When Charlie Beljan capped his improbable victory at the final PGA Tour event of the 2012 season--after nearly not being able to finish the second round due to panic attacks--one of the first sentences the 28-year-old managed to articulate during his emotional greenside interview with the Golf Channel was, "And now I get to go to Hawai'i!"
While the MVP of the NFL's Super Bowl is known for looking at the camera and saying the famous phrase, "I'm going to Disney World," on the PGA Tour, most players make reference to going to Kapalua as a reward for their victory.
Beljan's win made him the final player to qualify for the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions in one of the most memorable and dramatic seasons on the PGA Tour in recent history.
When Charlie Beljan capped his improbable victory at the final PGA Tour event of the 2012 season, one of the first sentences the 28-year-old managed to articulate during his emotional greenside interview with the Golf Channel was, “And now I get to go to Hawai‘i!”
Major championship winners from 2012--Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson--as well as first-time winners Rickie Fowler, Tommy Gainey, Kyle Stanley, John Huh and Jonas Blixt are expected to tee up at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort at the event being held Thursday through Monday, Jan. 3-7.
Also expected to play are a group of the 2012 season's most successful players, such as FedExCup winner Brandt Snedeker and two-time winners Hunter Mahan, Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson, along with 2012 Ryder Cup stars and 2012 World Golf Championships winners Keegan Bradley and Ian Poulter.
When you add players like Dustin Johnson, Bill Haas, Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney and Hyundai Tournament of Champions defending champion Steve Stricker, there's a lot to be excited about when the 2013 season tees off.
The list of champions from the Hyundai Tournament of Champions reads like a role call from the World Golf Hall of Fame. Names like Gene Littler, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Johnny Miller, Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, Lanny Wadkins, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh have all won the winner's-only event over the last seven decades.
For the players, the event is known on tour as the reward for winning. From a competition perspective, a no-cut, small-field event gives the players a "bonus-event" to earn valuable FedExCup and World Ranking points. Off the course, the tournament has become a vacation to players and their families thanks to the unparalleled beauty and endless activities that are available just steps from their hotel rooms.
"Kapalua is a place you always want to come," said two-time winner Geoff Ogilvy. "It's one of the nicest venues all year, if not the nicest.... It's a nice reward for winning a tournament the year before and a little bit of a head start on everyone else. Everything is good about this tournament, yeah."
Following last year's victory, Stricker shared his family's sentiments on the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
"You really appreciate being here once you come here," Stricker said. "It is a special place. And after getting here after Christmas, you realize how important that win is the previous year so you can start here."
But the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is not just about exciting golf. Giving back is part of the fabric of the PGA Tour, and the spirit of "Together, anything's possible" is alive and well at the tournament.
In 2012, the tournament made contributions totaling nearly $300,000 to local charities. Since 1999, when the Hyundai Tournament of Champions moved to Kapalua, the event has donated nearly $4 million to charity. These charitable figures can only happen as a result of the selfless dedication of the hundreds of tournament volunteers.
To start the first competitive round of the 2013 Hyundai Tournament of Champions in style, an Aloha Kick-Off featuring a traditional Hawaiian blessing will precede the first tee time by approximately 40 minutes on Friday. Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua Cultural Advisor Clifford Naeole and the cast of Ulalena will perform the blessing.
The Aloha Kick-Off will also feature performances by Grammy Award winner and slack key guitarist George Kahumoku and Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winning vocalist and songwriter Amy Hanaiali'i, who will sing Hawaii Pono'i and the national anthem.
To purchase tickets, visit www.pgatour.com/content/pgatour/tournaments/hyundai-tournament-of-champions/tickets.html.