Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
When: January 7th - 10th
Where: Kapula Resort: Plantation Course - Kapula, Hawaii
2015 Winner: Patrick Reed (-21)
The format of this will go: I will select golfers based on the Yahoo format. I will select one A golfer, 2 B golfers and 1 C golfer that I think will do well as well as one dark horse pick, this should space out the selections and provide a vast field to select from for anyone who is in a format where you are limited to 10 starts per year.
Plantation Course: designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore this has been ranked the top course in Hawaii. can be a difficult course largely due to the long stretching slopes on the course. Recent adjustments this year will slow down the balls roll. The back nine is a steady uphill climb for most of the holes. The wind can play a factor coming across from the water also creating difficult ball trajectory. The course does provide favorably wide fairways and generous green space. A few holes have downhill tee shots allowing for maximum distance.
Dustin Johnson. There are some top names to select at the top tier, Fowler, Spieth, Justin Thomas and Bubba Watson to name a few. But this course is heavy on slopes with a big upgrade on the back nine. They recently slowed down the roll on the slopes with wetter greens. All of this lends itself to someone who has a big swing. Add in the wide fairways and Dustin has space to stray just as long as he gets a strong push on his strokes.
Patrick Reed. As corny as it is to pick the defending champion, you'll see this be a trend in my picks. There is a reason why Tiger Woods dominated the same courses each year. Once you are comfortable with a course/tournament, stats show you'll repeat some form of success there. With Reed there is more to the story though. The first four tournaments of this year for Patrick: 10th, 7th, 2nd and 12th. He is hardly coming into this tournament cold (where some of his opponents may be.
Zach Johnson. It stinks to go with the stars this early but until a few tournaments happen it's tough to know who will be the cream of the crop this year. Zach has won this tournament before (2014) and finished in the top 10 twice. This tournament is difficult based on its merits. Something to watch - he switched this past year to Parsons Xtreme Golf clubs (but he kept the same golf balls and putter). PXG has created a lot of buzz this year as a big brand in R&D on the course.
Graeme McDowell. I've always been a McDowell fan since his US Open win in 2010. He hasn't fared nearly as well since but he is off to a good start this season. He has a 1st, 3rd and 6th place finishes in 3 tournaments and is hitting very well. He has moved from 85th in overall rankings to 57th and is showing flashes of his 2010 game. He has said he wants to be back in the top 50 and a good weekend at Kapula can do that for him.
Potential Dark Horse Bonus Pick:
Kevin Kisner. He hasn't played since late November but his last two tournaments were a 1st and 2nd place finish. He has been driving and putting very well this season which might be necessary while the fairways trip people up. Finally, he is among the younger guys and that back 9 can be tiring as it's mostly uphill.