PGA Tour Kicks Off With Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Maui

2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions
Plantation Course – Kapulea, Maui, Hawaii
Par 73, 7,411 yards
Friday, January 6 – Monday, January 9, 2012, TV: Golf Channel
Defending Champion: Jonathan Byrd
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker

Steve Stricker Tour Championship
Steve Stricker is one of the favorites to win the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions which kicks off the PGA tour season.

The 2012 PGA Tour kicks off with the winner’s only event, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. With only 28 golfers in the field, there is a decided lack of star power in this event. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, and Lee Westwood are among the golfers who either weren’t eligible or chose not to compete in this event. That means that the tournament is wide open and the winner can get an early jump on the FedEx Cup standings.

Here is a look at some of the contenders, and their odds to win courtesy of bookmaker.

Steve Stricker (+750)

The PGA’s Mr. Consistency had 2 wins last year along with 5 top tens and 15 top 25’s. He made the cut in all 19 events he played. He missed some time last year with a herniated disc in his neck, but returned to play in the President’s Cup in November and the Chevron World Challenge last month. He has finished in the top 10 here 3 years in a row. He is always dangerous but I don’t know if he is fully recovered from the injury.

Webb Simpson (+750)

Simpson finished second in the Fed Ex Cup and on the money list last year. He was number one in all around, par breakers, scoring average, and on par 4’s and par 5’s. He had 2 wins, 3 runner ups, 12 top tens, and 21 top 25’s in 26 events played last year. This is his fourth year on tour, so the sky is the limit for the 26 year old. He certainly has a good chance of winning, but a better wager is on Simpson to beat Stricker heads up at -115.

Nick Watney (+900)

Watney was the regular season leader in the FedEx Cup Standings but came in 9th in the playoffs. He was third on the money list. Watney had 2 wins, a runner up, 10 top 10’s, and 16 top 25’s in 22 events. He came in 5th here in 2008. I like Watney at +110 to beat Stricker.

Gary Woodland (+1300)

Woodland has 7 top 20 finishes in his last 10 starts worldwide. This is his first trip to Kapulea, but his game is tailor made for the course. He was 12th in greens in regulation, 13th in birdie average, and 14th in adjusted scoring. The 27 year old had one win, a runner up, 6 top tens, and 15 top 25’s in 25 starts last year.  He is my pick to win the tournament, and I also like him to beat Keegan Bradley and Bubba Watson in match-ups.

Martin Laird (+1300)

Laird had one win, a third, 6 top tens, and 11 top 25’s in 23 events played. He tied for 4th here in 2010. He is one of the best drivers on tour and should do well on this long course with generous fairways. He is an underdog in match-ups against Bill Haas and David Toms. I like him to beat Toms at +110.

K.J. Choi (+1400)

Choi had one win, a runner up, 2 thirds, 8 top 10’s, and 10 top 25’s in 22 events. He was fourth on the money list. Still, I don’t see him contending here.

Bubba Watson (+1400)

Watson hit one of the shots of the year last year in this event on the 18th hole in opening round. He hit a driver from the fairway to within 10 feet of the cup, and sank his eagle putt. Unfortunately, he never broke 70 in any round with 6 double bogeys, and was never in contention. He looks to improve this year and should be a contender here. He had 2 wins, 3 top 10’s and 8 top 25’s in 22 starts.

Bill Haas (+1600)

Haas won the FedEx Cup last year and was 7th on the money list last year. He had a win, 2 runner-ups, 7 top tens, and 12 top 25’s in 26 starts last year. He finished 8th last year, but was the leader at -10 going into the final round. He was 11th  in GIR and 19th in all-around. Haas is a -125 favorite against Laird, and a -105 underdog against Choi. I like Haas to win both of those match-ups.

Keegan Bradley (+1800)

Bradley had a pretty good rookie year last year on the PGA year. He had 2 wins including the PGA Championship, along with 4 top tens and 12 top 25’s in 28 starts last year. He won the Rookie of the year, and is one of two major winners in the field here, along with David Toms. Bradley could be a nice dark horse here, and I like him as a +110 underdog against Aaron Baddeley. Bradley’s length off the tee should serve him well on this course.

Aaron Baddeley (+1800)

Baddeley had a win, a third, 5 top 10’s and 11 top 25’s in 22 starts last year. I think you can get better value on some golfers with higher odds than Baddeley. If you want you can take him at -180 to beat Sean O’Hair but that seems like a large number to lay on a match-up that seems more even than that.

David Toms (+2000)

Toms is playing in this event for the first time since 2006. Last year, he had a win, a runner up, a third, 7 top tens, and 13 top 25’s in23 starts. He was 10th on the money list. He has 4 top 10’s in 6 career starts at Kapulea. Toms is a slight underdog against Woodland and a significant favorite against Laird. I don’t see Toms winning either match-up.

Jonathan Byrd (+2000)

Byrd is the defending champion here. It was his only win of the season, but he did have a runner up, 5 top tens, and 7 top 25’s in 26 events last year. He has done well at this course other than the win. He has a top 10 and a couple of top 15’s in this event. Byrd is a significant favorite over Ben Crane and Sean O’Hair. I like Byrd to win both.

Here are the odds on the other 16 golfers in the field. Rory Sabbatini (18/1), O’Hair (20/1), Jhonattan Vegas (24/1), Kevin Na (30/1), Crane (30/1), Bryce Molder (28/1), Brendan Steele (33/1), Chris Kirk (40/1), Mark Wilson (50/1), Scott Piercy (50/1), D.A. Points (40/1), Harrison Frazar (60/1), Johnson Wagner (80/1), Scott Stallings (60/1), and Michael Bradley (80/1)

It should be a great tournament, and it is scheduled to end on a rare Monday finish. The scores should be pretty low,as this is rated the easiest course of the 51 on the PGA tour this season.




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