Jordan Spieth defends SBS Tournament of Champions

It's the first PGA Tour event of 2017 and a strong field has assembled in Hawaii

Jordan Spieth defends SBS Tournament of Champions
Jordan Spieth defends SBS Tournament of Champions
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s the first PGA Tour event of 2017 this week; the SBS Tournament of Champions over the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Hawaii. Jordan Spieth is the defending champion.

32 players will start this week in the SBS Tournament of Champions over the Plantation Course at Kapaulua in Hawaii. All the participants are tournament winners on the PGA Tour from the 2016 calendar year. Jordan Spieth is the defending champion.

World Number 1 Jason Day will make his first start of the 2016-17 PGA Tour wraparound season. He’s returning from a break which he took to try and recover from recurring back problems.

U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson and last year’s winner at Kapalua Jordan Spieth will tee it up, as will on-form Hideki Matsuyama. The Japanese player will be hoping to start 2017 where he left off last year – He won four of his last five tournaments in 2016.

The Plantation Course at Kapalua is a Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore design and it opened for play in 1991. It’s a relatively gentle layout although the wind can play a significant role here. If the breeze stays away, look for a winning total in the mid 20s under par. Last year, Jordan Spieth took the title with an incredible score of 30-under.

This event began life in 1953 as simply the “Tournament of Champions” and was won that year by Al Besselink. Since then the event, as you might expect, has produced some notable winners – Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods have all tasted victory in the tournament.

Last year, Jordan Spieth cruised home to an eight shot victory over Patrick Reed (the winner in 2015.) Both Spieth and Reed are back in action at Kapalua this week.

There’s a change in title sponsor for this event - SBS takes over from Hyundai who held the role between 2011 and 2016, although SBS – Seoul Broadcasting System – had been one of the sponsors and has been title sponsor before, in 2010. SBS is a South Korean TV and radio network.

The weather forecast is uncertain with strong winds and rain a possibility.

Venue: Plantation Course at Kapalua, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii Date: Jan 5-8 Course stats: par 73, 7,452 yards Purse: $6,100,000 Winner: $1,180,000 Defending Champion: Jordan Spieth (-30)

TV Coverage: Thursday 5 – Sky Sports 4 from Friday 6 – Sky Sports 4 from Saturday 7 – Sky Sports 4 from Sunday 8 – Sky Sports 4 from

Player watch:

Jordan Spieth – It’s hard to look past the defending champion. He romped to victory here last year and he won on his last start, in the Australian Open.

Hideki Matsuyama – He was superb in the last part of 2016 with four wins from his last six starts. He’s only played at Kapalua once but managed a tie for third place that time out.

Branden Grace – It’s his first time out in this event but it’s the sort of course that should suit him. With so many strong favourites on the starting list, Grace might just fly in under the radar.

Branden Grace putting challenge:

Key hole: 18th. The closing hole at Kapalua is a striking downhill par-5 measuring 663 yards. Despite its length, it’s reachable in two because of the slope and the prevailing wind. There are often some enormous drives on this one, over 400 yards.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?