When top PGA Tour stars will likely play to start 2020

AP Photo/Andy Brownbill

When top PGA Tour stars will likely play to start 2020

PGA Tour

When top PGA Tour stars will likely play to start 2020

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The 2020 portion of the current PGA Tour wrap-around schedule tees off this week.

Yep, after two weeks off since the Presidents Cup, we get back to the action.

The calendar year tees off with the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Jan. 2-5 at Kapalua Plantation Course in Maui. The tournament, which started in 1953, has had many names over the years. To gain entry, you had to have won a PGA Tour event the previous year.

The best part of the event for all golf fans stateside? The late afternoon/evening/prime-time TV window.

Let’s take a look at some key players and where we may see them teeing it up in the early parts of 2020.

Tiger Woods

We can all look at the golf calendar and make reasonable guesses as to where we’ll see Woods play next.

Tiger was eligible for the winners-only Tournament of Champions in Maui Jan. 2-5, but he opted to skip it for the second straight year and hasn’t appeared at Kapalua since 2005.

His 2020 debut is likely to be at his usual starting spot, the Farmers Insurance Open (Jan. 23-26) in San Diego, where he’s won eight times at Torrey Pines, including the 2008 U.S. Open.

Beyond that, the only event we officially know he’s going to play is the Genesis Invitational, which benefits his TGR Foundation, Feb. 13-16 at Riviera Country Club.

Woods will serve as tournament host for the third time in 2020. The event has gained elevated status, meaning a smaller, elite field, a larger purse and a longer exemption for winners. That places Tiger’s event on a par with Jack Nicklaus’s Memorial Tournament and the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Beyond that? We shall see.

Brooks Koepka

Like Woods, Koepka passed up the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which suggests he’s still rehabbing his injured left knee.

Koepka underwent stem-cell treatment to repair a partially-torn patella tendon shortly after the Tour Championship. He attempted to defend his title at the CJ Cup, but had to pull out and missed the Presidents Cup.

Koepka committed to play the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Jan. 16-19, and the Saudi International, which is the same week as the PGA Tour’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, Jan. 30-Feb. 2. Chances are Koepka will make his U.S. debut a week earlier at the Farmers Insurance Open, if his knee is fully healed.

Looking farther ahead, as of now, he is listed among the early commitments to the Valspar Championship on Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course, March 19-22.

As for that knee, social media suggests the rehab process is coming along. Koepka posted a workout mash-up on his Instagram page on Dec. 30 that shows him targeting his lower body.

“It’s been a journey these past 3 months rehabbing my knee but it’s coming along & I’m ready to get back out there healthy for a strong 2020,” he wrote along with it.

Justin Thomas

Thomas will open the 2020 season at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii after winning in 2017. He did the Hawaiian double in 2017 when he won Sentry and Sony. He shot 59 in first round in that 2017 Sony.

Phil Mickelson

Lefty’s amazing run – 26 years – in the top 50 of the world rankings ended in November and he ended the year at No. 70.

We know Mickelson’s schedule early on in 2020, where he is set to play at least four straight weeks starting at The American Express in Palm Desert. Mickelson loves the West Coast Swing and will make his debut as tournament host Jan. 16-19. He’s then set to tee it up at Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance Open, Jan. 23-26, where he is a past champion (1993, 2000-01), before heading over to the Saudi International – and forgoing the Waste Management Phoenix Open for the first time in 30 years.

To cap off the busy stretch, Mickelson will be back as defending champion of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Lefty got “one for the thumb” in 2019, tying Mark O’Meara for the most victories at the annual Pebble Tour stop, and will try for a six-pack of titles, Feb. 6-9.

There’s a good chance that Mickelson will play a fifth straight week at the Genesis Invitational. He’s a past champion, has played at Riviera the past three seasons and usually commutes from his home in Rancho Santa Fe via jet. He has yet to announce a commitment so stay tuned.

Patrick Reed

Reed, winner of the Northern Trust, will be in the field at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, the first PGA Tour event of 2020. He won the event in 2015. Presumably caddie/brother-in-law Kessler Karain, who was barred from working the final day of competition at the Presidents Cup, will be alongside Reed.

The 2018 Masters champion played the Sony Open last year, but skipped the American Express, where he is a past champion (2014). Reed typically plays the Farmers Insurance and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but he’ll be absent from Phoenix this year as he already has committed to play the Saudi International.

Rory McIlroy

As a three-time PGA Tour winner in 2018-19, McIlroy was eligible for the Tournament of Champions, but passed on Maui. He announced on his podcast that his first tournament in 2020 will be the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, where he finished T-5 last season. He called it “a good litmus test to see where my game is at.” McIlroy has traditionally played at the Genesis Invitational, where he finished T-4. Expect a return engagement in 2020.

Dustin Johnson

Johnson will open 2020 season at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii after winning in 2018. He is committed to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Feb. 6-9, one of his favorite hunting grounds (winner in 2009, ’10; runner-up in 2014, ’18).

Johnson is scheduled to defend his title at the Saudi International, and looking down the road he is on the early commit lost for the Valspar Championship on Innisbrook Resort’s Copperhead Course March 16-22, after finishing sixth last year.

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