Steve Stricker won the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua
The silly season is over and the golf world takes a short rest between Christmas and New Year's. The world’s best golfers are snuggled safe and sound in their own beds and becoming reacquainted with their kids and spouses.
There will be no time to rest once the PGA Tour season starts next week, January 4-7, at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions from Kapalua on Maui.
The visions on the hi-def big screen of palm trees waving in the warm breezes blowing across the golf course from the blue Pacific Ocean always get the golf juices flowing for golf fans that are covered up with snow, wind and cold in the northeastern United States.
The PGA Tour historically begins each season with two events in Hawaii. The Tournament of Champions is a limited field event that is a reward for being a tour winner in the previous year. It is so important to the big names like Tiger, Rory and Phil, that they never bother to show up.
The Sony Open will be held the following week, January 10-13, at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. The Sony is the first full field event of the year and it gains a new importance to the average tour player this year.
The 2013 schedule will have 37 tournaments that will offer approximately $240 million in prize money. It won’t be easy, however, for tour rookies and anyone else that struggles early in the season to keep their card for next year.
Eleven of those 37 events are invitational or major championships that lesser known players or rookies will not be eligible to enter. These 11 tournaments also happen to be the events that offer the largest purses.
The first few full field events of 2013 will feel like major championships for the rookies this year.
Because of the new wraparound scheduling for the PGA Tour beginning this year, the 2014 season will start after the FedEx Cup Playoffs end. The players ranked No. 126-200 on the PGA Tour that do not qualify for the playoffs will have a second chance to earn their 2014 tour card in the four events that make up the Web.com Tour Finals. The final PGA Tour cards will be awarded to the Top-50 from the Web.com Tour.
What’s the difference between the PGA Tour and the Web.com? At least the guys have somewhere to play.
Catered food from the best chefs, courtesy cars at every stop, seven-figure endorsement deals and $6 million purses are the norm every week on the PGA Tour. Cheap hotels, Avis rental cars, Burger King, and $700,000 total purses are the standard on the Web.com.
Rory McIlroy was the leading money winner on the PGA Tour in 2012 with more than $8 million in earnings. Jason Bohn was No. 125 on the PGA Tour in 2012 with $795,000. Casey Wittenberg was the top money winner on the 2012 Web.com Tour with $433,543 in earnings.
Can you see the difference?
The desire to make it to the PGA Tour and stay there is great for professional golfers.
The race to get into the Top 125 and make the FedEx Cup Playoffs will seem more like a sprint than a marathon in 2013.