The start of a new year 

January, 2, 2007
KAPALUA, Hawaii -- In Major League Baseball, it's that day when pitchers and catchers report, the morning frost succumbing to dew as legions of hopeful players take their first stretches on unblemished fields. In the National Football League, it's the first snap of training camp, the first bone-rattling tackle, the first pair of grass-stained knees that signifies autumn's schedule is just around the corner.

Every sport has its annual birthright and for me, the PGA Tour's version comes when I first set foot on the Kapalua Plantation Course, site of the season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship.

Stand on the first tee box, about 50 feet from the vaunted clubhouse, breathe in the fresh Hawaiian air, feel a sprinkle of a minute-long early-morning rain shower and watch the whales spout as the island of Molokai frames the background of the scene.

Jason Sobel | email

ESPN Senior Writer