AP Photo/Bret Hartman Bubba Watson is one of four major winners in the field.
Heavy hitter
VIDEO: Bubba hoping to repeat par 5 antics at Tournament of Champions in Hawaii
The course designers have added some yardage to the Kapalua course in an effort to make it Bubba-proof.

THE PGA TOUR kicks off its 2013 schedule at the Kapalua course in Hawaii tomorrow with an event solely intended for players that have won on tour in 2012.

The Tournament of Champions will not feature Rory McIlroy or Tiger Woods so the winners-only rule has been relaxed but the field remains strong.

Major winners Keegan Bradley, Ben Curtis, Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson lead the field, with England’s Ian Poulter leading the international charge.

Course designers have slightly extended the yardage of the course to 7,411 yards and will not be cutting the rough back as much in previous years.

Steve Stricker won the event on -23 last year but organisers are hoping the course set-up and hole placements will make it a tougher place to pick up shots.

The 18th hole, nicknamed Home, remains at 663 yards and some of the tour’s biggest hitters have a chance of reaching it in two if the winds are blowing favourably.

In 2011, Bubba Watson unleashed a 348-yard drive and followed it up by going with the driver again and bypassing the hole with a 320-yard approach. He sunk the return putt for eagle.

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Watson finished tied for 25th that year but his monster driving has since been complemented by an improving short game.

He captured the Masters last year and will enter the Tournament of Champions as one of the favourites.

Jonathan Byrd won the 2011 tournament on a playoff, with Graeme McDowell finishing in third. Stricker held of Scotland’s Martin Laird in last year’s event.

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