KAPALUA, Hawaii — Defending a title on the PGA TOUR is not impossible, of course, but certainly extremely difficult. In 42 starts by defending champs in 2011, just one successfully defended his title — Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic. In fact, that was Stricker’s third consecutive win at that event.
In the 41 other starts, just four defending champs finished in the top 10 of their respective events. Meanwhile, nine missed the cut and two had to withdraw. And those totals don’t include the three champs who did not even get to tee it up.
"I don’t think it’s easy to defend any tournament," said Jonathan Byrd, who gets the first crack at defending a title in 2012 when he tees it up this week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
But if you’re going to pick a tournament to defend, the season opener at the Plantation Course is mathematically the easiest one on TOUR. This week, Byrd will have to outplay just 27 other players to win here for the second straight year. Those are better odds than at any other event on TOUR this year.
"It’s a lot easier to beat 28 guys (the size of the field) than it is to beat 144 or 156," Byrd said with a smile. "I mean, my son could figure that out, and he’s five."