2011 PGA Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Kapalua Plantation Course, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii
January 6-9, 2011, TV: Golf Channel
Defending Champion: Geoff Ogilvy
The PGA kicks off their 2011 season with their traditional winners from the previous year only event from the Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii. The event has a new sponsor trading in a Mercedes for a Hyundai, but the course is the same. It is one of the easiest courses on tour, if not the easiest.. This might be due to that it usually features a small field of some of the most golfers in the world. The 7,400 yard Plantation Course is the only Par 73 on the PGA Tour. Last year it was ranked as the easiest course in relation to par, greens in regulation, and birdies. Geoff Ogilvy is the two time defending champion in this event. This year 34 of the 39 golfers who won tournaments last year are in the field for this event. The notable exception is Phil Mickelson who usually skips the Tour’s first two stops in Hawaii, as does Tiger Woods. Woods isn’t even eligible for this event as he didn’t win one tournament last year for the first time in his career. Here are a look at some of the favorites and their odds to win the tournament courtesy of Bodog.
Geoff Ogilvy (7/1) The Australian took 6 weeks off last year, before a strong finish in two tournaments in his native land. He won a tournament and finished second in another. The 33 year old loves this course and has won here two straight years. Ogilvy isn’t the longest hitter on the tour, but he is one of the best putters on tour. He led the field in putting both times he won here. He is playing very well right now and is a good bet for the three-peat.
Ernie Els (8/1) Els won the South African Open in his last start. He has finished in the top 6 5 of the last 6 times he has played this event. Els won the event in 2003. “The Big Easy” doesn’t hit the ball as far as he used to. In fact Els isn’t in the top 30 in any statistical category except for birdies and scoring average. The crafty veteran Els is playing some of the best golf of his illustrious career and certainly has the chops to dethrone Ogilvy.
Steve Stricker (11/1) Stricker is the PGA Tour’s “Mr. Consistency”. He had 2 wins, 9 top 10’s and 13 top 25’s in 2010. He finished tied for 10th in this event last year, but was bogey free over the last 43 holes shooting 15 under. He lost this event in a playoff in 2008. I don’t think he will this week, but he is certainly capable. A better bet on Stricker may be in a head to head match-up against another golfer. Bodog has Stricker matched up against Dustin Johnson, with Stricker -120. All he has to do is finish higher than Johnson. I like that play a lot.
Jim Furyk (11/1) Furyk won the FedEx Cup Championship in 2010. He can win on any course at any time. He has 7 top ten finishes in 9 events on this course, and he won here in 2001. He might be worth a play at 11/1 to win the tournament but like Stricker I think a better play is to take Furyk in a match-up. Bodog has Furyk matched up against Graeme McDowell. Both are -115 in the match-up and are playing really good golf right now. McDowell has never played thsi course before and that is why I am picking Furyk to win the match-up.
Graeme McDowell (12/1) The 2010 U.S. Open winner is playing on the PGA Tour full time this year instead of the European Tour. In his last event in December, McDowell beat Tiger Woods in a playoff in the Chevron World Challenge. McDowell is one of the most talented players in the world and like Furyk can win anywhere or anytime. I think it will be difficult to win on a course he has never played before thsi week, no matter hw easy the course is.
Hunter Mahan (16/1) Mahan has only played here once in 2008. He hit all greens in regulation in the final round. One of the most accurate hitters on tour, his game is ideally suited to the massive greens at the Plantation Course. He won twice last year and had a top ten finish at the Masters last year. He was 5th in the Chevron World Challenge last month his last time out. He is my dark horse pick to win the tournament this week.
Here is a list of other notable players and their odds to win the tournament. Dustin Johnson (14/1), Matt Kuchar (16/1), Ian Poulter (20/1), Francesco Molinari (20/1), Adam Scott (20/1), Stuart Appleby (25/1), Zach Johnson (28/1), Anthony Kim (28/1), and Rocco Mediate (125/1).
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