Things to look forward to this week on the European Tour and PGA Tour
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 05/01/16 10:09am
Live golf returns to Sky Sports this week with the South African Open Championship and the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Here are five things to look out for from the early-year events…
The battle resumes
Golf's new 'big three' will continue to trade places at the top of the world rankings over 2016, and current No 1 Jordan Spieth is one of several high-profile players getting their New Year started in Hawaii.
We won't see Rory McIlroy back in competitive action until the Desert Swing later this month, but world No 2 Jason Day can make a move on top spot and both Rickie Fowler and Hero Challenge winner Bubba Watson are also set to feature.
With the limited field only containing last season's PGA Tour winners, expect plenty of interesting groupings over the early part of the week.
Players back on track
The wraparound season sees players coming in to tournaments in varied levels of form, with some electing to down their clubs over the festive break while others take the opportunity to fine-tune their game.
An example of this involves in the world's top two, with Day not having made a competitive start since September's Tour Championship, while Spieth spent time practicing at Augusta during his Christmas holiday.
The Hawaii event frequently throws up a surprise winner or two, with Jonathan Byrd and Daniel Chopra among the players to have unexpected lifted the trophy in recent years. Will we see another this week?
Points to play for
We may be more than nine months away from the Ryder Cup, but the early-season tournaments provide a great opportunity for those Europeans hoping for Hazeltine to push their way in to contention.
Defending SA Open champion Andy Sullivan can move top of the European points list with a strong showing this week while Lee Slattery, who lies 15th in the standings after following Russian Open victory with top-10 finishes at the KLM Open and the Turkish Airlines Open, is also looking to get his year off to a strong start.
Although the prize money available in South Africa is somewhat lower than what is up for grabs in the majority of European Tour events, there's still the chance to earn some valuable points to get their Race to Dubai campaigns off to a strong start.
A new-look line-up
With many of the European Tour's leading names not featuring in the early-year South African tournaments, saving their return for the big-money events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai later in the month, it gives some of the up-and-coming and new faces on the Tour to make an early impression.
A number of the Challenge Tour graduates, including Nacho Elvira and Sebastien Gros, are scheduled to be part of the field at Glendower GC, as are the majority of the 27 players to have progressed from November's Qualifying School.
Matt Fitzpatrick and Byeong Hun An were among the class of 2014 to make an immediate impact on the European Tour last season. Which of the Tour's newest recruits get off to a flyer this time around?
It's live on Sky Sports
You'll be able to follow both tournaments every step of the way on Sky Sports, with all four days from South Africa and Hawaii live on Sky Sports 4 - your home of golf.
The action gets underway from 8.30am on Thursday, the first of two sessions live from Glendower CC, with the PGA Tour coverage beginning at 11pm and running in to the early hours for the morning.
For those that miss any of the action, then the Sky Sports Golf website will have reports, video and reaction after each day's play.