Countdown to Kapalua Spotlights: Matsuyama, Kim, Hurley III, TaylorDecember 6, 2016, 1:13 PM HST · Updated December 6, 1:17 PM 0 Comments
Leading up to the start of the Tournament of Champions, tournament officials are highlighting each of the qualifiers for the winners-only event. The recaps spotlight how each qualified player earned his way into the prestigious field at the Tournament of Champions when the event returns to The Plantation Course at Kapalua from Jan. 4-8, 2017.
This installment of the Countdown to Kapalua looks back on 2016 victories by Hideki Matsuyama, Si Woo Kim, Billy Hurley III and Vaughn Taylor.
Hideki Matsuyama (Waste Management Phoenix Open, WGC-HSBC Champions) – Second Appearance (Best Finish: T3, 2015)
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama is one of the hottest players in the world heading into the Tournament of Champions. Through the season-opening events of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR season, Matsuyama leads the FedExCup standings on the strength of a second place finish at the CIMB Classic and a win at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
Matsuyama’s victory at the HSBC Champions was his second of the calendar year to go along with a playoff win over Rickie Fowler at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
The 24 year old won the Japan Open the week before the CIMB Classic to kick start his fall run and most recently claimed the Hero World Challenge title to close out 2016, which is not an official PGA TOUR event, but still saw him defeat a strong field.
Matsuyama will be one of the players to watch at Kapalua this year, as he finished T3 in his only previous appearance in 2015.
Si Woo Kim (Wyndham Championship) – First Appearance
Korea’s Si Woo Kim narrowly missed out on Rookie of the Year honors to Emiliano Grillo, but had a season to remember nonetheless. The 21 year old qualified for the season-ending TOUR Championship and finished 17th in the final FedExCup standings.
Kim recorded five top 10s on the season, but the highlight was his first PGA TOUR victory at the Wyndham Championship right before the beginning of the FedExCup Playoffs. He entered the final round with a four-shot lead and coasted to victory with a closing 3-under 67, good enough for a five-shot win over Luke Donald. The win made Kim the eighth Korean-born player to win on the PGA TOUR. In the second round, Kim shot a 60, breaking the tournament course record.
“I never expect any course record,” Kim said following the win. “I’m very happy being the youngest winner this year.”
With his first PGA TOUR victory, Kim will play in the Tournament of Champions for the first time in his career.
Billy Hurley III (Quicken Loans National) – First Appearance
Another first-time player at the Tournament of Champions to watch this week is American Billy Hurley III, who is coming off of his best PGA TOUR season, finishing 55th in the FedExCup.
Hurley’s win at the Quicken Loans National was the first of his career and carried extra emotional weight, as it came near his hometown of Annapolis, Maryland. Furthermore, it was at the Quicken Loans National the year prior where Hurley made an impassioned plea to help find his lost father. Hurley, who was in the Navy, was a crowd favorite for the week and the support helped him achieve his first victory.
“I’m a little flabbergasted, I didn’t know that many people cared that much about me,” Hurley said following his win. “I’ve heard from so many grown men telling me they were watching golf and crying on Sunday. I had a friend from California leave a message and he was fighting back tears the whole time. So that surprised the heck out of me.”
Hurley’s emotional victory earned him a spot in the Tournament of Champions for the first time.
Vaughn Taylor (AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am) – Third Appearance (Best Finish: T4, 2006)
American Vaughn Taylor narrowly defeated Phil Mickelson at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am to secure his third PGA TOUR victory and first since the 2005 Barracuda Championship.
“Just absolutely amazing,” Taylor said following his win. “I can’t believe I’m actually sitting here right now. Didn’t know if it would ever happen again, to be honest.”
Taylor has a strong history at the Tournament of Champions, finishing T4 in 2006 and T8 in 2005.
Heading into the final round, Taylor was six strokes behind Mickelson but made four consecutive birdies on the back nine to take the lead.
Tickets for the Tournament of Champions are available at PGATOUR.com/TOC or via Ticketmaster. Birdies for the Brave® is proud to support complimentary and discounted military ticketing as they do throughout the PGA TOUR season. Fans are also reminded that up to three children, ages 18 and under are admitted free of charge with every one paid adult (applies to grounds access only).
Tickets can also be picked up at The Plantation Course at Kapalua’s golf shop and the Bay Course at Kapalua’s golf shop beginning on Dec. 1 and at the Honolua Store starting on Dec. 12.
Free public parking is available at the Lahaina Civic Center with shuttles to the course.
All four competitive rounds will be broadcast on Golf Channel.