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BlogWho will win at Kapalua on Monday?

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

Things you need to know before Monday’s final round:

As I look out my window in Northern Virginia freezing rain is coming down as the predicted storm is about to hit us.  Gosh how I long to return to Maui, it’s hard to believe that I haven’t been back since the last Kapalua Invitational in 1998.  In past years the weather hasn’t been that great between heavy rains in 2013 (only three rounds played) and windy, rainy conditions the last couple of years.  This year has made up for it, perfect blue skies with very little wind, there is no better place you would want to go that Maui this week.

So historically how close to the lead do you have to be to win?  Since this event moved to Kapalua in 1999, ten of the 16 third round leaders/co-leaders have won.  Because of windy conditions it’s hard to make a big comeback, of the six players who won without the lead three of them started the final round four back.  So it’s hard to come from behind because the average fourth round score of the 16 winners is 68.19.  That’s almost five under par so you can see there isn’t much leeway on catching the leader.

So if four is the biggest comeback in the third round who is left?  Matsuyama and Walker lead at 17 under.  Patrick Reed and Sang-Moon Bae are at 15 under and are two back while Brendon Todd and Russell Henley are at 14 under, three back.  Bubba Watson, Robert Streb, and Scott Stallings are at 12 under par five back so that’s seven guys who have a chance to catch Matsuyama and Walker.  So with no wind predicted for Monday, just look at the average fourth round score of the past winners, 68.19 and you can see what it will take for those behind to win.  For those at 12 under and five back they would have to shot 63, which is one off the course record.  Only two have shot 62, and there have been nine 63rds shot at kapalua, so you can see how tough it is to come from behind.

So what is the realistic number to catch Matsuyama and Walker?  Have to think that for Reed, Bae who are two back and Henley/Todd at three back they have a chance.  But that is it.

So have the players taken advantage of the good weather?  All 33 players are under par (Kevin Stadler withdrew because of wrist injury) and of the 101 rounds played only eight have been over par.  Kapalua is one of those places that you go low, the fairways are so big you can land a 747 on them and the greens are big enough that it’s hard for these guys to miss a green.  So unless you are really putting terribly, it’s hard to do anything but break par at Kapalua.  Still, there is that realm of disaster at Kapalua.  Look at first round leader Russell Henley, after shooting 65 in the first round he went out and shot even par 36 on the front nine.  With that the rest of the field trampled over him, yes he shot three under on the back for a 70 that finished giving him a share of the second round lead, but you can see what happens when you don’t go low.  A case in point was defending champion Zach Johnson, after opening up with rounds of 68-67, he shot even par 73 and finds himself in tenthh place, six back of the lead.  For him the tournament is history, he can’t go low enough to win.

How did Matsuyama get there?  He got off to a poor start, in the first round he was only one under after the 11th hole, finished with two birdies for a 70.  After that he shot 66-66 and has done most of it.  On the par 5s he is ten under par and this sounds awful but on the first four holes he is two over.  So he has made up for things on the last 14 holes.  He is hitting greens, over 54 holes he has only missed seven greens which he ranks T2nd.  He has taken 85 putts, but the good news is that he has gotten better with the putter as the tournament has progressed.  Many don’t know much about Hideki who is just 22 years old and has already won five times in Japan and got his first PGA Tour win last May at the Memorial.  So I like his chances for shooting another 66 on Sunday.

How about Jimmy Walker?  He has three wins on the PGA tour in the last 15 months and is playing well.  He is probably the most consistent player this week only making one bogey (on the 17th hole in rd 2).  Just like Matsuyama he has played well on the par 5s; he is nine under.  He has only missed eight greens and while Matsuyama’s achilles was the first four holes, Walker has trouble on holes 11 through 17, he is only two under in this stretch.  We got to like the consistence of Walker, and we will see whether he can keep things together on Monday.  One thing that we can say, he has learned from last year’s roller-coaster week.  Last year at Kapalua he made 19 birdies and two eagles but had ten bogeys, and three double bogies so he has found a way to eliminate the mistakes.

