This week's Hyundai Tournament of Champions is a 32-player, winners-only event, contested at the The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort. The 7,542 yard, par 73 layout is one of the most unique on tour, featuring wide fairways, drastic elevation changes and dramatic views of the ocean.
Last year, Jimmy Walker fired four consecutive rounds in the 60's en route to a 21-under par 271, only to finish runner-up on the first hole of a sudden death playoff. He followed that performance up with a commanding victory at the Sony Open in Hawaii, the first of his two wins on the season. His other came at his hometown Valero Texas Open in San Antonio - making him one of only five players with multiple victories last year.
Team Titleist caught up with Walker during a practice round with fellow Titleist Brand Ambassadors Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas, as well as Titleist golf ball loyalist Rickie Fowler, to discuss the keys to success at Kapalua.
"I enjoy playing this course because you have to hit a lot of different shots," said Walker. "Many people think because of the length of the course and the long par 4's and 5's that only the big hitters can win.That's absolutely not the case. You can just go back and look at the players who have won here. They are not all bombers."
Walker pointed out that the reason he made the playoff last year was his putting.
"I putted lights out last year and that had me in contention all week. Everybody is going to hit a lot of fairways because they are among the widest on Tour, and a lot of these greens are big, but they are undulating, so one and two putts are not guaranteed. The key is to try and land your approach to a position on the green that will give you the best chance at birdie or at worst par. Three putts are always a possibility."
There are 14 newcomers to the field this year and Walker admits the course takes some getting used to.
"Every day is different depending upon which direction the wind is blowing," said Walker. "There are some holes I could hit driver and a wedge, and the next day it is a driver and a 5-iron if the wind is up a certain way. It is important to get a few rounds under your belt to experience all of the different options available to you."