PGA TOUR Ready to Drive into New Season


2007 Mercedes Benz ChampionshipKAPALUA, Hawaii -- Welcome back for the 2008 PGA TOUR season.
The Mercedes is the kick start of every year on tour with last year's PGA TOUR winners meeting in the 50th state. Well...almost all of the 2007 champions.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the two biggest stars in the sport, are making it an annual tradition to skip the event at Kapalua Resort. Woods, a playoff winner in both 1997 and 2000, likes to skip the early part of the season, while Mickelson, who titled here in 1994 and 1998, apparently does not love the course.
No matter the excuse, the Nos. 1 and 2 players in the world are on extended vacation. They aren't the only ones. Adam Scott and British Open champion Padraig Harrington, Nos. 7 and 8 in the rankings, also passed on the season- opener.
Despite the losses, you can't say this field doesn't boost winners.
Reigning champion Vijay Singh, Masters winner Zach Johnson, K.J. Choi and Steve Flesch all won multiple times in 2007.
Last year, Singh ended the three-year reign of Stuart Appleby with a two-shot victory over Scott. Singh shot a three-under 70 on Sunday to finish the event at minus-14.
The win in 2007 was significant for Singh since it was his 30th on the PGA TOUR. He became the 17th player in TOUR history to break that barrier. Singh also collected his 18th since turning 40, which established a new record for TOUR victories over 40.
Singh's $1.1 million first-place check sent him over the $50 million plateau in career earnings. He became the second to turn that feat and if you don't know who the first is, then stop reading.
This is the 10th consecutive year in which this event is being held at this site. Prior to Kapalua, the event was held at La Costa Resort and Spa in California the previous 30 years. The first 16 were played in Las Vegas; 14 at Desert Inn Country Club and two at Stardust Country Club. This is the only course on the PGA TOUR which uses a par 73. The Kapalua Resort was previously the site of the Lincoln-Mercury Kapalua International from 1982-97.
Jim Furyk, the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 3, was the last American to win this tournament when he titled in 2001. Singh, Appleby, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia all hoisted the trophy since Furyk's victory almost seven years ago.
This tournament not only serves as the start of the season, but the start of the FedExCup v. 2, the 2008 edition. Singh's win here last year propelled him to second on the final FedExCup points list, but after the Playoffs, he finished 10th.
GOLF CHANNEL will carry the live action of all four rounds, starting at 6:00 p.m. ET. Next week is the first full-field event of the year at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Paul Goydos returned to the winner's circle last year 11 years since his first win at the 1996 event at Bay Hill.
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