Bubba Set For Hawaii Top Five-O Again
Hyundai Tournament Of Champions
After finishing in the top five in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions last year, can Bubba Watson make an impact in Hawaii this week?
The Hyundai Tournament no longer opens the PGA season, but is still the first event in the calendar year. Restricted to players who won a title in the previous season, it attracts the second smallest field of any event on the PGA Tour, and this year will be just thirty-four strong.
With no half-way cut, no plucky qualifiers making up the numbers, and some rusty pros returning to action after their midwinter break, this can be a tricky event for punters to weigh up.
At just under 7500 yards, the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort on the island of Maui, Hawaii, is one for the big hitters and the wide, forgiving fairways and expansive greens mean that accuracy off the tee is not that important. But those greens can be tough to read, as can the wind, and the stamina-sapping undulations put a premium on physical fitness and endurance.
In The Bunker
Hideki Matsuyama is one of golf’s rising stars, and having picked up his first PGA Tour win in 2014, he ended the year strongly, with three top finishes including a third at the Frys.com Open and victory in the Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour. But no debutant has won this tournament since 2008 and the last four winners had all played the course at least three times. As a newcomer to the Plantation Course it may take him a round or two to adjust and that means he is one to avoid this weekend.
Bubba Watson tops the antepost betting this week, but he’s hard to oppose, even at single-figure odds. He enjoyed a superb 2014, a year which brought him a second Masters and two more titles, including an impressive victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions in November.
One of the biggest hitters in the world, his game is perfectly suited to the Plantation Course and he has recent form in the event, finishing in the top five in 2013. Back him to kick off 2015 in style at 15/2.
Ryan Moore is not the most consistent of players and has only made the top-twenty-five once in his last seven starts, but he did manage a victory at the CIMB Classic in his penultimate outing of 2014 and his record at Kapalua makes him a contender this week. He has played the course three times, breaking into the top ten twice, including last year and at 20/1 he is a decent bet this weekend.
It could also be worth taking a chance on Geoff Ogilvy. Victory at the Barracuda Championship last summer, his first PGA title in four years, earned him his qualification for this event, a tournament that he won on his last two visits in 2009 and 2010. He clearly thrives at Kapalua and is an interesting outsider this year.