Hyundai Tournament Of Champions
It's destination holiday resort paradise of Maui to kick off the PGA Tour season as 34 of last years champions tee it up at Kapalua.
Matt Kuchar - 10.00 - likes to get here early with the family and I make him favourite to start the season in style. The venue in question is the par 73 Plantation Course and it can be a quite unpredictable event as the players try to work off the Christmas Turkey. One key trend to look at is the performances of the Aussies here, and with their big home events taking place just before the Xmas period, it probably isn't a coincidence that their still competitive form can often shine through.
Severe trade winds though are arguably the main reason it can be tricky to pin down a winner in Kapalua. Controlling your ball flight and working it into extremely large undulating greens is the key around the Plantation course, especially when they blow. Fairways are wider than a wizards sleeve and big hitters do have an advantage in terms of allowing themselves this control due to shorter approaches. The surfaces are slick, and from ten feet and in, these are some of the trickiest putts the players will face all season. I would tend to avoid debutantes here.
Patrick Reed - 23.00 or 4.50 - gathered some experience of the Plantation course under his belt in 2014 and the streaky putter had his eye in on the Saturday, going on a birdie blitz to post a 67 (-6). Reed was back on top form towards the end of 2014 with a brilliant Ryder Cup display, and he rounded off the year with a third place at Tiger Woods' Hero World Challenge.
Geoff Ogilvy - 26.00 or 5.00 - has been noted for his putting excellence on slick, tricky greens and when you add room off the tee into the mix, it's the Aussie's type of course. No coincidence then that the last two times that Geoff has teed it up here, he's left with the trophy. Growing up in Australia, Ogivly is extremely wind competent too which only increases his chances. Geoff was also back in top form at the back end of last year, winning in Reno and just missing out at the Deutsche Bank where a short missed putt on 18 arguably cost him.
South African Open Championship
Glendower GC will host for the second year running and it looks to be a tough test of golf to start the European Tour year. Glendower plays 7,554 yards in length to a par of 72. Fairways are tight and tree-lined, Kikuyu rough is "considerably" thicker than last year and water hazards and fairway bunkers come into play. Wind can get up here as portrayed in the 2014 BMG Classic, and greens are set to run at 12' on the stimp.
The man who excelled in the wind back in October where his length proved pivotal was course specialist Merrick Bremner - 61.00 or 13.00 - who carded five birdies down the stretch to pip Darren Fichardt to the BMG Classic title. This followed a 4th place back in 2013 and a top 20 on the main stage at Glendower last year after a poor start.
I like to back the South Africans on home soil and the other standout at the prices for me this week is Trevor Fisher Jnr - 46.00 or 10.00. 5th at the Nedbank Affinity Cup, Fisher Jnr hit three rounds in the sixties to finish the Alfred Dunhill Championship last time out and record a T4 in a strong field. The native also finished top 20 here in the October BMG Classic, and rallied to a Sunday 64 to card a top 10 in the 2014 South African Open Championship.
Bet on upcoming golf events