Hyundai Tournament of Champions Tips: Depend on Zach to defend at quirky Plantation Course

Back Zach to repeat this week

Dave Tindall brings us his each-way tips for the PGA Tour season-opener in Hawaii

"Charley Hoffman has shot a six-under 67 and a five-under 68 on this course in the past and is known to excel in windy conditions and on Bermuda greens. If his putter is as hot as it was in Mexico he can make a title challenge at odds that are pretty generous in such a small field."

Back Charley Hoffman @ 51.050/1

* Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 4 places

Nap - Back Zach Johnson @ 17.016/1

On a course which has thrown up repeat winners (Stuart Appleby won it three times on the spin and Geoff Ogilvy back-to-back), an alarm bell goes off this week when we consider that the reigning champ is very good at defending titles. 

Zach Johnson dealt with all the extra press to win a second straight Texas Open crown in 2009 and came within a whisker of defending at Colonial in 2011, eventually losing a play-off. For good measure he won there 12 months later to prove that he really is a horses-for-courses type. 

It took him a long time to work out this venue but having captured the title this year there must be a strong chance that he can use his brilliant wedge play and hot putter to go in again. 

Reporter Stephanie Wei, who played a practice round in the company of Billy Horschel and Matt Every earlier this week, has revealed that the course isn't playing overly long so Johnson's hot short game can propel him towards a second straight win in this event and a 12th PGA Tour title in total.


Next Best - Back Patrick Reed @ 17.016/1

The rule in this tournament is to pick players with plenty of previous experience of the unusual course. But forget all that when it comes to Patrick Reed. This boy walks to the beat of a different drum. 

Whether it be declaring himself one of the top five players in the world, pitching up next to Tiger on the range wearing red (and then going on to win the tournament) or shushing a Scottish Ryder Cup crowd, Reed does it his way. So why not take him to break with convention and win this event on just his second visit to the course. 

In truth, he did pretty well on debut in 2014, moving into ninth with a six-under 67 in round three before fading to 16th at the finish. In theory, it does suit him though. He can leather it off the tee and also use a strong wedge game to set up birdies. 

It might well be that he dips this year after his phenomenal 2014. Then again, anyone who wins three times in 14 starts might just be very special so give this fearless customer a whirl. 

Coming from last but one after the opening day to finish tied third in Tiger's Hero World Challenge tournament last month (Zach was T8) is also a promising sign.


Outsider - Back Charley Hoffman @ 51.050/1

Sometimes we can read too much into end-of-season breaks and possible build-up of rust and think that form at the end of the previous year is too old to be reliable. 

So let's recall Jonathan Byrd who won the Justin Timberlake in October 2010 but then captured this event on his next start despite it being months later and him having consumed lots of Christmas turkey (apologies to Byrd if he's a vegetarian). Go a few years further back and Paul Goydos ended his season with a second place in October before winning in Hawaii in January on his next start. It appeared the lengthy break made no difference. 

Therefore, given that he closed his 2014 campaign with a victory in the OHL Classic in Mexico, let's back Charley Hoffman to pick up where he left off. 

That victory in mid-November isn't actually that long ago but it's worth remembering that Hoffman will have been carrying those good vibes all through the Festive period. He's shot a six-under 67 and a five-under 68 on this course in the past and is known to excel in windy conditions and on Bermuda greens

If his putter is as hot as it was in Mexico he can make a title challenge at odds that are pretty generous in such a small field.

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