Hyundai Tournament of Champions Preview and Picks to Win

Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Dates: January 6th9th, 2010
Location: Plantation Course Kapalua, Hawaii
TV: The Golf Channel
by Evergreen, Golf Handicapper,

If there is too much snow on the ground where you live to play a football game, youre forgiven if you didnt know that the PGA Tours 2011 season kicks off next week with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

The PGA does not do a fantastic job with promoting the start of the season, partly because the season is anchored around the Majors and mostly because the NFL Playoffs are tough to even want to compete with. Nonetheless, there will be thirty or so tournament winners from 2010 teeing it up in beautiful Kapalua, Hawaii with Geoff Ogilvy looking to make it three wins in a row at the Plantation Course.

There are two features of golfs opening week that are very fan friendly. One is that the 7,411 yard, par-73 layout of the Plantation Course is going to give up a ton of birdies and rounds in the lower 60s will be commonplace. The other is that due to the time difference on the island, the TV coverage winds up in primetime on the mainland, offering up a chance to sit down at watch some golf during dinner or even after the kids go to bed.

Players have until January 1 to commit to the event and many will, but dont expect to see the likes of Phil Mickelson, who is qualified but often opts out and you will certainly not see Tiger Woods, who for the first time in his career, failed to qualify with a win in the previous season.

If you have followed this piece in the past, you know that we feature three golfers as our picks to win. We give you a short, middle and long odds player and offer some picks in head to head matchups that youd likely find at an online sportsbook. There really arent any published odds to win or matchups yet for the Hynudai T.O.C. but check back early in the first week of January once the field is finalized. Instead, here are some players to watch this week.

Dustin Johnson – As one of the premier bombers on Tour (3rd in driving distance) hell have no problems assaulting the par-5s, especially given the forgiving fairways at Kapalua. Dustin has played often through the offseason and has played well, teaming up for win with Ian Poulter at the Shark Shootout. He should be among the favorites heading into the event.

Ernie Els – The 2003 champ has the game to win here and should feel great to be back here after a winless streak had him a non-qualifier for 2010. Ernie has played often following the end of the regular season and has to be feeling good to make stops in Malaysia and at the HSBC. The Big Easy owns the tournament scoring record for this event and will be one of the favorites on the board.

Geoff Ogilvy – The title defense here last year was the highlight of Geoffs 2010 season but a strong finish that included a T2 at the Deutsche should have him confident he can make it three in a row. Winning streaks are hard to come by for anyone other than vintage Tiger, but you cant count out a guy that appears to have great chemistry with a particular course.

Jim Furyk – The 2001 champion gets to come back to Hawaii for the first time since 2008 and should be a factor after a FedExCup Playoffs that saw him not only DQ due to a failed alarm clock but also saw him win the Cup in the final week. Furyks style of play wont really be rewarded at the Plantation Course, but hell always be in the fairway and will hit a lot of greens as well, so if the putter is hot, why not a win to open the season?

Ryan Palmer – How can you not like a player with this last name? Palmer will be pretty far down the board, but he has some good mojo going on the Island after winning the Sony last year and his blend of driving distance (26th) and putting average (10th) could have him in the mix.

Bill Haas – Haas is another name that most casual golf fans are unfamiliar with but he proved he could go low in order to win at last years Hope. Bill had a runner-up finish and a win at the Viking Classic during the October schedule and his 11th rank in ballstriking and 19th rank in the all around stat have him poised to make a splash in 2011.

Bettors know that there is no sport that has more potential for proposition and futures betting than golf. There are already a few futures bets out there at the golf sportsbooks and if you dont mind tying up your money for months or potentially the entire year, youll find the best odds here in the very early season.

Taking a look at just the Majors in 2011, Tiger remains the odds on favorite with the online bookies and if you think he can win two and only two Majors in 2011, you can find him at a juicy +1000 at Bovada. For a comparison, Phil Mickelson is at +1800 to win two Majors and Lee Westwood comes in at +3300.

Tiger also leads the field at even money to finish atop the PGA Tour Money List, with Mickelson at 8 to 1 and Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson at 14 to 1.

Happy New Year to all and good luck betting in 2011.