For the first time since 1985 the Hyundai Tournament of Champions will not be the opening event on the PGA Tour schedule, as the American season started six tournaments ago in October with a new wrap-around campaign.
It remains the first stop for the tour in the calendar year though, and with a limited field of 30 (only champions from 2013 are invited to play) punters can feel confident about their choices especially with the layers offering each-way terms of a quarter the first four.
It’s a shame Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson are amongst the defectors, but with Adam Scott (5/1), Dustin Johnson (8/1) and Matt Kuchar (also 8/10) all teeing up in Hawaii there is plenty of quality on show.
This week’s venue, the Plantation Course at Kapalua, stretches out for 7,452 yards with a par of 73. Its big defence is its exposure to the wind, as we saw last year when the event had to be restarted due to fierce gusts.
Johnson eventually won a three-round event which finished on Tuesday – a day later than scheduled (the Friday start is to avoid a clash with the NFL playoffs).
I’ve put up Johnson as a player to follow for the US Money List this season and his power off the tee is a huge asset at Kapalua as he bids to win for the second time this term.
He claimed the HSBC Champions crown in November, and as one of the first to arrive in Hawaii this week it appears he means business when it comes to his TOC title bid.
The South Carolina strokesmith’s putting was terrific in China last time out and with successful defences prevalent in this tournament Johnson is the number one pick.
I couldn’t put anyone off having a saver on Scott, who finished so well last year with only Rory McIlroy denying him the Australian triple crown, while Scott Brown might be the best of the first-timers in Maui.
The Scot has form figures of 2-4 in two TOC appearances and, while he didn’t kick on from his win in Texas last summer, in a Ryder Cup year he’ll be doubly determined to prove himself.
My two to follow – Johnson and Laird.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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