What about Patrick Reed?  He was bogey-free in the first and third rounds, he only has two bogeys, both of them came in the second round when he bogeyed seven and 8.  He has mastered the par 5s playing them in nine under.  Other than that Reed has had a good week and I have to think that a 65 could be done by him.  The one thing about Reed, he has more confidence in his game than anyone else.  I can see him going through the night thinking that he can shoot 64 on Monday and win; you got to like his confidence.

What about Sang-Moon Bae?  I find his play surprising.  With all his problems with possibly having to return to his home country Korea and serve in their military, he has kept his head.  He only has made two bogeys, one on the 11th hole on Friday and one on the 7th hole on Sunday.  He has hit 49 greens, the most of anyone in the field but  in comparison with Matsuyama whose approach proximity to the hole is 34 feet, 8 inches, Bae is 44 feet, 5 inches.  So he is hitting lot’s of greens but isn’t close to the hole.  I still worry about him and just think he may have too much on his mind, but we will see.

Anybody else has a chance?  Maybe Bubba Watson, he has the spark to go low but has only shot 63 twice in the fourth round and never gone lower so maybe he isn’t the man.  Zach Johnson has shot 64 at Kapalua, but I still think he is too far back.

Below is a list of the top-14 players on the leader board going to 10 under which is 7  shots back of Walker and Matsuyama

 

Of the top-14 on the leaderboard, who is playing the best: for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Player Mayakoba Golf Classic WGC-HSBC Champions CIMB Classic Shriners Hospitals for Children Open McGladrey Classic Sanderson Farms Championship Frys.com Open
Robert Streb
(84.67 pts)
T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
Win
(44)
8
(16.67)
T31
(6.33)
Sang-Moon Bae
(64 pts)
DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
Hideki Matsuyama
(56 pts)
DNP T41
(3)
T21
(9.67)
T10
(13.33)
DNP DNP T3
(30)
Ben Martin
(55.33 pts)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
T17
(11)
T29
(7)
CUT
(-3.33)
Bubba Watson
(44 pts)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Charley Hoffman
(42.33 pts)
Win
(44)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T35
(5)
DNP
Kevin Streelman
(38 pts)
DNP T56
(0)
T26
(8)
2
(33.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Russell Henley
(31.67 pts)
DNP T35
(5)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Jimmy Walker
(31.67 pts)
DNP T35
(5)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP 63
(0)
Brendon Todd
(26 pts)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Of the top-14 on the leaderboard, who isn’t playing well:

Player Mayakoba Golf Classic WGC-HSBC Champions CIMB Classic Shriners Hospitals for Children Open McGladrey Classic Sanderson Farms Championship Frys.com Open
Zach Johnson
(-3.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Matt Jones
(-3.33 pts)
DNP T53
(0)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Patrick Reed
(17.33 pts)
DNP T22
(9.33)
T26
(8)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Scott Stallings
(20 pts)
DNP T53
(0)
T19
(10.33)
DNP DNP DNP T21
(9.67)

How Player Rankings are Computed

In Conclusion

I love Matsuyama but think you have to go with consistence and Jimmy Walker is the best this week.  Think that Patrick Reed with give him a run, also think that Zach Johnson will get it together and shot 64 which will not be enough.

Who to watch for at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Best Bets:

Jimmy Walker

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T1 T21

Playing great but more importantly very consistent. Has been in this position before and I can see him shooting a 66 on Monday

Best of the rest:

Patrick Reed

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T3 (2 SB) T16

Has more confidence than any of the other leaders, could talk himself into a win.

Hideki Matsuyama

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T1

If he plays well on the first 4 holes he could win, hitting ball well. Remember he has never played in this event.

Long shots:

Sang-Moon Bae

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T3 (2 SB) T21

Having a great week, still wonder if there are other things on his mind.

Russell Henley

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T5 (3 SB) 27

He needs a 64 to have any chance, don’t think he can do that.

Brendon Todd

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T5 (3 SB)

Think his goal is to get a top-three finish making a lot of money and FedEx Cup points.

Need a miracle:

Bubba Watson

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T7 (5 SB) T4 T18 T25

Needs at least a 63, just don’t think he can do it

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