It may be one of the elevated PGA Tour events for 2023 but it’s by no means the biggest. In fact, in terms of stature and recognition, it is a run of the mill off-season event. However, for those who need validation on the year just gone, teeing it up as a PGA Tour winner at the Sentry Tournament of Champions is a pretty good place to start.
The opening event of the new year is an exclusive club for the few and Waterford’s Seamus Power has secured membership of that party for the second successive year as he gets what could be a terrific 2023 underway in Kapalua.
Rory McIlroy has opted to swerve the tournament in favour of opening his season in Dubai on the DP World Tour later this month as he takes up the offer of being allowed miss one of the elevated events on the PGA Tour – each player is permitted to miss one of the 17 elevated events throughout the year.
Defending champion Cameron Smith is also a no show after switching his allegiance to LIV Golf towards the end of 2022.
Power boasts good form in Hawaii after a top-15 finish on debut twelve months ago and he arrives as FedEx Cup leader after bringing 2022 to a sensational end.
After a terrific year, it all seemed to be petering out on the Tooraneena man late in the summer but he reignited his season with a victory in Bermuda, and then he continued his form with a T3 at Mayakoba and a T5 at Sea Island.
Now perched inside the top-30 in the world, Power will be eager to start 2023 in a similar vein of form to which he started and finished 2022.
The 35-year-old was third at the Sony Open in Hawaii the week after the Sentry TOC, 14th at the Amex and 9th at Pebble Beach where he had opportunities to win. A similar start could set the tone for the year as he looks to impress Luke Donald at next week’s Hero Cup.
Looking ahead to this week, the course at Kapalua is a haven for testing new timber with the widest fairways on tour usually yielding good scores.
Power was 14 shots adrift of eventual winner Smith last year and he hopes some blustery conditions can put a cap on scoring.
“In the second round, I was tied for the lead on my 15th hole, shot nine or 10-under for the last 39 holes, and ended up losing by 14,” he told the Irish Independent. “The scoring was remarkable. But there was no wind and it was very soft, so there wasn’t really much to protect the course.
“The scoring was insane, but the chances are it’ll be back to being firmer and windier, so hopefully, it’ll be a little bit of a test.
“It’s never going to be the hardest course in the world. It’s a resort course with big, huge fairways, but at least the wind would make it somewhat of a challenge.”
Power is in the second group out alongside Mackenzie Hughes. They tee off at 19.35 (Irish time).
- Full scoring HERE