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BlogHyundai T of C Preview and Picks

Hyundai Tournament of Champions

January 9 – 12, 2015

Plantation Course at Kapalua

Kapalua, Maui, Ha.

Par: 73 / Yardage:

Purse: $5.7 million

with $1,140,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Zach Johnson

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

Welcome to our previews and picks for 2015.

The field includes 12 of the top-50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with two players from the top-ten: #4 Bubba Watson and #8 Jason Day.   The other top-50 players are #11 Matt Kuchar, #13 Billy Horschel, #16 Hideki Matsuyama, #19 Zach Johnson, #20 Chris Kirk, #21 Jimmy Walker, #22 Hunter Mahan, #23 Patrick Reed, #30 Ryan Moore and #49 John Senden

Last year there were 14 top-50 players in the field

The field includes 7 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour FedEx Cup Point list.  Those players are #2 Sang-Moon Bae, #4 Bubba Watson, #5 Ryan Moore, #6 Charley Hoffman, #10 Kevin Streelman, #13 Steven Bowditch and #16 Hideki Matsuyama.

The field includes only two past champions, last year’s winner Zach Johnson and 2010 & ’09 winner Geoff Ogilvy.

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Remember that the final day is Monday, not Sunday.  So be sure to join us late Sunday night to look at Who Will Win the Hyundai on Monday.

 

 

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Player Nedbank DP World Dubai Mayakoba Classic Turkish Airlines WGC-HSBC Sanderson Farms CIMB Classic BMW Masters Perth International McGladrey Classic Shriners Hospitals Frys.com Open
Robert Streb
(84.67 pts)
DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP 8
(16.67)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
T10
(13.33)
T31
(6.33)
Tim Clark
(72.67 pts)
T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T42
(2.67)
T57
(0)
Sang-Moon Bae
(64 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Win
(44)
Hideki Matsuyama
(56 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T41
(3)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
T3
(30)
Ben Martin
(55.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T29
(7)
DNP DNP DNP T17
(11)
Win
(44)
CUT
(-3.33)
Ryan Moore
(48 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Bubba Watson
(44 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Charley Hoffman
(42.33 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP T35
(5)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Nick Taylor
(40.67 pts)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP T86
(0)
T56
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
Chris Kirk
(39.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T14
(12)
DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Kevin Streelman
(38 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T56
(0)
DNP T26
(8)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Hunter Mahan
(37.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(30)
Steven Bowditch
(34.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T46
(1.33)
DNP T40
(3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
2
(33.33)
John Senden
(34 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T35
(5)
DNP 7
(18.33)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP
Russell Henley
(31.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T35
(5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Jimmy Walker
(31.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T35
(5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
63
(0)
Brendon Todd
(26 pts)
T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP DNP
Scott Stallings
(20 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
Matt Kuchar
(19 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP T21
(9.67)
Patrick Reed
(17.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP T26
(8)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
J.B. Holmes
(7.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Stadler
(5.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP
Seung-Yul Noh
(3.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T39
(3.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Chesson Hadley
(2.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T65
(0)
DNP DNP T32
(6)
CUT
(-3.33)
T57
(0)
Billy Horschel
(1 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T73
(0)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Player Nedbank DP World Dubai Mayakoba Classic Turkish Airlines WGC-HSBC Sanderson Farms CIMB Classic BMW Masters Perth International McGladrey Classic Shriners Hospitals Frys.com Open
Matt Jones
(-3.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Geoff Ogilvy
(-3.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Angel Cabrera
(-3.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Camilo Villegas
(-3.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T54
(0)
T72
(0)
DNP
Zach Johnson
(-3.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Ben Crane
(-1.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
Brian Harman
(-0.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T41
(3)
DNP DNP
Matt Every
(0.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T56
(0)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Billy Horschel
(1 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T73
(0)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Chesson Hadley
(2.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T65
(0)
DNP DNP T32
(6)
CUT
(-3.33)
T57
(0)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

One of the greatest perks on the PGA Tour for winning is getting to start the year off in Maui. For the average person, they would kill just to get to Hawaii.  The winners of 2014/15 they not only get to go to Hawaii, but they get a week at a Ritz Carlton on one of the prettiest  beaches in the world. Food couldn’t be any better; the scenery is the best and for those that like water sports from surfing to snorkeling the Kapalua area is the best. Yes, this is really hard work and to think, there is no hustle or bustle this week, play bad finish last and you’ll still make $61 grand. What a life.

