Tournament of Champions tees of Friday, Els one back in South Africa

The first official tee shots of the 2015 calendar year for the PGA Tour launch¬†Friday morning in Hawaii at Kapalua’s Plantation Course.

FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel and tournament defending champion Zach Johnson are paired together in the final twosome at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The due tees of at 12:50 p.m. local time.

Masters champion and World No. 4 Bubba Watson — the top-ranked player in the field — plays with 2014 FedEx Cup runner-up Chris Kirk just prior to the final pairing. The headliner pair of Matt Kuchar and Aussie Jason Day start on No. 1 at 12:22 p.m.

The Friday start means the tournament concludes on Monday — effectively avoiding the Sunday’s NFL playoff games. The tour moves to Oahu next week for the Sony Open (which features a traditional Thursday to Sunday competition).

Other Golf News:

  • Tiger Woods is rumored to be considering the Waste Management Phoenix Open for his 2015 debut on the PGA Tour. The event, held at TPC Scottsdale during Super Bowl, see off Jan. 29. Woods has until the Friday before the tournament to commit.
  • Ernie Els, tournament host and past champion, is just a shot off the lead after 18 holes at the European Tour’s South African Open Championship. The World Golf Hall of Fame member shot 5-under-67 in the opening round. He trails Jbe Kruger and amateur Andy Sullivan. Former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel is T-6 after a 68.
  • Darren Clarke, a former Open champion, appears to be the front runner to be named the Team Europe’s next captain for the Ryder Cup.