For the second year in a row, Rory McIlroy will play in the Farmers Insurance Open on Jan. 23-26. Last year, it was his second PGA Tour event of the year as he started at the Tournament of Champions. This year, it will be his first, as he has once again foregone the Middle East swing on the European Tour for stateside golf in January.

McIlroy joins Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele at Torrey Pines at the end of January for what many consider opening day for golf in a new year. It's the first week of network television, the first truly great field of the new year and oftentimes the annual debut of Tiger Woods. Big Cat hasn't officially committed to the tournament yet, but he almost certainly will in the next few weeks as he starts to build his 2020 schedule.

There's real excitement about this tournament as well as this time of the year in general. Because the Players has been moved to March, it feels as if the heart of the season is not all that far away. The presence of McIlroy, Mickelson, Rahm and (presumably) Tiger -- not to mention potential participants who have played in the past like Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, Adam Scott -- accentuates that.

It is also expected that Jordan Spieth will make his 2020 debut at Torrey Pines.

McIlroy is coming off a career year in which he won the PGA Tour Player of the Year Award, took three PGA Tour events and finished in the top 10 in 76 percent of events worldwide. In his first start at this tournament last January, he shot rounds of 71-65-69-69 to finish T5 before lighting up the rest of the schedule.