SBS Tournament of Champions: Spieth to shine again

Jordan Spieth can repeat his 2016 win
Jordan Spieth can repeat his 2016 win

Dave Tindall brings us his analysis and tips for the PGA Tour's first event of 2017 - the SBS Tournament of Champions in Hawaii...

"It’s not for everyone but Spieth loves to get creative and work out a puzzle and the 2016 winner may be very hard to stop."

Main Bet: Back Jordan Spieth @ 6.511/2

Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 4 places


Main Bet: Back Jordan Spieth e/w @ 11/2

In Jordan Spieth's relatively brief career, we've come to learn that there are courses on which he repeatedly excels.

Augusta National is one of them, his victory in 2015 flanked by second places in 2014 and 2016.

Another is TPC Deere Run where his form in the John Deere Classic reads 1-7-1.

Adding to those two examples is this week's venue, the Plantation Course at Kapalua, a quirky layout that lends itself to specialists.

Spieth made his debut at the Hawaii venue in 2014 and finished runner-up to Zach Johnson after rounds of 66-70-69-69 left him just one shot behind the winner.

Then, after missing the 2015 event, he returned last year and blitzed the field by eight. Spieth was sensational that week, producing a relentless rush of birdies to land at 30-under.

"Everything was clicking," said the 23-year-old when he looked back on his win at a special media conference two weeks ago.

"I'm approaching the week the same way as last year. Going to come in early. Going to play a lot of golf, hang out and just kind of relax in the afternoons and the evenings and explore a bit."

In a limited field like this, repeat winners are common and those who have been on the golf betting scene for a while will recall Stuart Appleby - a good player but not a great one - winning this event three times in a row (2004-2006).

Appleby's fellow Australian Geoff Ogilvy won back-to-back in 2009 and 2010.

Spieth looks a very strong candidate to make a defence of his own and to show he likes winning the same event twice, he'll arrive with November's victory in the Australian Open still fresh on his mind. He also landed that tournament in 2014.

Ahead of his victory here 12 months ago, the two-time major winner revealed: "I do love this golf course. I love the grainy Bermuda. It's fun. The elevation changes, having to judge the elevation change with the wind, the ball just kind of does some crazy stuff out here."

It's not for everyone but Spieth loves to get creative and work out a puzzle and the 2016 winner may be very hard to stop.


Next Best: Back Patrick Reed e/w @ 11/2 in betting W/O Matsuyama, Spieth, Day and Johnson

Patrick Reed can certainly beat the best of them.

He showed that in the Ryder Cup when taking down Rory McIlroy in the Sunday singles. He showed it when capturing the WGC-Cadillac Championship in 2014. And he also showed it when winning this tournament two years ago.

Reed posted 21-under on that occasion before showing his one-to-one skills by defeating compatriot Jimmy Walker in a play-off.

There's a good chance he'll be top dog again this week but I actually prefer to play him in the special market where the top four in the betting are taken out.

As shown above, I'm very keen on Jordan Spieth while it's hard to ignore the claims of Hideki Matsuyama.

The Japanese golfer was the hottest player on the planet at the end of 2016 after finishing with four wins (Japan Open, WGC-HSBC Champions, Taiheiyo Masters and Hero World Challenge) and a second.

"These last five weeks I've been able to make some putts, and the more putts you make, the bigger the hole gets and the confidence grows and that's played a big part in it," he reflected after winning Tiger's tournament.

Matsuyama was also third on his only start in this event in 2015 (70-66-66-70) so deserves his place at the front of the market.

Dustin Johnson is another former course winner (2013) so warrants maximum respect as he aims to climb to even greater heights after finally landing a major in 2016.

Jason Day has some questions marks over him after an injury-hit end to last year but let's not forget that he's still World No.1. As for course form, the Aussie once shot an 11-under 62 on this track to finish in third spot two years ago. He was 10th after a slow start last year.

Reed is 12/1 on the outrights and that's actually okay but removing Matsuyama, Spieth, Day and Johnson makes the task we ask of him so much simpler.

He's 11/2 with the top four taken out and I'm confident this is a market he can win.

As well as his victory in 2015, Reed returned last year to finish second, albeit a distant one, to Spieth and he's averaging better than five-under-par per lap in his last eight rounds at the Plantation Course.

The set-up allows the American to show off his great imagination around the greens and he said 12 months ago: "The golf course fits my eye really well."

After his epic display in the US Ryder Cup win, he perhaps found it hard to come down from that high during his final few starts of 2016.

But he'll have hit the reset button since placing 10th in Tiger's tournament and he's definitely worth following in this event.

Hopefully, this is the best market for us to fully cash in and it's worth pointing out that with four payout places, Reed could finish eighth in the tournament and we'd still edge a profit on him.


Final Bet: Back Brandt Snedeker e/w @ 18/1 in 1st Round Leader market

With the front of the betting so strong, it's hard to find much space for any bigger-priced players.

Given the record of Aussies (five wins), I did think about Aaron Baddeley after his top four in the Australian Open.

But his course record here isn't good (21-12-27) so I'm not in a rush to pull the trigger.

Instead, I'll look to the first-round leader market.

Give his traditional early-season/West Coast Swing exploits, I did think about Brandt Snedeker on the outrights at 20/1 but, instead, I'll try him at 18s in the first round leader market.

Snedeker took day one honours on his last start in Hawaii when opening last year's Sony Open with a 63 while, in this tournament, he's been in the top four after the opening lap in two of his last three appearances.

The American posted a 70 in windy conditions to be fourth after the first 18 holes in 2013 and was third after starting out with a six-under 67 last year.

Snedeker's R1 positions in his first four West Coast Swing events of last season were 3-1-90-5 while in 2015 he posted a Thursday 64 to hold the first-round lead at Pebble Beach.

"The golf course is a lot fun to play. It's a great time of year to be here in Maui and the family always has a great time. So it's hard to beat," he said last year.

At a venue and time of year when he's very much in his comfort zone, it would be no surprise to see Snedeker sprint out of the blocks and take an early place at the top of the leaderboard.

Spieth, by the way, has opened with a 66 on both his starts in this event. In 2014, it gave him the first-round lead and last year's Thursday seven-under left him second.

It would come as no surprise to seem him win this by going pillar to post and I couldn't put anyone off backing him at 7s in the 1st Round Leader market even though it looks short enough on first glance.

Dave's 2016/17 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 e/w per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £200
Returned: £635
P/L: +£435

(After the RSM Classic)

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