Welcome to 2016 and the return of PGA Tour golf as the annual Hyundai Tournament of Champions kicks off Thursday at the Kapalua Plantation Course. The breathtaking views, primetime viewing schedule and stellar field make this tournament a must-watch event. This year's tournament will feature six of the world's top ten players in its 32 man field, headlined by world number one, Jordan Spieth, and world number two, Jason Day. More to come in Wednesday's edition.
Golf's first rivalry in decades
Golf fans have been clamoring for a rivalry that resembles the days of Nicklaus, Player, Palmer and Watson and may have finally found it with the trio of Spieth, Day and McIlroy. These players have clearly distanced themselves and proven at major championships that when they are on their A-games, the field doesn't stand a chance. It will be fun to see if any one of these players is able to establish themselves as the clear alpha dog of golf.
The Youth Movement
The abundance of youth talent has never been so rich as half of the world's top 20 players are under the age of 30. With so many young players competing and winning on golf's biggest stages, media outlets are fast to peg the next big thing, but the fried egg predicts this as becoming the norm.
A few young players we have our eye on this year as breakout candidates are 21 year old Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick, 23 year old Argentine Emiliano Grillo and 24 year old American Smylie (not a typo) Kaufman.
After 112 years of waiting
At long last, the 2016 Olympics in Rio will mark golf's return to the world's premier sporting event for the first time since 1904. The format for both men and women will be a 60 person field competing over the traditional 72 holes at The Olympic Course, designed by Gil Hanse.
Qualification has been a hot topic in golf circles due to the majority of the world's best residing in only a handful of countries. On the men's side, 7 of the top 15 players are currently from the United States. On the women's side, 8 of the top 15 hail from Korea.
Countries will be able to send a maximum of two golfers to the field (based on the Official World Golf Rankings) unless they have more than 2 players who reside in the top 15. In this case, they could send a maximum of 4 golfers as long as they rank in the top 15. Given these circumstances, many of golf's best players will be spectating rather than competing.
This is 40.
In recent decades, the biggest headliners in golf have been Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. Moving into the 2016 season, each finds themselves at the low-point of their competitive careers.
Phil is checking in at number 36 in the world, his worst ranking since 1993 having not won since the 2013 Open Championship. Can Phil at 45 complete the career grand slam by winning this year's U.S. Open at Oakmont?
Tiger's 2016 outlook is cloudy to say the least. Currently ranking 413 in the world and sidelined with a severe back injury, it's not a question of how he will play but rather if he will play.