After a short off-season the PGA Tour kicks off the 2013 season with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Hawaii. I always enjoy watching this tournament, even with the limited field, for the beautiful views the location provides. With a fresh dumping of snow in the Northeast in the past week, it’s nice to be able to see a lush green golf course and crystal blue ocean views. It’s a shame that not more players choose to take part in this event, opting to rest up the extra few weeks. Players like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and Phil Mickelson will not be in the field this week.
Kapalua is a par 73 course, the only one featured on Tour, and with the rolling fairways and elevation changes, 400+ yard drives are quite common. Last year Gary Woodland bombed one 450 yards.
A Group: I’m being careful these first few weeks to be sure to conserve starts for players that I plan to use as horses throughout the season. Guys like Dufner, Simpson, and Zach Johnson will remain on the bench even though I think they could fair very well this week. Instead, starting in my A group this week will be Bill Haas. Haas is coming off of a very good “off-season” from playing overseas. He finished 10th at the HSBC Champions, and a solo 3rd at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa. Haas also placed 8th at Kapalua in 2011. Backing him up will be Bubba Watson who will surely take advantage of his length and hit more than one or two 400 yard drives. Watson is also coming off of a T2 at the Thailand Golf Classic.
B Group: Starting in my B group this week is returning champion Steve Stricker, and Matt Kuchar who has also had some good success at this event. Stricker, who’s soon to be 46 years old, isn’t showing his age yet. Last year at Kapalua he led the field in putting as well as scrambling. Kuchar, who again last year proved to be a top 10 machine (9 top 10s in 2011), finished T6 and solo 3rd in the last two years at Kapalua respectively.
C Group: Ian Poulter again showed how fierce of a competitor he is at the Ryder Cup this past September and he took that momentum overseas this past off-season where he won the WGC-HSBC Championship, placed 4th at the BMW Masters, and solo 2nd at the Australian Masters. Could be the hottest player in the field right now. Backing him up I like Ryan Moore who showed some great c0nsistent play late in the season in 2012, after winning the JT Shriners Open he went on to notch four consecutive top 10s.
Starting Foursome: Bill Haas, Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter
On the Bench: Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore