News & Opinion

Since when does a Tournament of Champions include non-winners?

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson can look back with satisfaction on a 4-victory year in 2020 after the season restart in June.

COVID-19 prompts PGA Tour to round out Kapalua field with Tour Championship qualifiers, creating an unusual mix for 2021 opener

The PGA Tour will start the new year, as usual, in Hawaii, but the field for this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, like so many things in recent months, will be affected by COVID-19.

In addition to the winners from the previous year, the T of C will include all qualifiers from the season-ending Tour Championship after 10 events were canceled because of the deadly virus in 2020. A record 42 players will compete in the 72-hole, no-cut event, including two – Abraham Ancer and Scottie Scheffler – who never have won on the PGA Tour.

A “tournament of champions” with a couple of non-winners? Welcome to the continuing saga of golf in a pandemic-altered world.

Three qualifiers – Tyrrell Hatton, Jim Herman and Rory McIlroy – will not compete when play begins Thursday at Kapalua Resort’s Plantation Course on Hawaii’s Maui island. Herman, who won the Wyndham Championship, recently tested positive for the coronavirus, which has killed 350,000 Americans from among 20.5 million infections.

Dustin Johnson certainly earned his spot in the T of C via four victories after the season restart in June. Johnson, 36, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, will start 2021 atop the Official World Golf Ranking for a 20th consecutive week and bring a hot hand into the new year. Johnson ended 2020 by finishing no worse than T-6 in his final seven tournaments, including a runaway victory at his most recent start, the Masters in November. Johnson, who won the T of C in 2013 and 2018, will be among 14 of the top 20 in the world ranking scheduled to compete.

No. 3-ranked Justin Thomas, the defending champion, also owns an impressive recent history at the resort on the northwest shore of Maui. He has won twice and finished third in his past four appearances at Kapalua.

Tee times are expected to be released Tuesday. Here is the field (x – indicates player added to the tournament as a Tour Championship qualifier):

Abraham Ancer-x
Daniel Berger
Patrick Cantlay
Cameron Champ-x
Stewart Cink
Bryson DeChambeau
Harris English-x
Tony Finau-x
Sergio Garcia
Brian Gay
Lanto Griffin-x
Billy Horschel-x
Viktor Hovland
Mackenzie Hughes-x
Sungjae Im
Dustin Johnson
Kevin Kisner-x
Jason Kokrak
Martin Laird
Andrew Landry
Marc Leishman
Hideki Matsuyama-x
Collin Morikawa
Sebastian Munoz-x
Kevin Na-x
Joaquin Niemann-x
Carlos Ortiz
Ryan Palmer-x
Jon Rahm
Patrick Reed
Xander Schauffele-x
Scottie Scheffler-x
Adam Scott
Webb Simpson
Cameron Smith
Robert Streb
Hudson Swafford
Nick Taylor
Justin Thomas
Michael Thompson
Brendon Todd-x
Richy Werenski

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