Matt Kucher – Hyundai Tournament of Champions
It’s time for some of the stars of the USA tour to wake from their Xmas golfing hibernation and start to tune up their games for another action packed season. It’s not much of hardship mind, as the setting for this event is on the beautiful island of Hawaii. The Par 73 Kapalua Plantation course again hosts and whilst not the most sternest test on tour, it still has some holes that can ruin a good score. A lot of the holes are quite short, and the Par 5s are mostly reachable, but accuracy is also needed with those long drives as there is plenty of scrub to be avoided. The ‘trade winds’ can be very strong at this time of the year, and players who have played this course numerous times will have a distinct advantage.
Matt Kucher is a player who at least should have have his game sharper than most, as he kept himself busy over December and put up an eighth place finish in the Hero World Challenge, and 2nd in the Franklin Templeton Shootout. He has a fine record here, and has finished ninth or better in his last four rounds. Consistency is his byword, and he’s a fine putter who should be able to cope with these large undulating greens.
It will be an interesting year to see how the young Chris Kirk will progress this year. He will be hoping to press on since winning the Deutsche Open, and has proved in the past he can play this course. He has a tied 7th to his name here, and would of done much better last year if he hadn’t had a calamitous 75 in the second round.
Other notables to mention are the two times Masters Champion, Bubba Watson and ultra consistent Aussie Jason Day. Bubba could rip this field apart, but it has to be taken on trust his commitment to such an early event in his schedule. Day has every chance of going very close this week, but at such short odds of 7/1 is overlooked this week. So I will keep the selections to just two, and add that only small stakes should be advised this early in the USA season.