Hyundai Tournament of Champions 2013: Steve Stricker Looks to Defend Title

Daniel ZhuContributor IJanuary 8, 2013

KAPALUA, HI - JANUARY 07:  Steve Stricker hits a tee shot on the second hole during the second round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course on January 7, 2013 in Kapalua, Hawaii.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

After three days of canceled play due to extremely high winds at Kapalua, the 2013 season officially teed off with its first round on Monday.

With PGA Tour officials shortening this winners-only competition to a 54-hole tourney, the marathon began when players teed off yesterday set to play 36 holes.

Defending champion Steve Stricker kicked things off with a two-under round of 71 to start his 2013 season. He carded five birdies and three bogeys during the morning session, and looked to continue to play well in the afternoon.

The 45-year-old veteran is not only the oldest player in the field, but is also playing with an injured leg. He is suffering from severe pain in his left leg and was seen lying on the ground massaging his leg at one point, but Stricks grinded it out to finish the day in solo second.

Stricker limped home with five birdies and a hole-out pitch shot for eagle from about 68 yards on the par-five 18th to card a stellar six-under round of 67.

After two rounds, Stricker is at eight-under par, three shots behind leader Dustin Johnson. The good thing for Stricker is that he does not seem to be playing as poorly as he did in the postseason of last year and is rounding back into form just in time to mount his title defense. He seems to have control of his game now, with his good iron play and his putting is as good as it used to be

The calm and steady Stricker will tee off today with the long-hitting Dustin Johnson in the final group. He proved to us last year that a player with solid ball striking and great touch around the greens can conquer the Plantations Course, but he will have to be firing on all cylinders if he is to win again. 

Stricks and Johnson will battle it out for what is surely going to be an exciting final round at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions