PGA Tour season opens Friday

Jan. 5, 2012 at 10:02 PM
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KAPALUA, Hawaii, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- The 2012 PGA Tour season begins Friday with only one of the Top 10 players in the world on hand for the opening event.

A field of 28 players will take part in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which will be played over the steep hills of the Plantation Course at Kapalua.

Bryce Molder, whose first tour victory came last year at the Open, will hit the first ball of the season at 10:35 a.m. (3:35 p.m. EST).

The new golfing campaign starts up with no Americans listed among the first five in the world golf rankings.

England's Luke Donald and Lee Westwood are ranked 1-2, followed by Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Martin Kaymer of Germany and Adam Scott of Australia.

The leading American is Steve Stricker at No. 6, but he is not competing this week. The top-ranked U.S. player in the field is No. 10 Webb Simpson. Nick Watney is ranked 12th, K.J. Choi is 15th and Bubba Watson is 21st.

Phil Mickelson begins the year at No. 14 and he, like Stricker, is not playing this week despite being eligible. Tiger Woods is ranked 23rd. He did not qualify for the tournament because he did not win an official event in 2010.

The only major champion from 2010 to appear this week will be Keegan Bradley, who as a rookie captured the PGA Championship in August. Bradley's world ranking stands at No. 31.

The first full-field event of the year will take place next week in Honolulu.

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