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Golf Is Back: It's The Tournament of Champions at Kapalua Preview


Aloha and Happy New Year. Nothing solidifies this horrible post-holidays, post New Years feeling of dread and impending northeastern cold and darkness better than returning to the office only to watch other guys play golf overlooking the pacific ocean in the Hawaiian islands. But that’s what we get.

SBS Tournament of Champions - Final Round

The boys kick off 2019 as they’ve done since 1999 — at the Kapalua Plantation Course. It’s the Sentry Tournament of Champions, a small but strong field, spectacular Hawaiian views, and predictable bits of golf commentators narrating whale pods socializing in the pacific.

The Tourney

SBS Tournament of Champions - Final Round

The Tournament Of Champions field is comprised of — you guessed it — last year’s champions. Can’t get in unless you won. This year’s field is just 34 guys. Here they are along with their respective odds.

Dustin Johnson 5/1
Brooks Koepka 8/1
Justin Thomas 8/1
Jon Rahm 7/1
Rory McIlroy 10/1
Jason Day 12/1
Bryson DeChambeau 12/1
Patrick Reed 16/1
Webb Simpson 20/1
Francesco Molinari 20/1
Xander Schauffele 20/1
Cameron Champ 20/1
Gary Woodland 25/1
Paul Casey 30/1
Marc Leishman 25/1
Bubba Watson 30/1
Aaron Wise 30/1
Matt Kuchar 40/1
Keegan Bradley 40/1
Brandt Snedeker 50/1
Billy Horschel 50/1
Charles Howell III 60/1
Ian Poulter 60/1
Kevin Na 80/1
Scott Piercy 60/1
Kevin Tway 100/1
Andrew Putnam 100/1
Patton Kizzire 100/1
Brice Garnett 200/1
Andrew Landry 200/1
Troy Merritt 200/1
Ted Potter, Jr 250/1
Satoshi Kodaira 250/1
Michael Kim 250/1

Fore Play guys in this week’s field: Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Keegan Bradley, Patton Kizzire.

It’s a pretty relaxed week for the guys. Most cruise over with some family and friends and soak up the island life.

Rory’s in the field, which is quite unusual. He explained that decision Monday:

“I’m sick of getting to Florida [in February] and being like 100th in the FedEx Cup,” McIlroy told on Monday. “It’s going to be nice to get a faster start and hopefully be up in the FedEx Cup from the beginning.”


Mercedes Championships - Round 1

From 1953-2013, the ToC served as the Tour’s season-opening event but that changed with the implementation of the wraparound season (which is stupid). Jack’s won the ToC a record 5 times and Tiger’s won it twice. Perhaps the event’s most famous finish was this epic Tiger/Ernie duel from 2000 — Tiger hit a 3-wood on the 72nd hole to setup a needed eagle (because Ernie also made eagle on the 600+ yard hole) then went on to win on the second playoff hole with a 40-foot birdie bomb.

That win kicked off probably the greatest year in professional golf history. Tiger’s 2000 included 3 majors, 9 wins, 4 seconds, 17 top-tens, and 20 top-twenty fives in 20 starts.

Ernie went on to set the tournament scoring record in 2003, posting 31-under. Spieth nearly matched it in 2016 with 30-under, and won by 8 (the same margin as Ernie in 2003).

From 1962 through 1966, you had to be named Jack Nicklaus or Arnold Palmer to win this event.

The Track

Hyundai Tournament of Champions - Round Three

The Plantation Course began hosting the event in 1999. It plays easy for these guys; DJ was 24-under last year and I just mentioned multiple guys have posted an under par score that begins with a 3.

Here’s a bit more insight into the track via Andy from the fried egg:

The tournament is hosted at Kapalua’s Plantation Course in Maui, Hawaii, the first project that legendary architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw designed together. The course plays to a par 73 and stretches to over 7,400 yards. It features expansive fairways, undulating greens and dramatic elevation changes. The wide fairways allow for many different styles of play to succeed and places more of an emphasis on iron play.

The coverage will likely revolve around the course’s spectacular views while ignoring its significance as one of the most important designs of the modern era (being the first collaboration between Coore and Crenshaw). It was the first new course to earn a spot on the PGA Tour schedule that was built with a strategic philosophy and employed Golden Age principles. It’s a resort course built with the casual golfer in mind (only one forced carry).

Here are some notable holes.

8th, 203 yards, par 3

Hyundai Tournament of Champions - Previews

12th, 430 yards, par 4

Thanks to Dustin Johnson, we have to mention the 12th now. Forever.

14th, 305 yards, par 4

Hyundai Tournament of Champions - Final Round

Golf Digest listed this one as a 2016 top-10 drivable par-4 on Tour.

17th, 549 yards, par 4

SBS Tournament of Champions - Final Round

18th, 663 yards, par 5

Hyundai Tournament of Champions - Final Round

You’ll see some cool shots here.

The Clubhouse

Plantation Clubhouse

Too resorty. Expect something better from how good this golf course is.

Kapalua clubhouse grade = 5.2.


Winning Score

The last 4 winners have been 24-under, 22-under, 30-under, and 21-under. They take it deep here.

Winning score, 23-under.


This may be wishful thinking because it’d be great for us to get a big name like JT on the show then have him immediately win, but I’m not against wishful thinking. In fact I’m very for it.

Plus he’s won here before and all the swings his dad’s posting make it impossible to envision him losing.

Winner, Justin Thomas.

Dark Horse

I love creeping down the odds list as much as the next guy and finding someone with insane value, but unfortunately I just don’t see it. Not on this track. The last 6 winners here have been Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson. I don’t think you have to veer too far from the big names to find your winner this week.

Having said that, my interest piqued seeing Bubba at 30/1.

Dark horse, Bubba Watson.

The Steven Bowditch & Smylie Kaufman Weekly DFL Award

Ted Potter Jr. Sorry Ted.


SBS Tournament of Champions - Round One

Hawaii + West Coast Swing = prime time golf television. Gotta love it.

All this is on Golf Channel.

Thursday & Friday: 6-10pm est
Saturday: 6-8pm est
Sunday: 6-10pm est

Final Thoughts

Yes, we had Justin Thomas on the podcast for a full hour. Considering our history giving him shit, how big of a star he is in the game, how good of a last few years he’s had (reached no. 1 in the world, won 8 times in 2 years, won a major championship, went 4-1-0 at the Ryder Cup), and how he chatted with us, I’d say this is the biggest interview we’ve ever done.

I think you’ll love it. Give it a listen.

Enjoy Kapalua.