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The '14 PGA Tour season resumes Friday with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, and while the festivities at the Plantation Course at Kapalua "no longer mark the official start to the season, the schedule can’t prohibit its competitors from at least considering it the unofficial start," according to Jason Sobel of GOLFCHANNEL.com. There is an "overwhelming sense that the new year is a time of fresh beginnings and hopefulness as opposed to everybody simply picking up where they’ve left off." Golfer Jason Dufner said, "I haven't played much of the wraparound schedule, so looking forward to playing here and next week and kind of getting my season started." Sobel wrote, "Nothing against the late-2013 triumphs of Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk and Harris English ... but nine months from now we’ll likely have trouble [remembering] in exactly which season their wins occurred." Johnson said, "It's the first year of it, so it's still this is like the first tournament of the year. You know, I'm sure after this year once you get used to it, it will feel normal" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 1/2). Golfer Zach Johnson said, "This starts the year. The season is now something else. But to me, this feels like a new season." GOLF DIGEST's Dave Shedloski noted even Walker, who "might be the most logical candidate to disagree" with that line of thinking after entering '14 leading the FedEx Cup standings, expressed similar thoughts. Walker: "I've always looked at Hawaii as the start of the season, and I guess that's how I still feel deep down" (GOLFDIGEST.com, 1/2). In Birmingham, Tommy Hicks noted the PGA Tour "now has less time off between seasons than the NBA." One season "just seems to run into the next with the FedEx Cup, then the post-FedEx Cup tournaments and other events" (AL.com, 1/2).
MISSING THE BIG GUNS: In Toledo, Fred Altvater writes the Tournament of Champions lately "just does not deliver the goods." Even with a Friday start and a Monday finish to "avoid going head to head with the NFL playoffs, fans have grown weary of the event." Part of the "problem is the lack of participation by the best players." The PGA Tour has "made the June to September schedule a priority," and to "get the big guns to change their schedule and come and play in Hawaii, something has to change." If the PGA Tour "really wants to compete against NFL football in the U.S, it needs to add some zing to its first tournament of the calendar year." Hyundai is "not getting nearly what they have paid for and golf fans need something to get them excited in between watching football and shoveling snow" (TOLEDO FREE PRESS, 1/3).