Hyundai Tournament of Champions Preview

The PGA Tour is in Kapalua, Hawaii this week for the first event of 2014. A select field will compete for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and Dustin Johnson defends the title.

Dustin Johnson defends Hyundai TOC (Getty Images)

Lowdown: The PGA Tour is in Kapalua, Hawaii this week for the first event of 2014. A select field will compete for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and Dustin Johnson defends the title.

The tournament is only open to players who won on the 2013 PGA Tour circuit and just 30 men will tee it up on Friday. It's a strong field with two of last year's Major winners - Adam Scott and Jason Dufner - on the start sheet.

It's always difficult to predict a winner of this event as the players make their return to competitive action after their Christmas break. First contested in 1953, the inaugural event was won by Al Besselink. Since then the roll-call of winners makes impressive reading: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia have all been victorious in the event.

Last year, Dustin Johnson came out on top in a rain-shortened tournament. He cruised home, four shots clear of Steve Stricker. It looks possible that the weather could play a part again this year so expect possible delays from the word go.

Designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, the stunning Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort opened for play in 1991. It's a reasonably open and forgiving layout but can bear its teeth if the wind blows. If conditions stay benign, expect to see some super-low scoring.

Venue: The Plantation Course, Kapalua Resort, Maui, Hawaii Date: Jan 3-6 Course stats: par 73, 7,452 yards Purse: $5,700,000 Winner: $1,140,000 Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson (-16 over three rounds)

TV Coverage: Friday 3 - Live on Sky Sports 4 from 10.30pm Saturday 4 - Live on Sky Sports 4 from 7.30pm Sunday 5 - Live on Sky Sports 4 from 8pm Monday 6 - Live on Sky Sports 4 from 9pm Player Watch: Adam Scott - Although all the players will come into this event on the back of a short break, Scott was the form-horse towards the end of 2013. He won twice in Australia and finished third in the World Cup of Golf.

Dustin Johnson - This course is perfect for the long-hitting defending champion. He can overpower it if on form and could stroll away from the field again this time out.

Matt Kuchar - He's supremely consistent and won twice in 2013. He was on good form as 2013 came to a close.

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. Expect some enormous drives on this one - 400 yards plus.

Skills required: Making birdies. The winning total at Kapalua always tends to be well into double figures under par - Dustin Johnson was 16-under last year through only three rounds.

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?