Hyundai Tournament of Champions: Hawaii

phil mickelson

Several of the world’s leading players, including Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson, have decided to miss the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

It is contested over the Plantation Course at Kapalua, 7,452 yards, par 73. Perched along the seaside slopes of the West Maui mountains, the Plantation Course is known for both its breathtaking views and – as evidenced last year – its exposure to the wind.

More often than not, though, the trade winds stay gentle enough for the winner to reach at least 20 under over four days. Before last year’s weather-shortened event, the previous four editions all produced winners at no worse than 22 under.

Opened in 1991, the course is one of the first Bill Coore/Ben Crenshaw collaborations.

Justin Rose has also opted not to compete in the 2014 curtain-raiser, leaving Adam Scott as the highest-ranked player in the competition.

Woods has not taken part in the tournament since 2005, while last year’s Open champion Mickelson has missed it every year since 2001.

But looking at the results I have to be self-critical and say that they were not to my satisfaction.

Martin Kaymer

Graeme McDowell will also sit out the action in Hawaii, although defending champion Dustin Johnson will be making an appearance in the tournament as will Webb Simpson, Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, Martin Laird and Zach Johnson.

Though no longer the season opener, Kapalua marks the restart to the new wraparound season that began last October. Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore and Chris Kirk are in the field from current-season wins.

Not only is Zach Johnson the defending champion, he’s the only former winner in the field.

The Hyundai Tournament of Champions could see its youngest winner since Sergio Garcia’s 2002 victory came three days before turning 22. Five entrants this week are under age 25 – Spieth (20), Patrick Reed (23), Derek Ernst (23), Russell Henley (24) and English (24).

The tournament is scheduled to start on 2nd January.

Our selection’s….

Take Zach Johnson at an EW 15/2 with bet365 and Jordan Speith at a best EW 25/1 with Ladbrokes

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Meanwhile, the former world number one Martin Kaymer has decided to dispense with the services of his coach Pete Cowen.

“The work with Pete has brought me a great deal and extended my options on the golf course,” said the German.

“But looking at the results I have to be self-critical and say that they were not to my satisfaction.”

Kaymer has failed to win a tournament this year and has slipped to 39th in the world rankings.

Tiger Woods is 11/4 to win five or more tournaments on the 2013/14 PGA Tour and 4/1 to emerge victorious in three while Rose is 7/1 to win the 2014 Race to Dubai outright and Rory McIlroy can be backed at 9/2 to come out on top.

Woods is 11/2 to win a fifth Masters title, while he is priced at 8/1 for the Open Championship.

While Woods has been happy with his efforts this year he is full of belief that 2014 could be a momentous year for him.

“I’ve won at every one, except for Pinehurst, and I’m trending in the right way,” said Woods. “I’ve finished third, second. You get the picture, right?

“So I’m looking forward to the major championship venues next year. They have set up well for me over the years and I look forward to it.”

Steve Stricker has announced that he will continue with his “semi-retirement” schedule next year.

The 46-year-old admitted that he was contemplating retirement 12 months ago but was pleased with the way he played this season after he had made the decision to curtail his schedule.

He did not win a tournament in the 13 starts he made on the PGA Tour but did manage eight top-ten finishes, including four runner-up spots.

“It worked well last year,” said Stricker. “I wanted to be fresh and ready at every tournament I played, and I was.”

Stricker is set to enjoy a ten-week break in Wisconsin, with his next tournament appearance scheduled to be the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship in late February.

It worked well last year. I wanted to be fresh and ready at every tournament I played, and I was.

Steve Stricker

He has said he will take part in the four Majors and “six-to-eight” other tournaments in 2014, adding: “I thought I could still play well doing it that way. That’s a lot of it out here, getting things right in your mind and feeling good about your decisions.”

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