The first golf tournament of 2017 takes place this week when the SBS Tournament of Champions is held out in Hawaii. This is a tournament which pits together all of the winners from last season on the PGA Tour. 32 men have taken up the invitation to get their year underway this week.
Some of the biggest names in the world are among them including the defending champion Jordan Spieth so this should be a top way to get 2017 started from a golfing point of view.
2016 – Jordan Spieth
2015 – Patrick Reed
2014 – Zach Johnson
2013 – Dustin Johnson
2012 – Steve Stricker
2011 – Jonathan Byrd
2010 – Geoff Ogilvy
2009 – Geoff Ogilvy
2008 – Daniel Chopra
2007 – Vijay Singh
Once again the tournament will be held on the Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort. Plantation is the only par 73 course used on the PGA Tour but unlike most par 73s it only had four par fives and three par threes as opposed to a fifth par five to make up the par.
From a numbers point of view the course can stretch to 7,452 yards although with the conditions as they are it very rarely plays to anything like that sort of yardage which is how the likes of Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker have been able to win this in the past.
There is no real punishment off the tee here and although the greens are quite big scrambling is a big key to success. Nearly all of the recent winners here have scoped well for scrambling. The wind is expected to be up this week so those who are comfortable in windy conditions should be favoured.
Some of the top players in the world are showing up this week. They include Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day. Hideki Matsuyama is also teeing it up while Ryder Cup winners Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, Jimmy Walker and Ryan Moore are all here.
Other star names such as Bubba Watson, Branden Grace and Daniel Berger are all here as is the former major champion Jason Dufner. This is a decent field to begin the season with.
Jordan Spieth is the favourite this week. The eight shot winner from 2016 is 11/2 to retain the title and if his putter is as hot this week as it was then he will be a handsome winner once again.
Hideki Matsuyama and Dustin Johnson begin the week half a point bigger at the prices at the time of writing. Matsuyama heads into 2017 off the back of an incredible finish to 2016 while Dustin Johnson will be looking to follow up his major winning year with another big campaign. Both are a touch short for us though.
Jason Day is rated as one of Spieth’s main dangers but we don’t really know what sort of form he is in after he ended the 2016 season injured. He is 9/1 for those prepared to gamble over his fitness but that certainly isn’t us.
Patrick Reed is a former winner around here and if the break for Christmas has recharged his batteries he is entitled to be in the mix again this year given his extremely strong scrambling skills. He is 14/1 to win this week and it is 18/1 bar those five named.
I’m going with two main bets this week. Both are excellent scramblers who have gone well in windy conditions as per the criteria I’m after in this tournament.
Jimmy Walker had a weird 2016. Week on week you would say it was one of his worst ever on tour but the one week he did perform to his best he won. He didn’t just win, he won a major so it would be interesting to see how he measured the year with that in mind.
This week I think he can go very well. He is one of the best iron players on the tour and with that his scoring is very good. If he does miss the greens he is one of the better scramblers around and he has often performed in windy conditions so he ticks all of the boxes this week. At 28/1 I’m backing Walker to begin the year with a bang on an island where his record is very good.
The other main bet comes in the form of Daniel Berger, another man who scrambles very well. Berger has shown decent form in windier conditions and with his length he could take this course apart. He finished last year with a runner up finish in the WGC in China and I’m expecting him to build on that.
Berger is very comfortable on Bermuda greens so this track should be right up his street and at 28/1 I’m happy to have him as my other main bet here.
I’ll chance one at a big price too and that is Aaron Baddeley. I took him a few times last year and this seems like a good time to take him again. Baddeley ended 2016 in good form with a fourth placed finish in the Australian Open which is notorious for windier conditions and he was fifth on the scrambling statistics on the PGA Tour last year.
All of that combined with the fact he is generally pretty accurate with the irons leads me to think he is overpriced at 100/1 in a pretty restricted field this week.
Back J.Walker to win SBS Tournament of Champions (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 29.00 with Betfred (1/4 1-4)
Back him here:
Back D.Berger to win SBS Tournament of Champions (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 29.00 with Boylesports (1/4 1-4)
Back A.Baddeley to win SBS Tournament of Champions (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Skybet (1/4 1-4)