Three players in the top 10 in the world golf rankings are part of the field for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which was finalized Friday, but none of the top four chose to play in the PGA Tour's season-opening event, despite being eligible.
Bubba Watson will be the highest-ranked player in the field, at No. 8, when competition gets under way
on Jan. 4 at the Kapalua Plantation Course. Ninth-ranked Jason Dufner and No. 10 Brandt Snedeker, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, will be playing as well.
Bubba Watson is No. 8 in the world golf rankings.
AP file photo
The event is limited to tour winners from 2012. Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Tiger Woods and Justin Rose - Nos. 1-4 in the rankings, respectively - were qualified but opted out. Also eligible but skipping the event are Phil Mickelson, course record-holder Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia, who won at Kapalua in 2002.
The field has two reigning major champions - Watson, who won the Masters in April, and 11th-ranked Webb Simpson, who won the U.S. Open in June.
"Every year that we can get into Hyundai means that we've played well the year (before) and that we've won a PGA Tour event, which is the goal to start every season," Watson said in a tour release. "For us to play in a tournament of champions is an honor. It's great to go there with my family in beautiful Maui. It's a fun golf course and an exciting place to play and start the season."
HYUNDAI TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS FIELD
Tournament Jan. 4-7, at Kapalua Plantation Course
Charlie Beljan, Jonas Blixt, Keegan Bradley, Ben Curtis, Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Tommy Gainey, Bill Haas, J.J. Henry, John Huh, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Marc Leishman, Hunter Mahan, George McNeill, Ryan Moore, Carl Pettersson, Scott Piercy, Ted Potter Jr., Ian Poulter, Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Scott Stallings, Kyle Stanley, Steve Stricker, Johnson Wagner, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson, Mark Wilson (eligibile but not playing: Luke Donald, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Tiger Woods).
Defending champion Steve Stricker is the winningest player in the field. He earned his 12th and most recent victory at Kapalua last year. Dustin Johnson's six wins rank second.
Eight players qualified for the event for the first time - Rickie Fowler, Charlie Beljan, John Huh, Jonas Blixt, Kyle Stanley, Marc Leishman, Ted Potter Jr. and Tommy Gainey.
"It's always been a tournament that I've watched, being a tournament of champions and in a way, dreamt of playing," Fowler said in the release. "So I'm excited to get there and play and share it with the family."
As for what he has heard about the event from other players, Fowler said: "It's a fun, relaxing week to start the season. It's a fun course with challenges in elevation and wind coming off the ocean. Just heard it's a cool place and a great way to start the year."
Dufner is one of three players headed to Maui who won twice on tour last year. The others are Hunter Mahan and Zach Johnson.
"I'm always excited to go to Hyundai," said Mahan, a five-time winner in his career. "It's our reward for winning - getting to go to Hawaii. It's a fantastic tournament, the staff does an incredible job of running it. Hyundai is a great sponsor and they have shown how excited they are about the event. There is no reason not to go. It's going to be a great week."
The field also includes 12th-ranked Keegan Bradley and No. 13 Ian Poulter.