DJ, major champions lead field at Kapalua

OK, so the Sentry Tournament of Champions didn’t land Tiger Woods, but defending champion Dustin Johnson and every reigning major champion will play next week in the first PGA Tour event of 2019 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort in the Hawaiian island of Maui.

There was speculation that Woods, who won the event in 1997 and 2000, would return for the first time since 2005, but he is one of only three of 37 champions from the last year who will not play in the winners-only tournament. The others are Justin Rose of England and Phil Mickelson.

However the field, which was set on Friday, is a strong one headed by Johnson, U.S. Open and PGA champion Brooks Koepka, Masters champion Patrick Reed and Francesco Molinari, who claimed the Open championship at Carnoustie last year. Reed won at Kapalua in 2015.

“It’s a course I’m really comfortable on,” said Johnson, who has at least one victory on the PGA Tour in each of his 11 seasons on the circuit and a total of 19.

Others in the field include 2017 champion Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Jon Rahm of Spain, Jason Day of Australia, Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Paul Casey of England, Keegan Bradley, Matt Kuchar and Marc Leishman of Australia.

Among the young guns playing are Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis, Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, Cameron Champ of Sacramento, Aaron Wise of Lake Elsinore and Michael Kim of Cal and Alameda.

Johnson, who also won the tournament in 2013, coasted to an eight-stroke victory for the first of his three victories last year. His 432-yard drive on the par-4 12th hole in the final round stopped four inches from being a hole in one.

Woods qualified for the tournament for the first time since 2014 by winning the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. He has played in this tournament eight times, but not since 2005, when he finished in a tie for third, and will stay home again.

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