Amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the PGA Tour is looking for its events to get back to normal, despite recently surging cases of the Omicron variant.
There are four tournaments in January, and all are expecting pre-pandemic crowd levels and corporate hospitality activities, with plenty of pent-up demand among golf fans.
Sentry Tournament of Champions, Plantation Course at Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii, January 6-9
The traditional opening PGA Tour event of the calendar year is restricted to tournament winners from the past year. It offers a healthy $8.2 million purse that a limited field of 39 players will share. Phil Mickelson will make an appearance at the Tournament of Champions for the first time in 21 years, in an event he won twice in 1994 and 1998 before it moved from California to Hawaii.
Harris English is the defending champion on the par 73 layout, defeating Joaquin Niemann in a sudden-death playoff after firing a 25 under par total of 267.
The undulating course that offers spectacular elevation changes and views of the Pacific Ocean generally yields a lot of birdies and eagles, with low scores the norm in a tournament with no 36 hole cut.
Sony Open in Hawaii, Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, Hawaii, January 13-16
The Tour stays in Hawaii for the first full-field event of 2022 and one of two January tournaments that will require spectators to show proof of vaccination for entry onto the grounds.
Kevin Na is the defending champion in Honolulu, with a total purse of $7.5 million up for grabs for players willing to make the trip across a large stretch of the Pacific Ocean.
Unlike the Plantation Course, Waialae Country Club is a relatively flat par 70 layout where Na shot 21 under par 259 to defeat Chris Kirk and Joaquin Niemann by a stroke, concluding a close but no cigar trip for Niemann to start 2021.
Last year’s cut was at four under par, so again, look for low numbers on another vulnerable course for scoring.
The American Express, Three Courses, La Quinta, California, January 20-23
Last year’s American Express was held without spectators and the famed pro-am, where the professionals are paired with amateurs for the first three rounds. The event returns to three layouts for 2022, with the Stadium and Nicklaus courses at PGA West joined by La Quinta Country Club for the first three days while all players are competing on the Stadium course for the final round.
The American Express had its roots as the Bob Hope Desert Classic and will also require proof of vaccination, but will also offer concerts and other entertainment as it returns to pre-Covid levels of activity.
Si Woo Kim is the defending champion in the $7.6 million event, holding on to defeat hard-charging Patrick Cantlay by a shot at 23 under par despite Cantlay’s closing 11 under par 61.
Farmers Insurance Open, Torrey Pines North and South, San Diego, CA, January 26-29
In addition to getting back to normal, the Farmers has a shift in dates for 2022, playing a Wednesday to Saturday schedule to accommodate CBS, which is carrying an NFL conference championship game on Sunday.
Full spectator levels and corporate tents are expected for the tournament conducted on the same course that hosted the 2021 U.S. Open won by Jon Rahm, as well as a sister layout on the same property.
Patrick Reed didn’t avoid controversy on his way to a five-shot victory over a quintet of players, finishing at 14 under par 274 in the tournament offering $8.4 million in prize money.
The only disruption to the tournament due to the schedule change was the cancellation of the pro-am earlier in the week.