But let’s face reality, not every pro on the PGA Tour thinks that playing in the Hyundai T of C is their cup of tea.  Just ask Phil Mickelson, and he would diplomatically tell you he loves Maui, but doesn’t want any part of playing 72 holes at Kapalua.  Though Tiger Woods hasn’t said anything, you have to wonder why after playing in six of the seven T of Cs at Kapalua between 1999 and 2005 he hasn’t been back.  About the only thing Woods has said is that the event is too close to the holidays, this year that is not a problem but it doesn’t matter because neither Woods or Mickelson qualified.

For this year four players took a pass, Rory McIlory, Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer.  Even though all four are full time members all of them were born outside the United States.  For three of them they have opted out to start their seasons in either Abu Dhabi next week (McIlroy & Kaymer) while Rose will start his season in Qatar.  As for Scott, who the last couple of years been a bit of a recluse and only played the minimum amount of events to keep his card, his wife will have a baby in the next couple of weeks.  So he is spending December, January, and February in Australia and will make his first start at the Honda Classic.

In past years we have harped on how players could miss out on this event, for those that aren’t here it’s understandable since three of the four are starting their seasons on the European Tour.  Still the field is healthy with 34 starters the most since 2007.  Lots of oddities, for one only two past champions, are in the field (Zach Johnson and Geoff Ogilvy).

Of the 34, 12 are playing for the first time, nine have only played once.  The defending champions Zach Johnson has the most experience, playing in seven while Matt Kuchar is next playing in five previous Hyundai’s.  Of those in the field Matt Kuchar has been in contention the most, four of his five starts he has finished in the top-ten.  But for those elusive winners, Geoff Ogilvy won the Hyundai back to back in 2009/10.  Sad, he was going after the three-peat in 2011 but cut his hand in a surfing accident the day before the tournament.  Another strange mix, of the 34 players nobody has ever been runner-up.  Now Kevin Streelman (T3rd last year) and Matt Kuchar (3rd in 2010) are the only players to finish 3rd.

So there isn’t a wealth of experience in this event and kind of begs the question, the field could be better if they took the winners of the last two or even three years.  But the PGA Tour or the Hyundai officials have stayed pat on just the last 52 weeks winners getting an invite.

Injuries:

The biggest injury came last week when Steve Stricker underwent surgery right before Christmas to repair a bulging disc in his back.  The pain had bothered him most of 2014, so he is hoping to be 100% in the coming months.  Now, he doesn’t have a target in mind for coming back, but the norm is a couple of months that means right around the Florida swing.  He finished the year 42nd in the world rankings, and he will probably drop out of the top-50 when the Cadillac roles around, but he is exempt for the Masters.

Making their return this week:

Kevin Stadler has mixed emotions for 2014.  He won for the first time at Phoenix, but during the summer had back problems.  That got better, but he suffered a wrist injury in November and after making a long trip to China played only two holes before withdrawing, then had to withdraw from Mayakoba.  So this is his first start since China.

Just after Thanksgiving Chris Kirk was playing with his son at home and slipped, landing on his wrist and aggravating it.  He had it examined, and it was just sore and he needed some rest, so he was forced to withdraw from the Franklin Templeton Shootout.  He told PGATour.Com at the time that he just needed a few weeks of rest and thought he would be find for the Hyundai.

One other possible problem:

Sang-Moon Bae has become a steady winner, first at the Byron Nelson in 2013 and then starting the 2015 PGA Tour season off with a win at the Frys.com Open.  In November, he won the Shinhan Donghae Open  in Korea.  But his country has called on him, and there is the potential that he may have to return to his country, put away his golf clubs and replace them with military fatigues.  South Korea has a requirement that all men between 18 and 35 must complete two years of military service. The 28-year-old could put off his commitment but now the government wants him to serve his country.  They did issue him a two-year waiver in 2012 and Bae last month requested for an extension, but the travel permit was rejected by the Military Manpower Administration.  He does have legal people working on it, but for now he must return to Korea at the end of January.  The good news for Bae, the Korean government has been known to waive the military service requirement for athletes winning gold at the Asian Games or any Olympic medal. Bae is the highest ranked golfer in Korea and a likely candidate to represent his country when golf returns to the Olympic in 2016 at Rio de Janeiro. So with that there is a possibility of Bae playing.  Look for him to be playing at Kapalua and the Sony, before a decision has to be made.

