The setting for the much anticipated first PGA Tour event of the new year is extremely familiar, but there is a very different feel about the latest renewal of the Hyundai Champion of Champions.
The number and nature of the 34 different champions reflects the unprecedented open nature of last season, plus lack of multiple winners. Of the 34, 12 are making their course debuts and a further ten have made only one previous appearance. Of the rest with experience of Plantation Course, Kapalua, very few could claim to be course specialists.
The absentees are particularly notable. No Rory, Tiger, Mickelson, Garcia, Els, Stricker or Dustin Johnson. Only two of the last ten champions are present, with neither defending champion Zach Johnson or twice-winner Geoff Ogilvy coming off vintage seasons.
It looks perfectly set up for one of last season's many surprise first-time winners to challenge. This long, wide-open, wind-exposed par-73, with five par-fives, is not to everyone's taste. Many will never have the tools to challenge here, so finding one that does at big odds should offer a solid trading opportunity.
Steven Bowditch looks just the ticket at 150.0149/1, especially given the outstanding record of his countrymen at Kapalua. Before Ogilvy's pair, Stuart Appleby won three times in a row from 2004 to 2006.
The Aussie connection is more than mere coincidence. They are likelier to be 'match fit' at this time of year, having just played their prestigious national triple crown, on fast-running, wind-exposed courses.
Bowditch isn't a player that would interest me often, but a win and a second place on last year's tour shows he's well capable of the occasional big week. His weakness is inaccuracy off the tee, ruinous at most courses but perhaps less of a factor here than at any other.
Otherwise he's long off the tee, a decent scrambler and excellent on par-fives, ranking fourth amongst this field. Bowditch's breakthrough win came at San Antonio in the Texas Open, another wind-exposed track where Aussies have thrived.
That all adds up to a much better case these dismissive odds imply and, because he's the sole selection, we need not to be too ambitious when setting our lay target.
The trading plan is to back Bowditch for three units, then place lay orders at 25.024/1 and 3.02/1 towards banking a profit in-running. If he hits the first target, which could be achieved with merely a good first round, we'll be guaranteed to at least quadruple our money, with plenty of extra profits still running.
Back Steven Bowditch 3u @ 150.0149/1
Place order to lay 12u @ 25.024/1
Place order to lay 20u @3.02/1