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Wednesday, January 2, 2019


The new year finally gets started in Hawaii with the Sentry Tournament of Champions. While Tiger isn't expected to play, we still get most of the winners from 2018, including first-timer Rory McIlroy.

Brooks Koepka

If you've read any of the "expert picks," you've probably seen that Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas are the favorites, with Jon Rahm and Marc Leishman also being mentioned. That's understandable, as all of these players have been in pretty good form lately.

But I think it's a bit odd that other past winners like Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson are getting no love at all. And what about the hot players like Bryson DeChambeau or Satoshi Kodaira (who has won three times in the last year, once on the PGA Tour and twice on the Japan Tour)? It's hard to go wrong picking almost any player who's made it to Hawaii, as the course isn't that penalizing to poor driving -- which, after the holiday break, just might be a common sight.

Still, I'd just like to mention a couple of players who I think are being overlooked.

Xander Schauffele certainly has as much power as anybody in the field, as well as some experience winning on big courses. With three wins since July, I think he deserves more attention than he's getting. He's my favorite of my two picks.

And it's a mistake to think Rory McIlroy won't have a good showing there. While he's never played this event before, this is a course that sets up very well for him -- especially so if his driver is working well. And let's not forget that he likely feels the need to prove something after a couple of lackluster seasons. (Personally, given his marriage and the injuries he's had during that time period, I'm not surprised his game has been off a bit.) I won't be surprised at all if he ends up holding the trophy.

I like both of these players this week. And with prime time coverage starting Thursday night at 6pm ET, I like this event as a nice way for us fans to ease back into the TV habit.

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