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Hyundai Tournament of Champions Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 01/06/2011

The 2011 PGA Tour season tees off on Thursday last afternoon from the Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort in Kapalua, Hawaii for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. It is called the Tournament of Champions because it is an invite for 2010 PGA Tour winners only and even the $1.12 million winner’s check is not strong enough to lure everyone to paradise. Only 34 players are in the field this week with notable names Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy not part of it.

The new season is an early start right after the holidays so a lot of players extend their offseason instead of coming right out of the gates. Only one of the four Majors winners are teeing up this week as U.S. Open Champion Graeme McDowell is here. As for other European players who are not full time PGA Tour members, a lot of them prefer to play elsewhere and not use their limited visits here. Nonetheless, it is a strong field with a lot of big names for the 2011 opener.

The Plantation Course will play as a par-73, 7,411-yard test that uses elevation changes, doglegs and the ever-present winds. It is a very difficult test for the season’s first event because it is safe to say that most players are not at their best right now with a lot of rust needing to be shed. We have no current performances to go from so playing the hot players is not an option. Past performances on this course is the best bet if basing plays on any sort of successful history.

Two-time defending champion Geoff Ogilvy (+800) is in the field but will be a last minute scratch. He withdrew from Wednesday’s pro-am after he hurt his right index finger that required 12 stitches. He will hit his opening tee shot and then withdraw in order to collect $70,000.

Recommended Tournament Win Three Pack at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions (all for one unit)

Ernie Els (+1000) had a solid 2010 season and he is coming off a recent victory at the South African Open the week before Christmas, his fifth victory in that event. He won the Tournament of Champions in 2003 and he has placed in the top six five times.

We can expect a big year out of Adam Scott (+1000). He finally turned his game around last season and he is a recent winner at the European Tour’s Barclays Singapore Open in November. He has played here four times and finished in the top ten three times.

As for the longshot, we go with Charlie Hoffman (+4000). He has had a relatively long layoff it is unlikely any player will be at the top of his game. Hoffman finished T20 here in 2008, his only appearance at the Plantation Course so he has some positive experience.

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