The New Year in golf gets off to a cracking start this week with the SBS Tournament of Champions. The limited-field event is only open to players who won a PGA Tour event the previous year so some of the game’s biggest names will be pegging it up come Thursday at the Plantation Course in Kapalua in Hawaii.
The Plantation Course has been the host course for the Tournament of Champions since 1999. In that time we’ve seen some very low scores go on to win the event on the only par 73 course used by the PGA Tour. The course record is held by Ernie Els, who won with a score of -31 but last year Jordan Spieth finished just one shy of that tally.
Spieth’s win came with his customarily world class putting but he also topped the rankings in terms of ball striking. That’s going to be the key angle in for picking a winner this week. At 7,452 yards, the Plantation Course is certainly long but driving distance has never been an indicator of success here. It’s much more about finding the fairways, hitting high quality shots into the greens and then outperforming the competition with the putter.
Spieth Can Get His Season Off to Another Great Start
Even though he is number five in the world and the defending champion, Spieth is not the bookies’ favourite this week. That honour goes to Hideki Matsuyama. The Japanese number one is the hottest golfer on the planet at the moment but it’s not going to be easy for him to fire back to form after the winter break. That gives us a little more value on Spieth than we would otherwise get.
Spieth is 11/2 with Coral which has got to be considered good value. He knows exactly what is required to win at this venue, he’s got three top 10 finishes in his last four starts including a win at the Australian Open and is looking for another big year, so back him at that tempting price.
Reed Can Flourish Amongst This Quality Field
It was not the end to 2016 that Patrick Reed had planned. After winning the Barclays and starring at the Ryder Cup, Reed struggled for form at the start of the wraparound season. No player likes it when they can’t find their best stuff but it was especially frustrating for Reed. He firmly believes that he can reach the top of the game and at 26, this is the year for him to bag a major and crack the top five in the world.
Reed won the Tournament of Champions two years ago and he’ll be desperate to prove he has the beating of this high quality field once more. At odds of 14/1 with Betfred, Reed can return to winning ways.
Perez Worth Chancing at Big Odds
Pat Perez’s win at Mayakoba was one of the most popular victories of the year. Now 40, Perez has matured considerably and knows what it takes to keep his performance levels up. He’ll love the chance to play aggressive golf this week so back him each way at 80/1 with Bet365.