Walker grouped with Z. Johnson, Choi at Sony


The first full-field event of the year kicks off Thursday with the Sony Open in Hawaii. Here are four groups to keep an eye on at Waialae Country Club, where Jimmy Walker looks to complete a three-peat (all times ET):

12:50 p.m. Thursday, 5:30 p.m. Friday: Justin Thomas, Emiliano Grillo, Danny Lee

This trio includes three players who broke through for their maiden victories last season, as all three will make their Masters debuts (as professionals, in the case of Lee) this spring. At No. 31, Grillo is the top-ranked player after his season-opening victory, but Thomas is not far behind and Lee is getting back to work after a season that saw him make 36 starts en route to spots at both the Tour Championship and Presidents Cup.

1 p.m. Thursday, 5:40 p.m. Friday: Graeme McDowell, Adam Scott, Matt Kuchar

Scott is the top-ranked player in this week's field at No. 11, as he will make his first start since the anchoring ban officially went into effect. McDowell could find the cozy, coastal confines of Waialae similar to Mayakoba where he won earlier this season, while Kuchar's stellar record at this event includes four straight finishes of T-8 or better.

5:30 p.m. Thursday, 12:50 p.m. Friday: Kevin Kisner, Davis Love III, Brandt Snedeker

This group includes three winners from last year, highlighted by Kisner who continues to lead the FedEx Cup standings after a strong start to the wraparound season. Love is making his second of three starts this month in Hawaii as he balances his playing schedule with his duties as Ryder Cup captain, while Snedeker enters off a T-3 finish at Kapalua.

5:40 p.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. Friday: Jimmy Walker, Zach Johnson, K.J. Choi

Walker successfully defended his title last year in Honolulu, cruising to a nine-shot win. He will look to become the first player in tournament history to win three in a row, and the first Tour player to pull off the feat since Steve Stricker at the 2009-11 John Deere Classic. Joining Walker are a pair of former champs in Johnson (2009), who finished T-21 last week in Maui, and Choi (2008), who is making his first start since November.