It is the traditional curtain raiser to the calendar year on the PGA Tour, and this renewal of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions looks to be a cracker with the likes of Jordan Spieth and Jason Day set to do battle.
As ever that pair is hideously underpriced – the former in particular is unbackable at 4/1 given the quality of the field – and so we need to look elsewhere for some decent value.
The tournament is made up of 32 winners from the 2015 campaign (hence the name), and so there are proven champions throughout the 32-strong line-up. But the windy Hawaiian conditions, the seaside location and the unique nature of the course – plenty of elevation changes and those spongy Bermudan grass greens – lend themselves to a player of a certain style.
Last year’s winner was Patrick Reed, and the brash American happens to be one of our picks here this time around too. He has the accuracy and power off the tee that will be required on a course that can play long when the wind is up, but a decent short game and scrambling are likely to be two key weapons too – with nine of the last ten winners ranking inside the top two for the latter.
The last five renditions of this tournament have all been won by Americans as well, and this is a factor that cannot be overlooked.
As a result, here are our two each way picks for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions:
Dustin Johnson (9/1)
The world number three’s reputation took a bit of a battering last season after a series of sterile showings in the majors, but it is important to remember that DJ has finished in the top ten in five of his last seven starts on the Tour. That consistency cannot be ignored.
The windy conditions will play into Johnson’s hands as he has the long game to cope, and this is a course that he clearly loves having lifted the trophy here in 2013.
The good news is that he has been out in Hawaii for a while acclimatising – he spent his New Year’s celebrations here – and no doubt he will have enjoyed a round or two out on the course.
Patrick Reed (11/1)
This tournament marked a bit of a moment for Reed: he finally cashed in on his undoubted talent. He started the last round four shots adrift of leader Jimmy Walker, but enjoyed a phenomenal last 18 to haul him in for a play-off shootout. Memories like that are hard to shake.
That win came a full 12 months ago, but the good news is that Reed’s recent form is decent as well. He has finished in the top ten of each of his last six starts, as well as podium places in his last three.
Defending a title is a tricky business these days – especially in a field as stacked as this one – but the good news is that this particular competition has previous: both Geoff Ogilvy and Stuart Appleby have retained in recent years. There’s further hope in that all competing defending champions have finished in the top eight of the subsequent years even in every renewal since 2010.
Reed ranks in the top five on tour for driving accuracy, greens in regulation and putting average, and there is a feeling that this could be his breakthrough year as far as the majors are concerned. What a way to start his 2016 this would be.