Par 73, 7,452 yards
Happy New Year to you all it’s great to be back. We kick off 2017 with The SBS Tournament of Champions (Formerly The Hyundai Tournament of Champions) which starts on Thursday night. This tournament is only for previous winners and has a limited field of only 32.
The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort is a par 73 measuring a lengthy 7,453 yards. It is quite open and runs along the slopes of the West Maui Mountains and is quite exposed to the elements. It generally suits the big hitters if they can keep it in the fairway with three of the four par 5’s reachable in two. The 18th is a 663 yard par 5 that plays a lot shorter, as it runs downhill and should be reachable by some of the longer hitters. It also has three tricky par 3’s and 11 par 4’s.
Accuracy off the tee is not hugely important here as the fairways are quite wide and forgiving. The greens are also quite big with some of the approaches having uphill and downhill slopes into the greens which have some undulations. Hitting the right part of the green will be key to making birdies so proximity to the hole could be worth checking.
Good putters have done well here with the likes of Jordan Spieth (2016), Patrick Reed (2015), Zach Johnson (2014), Dustin Johnson (2013) and Steve Stricker (2012, 2nd 2013) being past winners. Stats such as strokes gained putting and strokes gained tee to green will be worth a look. With 11 par 4’s on this course, it is also worth considering par 4 scoring and GIR. The weather looks to be mild with very little wind so scoring should be low with the winner averaging around the 20 under mark judging from previous years.
Spieth has been in decent form coming into this event winning in Australia in his last official start beating Ashley Hall and Cameron Smith in a dramatic playoff. The young American played well in the FedExCup Playoffs finishing T10 at The Barclays, solo ninth at The BMW and T17 at The Tour Championship. He then went on to play on the winning US Ryder Cup Team winning a total of two and half point out of four.
Spieth was superb here last year winning the tournament by eight strokes in total over his nearest challenger Patrick Reed. He didn’t shoot worse than a 67 last year in Kapalua finishing on a total of 30 under par for the tournament which is one stroke shy of the 31 under par record held by South African Ernie Els. He has a good record here with an impressive win last year and a second place finish in 2014. Statswise he ticks a lot of boxes here ranking 24th in SG Around the green, second in SGP and ninth in scrambling. If he gets the putter rolling he will certainly be one to watch here.
Reed had a great finish to the season with a win and four top 15 finishes from the last seven tournaments. He finished T11 at the Travelers and followed that with another T11 in Rio and a respectable T22 at The Wyndham. He then had a win at The Barclays and followed that with a T5 at The Deutsche Bank. Reed also had a superb Ryder Cup for team USA winning a total of three and a half points out of five. He didn’t have the best start to the new season finishing outside the top 50 at The CIMB and WGC in China but he did bounce back with a T10 at The Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
He has a super record on this course finishing T16 in 2014, win in 2015 and a second place finish last year. The American is averaging a 67 in his last eight rounds here so he clearly likes this course. Reed has a superb short game and if he can make a few putts early he could be right in the mix.
Thomas is another player that seems to be bang in form at the moment and had a good finish to the regular season back in October. He finished T10 at The Barclays and T6 at The Tour Championship shooting 69,67 over the weekend. He started the 2017 season off in style with a T8 at The Safeway Open, a win at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, T23 at The WGC HSBC and a T5 at The Franklin Templeton Shootout with partner Smylie Kaufman. Thomas has only played Kapalua once before finishing T21 last year. He started 70, 73 in the first two rounds but bounced back with a pair of 69’s over the weekend to finish 11 under in total.
Statswise Thomas ranks eighth in SG Approach to the green, 28th in SGP, 20th in SGTTG and first in par 4 scoring. Thomas looks bang in form and could be another player worth backing this week.
Sneds always seems to play well this time of year and looks to be in great shape coming to Hawaii this week. He won the Fiji International at the start of October beating his nearest challenger, New Zealander Michael Hendry by and impressive nine strokes to take the title on 16 under for the tournament. He then went on to finish T6 in The Bahamas in the Hero World Challenge and he had another solid week with partner Jason Dufner at The Franklin Templeton Shootout finishing solo eighth on 20 under par, eight strokes behind the winners Matt Kuchar and Harris English.
Snedeker has a great record here in Kapalua finishing 10th here in 2008, third in 2013, 11th in 2014 and third last year. He is putting very well lately ranking 15th in strokes gained putting, sixth in par 4 scoring and first in par 4 birdie or better leaders. 18/1 seems quite generous for a player bang in form with a great record here.
Final Selections –
Jordan Spieth 5/1 1pt EW
Patrick Reed 11/1 1pt EW
Justin Thomas 14/1 1pt EW
Brandt Snedeker 18/1 1pt EW
Total staked = 8 pts
Good luck and enjoy the golf,
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