KAPALUA, Hawaii — After overcoming flight troubles last week and dealing with rain for the early part of this week, William McGirt says aloha to the 2017 portion of the PGA Tour season at the winners-only SBS Tournament of Champions.
The Fairmont native is one of 32 players — including top-ranked Jason Day and defending champion Jordan Spieth — in the $6.1 million tournament, which begins Thursday at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort in Hawaii.
Thirty-eight players qualified for the event, but six are taking a pass: Adam Scott, Danny Willett, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Charl Schwartzel and FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy.
One of 11 newcomers, McGirt punched his ticket to Hawaii with a win at The Memorial last season.
“It’s a really cool event because everyone had to win to be here,” McGirt told The Robesonian. “It gives me some satisfaction knowing that I had to win my way in.”
While he’s happy to be in Hawaii, McGirt has grown tired of the rain over the past few days.
“It’s great now that it’s quit raining,” he said. “I didn’t get much practice when I was home due to the weather and it rained when we were in Phoenix as well.”
McGirt played in two events to start his seventh season on the Tour, missing the cut at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open before earning a tie for 27th in November’s RSM Classic.
Paired with Bubba Watson, McGirt tees off at 4:50 p.m. EST on Thursday at the Plantation Course, which has four par 5s but only three par 3s — making it the only par 73 on the Tour schedule.
“It will be fun playing with Bubba again for the third time in the last five events,” McGirt said. “The course is soft because of all the rain they’ve had over the last month. It’s long but not too bad. I like it. I think it sets up well for me.
“I don’t have many expectations this week. … It will be a week to get back into it and prep for next week.”
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.