After a month without any PGA Tour the action gets back underway on Thursday with the Sentry Tournament of Champions. As the name suggests, the Tournament of Champions contains only players who won on the PGA Tour last year. That means we’re treated to an incredibly strong field of 34 (three players have pulled out) ready to do battle at the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii.
The Plantation Course has traditionally provided the world’s best players with a chance to score very well. The winning score has only dipped below 20 under par twice in the last 10 years with Jordan Spieth shooting an incredible 30 under par in 2016. Although most players can pick up multiple birdies around the 7,452 yard, par 73 layout, scoring at the Plantation is heavily affected by the wind. The stiff easterly winds that are forecast for the 2018 renewal could make scoring tougher than usual but it’s still going to take something around the 20 under par mark to win.
In addition to the wind, the other defences of the Plantation Course include its length, the severe undulations throughout and the tricky putting surfaces. Although the big hitters are generally advantaged by being able to reach the wider parts of the fairways, shorter hitters can prosper providing they hit top class approach shots to negate the difficulty of putting at the Plantation Course.
Fowler Can Start 2018 with a Bang
The start of every New Year and every new golf season inevitably come with predictions of an important 12 months for Rickie Fowler. Despite being the seventh best player in the world and winning big tournaments on multiple tours, Fowler will be dogged by suggestions of underachievement until he can win a major championship. That is unfair to say the least because it underplays both his ability and indeed the difficulty of winning a major. Still, Fowler knows the importance of winning one of golf’s big four tournaments and he’ll be gunning for a fast start to propel himself towards glory in 2018.
Fowler’s two previous appearances at the Plantation Course saw him finish fifth and sixth. That’s a decent return but it could get much better this year given how good Fowler is in windy conditions. He has excellent control of his ball flight, hits greens in regulation for fun and is as good a putter as you’ll find. Fired up by the successes of his close friends on tour, Fowler can start 2018 as he means to go on with victory at 7/1 with BetVictor.
Leishman Another Who Flourishes in the Wind
There is nothing quite like confidence in golf, just ask Marc Leishman. The Australian found something in his game before winning the Arnold Palmer Invitation and rode it all the way to the Tour Championship where he finished sixth in the FedEx Cup rankings thanks to a win at BMW Championship.
Leishman now tees it up against the best golfers in the world knowing that he belongs and will have few nerves on his second appearance in the Tournament of Champions. His excellence in the wind and impressive ball striking make him a very good fit for the Plantation Course so he represents good each way value at 22/1 with Betfred.