9th January 2018 at 9:15 pm #127495aceventurerModerator
The Tour gets back on track for 2018 this week at Waialea, Hawaii, after the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, Maui, where big DJ cruised to a win by eight strokes. Justin Thomas returns to defend his title along with friend Jordan Spieth and these two top a good field.
The course: Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Par: 70, 7,044 yards
Over the last five years this course has either been the easiest or second easiest par 70 on the PGA Tour. Fairly generous fairways and fairly small Bermuda greens which run at around 11 on the stimpmeter. If you hit greens regularly birdies are there for the taking but when the win blows it can alter scores considerably. There are a couple of par 5s which are reachable but accuracy off the tee will be important as hitting fairways here is one of hardest on Tour. So driving accuracy and putts per GIR will be important.
A couple of players I selected for my ones to watch this year and Kevin Kisner ticks all the boxes for me. In his last two years he has finished fifth and fourth here while hitting a 60 last year. Apart from last week he hasn’t played on Tour since a T4 at the RSM Classic in November, where he hit four sub-70 rounds. Last week in Kapalua he was steady rather than spectacular but past results here show that playing the week before is an advantage.
Driving Accuracy: 73.28% (26th) Strokes Gained Putting: 1.303 (4th)
One man who has shown some great form before the Xmas break and since is Georgian Brian Harman. He’s not afraid to go for his shots, even although it would probably be better to lay up. Last year he won his second PGA Tour event since his first win in 2014. Last year he had five tops tens along with his Wells Fargo victory. Out of four tournaments so far this season the American has had four top tens (three top 5s and an 8th). Not the longest of hitters but very accurate and very capable around the green.
Driving Accuracy: 76.32% (11th) Strokes Gained Putting: .845 (22nd)
Australian Cameron Smith has shown some really good form over the past few months. He finished T12 at the BMW at the end of last season and continued with a run of T5-3rd-4th and then winning the Australian PGA in December. Making his first appearance at Kapalua he finished T17 which is not a bad result. This is his third appearance at Waialae with T27 last year his best result but he is a much improved player from the one who played here last year and I think that improvement will show this week. The 24-year-old’s putting is not at it’s best at the moment but hopefully it will all come together.
Driving Accuracy: 69.77% (52nd) Strokes Gained Putting: -.257 (147th)
1.50 ew Kevin Kisner (22-1 Ladbrokes)
1.50 ew Brian Harman (22-1 PaddyPower) Paying seven places 1/5
1.50 ew Cameron Smith (35-1 Betfair)
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