Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai Preview
Hualalai Golf Course | Ka’upulehu-Kona, Hawaii | January 19-23, 2021
- Golf Course: Hualalai Golf Course
- Designed by: Jack Nicklaus (1993)
- Purse: $1,800,000 (Winner: $310,000)
- Golf Channel Coverage: Thursday through Saturday, 2-5 p.m. HST / 7-10 p.m. EST
- Social Media: @MEC_Golf (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram)
Field Overview (as of 1/19/21)
The second half of the PGA TOUR Champions 2020-2021 season begins January 19-23, as 42 of the game’s most legendary players will compete at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. The 2021 tournament marks a pair of 25th anniversaries, as Hualalai Golf Course will become the first PGA TOUR Champions event to be played at the same venue 25 consecutive years, and Hale Irwin will make his 25th start at Hualalai.
A year after he defeated Fred Couples and Ernie Els in a playoff, Miguel Ángel Jiménez will return in hopes of joining Bernhard Langer as the tournament’s only three-time champions. Jiménez and Langer are joined by Tom Lehman (2019), Jerry Kelly (2018), Tom Watson (2010), Fred Funk (2008) and Irwin (2007, 1997) as past champions in the field.
- 11 members of the World Golf Hall of Fame (Fred Couples, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Hale Irwin, Bernhard Langer, Davis Love III, Sandy Lyle, Colin Montgomerie, Mark O’Meara, Vijay Singh, Tom Watson)
- 7 winners of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai
- 33 PGA TOUR winners with 323 total career victories
- 38 PGA TOUR Champions winners with 268 total career victories
- 22 players with a PGA TOUR Champions major victory; 18 with a PGA TOUR major
PGA TOUR Champions 2020-21 Season
With PGA TOUR Champions forming a singular 2020-21 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai is uniquely in the middle of the season, even though it’s the first event of the 2021 calendar year. As such, the tournament inherits a Charles Schwab Cup leaderboard that features 63-year-old Bernhard Langer at the top, with 2020 rookies Ernie Els (No. 2) and Jim Furyk (No. 7) in close pursuit. In addition, defending champion Miguel Ángel Jiménez is No. 4 and 2018 tournament champion Jerry Kelly is No. 6.
2020 Recap: Jiménez Wins Playoff Over Els, Couples
Last year, Miguel Ángel Jiménez won his second title at Hualalai, defeating Ernie Els and Fred Couples with a birdie on the second extra hole. Jiménez started the final round two strokes behind 36-hole leader Woody Austin, and the Spaniard birdied Nos. 13-15 on Saturday to close with a 5-under 67 and earn a spot in the playoff at 14-under. On the first playoff hole, Couples made bogey while Els and Jiménez each made par and continued the playoff on 18th tee. After Els missed his 20-foot birdie putt, Jiménez made a 12-footer to become the fifth player with multiple wins at Hualalai.
Jiménez added a win at the Sanford International in September to become the 39th player in PGA TOUR Champions history with 10 career victories, and he begins the year No. 4 in the Charles Schwab Cup.
Six Players to Make Tournament Debut
Since 1997, five players have won the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai in their tournament debut: Jerry Kelly (2018), Duffy Waldorf (2016), Miguel Ángel Jiménez (2015), Loren Roberts (2006) and John Jacobs (1999). This week, six players are making their first starts at Hualalai.
- Shane Bertsch (20th in Charles Schwab Cup) – Turned 50 on March 30, 2020, and won the Charles Schwab Series at Bass Pro Shops Big Cedar Lodge in his second start on Tour. Played in last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii as a sponsor exemption because of a deal he made with Tournament Director Ray Stosik.
- K.J. Choi (39th) – Two top-10s in six starts last year (Best: T6/Dominion Energy Charity Classic).
- Darren Clarke (16th) – Finished 2020 with a victory at the TimberTech Championship, his second top-10 in 12 starts last year.
- Jim Furyk (7th) – One of three players in Champions Tour history to win his first two starts (The Ally Challenge, PURE Insurance Championship). Posted four top-10s in six starts, and 17 of his 18 rounds were under par.
- Brett Quigley (12th) – Won the Morocco Champions in his second start on Tour. Led the Charles Schwab Cup for one week after finishing T2 at The Ally Challenge; he is one of four rookies ever to top the standings.
- Mike Weir (23rd) – Three top-10s in 10 starts last year (Best: 2nd/Dominion Energy Charity Classic).
Langer On Top
Three-time tournament champion Bernhard Langer will make his 14th start at Hualalai. Since his debut in 2008, all 38 of his rounds have been par or better (67.34 average) and he is the tournament’s all-time money leader ($1,643,700). The five-time Charles Schwab Cup champion starts the year No. 1 in the standings, a position he has held 141 out of 325 tournament weeks since the start of 2008.
In 2020, Langer captured his 41st career win at the Cologuard Classic and recorded top-10 finishes in 12 of 15 starts, and he finished the year with the best scoring average (68.28) and putting average (1.710 putts per GIR).
PGATOUR.com: Langer believes he still has room to improve at 63
Seven players in the field played last week’s Sony Open in Hawaii.
- Jim Furyk (T47, 69-66-68-67)
- Mike Weir (T47, 68-66-68-68)
- K.J. Choi (71st, 67-65-69-74)
- Jerry Kelly (73rd, 68-68-69-75)
- Vijay Singh (MC, 69-73)
- Davis Love III (MC, 69-74)
- Shane Bertsch (MC, 71-74)
Jerry’s January in Hawaii
This is the fourth straight year Jerry Kelly has played the Sony Open in Hawaii before the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai. The 2018 champion won the Bridgestone SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, the only senior major played in 2020, and he enters the week No. 6 in the Charles Schwab Cup standings.
PGATOUR.com: Island vibes lead to success for Kelly
Irwin Sets Another Record
The Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai is a special part of Hale Irwin’s record-setting career. Not only did he win the first event at Hualalai in 1997, he won again in 2007 and established the PGA TOUR Champions record with his 45th career victory. This week, he will make his 25th start at Hualalai, the most of any player at one venue in PGA TOUR Champions history.
|Hale Irwin at Hualalai||Number||Event Rank|
|Rounds par or better||51||2nd|
|Leads/co-leads after any round||5||T3|
|Score to par||-128||5th|
Hualalai’s 25th Anniversary
This week, the Mitsubishi Electric Championship at Hualalai becomes the first PGA TOUR Champions event to be played at the same venue 25 consecutive years. Since the tournament’s first year at Hualalai Golf Course in 1997, five members of the World Golf Hall of Fame have won eight total titles: Hale Irwin (1997, 2007), Larry Nelson (2001), Tom Kite (2002), Tom Watson (2010) and Bernhard Langer (2009, 2014, 2017).
In all, 26 members of the World Golf Hall of Fame have played at Hualalai, including the “Big Three” of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, who all competed in 2003 and 2004 and made a combined 18 starts at Hualalai.
VIA PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS