PGA TOUR Season Set to Kick Off in Maui


2007 Mercedes Benz ChampionshipThe PGA TOUR kicks off its 2008 season and the race for the FedExCup at the Mercedes-Benz Championship in breathtaking Maui, Hawaii.
The elite, champions-only event will feature a field of approximately 30 players, each a winner from this past 2007 season.
Vijay Singh
Vijay Singh returns as the defending champion in Maui.
Play will begin Thursday, Jan. 3rd and the line-up at Kapalua Golf Club will consist of names like defending champion Vijay Singh, Hawaii resident Jim Furyk, world No. 5 Steve Stricker and an even dozen of first-time winners from '07 who will be making their Mercedes-Benz debuts.
The GOLF CHANNEL will be broadcasting all four rounds live from the Valley Isle, starting that Thursday at 6 p.m. ET.
For Singh, who currently stands 10th in the world rankings, a return trip to Maui comes as no surprise, as the 44-year-old has qualified for the event in nine of the past 10 years. What may comes as a surprise, however, is the fact that he is actually returning as the defending champ, due to the fact that prior to his win in Maui last season, the big Fijian had become snake-bitten at the event.
He lost by a stroke to Stuart Appleby in '04, gave up the 54-hole lead in '05 and again lost to Appleby in '06, this time the loss coming in a playoff.
Furyk, who just so happens to own a home adjacent to the 18th hole at Kapalua, is also a former winner in this event, his victory coming back in 2001. In his 10 starts at Kapalua Furyk has rang up seven top 10s.
As for Appleby, who had a run of three straight titles at Kapalua from '04 through '06, he will not be in the field again this year as the Aussie went winless on Tour last year for the first time since the 2002 season.
The par 73, 7,411-yard Plantation Course was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and has been the site of the championship since 1999, when David Duval won the title.
The winner's share for the Mercedes Championship is $990,000 out of a purse of $5.5 million.
The Tour island-hops over to the island of Oahu the following week for the Sony Open in Hawaii before heading back to the mainland for the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.
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