Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Dates: January 9-12
Where: Plantation Course Kapalua, HI
TV: The Golf Channel
by Evergreen, PGA Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
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If you are like me, you got some shiny new golf clubs for Christmas. Too bad that I wont be using them until the Spring as I live in Wisconsin but at least I get to watch some golf this week as the PGA reboots the 2014-15 schedule with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. The TOC used to occupy the leadoff spot in the yearly schedule but the last few years have seen the PGA implement the fall swing tournaments into the following calendar year so this weeks event is more of a ceremonial start to the season than anything. The TOC is a winners only event with 34 players scheduled to tee it up at the Plantation Course in Kapalua.
Given that the field is one of the shortest of the season, it seems like it would be easier to pick a winner but there are many factors in the early tournaments that make handicapping very difficult. The hardest item to gauge is motivation. Which of these players is viewing this event as a warm-up and which are focused on winning? There is no cut this week, so there isnt much harm in just taking a walk for four days and cashing a check. Many players have their families along for a Hawaiian vacation but some are keyed in on starting their year off strong. Golf doesnt have practice reports or media attention focused on where players are at with their games so it is a bit of a crapshoot when trying to decide who is a good bet in the early going.
No matter how muddy the waters are, we will take a look at the golf sportsbooks and find the best bets to pass on to you. I will make a few picks to win and breakdown a couple of head to head matches as well. Here are my picks for the 2015 Tournament of Champions.
Zach Johnson(14 to 1 odds to win)
Johnson is the defending TOC champion and he seems to have a thing for Hawaiian golf as he also has a Sony victory on his PGA record. You can never be sure just how much these guys have been working over the break but Zach has a track record to suggest his game is in good shape almost always. He finished last year ranked 6thin fairways, 31stin greens hit and he will benefit from the distance boost that is common on the island. Zach is 5thin approach proximity from 150 yards or less so when he is on, he is getting very makeable birdie looks. This tournament routinely produces a winning total that is near 20-under so it is nice to have a guy that has proven he can keep up.
Billy Horschel (20 to 1)
Billy got his season jumpstarted with a T6 here last year and he carries all the momentum of a T2, 1, 1 finish in the FedExCup Playoffs. Horschel is an underrated talent that finished 2014 with top-5 marks in greens hit and overall ballstriking. He is a streaky putter so you have to hope he is on but he seldom struggles to find fairways and put himself in good positions to score. It is doubtful that he can duplicate the top-end success from last year, no one probably can, but he should be plenty comfortable now and should be able to simply play his game.
Tim Clark (40 to 1)
Clark is a bit of a out-of-the-box pick as he has but one standout stat. Tim routinely finishes as one of the best driving accuracy players on Tour and turned in a 2ndbest fairways hit mark last year to prove his is still accurate as any. He can place the ball wherever he want seemingly and can use that to get the best angles to tricky pins and seldom finds himself with a tough approach. He will need to improve on his putting to contend but he seems to be able to find a way to put it all together a few times each year, just like he did while winning the RBC Canadian Open to punch his TOC ticket.
Chesson Hadley (80 to 1)
If you like the longest of long shots, take a look at the 2014 Puerto Rico Open winner. Hadley had a weird end to his season as he missed 10-of-11 cuts leading up to the Playoffs yet managed to finish T9 at the Deutsche Bank and T12 at the BMW. That isnt the kind of consistency you would like to see but he has proven he can hang in the toughest of environments and he proved he can score by finishing with a top-50 birdie total despite all the missed cuts. Chesson ended the season as the 10thbest putter from ten feet and in so the clutch gene is there with this kid, he just needs the experience.
Head to Head Matches
Picks to win based on final score after all four rounds. Check with your favorite online betting site for single round matches and prop bets.
Bubba Watson (-115) v. Jason Day (-115) (pick to win: Watson)
Lost in many of Bubbas playful social media antics is the fact that he is a clear top-tier talent on Tour. Watson backed up his Masters win by winning the HSBC Champions event in the fall series and should be on everyones short list for player of the year candidate. Day is certainly talented as well but Bubba is the longest player on Tour and will shrink the 7,411 Plantation Course with ease. Day battled some injuries last year and that affected his overall stats but Watson owned sizeable advantages in greens hit, birdie average and ballstriking. You cant blame that all on injury and Watson seems to have both the higher ceiling and higher floor right now.
Jimmy Walker (-115) v. Chris Kirk (-115) (pick to win: Kirk)
Neither of these guys have quite broken through yet, at least to household name status, but they do enter the week as the 21stand 22ndranked players in the world. That alone makes for a good match on paper but their styles also make for an interesting head to head. Walker is the longer player and hits more greens as a result but Kirk is the more accurate in terms of finding the fairway and has the better short game. They are pretty close in most scoring categories but Kirk makes far fewer mistakes and I want that kind of player when there arent many recent results to shed light on how guys are playing. Walker wont get as much of a distance advantage this week so go with the straighter player this time around. Find the best golf betting odds, the most props online and the fastest payouts (and large betting limits) at the web’s best golf betting site: 5Dimes!