Eight of the 26 players in the 2012 rookie class will be making their first-ever PGA TOUR start this week at the Sony Open in Hawaii: Harris English; John Huh; Richard H. Lee; Jonas Blixt; Scott Brown; Miguel Angel Carballo; J.J. Killeen; and Ted Potter, Jr. A total of 24 rookies are in this week’s Sony Open field.
Jonathan Byrd (T3) led the 27-player field in Strokes Gained – Putting (1.860 strokes per round) at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions after finishing 69th in the category in 2011.
To open the 2012 PGA TOUR season, 18 of the 26 rookies are under the age of 30, with eight of those players under the age of 25. The youngest player on TOUR in 2012 is South Korea’s Seung-yul Noh, who will be 20 years, 7 months and 21 days on January 1, 2012. The last player in his 20s to win the Sony Open in Hawaii was Paul Stankowski (1997), while the last player to record his first PGA TOUR victory at the Sony Open in Hawaii was Jerry Kelly (2002).
Last week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner Steve Stricker has a strong resume at the Sony Open as well, evidenced by six top-10s in 12 career starts. In 46 rounds, he has failed to produce a score of par or better just five times. Winning the first two events of the year has proven to be a difficult task, as Ernie Els (2003) is the only player to win the Sony Open in Hawaii and Hyundai Tournament of Champions back-to-back in the same season.
Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner Steve Stricker now has nine wins in his 40s. Others: Vijay Singh-22; Sam Snead-17; Kenny Perry-11; Julius Boros-10.
The Sony Open in Hawaii field includes two 16-year-olds: Miguel Tabuena of the Philippines, and Moanalua High School (Honolulu) sophomore John Oda, who qualified for the lone amateur exemption in the tournament.
Corey Pavin is making his 26th career start at the Sony Open this week, with victories in 1986 and 1987.
Winning the Hyundai Tournament of Champions has traditionally sparked an outstanding season. Of the last 20 winners, 2008 champion Daniel Chopra is the only player who failed to advance to the TOUR
Championship by Coca-Cola, the fourth and final event in the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup.
Brad Faxon has been honored with the prestigious ASAPSports/Jim Murray Award, which recognizes a golfer for cooperation, quotability and accommodation with the media by the GolfWriters Association of America. Faxon will be honored, along with GWAA Champions Tour Player of the Year Tom Lehman at the Annual GWAA Awards Dinner, April 4 in Augusta, GA.
Mark Wiebe had back surgery to repair a herniated disc following the Charles Schwab Cup Championship last year. Wiebe, who won the Greater Hickory Classic in a playoff over James Mason last season, intend being ready to play at the season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai on January 16-22.
Corey Pavin will join Tom Pernice, Jr. as the only two Champions Tour professionals who will tee it up on the PGA TOUR at the Sony Open this week. Pavin received a sponsor exemption to compete in the event while Pernice is eligible after finishing No. 121 on the 2011 PGA TOUR money list. Pavin was a back-to-back winner of the tournament in 1986-87.
1,016,205,025 – The total number of dollars Champions Tour professionals played for from 1980, when the Tour was established, through the end of 2011. Hale Irwin is the Champions Tour all-time career money winner with $26,195,615.
The “Friends of the Hall of Fame” membership program includes a pair of tickets to any Champions Tour event. Benefits of membership also include admission and discounts at the World Golf Hall of Fame and admission offers to more than 200 other museums around the United States. To become a member of the program visit www.worldgolfhalloffame.org
The Nationwide Tour kicks off its 27-event 2012 season next month (Feb. 13-19) at the Pacific Rubiales Colombia Championship in Bogota.
Of the 26 rookies on the PGA TOUR this year, 18 competed on the Nationwide Tour last year. Two others, Jamie Lovemark and Joe Affrunti, who both have Major Medical Extensions this year, were Tour members in 2010.
Twenty-three of last year's "25" Nationwide Tour graduates are entered in this week's Sony Open in Hawaii.
The Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper (Springfield, MO) recently announced a record 2011 charitable contribution of $782,067 to 43 charities. This was the third highest donation figure on Tour last year. The tournament is one of four original events from the Tour's inaugural year (1990).
Ticket to the TOUR will air this Sunday on NBC, 2:30 - 4:00 p.m. ET. The 90-minute special highlights select players in pursuit of their 2012 PGA TOUR cards via the Nationwide Tour, the top 125 on the money list and the PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament.