The PGA Tour will leave Maui for the more tranquil shores of Oahu for the season’s first full-field event of the season, the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. Tournament organizers hope to play the tournament during its traditional schedule, Thursday Jan. 10th through Sunday January 13th, which is never a sure thing on the Hawaiian Isles.
Johnson Wagner returns to defend his 2012 title in hopes of becoming only the second pro to win this event twice (Ernie Els did it in ’03 and again in ‘04). Wagner, who sports a trademark Magnum P.I. moustache, finished the final day in last year’s event with a 3-under par 67 to capture the title by two strokes over the wilting duo of Matt Every and Jeff Maggert. Every and Maggert were the co-leaders going into Sunday but struggled to over-par finishes while Wagner managed to stay under par for all four rounds en route to the win.
This year, Wagner will again be squaring off against a full field of 144 players that includes top-tier talent such as 2012 U.S. Open winner Webb Simpson, 2012 Players Champion Matt Kuchar, 2011 PGA Champion Keegan Bradley and long-bomber Dustin Johnson. Notably absent from the list is 2012 Masters Champion Bubba Watson, who chose not to make the short hop off of Maui and on to Oahu for this event. Also missing is Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, who will start off their 2013 schedules next week in Abu Dhabi, while Phil Mickelson has announced that he starts off his 2013 charge at the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif., later in January.
The Waialae Country Club is located just north of world-famous Diamondhead and about 10 minutes from downtown Honolulu. The course, typically a par 72, shrinks to a par 70 when the pros come to play, checking in at just over 7,000 yards. The course features a seemingly non-stop wind that blows anywhere from 10 mph on an average day to gale-force without warning. It’s nearly impossible to predict, but the wind definitely plays a role in the outcome of the event as golf fans have seen at the recent Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The weather outlook for this week’s event is a mixed bag with a prediction of rain and moderate winds during all four days.