KAPALUA - Steve Stricker didn't see this happening.
The No. 6 golfer in the world is the top-ranked player in the 28-man Hyundai Tournament of Champions field, despite six other top-10 players being eligible to be in this event, including four ahead of Stricker.
"No," Stricker said when asked if he sees himself as a main headliner.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo (Byrd); AP file photos
He added that the field's rankings won't affect his approach.
"I go about it the same," he said. "I don't feel any more responsibility or pressure to perform any different than what I normally do. I just never really think about that ranking too much. I try to play consistent and let all that other stuff kind of take care of itself."
Three of the 11 eligible players not here for this winners-only event that begins today at the Kapalua Plantation Course - seventh-ranked Dustin Johnson, Fredrik Jacobson and Brandt Snedeker - are injured, and Justin Rose's wife recently had a baby.
First-round tee times
Today At Kapalua Plantation Course
10:35 a.m.-Bryce Molder, Michael Bradley
10:45 a.m.-Harrison Frazar, Ben Crane
10:55 a.m.-Johnson Wagner, Kevin Na
11:05 a.m.-Sean O'Hair, Scott Piercy
11:15 a.m.-D.A. Points, Scott Stallings
11:25 a.m.-Brendan Steele, Jhonattan Vegas
11:35 a.m.-Chris Kirk, Lucas Glover
11:45 a.m.-Martin Laird, Rory Sabbatini
11:55 a.m.-Mark Wilson, Bubba Watson
12:05 p.m.-Keegan Bradley, David Toms
12:15 p.m.-Gary Woodland, Steve Stricker
12:25 p.m.-K.J. Choi, Aaron Baddeley
12:35 p.m.-Webb Simpson, Nick Watney
12:45 p.m.-Jonathan Byrd, Bill Haas
No. 1 Luke Donald, No. 3 Rory McIlroy, No. 4 Martin Kaymer, No. 5 Adam Scott and No. 9 Charl Schwartzel are the other top-10s not here.
For FedEx Cup winner Bill Haas, skipping this event is out of the question.
"I know I would never miss it," said Haas. "But, then again, I've won three times in my career and maybe some of those guys have won a lot more than that.
"For me, this is not a tournament I would want to pass up. Mainly, it is a vacation spot. It's beautiful here. We have had a lot of fun. I came here for New Year's and had a little fun prior to this week. I would never miss it. Unless I'm injured, I won't miss it. So, in that respect, yes, I'm surprised."
Haas said with the European Tour scheduling the end of its version of the playoffs - the Race to Dubai - in mid-December and then holding a lucrative early-season event in Abu Dhabi in late January places the Hyundai and the Sony Open - the PGA Tour's first full-field event next week at Waialae - in a tight spot for attention from the top players who dabble in both tours.
Tiger Woods will skip one of his favorite spots, Torrey Pines in San Diego, to play in Abu Dhabi.
There has been talk of the PGA Tour season starting earlier, perhaps November, in the next few seasons, further throwing Kapalua's place in the landscape into question.
Haas, who won $10 million for the FedEx Cup title, can't imagine holding this event anywhere else.
"I think we chase good weather," he said. "January ... there's not that many spots that are that golf-friendly right now. I think this is a great spot to start the year, honestly. But maybe if you're trying to get better fields, maybe. But if you ever play in Hawaii, it's going to be hard to get certain guys here because of travel.
"I don't know - still a great field with the people we have here."
Keegan Bradley, the PGA champion and tour rookie of the year, is the only major champion from 2011 in the field, the second year in a row that just one major winner from the previous season has attended this event.
In 2010, all four major winners - Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Miguel Angel Cabrera and Y.E. Yang - played here.
Stricker and No. 10 Webb Simpson are the only top-10 players here and 19 of the top 100 are in the field - 19 of the top 40 were here last season. Only seven of the top 30-ranked players and 10 of the top 50 are here this year.
Winds have varied in strength and direction for the last week - forecasts for today through Sunday is for winds in the 10-20-mph range - but differing conditions could make for excitement this weekend, according to Haas. The winds are slated to be from the east today and Saturday and from a normal tradewind direction, east-northeast, on Sunday.
"It will definitely make it interesting if it switches up because the course is designed or somewhat designed to be played with the tradewinds," he said. "Number one, 520 yards to be played downwind right to left. And if it switches around, that's a Kona wind maybe - if it goes the other way - all of a sudden you have a 520-yard par-4 into the wind."
Haas said that Kona winds didn't slow down the field last season when Jonathan Byrd defeated Robert Garrigus on the second hole of a playoff, at 24-under par, the third-lowest score ever here for the event that has been at Kapalua since 1999.
"I think that's what it played at almost all last year where Kona winds and (24)-under won," Haas said. "So, I don't know. I think somewhere around 20, if you shoot around 20-under, you really have a good chance on Sunday or Monday."
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com