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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hyundai Tournament of Champions - Power Ranks and Fantasy

The best thing about a 30-man field at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is that we can analyize every participant in great depth. The worst thing, as mentioned yesterday, is that every player is coming off of some sort of layoff and current form is out the window.

A format note, last season we did an odds post the day after our power rankings. This season I'm going to include the current odds with the power rankings as an effort to condense things without sacrificing the quality of the content. The odds do not impact my power rankings, but seeing them side to side may help you find some value.

Normally I do a "Dandy Dozen" power ranking, but with a field of 30 I will rank all players.
  1. Steve Stricker (12/1) - He's posted top 10s in each of the last three HTOC, culminating with a win in 2012. While it's hard to endorse someone winning back-to-back years, there is precedent for it in this tournament. Stuart Appleby won in '04/'05/'06 and Geoff Ogilvy repeated in 2010 after winning in'09. I don't know that he's my favorite to win, but due to his history in this event he is a must play in most game formats.
  2. Matt Kuchar (10/1) - The betting favorite didn't play in the 2012 edition, but in three trips to Kapalua his solo third and T6 in his last two trips show the island is to his liking. All signs point to a top 10 at worst, with a solid chance at contending should things go his way.
  3. Ian Poulter (12/1) - While Charl Schwartzel may have replaced Poulter as the hottest golfer in the world at the end of 2012, his stock is still very high and he finished sixth in his only previous trip to the Plantation Course.
  4. Webb Simpson (14/1) - It generally takes a little time to adjust to Kapalua, and first timers don't often fare that well but Simpson tied for third in his first attempt to tame the Plantation Course. That kind of effort makes him next to impossible to ignore in his second trip in as many seasons.
  5. Ryan Moore (16/1) - Much like Simpson, Moore had a solid T6 in his only trip to the HTOC and won in his last start on the PGA TOUR before shutting it down before the birth of his first child. You may remember, Jonathan Byrd won the Justin Timberlake and shut it down for the rest of 2010 before winning the 2011 HTOC, so this is a trend to watch.
  6. Scott Piercy (20/1) - Had a respectable tie for 12th in his first trip in 2012, and his length (12th in driving distance) and birdie average (13th) in 2012 make him a statistical fit.
  7. Dustin Johnson (14/1) - In three trips, his average finish is 12th and he was T9 in his last trip, skipping out on 2012. This is a course that he has the potential to fare very well on if his game is in form out the gates.
  8. Bubba Watson (14/1) - Like DJ, he should thrive on this course but he lacks the finishes to back up the seemingly good fit. In two starts, his best finish was a T18 last year. Having made the trip to Hawaii early and having his son with him should put him in a relaxed frame of mind.
  9. Brandt Snedeker (14/1) - His putter should give him plenty of chances, but it's reasonable to think he could start 2013 a little hungover from his 2012 success. Was 10th in his only start in this event.
  10. Hunter Mahan (20/1) - Finished fifth in his trip to Kapalua but backed up to a puzzling T25 in his second try making him a little bit of a wild card.
  11. Keegan Bradley (12/1) - Not great odds for a guy who was 16th in his first, and only, HTOC.
  12. Nick Watney (12/1) - Had a T5 in three starts at the HTOC, but I prefer to see how he does early in the year before jumping in at 12/1 or burning a one-and-done on him.
  13. Jason Dufer (12/1) - First rookie worth considering.
  14. Bill Haas (20/1) - Has an 8th and a 20th in two trips. Hard to predict how he'll start the year.
  15. Carl Pettersson (20/1) - With four prior appearances, he knows what he will face and was a career-best fourth in his last start on the Plantation Course. Worth considering in various games if he's available a little further down the list.
  16. Tommy Gainey (66/1) - I love a guy in this tournament that can make birdies in bunches, and Gainey can do that. He's a rookie, which means he's a risk but he won the Callaway event at Pebble Beach in the silly season after claiming The McGladrey on a course where wind is in play. Kapalua, Pebble Beach and Sea Island are all located directly on the water. Could be the value pick from a betting and gaming standpoint.
  17. Scott Stallings (80/1) - Similar to Gainey in his penchant for getting hot, and he at least has some experience here with a T22 last year.
  18. Rickie Fowler (20/1) - Terrible value at 20/1 for a Plantation Course rookie who's background doesn't hint at this being his type of course.
  19. Jonas Blixt (25/1) - A poor man's Brandt Snedeker, he'll likely have a learning curve but the putter could make him a candidate for a top 10.
  20. Johnson Wagner (66/1) - He's got a ninth and a 10th in two tries, despite form being off an skill set not being a greath match.
  21. Kyle Stanley (50/1) - Equipment switch to Nike is official, which concerns me, as does his record after winning last year. That said, his ability to bomb it will play well if he can catch lightening in a bottle with the putter.
  22. Zach Johnson (25/1) - Simply put, the Plantation Course hasn't been kind to ZJ. In five trips, his average finish is 18th with a T6 the best. His wedges and putting must be flawless if he's to contend.
  23. J.J. Henry (80/1) - It's been a while (2007), but Henry did finish T8 in his only trip to Kapalua.
  24. Charlie Beljan (50/1) - Like Ryan Moore, he's trying to win in back-to-back TOUR starts. His length should help, so if he relaxes and putts well then who knows.
  25. Marc Leishman (50/1) - Another Plantation Course rookie. Hard to know what to expect, but he hails from Australia and this tournament has been kind to his countrymen.
  26. George McNeil (80/1) - Tied for 25th in his only other trip here, and made just one top 10 in 2012.
  27. John Huh (40/1) - One would think his major strength of driving accuracy would be watered down here, so don't expect too much this week......the Sony Open, however......
  28. Mark Wilson (66/1) - Average finish of 24th and a best of 18th isn't surprising for this shorter hitter.
  29. Ted Potter Jr. (100/1) - What's there to say?
  30. Ben Curtis (66/1) - A terrible record here with a 30th and a 33rd in two trips. Avert your eyes.
Golf Channel Game:
  • Group 1 - Matt Kuchar
  • Group 2 - Steve Stricker
  • Group 3 - Ian Poulter
  • Group 4 - Tommy Gainey
Yahoo! Game:
  • Group A - Starting Bubba Watson with Brandt Snedeker on the bench.
  • Group B - Starting Stricker and Kuchar with Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson on the bench.
  • Group C - Starting Poulter with Ryan Moore on the bench.

I will make a habit of publishing my final one-and-done picks on Twitter (@RyanGolfBlogger) closer to tournament time and possibly on this space as well. For this early-week post, I will narrow the list of who I am considering as well as the thought process used.

This week, the key is to not burn someone you're going to want later in the year, while finding someone that will provide a top ten at worst, but hopefully a top five. I've narrowed my focus to Steve Stricker, Ian Poulter, Matt Kuchar, Scott Piercy, Ryan Moore and Webb Simpson. Stricker is the leader in the clubhouse due to the expectation that he may only play 10 events this year. This will likely be the second weakest field he plays, assuming he plays the John Deere Classic. That means you either burn Stricker here or there. I have a little more research to do before I set this one in stone, but that's the thought process.

If there are any other game formats you want advice on, shoot me an email and I'll either respond directly or start including the format in this space.

Best of luck to all!


  1. Wow! Great information provided. I was wondering if you make updates to your Yahoo roster throughout the tournament? If so, do you post your updates? Thanks again, Phil SHaw

  2. I will at times. I've been fairly infrequent about posting updates, but you're not the first person to ask me that today so I may begin doing so either on the blog or on Twitter (@RyanGolfBlogger).

  3. Wheres the wind and mudder factor that will decide the top 5?