The Hyundai Tournament of Champions | 07 January- 10 January | Plantation Course, Kapalua
This week a field of 32 will head to Hawaii for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and they all have one thing in common - they were winners on the PGA Tour last season. The top players generally give this event a miss which results in a below average field but not this year. This time around, the event organisers have managed to get six of the top ten in the world to head to Kapalua for what promises to be an exciting four days of golf. Arguably the most anticipated contest will be between world numbers one and two, Jordan Spieth and Jason Day, but on a track like this anyone can win, so don’t forget about the rest of the field.
Traditionally scores here have been low and the course is ranked as the easiest on the Tour, despite the fact that it measures over 7,400 yards. Elevated tee boxes and fairways which allow the ball to roll for miles contribute to the fact that players can go low on such a long course as do the greens, which by the PGA’s standards are easy. Whilst distance of the tee won’t hurt at all it’s not going to be the be all and end all, so rather look out for players who rank highly in par 5 scoring and who putt well as missed putts will almost certainly be the difference between winning and losing. So who will be crowned the victor this week? Let’s have a look.
To Win Outright
Jordan Spieth: 9/2
Jason Day: 11/2
Dustin Johnson: 15/2
Bubba Watson: 9/1
Patrick Reed: 10/1
Dustin Johnson (15/2 a win, 16/10 a place)
Last season Dustin Johnson didn’t quite live up to his potential and I felt that he could have quite easily won another event or two and yet he still found himself comfortably in the Top 10 in the world rankings. That says a lot about his ability and consistency and this week both will stand him in good stead on a course he has fared well on in the past. He won here in 2013 by a comfortable margin and that win was due in part to his big drives - although he also showed his class with the putter on his way to victory. Big hitting certainly isn’t the be all and end all but it won’t hurt a player like Johnson so I’m backing him each way.
Kevin Kisner (18/1 a win, 39/2 a place)
Whilst those players who finished the season inside the World Top 10 are dominating the betting the next best price is an in-form Kevin Kisner, who is available at a very healthy 18/1. Sure, he is not in the same league as the likes of Spieth and Day but on his day he can play some great golf and in a format like this, where scoring can be low and there is no cut, anyone can win. Kisner ranks highly in his ability to make birdies and you can be almost certain that he will be draining more than his share of long putts. At this price, I’ll be backing him each way.
Graeme McDowell (25/1 a win, 11/2 a place)
Graeme McDowell is another player who has fared well here in the past and a third place finish in 2011 shows that he has what it takes to make birdies on this layout. Six months ago I wouldn’t have considered backing a very out of form McDowell but he has been playing some consistent golf lately and at this price is definitely worth a bet. His game looked to be in great shape when he won the OHL Classic and everything from his iron play to his putting was flawless. Those will be two of the more important aspects of the game to focus on this week so keep an eye on McDowell, he could just run away with this one.
Rickie Fowler (10/1 a win, 22/10 a place)
Last season Rickie Fowler finally managed to shake his reputation as the most over-rated player in golf and after winning three tournaments and playing unbelievable golf in all four Majors, you can be certain he will be eager to make 2016 his year. What better way to do that than by beating the likes of Spieth and Day in the first event of the year and although that may be easier said than done, if there’s one person who will be used to contending with those two it’s Fowler. He has the all-around game to ensure he fares well here, let’s hope he can improve on the sixth place finish he managed in his only other start in this tournament.
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