Jordan Spieth ended last year with four straight top 10s — a victory in the Tour Championship, a tie for seventh in the HSBC Champions, tie for second in the Australian Open and fourth in the Hero World Challenge.
And he could fall to No. 2 this week.
Jason Day, who hasn’t played an individual tournament since East Lake on Sept. 27, can replace Spieth at No. 1 by winning the Tournament of Champions. He also could move to No. 1 if he finishes runner-up alone and Spieth is outside the top five, or if Day is tied for second and Spieth is out the top 15.
THE NEWCOMERS: Only three players have won the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in their first try – David Duval in 1999 (the year it moved to Maui), Sergio Garcia in 2002 and Daniel Chopra in 2008.
That doesn’t bode well for the 14 newcomers this year.
The list includes Padraig Harrington, who won the Honda Classic in a playoff last year. The Irishman never came the three previous years he won on the PGA Tour (including two years when he won majors) because he was taking a long break over the winter from playing on two tours.
But he ended last year early because of injury and has not played since the CIMB Classic in Malaysia the last week of October. For him, that’s a big break.