PGA season kicks off at Tournament of Champions

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KAPALUA, HAWAII (AP) - Geoff Ogilvy has 12 stitches in his finger. Zach Johnson cut a hole in his shoe to accommodate his bum toe.

Hawaii isn’t paradise for everyone at the PGA Tour’s season opener.

The 2011 season gets under way Thursday on the Plantation Course at Kapalua with a 34-man field of tour winners from last year. Robert Garrigus was the last one to get in, winning at Disney in the final event of the year. Ogilvy was the first to qualify by winning the Tournament of Champions a year ago by one shot.

He has a chance to join Stuart Appleby as the only players to win three successive years at Kapalua, and Ogilvy appeared to be in fine form by winning the Australian Open and losing in a playoff at the Australian PGA Championship.

Ogilvy headed for the beach on Tuesday, and cut his right index finger on some coral reef while coming in from the surf.

He received more stitches than he needed as a precaution, but pulled out of the pro-am Wednesday and after another trip to the doctor, opted to rest until Thursday before deciding if he could play.

“It’s not ideal,” said his manager, Paul Galli. “It’s not so much a big cut, it’s just in an awkward position. It was fairly deep, and when you’re on the reef, you’ve got to be careful with an infection. They cleaned it out and put in some stitches.”

The Tournament of Champions has not been without its defending champion since Jerry Barber didn’t play in 1961.

Johnson also hurt himself in a tropical paradise, though it was nothing to boast about. He was in the Grand Caymans on a family holiday last week when fireworks left a trash can smoldering. He grabbed a hose and was running to the rescue, in pitch dark wearing flip-flops, when he slammed into a concrete step he didn’t see and tore off his toe nail.

He tried those sandals with golf spikes when he got to Kapalua. That didn’t work. For the pro-am Wednesday, he went to a larger shoe and cut out the toe, but the size left him uncomfortable. The plan for Thursday was to cut out the toe of his regular golf shoes and give it his best shot.

Johnson was taking it all in stride.

He managed to make it through the pro-am because players are allowed carts. Thursday is the real test: walking a 7,400-yard course that was carved out of a mountain overlooking Maui. It’s one of the longest walks of the year.

“It’s a win-win,” Johnson said. “Because if I play and get through this, I look like a stallion for the first time. And if I don’t, I go to the pool with my kids on Maui and watch the rest of them suffer.”

There’s not much suffering this week.

It’s the toughest PGA Tour event to get a tee time because it requires nothing less than a win, and those don’t come easily these days, even when Tiger Woods isn’t taking his share of them. Once they get to Kapalua, however, it’s a small field with a big purse ($1.08 million to the winner) and no cut.

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