Who to back at the Tournament of ChampionsJanuary 2, 2018 Golf News
The annual winners’ showpiece in Kapalua kicks off 2018 but who does our betting expert think will be ringing in the New Year in style?
Tournament of Champions betting: Steve’s top tips
Jordan Spieth (6/1) is the favourite with all the bookies and rightly so. History suggests course form is pretty important in Maui and there aren’t many that can rival the American’s record here.
In three appearances in this start of year tournament he has finished second, first and tied third.
His stroke average round Kapalua is an exceptional 67.67 from 12 rounds. Even the tied third 12 months ago could have been a whole lot better had he not started with a 72.
That’s been his worst round by far on this track – eight of his other 11 have been well into the 60s.
Although we’ll see similar figures for the likes of Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler on this wide open course, Spieth’s love for this layout is clear and he’s a worthy market leader.
If you believe my assertion that course form plays a vital role at the Tournament of Champions, then what the hell is Hideki Matsuyama (12/1) doing at double the price of Spieth?
The Japanese has turned up twice, in 2015 and 2017, and finished 3rd and 2nd. Now last year this was probably the only event he didn’t win following a blistering run at the back end of 2016 and into the start of the New Year.
Three shots shy of Justin Thomas 12 months ago, his worst round here is 70.
Tied 5th last time out on the PGA Tour – admittedly way back in October – I have to take a punt on Matsuyama at the price.
Tournament of Champions betting: Steve’s each-way bets
While the Plantation course is not renowned for the narrowness of its fairways, Kapalua can get a bit gusty.
If the wind blows, then I’ll be popping a pound or two on Marc Leishman (25/1).
Pat Perez (33/1) is hardly a shrinking violet and, though some of the more eccentric parts of his lifestyle take the headlines, the American has got some serious game.
The CIMB Classic victor has three top 5s in five 2017-18 PGA Tour outings. He was 3rd here last year, having finished strongly with a 67, I think he’s better than the double carpet price being offered.