PGA Tour season opens Friday

Jan. 3, 2013 at 8:53 PM
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KAPALUA, Hawaii, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Rickie Fowler will step to the first tee Friday at the Plantation Course of the Kapalua Resort and hit the opening shot of the 2013 PGA Tour season.

He will be followed by 29 players who earned their way into the exclusive Hyundai Tournament of Champions by winning at least once on the tour last year.

It will mark the final time, at least for the foreseeable future, that the PGA Tour will kick off a season in January. The 2014 campaign will actually begin next October, when the tour will institute a major revamping of its schedule as well as the method by which players earn their way onto the circuit.

Steve Stricker will be on hand at the hilly Plantation Course this week to defend the title he won in 2012 and he heads a field that includes last year's FedEx Cup champion (Brandt Snedeker) and two of last season's major championship winners (Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson).

There will be eight of the Top 20 players in the world in the field this week, but none of the first seven. Watson, at No. 8, is the highest ranked player competing.

In addition to Fowler, first-time winners from 2012 who will be taking part this week include rookie-of-the-year John Huh, Jonas Blixt, Charlie Beljan and Jason Dufner.

Dufner led or shared the lead at the end of 13 rounds last year, most on the tour. World No. 1 Rory McIlroy was next with nine.

As it did last season, this tournament will end on Monday. It is scheduled to finish shortly before the start of the national college football championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama.

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