The PGA Tour kick-starts 2017 with the SBS Tournament of Champions (5-8 January), an event limited to players who won a PGA Tournament in 2016
The tournament returns to the Plantation Course at Kapalua, Hawaii for the 19th consecutive time but, despite it measuring 7,452 yards, this Par-73 doesn’t traditionally doesn’t favour the power-hitters. Indeed, scrambling has been a key statistic in the recent renewals which have been won by high-class players including Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson and Steve Stricker.
It’s hard to argue with the credentials of the market leaders Matsuyama (5/1) and Spieth (11/2), as both have course form and they were in much the best form of those at the head of the market when last seen. Indeed, Matsuyama was in the form of his life before Christmas, recording the sort of figures that Tiger woods used to put together with 4 wins and a runner-up finish in 5 starts. Woods would be around even-money in that sort of form, so 5/1 may look big come Sunday, and the young Japanese starlet finished third on his only previous visit here in 2015. Meanwhile, Spieth has finished first and second on his previous two starts in this event and, as he’s no longer the holder of any Major Title, he’ll surely be gunning for early success. First and sixth on his last two starts, he’ll likely be in contention come Sunday, especially if scrambling is again the key statistic.
Dustin Johnson is a best-priced 6/1 and, though he won this in 2014, he’s finished sixth and tenth the last two years. He has the class to win at any time but, now he’s a major champion, he may well be seen to best-effect later in the season. That comment also applies to Jason Day who, despite posting fair tournament figures of 9/3/10, may well be using this idyllic venue as a warm-up, and he’ll probably be rusty after being out injured for some time.
Patrick Reed also loves it here with figures of 12/1/2, but he’ll have had to have been working hard in the off-season to get his game up to scratch, as in his last four events he only posted figures of 51/60/10/43. You can have 14/1 if you think the break will have refreshed him.
Bubba Watson and Jimmy Walker, both previously placed here, also looked out of sorts when last seen, though 33/1 for Walker is a tempting price as he often starts the New Year hot. Last, but not least, Brandt Snedeker loves a test of scrambling, and has finished third here twice in the last three years. He also loves windy conditions if the weather gods decide to spice it up – and 20/1 looks fair.
Leaving Matsuyama out may prove suicide this week but, with the last 5 winners all being American, and scrambling be the key statistic in recent years, I’m going to side with Spieth and Snedeker.
SBS Tournament Of Champions Tips
Jordan Spieth 4 Points Each-Way @ 11/2 (Various Bookies) ¼ odds 4-places
Brandt Snedeker 1 Point Each-Way @ 20/1 (Various Bookies) ¼ odds 4-places