (the rain-abbreviated Zurich Classic).
Hideki Matsuyama beat Rickie Fowler in a playoff at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but Matsuyama also won WGC-HSBC Champions and the Hero World Challenge.
Finally, three playoff victors chose not to participate this week with their fellow champions:
- Sergio Garcia, who beat Brooks Koepka at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
- Rory McIlroy, who won the Tour Championship in a playoff over Kevin Chappell and Ryan Moore.
- Charl Schwartzel, who beat Bill Haas at the Valspar Championship.
Day 1 Scoring
Eight clean cards were posted on Thursday, and three over-par rounds. Jimmy Walker (8-under) had six birdies and an eagle using a 42-inch Titleist 917D2 driver, which he hopes will help him hit straighter drives in 2017. Ryan Moore (6-under) had only two birdies, but he eagled twice. He holed out from 117 yards on the par-4 third, and sank a 13-footer on the 5th after reaching the par-5 in two.
Also bogey-free through the first 18 were Jim Herman (6-under), Justin Thomas (6-under), Jason Dufner (5-under), Dustin Johnson (4-under), Hideki Matsuyama (4-under), and Brandt Snedeker (3-under).
At the opposite end of the leaderboard: James Hahn (1-over) bogeyed four of his first seven holes, then parred 10 straight before finishing with a birdie. Billy Hurley III (1-over) had the day’s only double-bogey, three-putting from 45 feet after finding the sand from the tee on the par-3 11th. Si Woo Kim (2-over), who tallied a Tour-best 400 birdies in the 2015-16 season and ranks first in Shots Gained: Off-the-Tee in the current season, offset three birdies with a most-in-field five bogeys.