Golf’s biggest stars are assembling in Hawaii for this huge PGA Tour event – and we’re here with all you need to know about one of the biggest sports in the world
Sentry Tournament of Champions, from Thursday 4 January, 11pm, Sky Sports Golf/HD (CH 515/505)
After a brief mid-winter break to enable the likes of Jordan Spieth and co. to work on their already enviable talents, the action returns this week with the Sentry Tournament of Champions from the breathtaking Hawaiian island of Maui.
This gilded event is the traditional calendar-year opener on the PGA Tour. Think of it as golf’s equivalent of football’s Community Shield. And like football’s annual curtain raiser, the Tournament of Champions features only the crème de la crème of the golfing circuit – entry is limited to those that won on the PGA Tour the previous year.
Unsurprisingly, this year’s field reads like a who’s who of the modern game, with nine of the current top 10 featuring. Last year’s champion, current world number three Justin Thomas, will defend his trophy, although world number one Dustin Johnson, number two Jordan Spieth (a winner here in 2016), plus Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler will all have something to say about who gets to pick up the winner’s cheque of $1.2m.
And if getting into golf topped your list of New Year’s resolutions, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a handy guide to the sport literary legend Mark Twain apocryphally declared was a good walk spoiled. Right, to the first tee…
Golf is jam-packed with arcane phrases that might sound like gobbledygook. However, once you know the meaning of terms such as albatross and bogey, everything begins to make a lot more sense…
Each of the 18 holes on a golf course should be completed in a certain number of shots. For example a par-4 hole is meant to take four shots. If a golfer finishes their round (all 18 holes) five under par, they have completed it for five strokes less than they were expected to do so.
A golfer records a birdie when they take one shot less than par to finish a hole. An eagle is two shots less and the lesser-spotted albatross is a magnificent three shots less than par. Conversely a bogey is when you shoot one over par. A double bogey is two shots over par, and so on…
Making the cut
A golf tournament traditionally consists of four rounds of 18 holes, played over four days. At the halfway point, those players who fail to reach a certain score are knocked out. They are said to have not made the cut.
No, not an impolite request for a hot beverage. Instead, this relates to the start of each hole. The small peg that a player places into the ground to then hit their ball off is also known as a tee.
There are a number of ways to get the ball from the tee to the hole, but the best route to aim for is along the shorter grass - otherwise known as the fairway.
If you hear a player scream this after hitting a shot, prepare to take evasive action. Their shot hasn’t gone where they intended and the ball could be heading towards other players or spectators.
The super-short grassed area of a golf course where players aim to hit the ball into the hole.
There are a host of golf clubs (putters, wedges, drivers), but if you really want to get the ball to travel a fair distance a wood is the club to use.
If you want to know who golf’s current stars are, check out this group of modern-day greats…
The American has usurped Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy as the pre-eminent golfer of his generation. Already a three-time major winner, his duel with Dustin Johnson at top of the world rankings is not to be missed.
The Ulsterman is an undoubted superstar. With four majors already to his name, the 26-year-old is a firm fan favourite. If tournament organisers want to sell tickets, they’ll want McIlroy competing.
This big hitter currently sits atop the world rankings, a position he’s held for most of the last year. He finally won his first major at the 2016 US Open and since then he’s taken his game to another level.
The 37-year-old world number six became golf’s first Olympic champion since 1904 when he triumphed in Rio in 2016. His success at the 2013 US Open made him the first English winner of a major since Nick Faldo in 1996.
The baby-faced Fowler has assumed Garcia’s mantle as the best player on tour not to have won a major championship. He’ll go into the Tournament of Champions on a high having won the Hero World Challenge at the end of 2017.
One of the most likeable golfers of all-time, the charming Spaniard finally lost his “best player to never win a major” tag at last year’s Masters. One of the heroes of recent European Ryder Cup wins, El Nino’s all-round game makes him a potent force on any golf course.
Last year’s winner in Hawaii and one of the game’s rising stars. Thomas had a stellar 2017, wining his first major (the PGA Championship) and also scooping the lucrative FedEx Cup.
In case you get bitten by the golfing bug, here are three more unmissable events coming your way…
Sky Sports is your home for all the best golfing action around the world. After Hawaii, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship tees off on 18 January. Last year’s winner was England’s Tommy Fleetwood, who picked up his second win on the European tour to kick off a momentous 2017.
Remaining in the Middle East, the Omega Dubai Desert Classic begins on 25 January. Sergio Garcia won last time out, while Rory McIlroy and Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher have had recent success at the Emirates Golf Club.
Beginning on 1 February, the Waste Management Phoenix Open is one of the most colourful tournaments on the golfing calendar, earning it the title “The Greatest Show on Grass”. Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama won in 2017 with a victory that saw him begin his surge up the world rankings.
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