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A new start on the PGA Tour
Tournament of Champio Heal-1
Jonathan Byrd makes a birdie putt on the 13th green during the pro-am event of the Tournament of Champions PGA Tour golf tournament in Kapalua, Hawaii, on Thursday. Byrd is the defending champion of the tournament, which begins today. - photo by Associated Press

    KAPALUA, Hawaii — Steve Stricker is back on Maui, a familiar place for a guy who has won on the PGA Tour in each of the last three years to qualify for the season-opening Tournament of Champions.
    Not so familiar are some of the guys he'll be trying to beat.
    Twelve players in the 28-man field are at Kapalua for the first time, more evidence of change on the PGA Tour. A year ago, Stricker didn't know who most of them were.
    Keegan Bradley? He was known more as the nephew of LPGA great Pat Bradley until he won two times, including that unlikely comeback in Atlanta to capture the PGA Championship in his first try at a major.
    Jhonattan Vegas was the first PGA Tour member from Venezuela. Scott Stallings? Brendan Steele?
    "I know them now a little bit," Stricker said Thursday on the eve of the opening round.
    The PGA Tour season gets under way today. It wants to get away from the NFL playoffs on Sunday, so the final round will end Monday just before the BCS Championship game starts.
    The Tournament of Champions will be missing 11 players who didn't or couldn't make it to Hawaii. It's the biggest list of no-shows since this tournament moved to Kapalua in 1999, though it's a product of the changing world of golf.
    Three of the players are recovering from injuries, five are overseas and Luke Donald, the No. 1 player in the world, just finished a whirlwind trip around the world that took him into December. Like many other players, this is his offseason.
    Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are no longer part of the top 10 in the world ranking. There are no Americans among the top five in the world ranking for the first time in nearly two decades.