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Friday, January 22, 2021

Yeah, I Know They Started Yesterday But...

The Champions Tour is starting their year in Hawaii and it's still cold here on the East Coast of the US. So let's talk briefly about their first event, the Mitsubishi Electric Championship.

Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez

This event is played at Hualalai Golf Course, meaning this is the third Hawaiian island we get to see this month. (The ladies are down in Florida.) Miguel Angel Jimenez is the defending champion and looking to become a three-time winner at Hualalai so he can join Bernhard Langer, who seems to hold just about every record on the Champions Tour except for the most wins. (That's still Hale Irwin, folks, but Langer isn't that far behind. And Hale is playing this week.)

As we have already come to expect in this year's golf, the players who are in great form aren't necessarily the ones that the analysts are picking. For example, I checked the Power Rankings after Thursday's first round and here's what I found.

Two players are tied in third place so far, Scott Parel and Jerry Kelly, both at -8. Parel is 10th in the rankings and Kelly is 4th. So far so good.

The player in second place is Darren Clarke at -9. Clarke is ranked 7th and, as well as he's been playing, should have more than one win by now. But the routine and courses on the Champions Tour are definitely different than the regular tours, and they take some getting used to. Look for him to play better this year.

But sitting at the top of the leaderboard at -10 is Retief Goosen... and he isn't in the Power Rankings at all. Go figure.

Technically this isn't the beginning of the season because the Champions Tour is treating 2020 and 2021 as one giant season. That should set us up for an interesting final stretch as players position themselves for the Charles Schwab Cup, simply because there are so many events this year where you can pick up points. So these early events may end up being even more important than ususal.

GC's coverage for this three-day event started Thursday and will broadcast at the same time today and Saturday, starting at 7pm ET. Since the players went this low in the first round, this could end up being a real sprint to the finish. I wonder if Retief will hang on and surprise them all?

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