Countdown to Kapalua Spotlights: Day, Knox, Vegas, Perez

December 15, 2016, 3:45 PM HST · Updated December 15, 3:46 PM
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Leading up to the start of the SBS 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 SBS 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 Jason Day, Russell Knox, Jhonattan Vegas and Pat Perez.

Jason Day (Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, THE PLAYERS Championship) – Fourth Appearance (Best Finish: T3, 2015)
Australian Jason Day will make his 2016-17 PGA TOUR season debut at the SBS Tournament of Champions after being sidelined in the fall with a back injury. The number one player in the world has never finished outside of the top 10 at the SBS Tournament of Champions, with his best finish coming in 2015 when he tied for third.

Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard
With a one-shot win over Kevin Chappell, Day became just the fourth wire-to-wire (no ties) winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, joining Mike Nicolette (1983), Paul Azinger (1988) and Fred Couples (1992). The win was the eighth of Day’s PGA TOUR career and came at the age of 28 years, 4 months and eight days. It also moved him to No. 18 in the FedExCup and No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking.

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Day’s putting was on fine display at Bay Hill, as he needed just 100 putts for the week and did not have a three-putt.

World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play
The week following his wire-to-wire win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard, Day continued his momentum in a resounding win at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. Day did not lose any of his seven matches for the week, winning all three of his group stage matches before his run through the knockout rounds.

Day defeated Rory McIlroy 1 up in a thrilling semi-final match before handily taking care of Louis Oosthuizen in the final, 5 and 4.

The consecutive victories for Day matched his consecutive victories in 2015 wins at the PGA Championship and THE NORTHERN TRUST. It also moved him to second in the FedExCup and No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the second time in his career.

THE PLAYERS Championship
Day’s sizzling play in the first half of 2016 reached its pinnacle at THE PLAYERS Championship in May in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. On the strength of a tournament record-tying, opening-round 63, Day never relinquished his lead on the way to a four-shot win over Kevin Chappell. Day became just the fifth wire-to-wire winner in tournament history and the first since Hal Sutton in 2000.

Day joined Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Martin Kaymer as the only players to win THE PLAYERS Championship, a major championship and a World Golf Championships event in their career. He also became the fifth player since 1980 to win 10 or more times on the PGA TOUR before his 29th birthday, joining Woods, Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and David Duval.

“I think it’s more for myself and the hard work that I put into my game coming into this week, and especially the year, coming off two wins earlier this year and feeling good about my game knowing that I just had to get in there and try and want it more than anyone else,” Day said following his win at THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. “I said 14-under was the average score and I ended up beating it by just one, which was nice. I’m just very pleased to be THE PLAYERS champion. I can’t say any more.”

Russell Knox (Travelers Championship) – Second Appearance (Best Finish: 27, 2016)
Russell Knox is making his second consecutive start at the SBS Tournament of Champions following the best season of his PGA TOUR career. Knox finished the TOUR Championship 10th in the FedExCup, the best final position of his career on the strength of his win at the Travelers Championship, as well as three other top 10s.

Knox began the final round of the Travelers Championship down three shots to Daniel Berger but was able to close the gap with a Sunday 68 on a day that also saw Jim Furyk shoot a PGA TOUR record 58. The Scottish-born player threw his hat in elated celebration when he holed a par putt of 12 feet at the 72nd hole to beat Jerry Kelly by one shot.

The win was the second of Knox’s career to go along with the 2015 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions.

“I think it was big for me,” Knox said following his victory. “I made it a big deal. I finished second three times since I’ve won, and I mean, I really wanted to get another one so I could really show myself that I can win multiple times.”

Jhonattan Vegas (RBC Canadian Open) – Second Appearance (Best Finish: 27, 2012)
Jhonattan Vegas birdied the final three holes at Glen Abbey at the RBC Canadian Open for a razor-thin one-stroke victory over Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Martin Laird. He began the final day five shots behind the leader, Brandt Snedeker, but shot a Sunday 64 to claim victory, the second of his PGA TOUR career.

“That’s the fortunate breaks that sometimes you need to be a champion on the PGA TOUR,” Vegas said. “It’s a great feeling. I mean, last week, I had a six-shot lead going into the weekend and lost by three. I was five back starting today and won by one. It’s a crazy sport. You’ve just got to keep your head down and play hard.”

Pat Perez (OHL Classic at Mayakoba) – Second Appearance (Best Finish: T10, 2010)
In his third start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season, Pat Perez came from one back to win the 10th annual OHL Classic at Mayakoba. Perez, who was playing on a Major Medical Extension, made five birdies and one bogey en route to a 21-under-par 263, good for a two-stroke victory over 54-hole leader Gary Woodland. Perez tied Harris English’s (2014) tournament-record low 72-hole total.

The win moved Perez to third in the FedExCup in the 2016-17 PGA TOUR season, a position he still holds heading into the SBS Tournament of Champions.

Perez’s victory is the second of his career and came at the age of 40 years, 8 months and 12 days, making him the second oldest winner in tournament history.

Tournament Tickets:

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.

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