With neither Tiger Woods nor Phil Mickelson starting their respective golf season until the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and with a lack of "star power" in Kapalua, will the kick-off at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions become a non-event?
The Hyundai Tournament of "Champions", the PGA Tour's season-opener, will be short several winners including Mickelson (Masters), Louis Oosthuizen (British Open) and the big talk of the 2010 golf world, Lee Westwood. Three out of the four major's champions will not be in Hawaii at an event meant to bring them all together for the kickoff of the season.
Tiger Woods did not win a single event in 2010 and therefore was not invited to the season opener. Woods' return to Torrey Pines was carefully thought out as Tiger has won the last five events he has played there, including a U.S. Open.
Woods and Mickelson were more visible in tabloids and in tweets than on the leaderboard last year. Tiger's indiscretions overpowered his golf skills and Phil's (and family) medical problems overshadowed his single win at The Masters Tournament. The void left from both top PGA Tour golfers has golf fans searching for new heroes during the 2011 season.
At least 2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell will dazzle the crowd and show off his new Srixon golf equipment. "The golf ball is probably one of the things that attracted me most," said McDowell. "I felt like it was a golf ball I could get to the next level with."
McDowell is ready to perform in 2011 stating, "I want to maintain this World Ranking and prove that I'm a world-class player."
Ernie Els will be in attendance as well as Geoff Ogilvy, whose 7:1 odds make him a favorite to win.
There will be a slew of terrific golfers this week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions but the PGA Tour is going to have to pull a rabbit out of its hat in order to interest more viewers without relying on Woods or Mickelson to set the pace or the 2011 season may not pick up speed until it gets to Torrey Pines.