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Tuesday, June 18, 2024 81° Today's Paper


Sports

Kapalua field as strong as ever despite pandemic

The best golfers in the world didn’t let a little trip to the most remote place on the planet keep them home for the holidays.

Led by world No. 1 Dustin Johnson, the 42-man field in next week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions is the largest in this event’s history and is chock-full of talented swingers. Joining No. 1 Johnson at the Plantation Course are eight of the top 10-ranked golfers in the world, including No. 2 Jon Rahm, No. 3 and defending champion Justin Thomas and No. 5 Bryson DeChambeau.

The only two men missing from the scene from among the best the PGA Tour has to offer are No. 4 Rory McIlroy and No. 10 Tyrrell Hatton. And when you look at the list of golfers ranked No. 11 through No. 20, you will find a fair representation from among that group as well. Led by 2015 TOC winner Patrick Reed at No. 11, six of the next 10-ranked golfers will be walking up and down the hills of this beautiful course tucked on the west side of Maui.

In fact, there are five past champions in the field, including 2002 winner Sergio Garcia, who celebrated his 21st birthday the following week by making his first of two appearances at the Sony Open in Hawaii. The players tee it up on Thursday before a limited number of fans who can’t wander around the golf course as in past years because of the COVID-19 virus.

But that didn’t deter the professionals from descending on the Valley Isle. This limited-field event was set up a bit differently than in the past because so many tournaments were canceled during the season. So, the tour had to think of something to fill out what is traditionally a winner’s only tournament. An additional eligibility criteria was created with winners from the 2020 calendar year joined by the top 30 players in the FedExCup standings who advanced to the 2020 Tour Championship.

The field also includes three FedExCup champions and 28 of the top 30 from the 2019-20 FedExCup standings. There were only three majors held last year with the British Open opting out. And all three of those winners are scheduled to tee it up in U.S. Open champion DeChambeau, Masters winner Johnson and PGA Championship victor Collin Morikawa.

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