Players to see revamped course for 2020 TOC

Rory McIlroy surveys his options after hitting into the deep rough off the the 14th green Sunday. He was able to blast out, but took bogey on the hole. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

KAPALUA — After finishing tied for fourth, Rory McIlroy was pleased with his first appearance in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

“I put a new driver, a new ball and a new putter in the bag and they all felt really good,” McIlroy said after his 72 on Sunday left him at 15-under 277. “I felt like I hit good putts, just couldn’t get them to go. But the driver performed really well, the ball was great.”

The next time he comes back, the Kapalua Plantation Course will provide McIlroy a new look again.

The Plantation Course will undergo a major renovation that will reportedly cost more than $10 million. The course will close on Feb. 11 and will not reopen until November, a 10-month shutdown that will cost more than $8 million in potential revenue.

After some of the views that were seen on the Golf Channel and NBC last week all around the 7,518-yard layout, it is a renovation that is needed.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan mentioned several times in his roundtable with print media members on Saturday that every tournament on the 51-event calendar “has to compete.”

He added, “I think it’s wonderful, the work that’s going to be done here, and it just puts this tournament in an even better stead as we go forward.”

The Plantation Course is the longest of 10 to have been played so far in the 2018-19 season. Last season, it was shorter than only Torrey Pines South (7,698 yards), Corales (7,670) and Quail Hollow (7,554).

Monahan was asked if the fact that average driving distance increased nearly four yards from 2017 to 2018 concerned him.

“Here’s the way I look at it: So players are getting younger, they’re getting more athletic — you look at those two things, then you look at technology and data, and players can optimize their swings, they can optimize their clubs, and that trend only continues in terms of the power of technology and data,” Monahan said. “You look at course conditioning and you look at weather. Okay. Those are a lot of variables that go into it. And that’s what people and we all tend to focus on it.”

Sentry champion Xander Schauffele was 14th in the 33-player field in driving distance last week, averaging 280.3 yards. Runner-up Gary Woodland was fifth, at 290.8 yards. Jason Day, who finished 13th at 11-under 281, was the leader in driving distance here at an average of 302.7 yards.

The 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions will hold its pro-am on Jan. 1, while the tournament proper will run Jan. 2-5. The Hero World Challenge, hosted by Tiger Woods, will be played in the Bahamas one week before the Presidents Cup makes its Dec. 9-15 run in Australia.

While 34 of the 37 eligible winners on tour from 2018 were in this field, because of the travel– most of the top-ranked players live in Florida –drawing players here could be a challenge next year.

“So they go Bahamas, which is now going to end on a Saturday, then to Australia, and then back,” said NBC and Golf Channel analyst Mark Rolfing, a longtime Kapalua resident. “And we’re a day earlier even next year than we are this year. The pro-am is on New Year’s Day. So, we’ve got to be real proactive with the players. They’re still going to come, there’s no question, but we have to really be accommodating as to how it all works.”

Pro Golf

WORLD GOLF RANKING

Country Points

1. Justin Rose ENG 9.46

2. Brooks Koepka USA 9.33

3. Dustin Johnson USA 8.36

4. Justin Thomas USA 8.17

5. Bryson DeChambeau USA 7.02

6. Xander Schauffele USA 6.49

7. Jon Rahm ESP 6.36

8. Rory McIlroy NIR 6.04

9. Francesco Molinari ITA 5.83

10. Tony Finau USA 5.47

11. Jason Day AUS 5.34

12. Rickie Fowler USA 5.33

13. Tommy Fleetwood ENG 5.29

14. Tiger Woods USA 5.28

15. Patrick Reed USA 4.97

16. Bubba Watson USA 4.64

17. Jordan Spieth USA 4.55

18. Marc Leishman AUS 4.49

19. Patrick Cantlay USA 4.46

20. Webb Simpson USA 4.38

PGA Tour FedEx Cup Leaders

Points Money

1. Xander Schauffele 1,094 $3,082,150

2. Gary Woodland 771 $2,208,500

3. Marc Leishman 660 $1,686,933

4. Charles Howell III 653 $1,539,350

5. Kevin Tway 641 $1,447,060

6. Brooks Koepka 593 $1,904,000

7. Bryson DeChambeau 590 $1,478,000

8. Cameron Champ 589 $1,441,881

9. Matt Kuchar 550 $1,403,593

10. Patrick Cantlay 430 $1,047,523

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