Course information:

The Plantation course was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and was opened in May of 1991. Between 1992 and 1997 the course was the venue of the Lincoln Mercury Kapalua Open, with the Mercedes Championships moving to the Plantation course in 1999. The average green size at Kapalua is 9,500 square feet, which means that it has some of the biggest greens on tour. This will place a premium on putting, especially on long putts. The course has 95 bunkers and no water hazards, with fairways so wide that a 747 can land on them.

In 2014, the course played to a scoring average of 70.583 (remember it’s a par 73) that was just under two and a half shots under par.  Only two courses played more easily on tour; both of them were at the Humana.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions:

Key stat for the winner:

  • The Plantation Course is not a driving course. A good driver has no advantage here so players just have to rear back and hit it as far as they can. The fairways are big enough to land a 747 on them and for those that miss the fairway, the rough frankly is of no worries, so this is one of the rare events that driving means nothing.  2013 was a perfect example.  The winner Dustin Johnson missed the most fairways of anyone in the field (missed 20 of the 60 attempts) but on the other end of the spectrum, Johnson’s average drive of 279.5 yards was second longest.  So hitting it long does have its advantages since in 2014 Kapalua was 3rd in driving distance but led all the PGA Tour courses with the best driving percentage and best greens in regulation percentage.
  • So along with players hitting it as far as they can, also look for players hitting lots of greens. Since they are so large averaging 8,000 square feet, you can see that players miss only three greens per round. So hitting lot’s of greens is a misnomer.  The average hit green is 39 feet away so you can see that lag putting is important since only two courses in 2014 had figures higher.
  • So two key stats standout as important, first approach putt performance which gauges who lag putts the closet to the hole? In 2014, those playing at Kapalua averaged getting their first putt within 2 feet, 6 inches away.  The other key stat is birdie or better conversion per greens hit, Kapalua was fifth as players birdied 33.95 of the greens they hit.  Also look for putters that make many putts longer than 15 feet, Kapalua ranked high among courses on the PGA Tour for that stat.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • Still, the king of stats is putting.  With the biggest greens on the PGA Tour, putting is important.
  • Look at Zach Johnson last year.  He was 17th in hitting greens but of the greens he hit averaged 35 feet, 5 inches from the hole that ranked 4th.  Now, Johnson may of been 17th in strokes gained putting and 25th in total putting, but again look at some important putting stats for Kapalua.  First, Johnson one-putted 32 of the 72 greens, best of the field.  Of the 66 putts of seven feet or under, Johnson only missed three.  Of the 26 putts, he had 20 feet and over he made four which was very high in that stat. One last item Johnson only took 114 putts that ranked 2nd.  This is an amazing comparison of the 16 winners at Kapalua, 12 of them finished either first or second in putting (8 led that category).
  • In 2013 over 54 holes, Johnson was T2nd in putting taking only 92 putts.  Going a step further, on putting from three feet, five feet, and ten feet in.  Johnson was perfect 32 for 32 on putts of three feet and in.  On putts of five feet and in, out of 46 attempts he missed only two and of putts inside 10 feet he only missed six of 55 attempts.
  • In 2012 Steve Stricker won and was perfect 44 of 44 on putts of three feet in.  On putts of five feet and in, Stricker was 56 of 58 and inside ten feet 62 of 71.
  • In 2011 Jonathan Byrd won and was a perfect 39 of 39 on putts of three feet in. Putts from five feet and in he missed only one of 56.  On putts ten feet and in he was 66 of 73, the best in the field.
  • And in 2010 Geoff Ogilvy was nothing short of near perfect as he made all 55 of 55 putts from five feet and in.  He only missed four putts from ten feet and in, it’s very hard to be better than that.  So of the last five winners since 2010 none of them have missed a putt shorter than 3 feet and all of them missed only an average 1.6 putts per event under five feet.
  • Every year we see how Kapalua is a very unpredictable place. The Plantation Course was built on the side of a mountain and is exposed to winds off the ocean, so if they get winds of 20 and 30 mph, which is common the scores will climb. A perfect example of this was in 1999 when benign conditions the first three rounds brought the scoring average down to 70.58. But in the final round, trade winds came and the scoring average was two and a half strokes higher at 73.00. In 2000, all four days were played in high winds with scoring average being 73.03 while in 2006 a combination 74.893 scoring average made it the fourth toughest course played on the PGA Tour in 2006. But the last five years has seen big changes.  Conditions couldn’t have been better and the scoring average have gone down to the point that Kapalua is one of the easiest courses on the PGA Tour over the last five years.  In 2013 with the poor weather and some wind, the course still played under par at 72.111 but wasn’t the easiest as it was ranked 32nd out of 43 courses.
  • So what does this year look?  According to the ten-day forecast on Weather.com  it’s going to rain to be perfect all four days with not only no rain but also lack of wind.  So look for very low scores this year.
  • *One important thing to look at is a player who ended last year strongly. Look at past champions, Zach Johnson won at Tiger’s Northwestern tournament the month before winning at Kapalua.  Jonathan Byrd won the last event of 2010 and then won at Kapalua. Geoff Ogilvy had played well in Australia the month before he won at Kapalua and Daniel Chopra won late in 2007 before he won again at Kapalua in 2008. So lets look at the field and find someone that has won lately?
  • Jason Day did partner up with Cameron Tringale to win the Franklin Templeton Shootout.  The week before Day finished 5th at the Hero World Challenge.  Also Matt Kuchar, paired with Harris English finished 2nd at the shootout.  Patrick Reed finished T3rd at the hero World Challenge.  Hideki Matsuyama finished 13th at the Hero World Challenge but just before won the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan.  It may of happened in his last start, but Charley Hoffman won the OHL Classic at Mayakoba back in November.  We also can’t forget that Nick Taylor won the Sanderson Farms, Bubba Watson won the WGC HSBC Champions and Sang-Moon Bae won in Korea two months ago.

