By David Dusek
Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Happy New Year to one and all. With the PGA Tour set to begin the season in Hawaii, plenty of golf fans are shivering on the mainland as winter sets in. Here are some answers to burning questions to help you stay warm.

1. What can be done to improve the PGA Tour's season-opening event, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions?
Without using Google, can you name the player who won last year at Kapalua? If you can't, Jonathan Byrd can. And so can Robert Garrigus, because he lost to Byrd in a playoff.

Kapalua's Plantation Course
Kohjiro Kinno/SI
The 18th hole at Kapalua's Plantation Course


2. As of January 1, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Anthony Kim and Camilo Villegas are among the big-name players who are not exempt to play in the 2012 Masters. Which of them will earn a spot in the field at Augusta?

  • Past champions have a lifetime exemption
  • Winners of the other three majors get a five-year exemption
  • Winners of a previous-season's PGA Tour event are automatically qualified. (Sorry Fall Series winners and players who win events held opposite a World Golf Championship, those don't count.)
  • Finishing in the top 16 in a Masters gets you into the next season's field
  • Finish 30th or better on the PGA Tour's money list
  • Finish in the top 50 in the last Official World Golf Rankings of the previous season.

Villegas was disqualified at Kapalua

Tournament Top 10 Finish for
Anthony Kim
Top 10 Finish for
Camilo Villegas
Sony Open - -
Humana Challenge 2008 -
Farmer's Insurance Open 2011 2009
Waste Management Open - 2006, 2010
AT&T Pebble Beach - -
Northern Trust 2007 2006
WGC-World Match Play - 2009
Transitions Championship - -
Honda Classic 2010 2007, 2010 (W)
WGC-Cadillac Champ. - 2006 , 2009
Arnold Palmer Invitational - -
Shell Houston Open 2007, 2010 (W) -

3. Which golfer who won a major championship in 2011, not named Rory McIlroy, is most likely to win another?

Cheers, Darren!

Keegan Bradley at 2011 PGA Championship
Fred Vuich/SI
Keegan Bradley at the 2011 PGA Championship.

4. Is Webb Simpson for real or was his 2011 season an aberration?

Year Player Stroke Avg. Strokes behind No. 1 player
2011 Webb Simpson 69.25 .39 (Donald)
2010 Steve Stricker 69.66 .05 (Kuchar)
2009 Steve Stricker 69.29 1.24 (Woods)
2008 Phil Mickelson 69.17 .05 (Garcia)
2007 Ernie Els 69.29 1.5 (Woods)
2006 Jim Furyk 68.86 .75 (Woods)
2005 Vijay Singh 69.04 .38 (Woods)

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