Who to watch for at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Best Bets:

Jason Day

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T9

Look for him to have a great season, has the game to play very well at Kapalua.

Matt Kuchar

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T6 T9 T6 3 T25

Surprised he hasn’t won yet, he is long overdue.

Billy Horschel

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T6

Has the type of putting game that will prove valuable at Kapalua.

Best of the rest:

Zach Johnson

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
Win T18 T23 18 T6 T20 T23

Has lot’s of experience playing at Kapalua.

Hideki Matsuyama

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
First time playing in this event

The last time a first-timer has won at Kapalua was Sergio Garcia in 2002, I can see Matsuyama achieving a win this week. Won just a month ago in Japan.

Kevin Streelman

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T3

Played well last year so has the game to do even better this year.

Ryan Moore

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
10 T28 T6

Great lag putter, wouldn’t surprise me to see him winning.

Solid contenders

Bubba Watson

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T4 T18 T25

You know he will overpower the course, but can he also do well on the greens.

Geoff Ogilvy

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
Win Win T19 T13

Could be the sleeper of the week, has won the last two times he has played at Kapalua so he knows how to play well on this course.

Jimmy Walker

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T21

With the lack of wind, this course could be perfect for him.

Hunter Mahan

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T26 T25 T5

Did finish T5th in a year that had perfect weather.

Long shots that could come through:

Tim Clark

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T17

Watch him, he has a new resolve for 2015 to make as much money before putting ban. He could be a longshot.

Patrick Reed

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T16

Another of those birdie machine guys that could have his way in calm conditions.

Angel Cabrera

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T10 T15

Has the finesse to do well at Kapalua.

Too much on his mind:

Sang-Moon Bae

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T21

Sorry to say that with all of his problems with possibly having to go back to his country to serve his military duty, he may be too pre-occupied to play well.

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