Tournament of Champions expert picks: Stars gather in Hawaii to open 2017

The PGA Tour is back after a six-week hiatus, and there is an event every week until the start of the 2017 football season. Think of it as a great stopgap. This week's tournament is the SBS Tournament of Champions where only 32 golfers (all winners from the 2016 PGA Tour year) will tee it up from paradise.

Let's take a look at this week's contest.

What: Tournament of Champions | Where: Kapalua, Hawaii | When: Jan. 5-8

How to watch (all times ET)

TV: Golf Channel

Thursday-Friday from 6-10 p.m.
Saturday from 4-8 p.m.
Sunday from 6-10 p.m.

Participants and odds

  • Dustin Johnson: 5-1
  • Hideki Matsuyama: 5-1
  • Jordan Spieth: 11-2
  • Jason Day: 7-1
  • Patrick Reed: 12-1
  • Justin Thomas: 14-1
  • Bubba Watson: 18-1
  • Brandt Snedker: 18-1
  • Daniel Berger: 25-1
  • Jimmy Walker: 25-1
  • Ryan Moore: 25-1

Field strength: B-

It includes four of the top six golfers in the world currently, but the rest of the field is pretty weak. Hopefully this tournament comes down to a duel between Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth or Justin Thomas and Jason Day and not, say, Greg Chalmers and Jim Herman.

Three stories to watch

Jason Day's back: Day has not played since the Tour Championship last fall. His back is apparently fully healed, but as we've seen with Day, the next injury is almost always right around the corner. Hopefully he can string together a couple of seasons here with nothing too major.

Hideki Matsuyama's hot hand: Matsuyama has won four of five tournaments, including the HSBC Champions and Tiger Woods' Hero World Challenge in December. He is hotter than a PGA Championship in the south in the middle of August.

Back-to-back?: The last golfer to go back to back at Kapalua was Stuart Appleby in 2005 and 2006. It's hard enough to win a regular tournament and get back here in January and even harder to win two straight at this event like Spieth will try to do this time around.

Past winners

  • 2016: Jordan Spieth
  • 2015: Patrick Reed
  • 2014: Zach Johnson
  • 2013: Dustin Johnson
  • 2012: Steve Stricker

This is a tremendous list of golfers. Ryder Cup studs, all of them. As an aside, an American has won this tournament in each of the last six years, but before that you have to go all the way back to 2001 to find one (Jim Furyk) who won it.

Let's look at the picks this week.

Expert Picks (Kyle Porter)

Player Pick Analysis
Winner Jordan Spieth has two appearances at this tournament. He has finished second and first. This is Augusta West for him, apparently. He's also coming off another winter where he took home the Australian Open. Odds: 11-2
Top 10 Hideki Matsuyama has four wins in his last five appearances worldwide. Not sure what else to say there. There is a reason he's the co-favorite. Odds: 5-1
Sleeper Daniel Berger is not really a "sleeper," per se, but I suppose he qualifies given how small this field is. He finished T2 at the HSBC Champions in November and now has 13 top 10s in the last two years. Odds: 25-1

Expert Picks (Robby Kalland)

Player Pick Analysis
Winner I know this is shocking, but I'm taking Hideki Matsuyama. My guy has a win and T5 at this tournament the last two years. This course is a ball-striker's dream, and he's as good as there is at that. Also, he's always the odds on favorite in my heart. Odds: 14-1
Top 10 I'll happily ride the hot hand here and take Kuchar to keep his run of top 10s going this week. Odds: 22-1
Sleeper Rafael Cabrera-Bello has played five PGA Tour events this season (2 WGCs, Shell Houston, Masters and The Players) He's finished T11, 3, 4, T17 at the first four and missed the cut by one at The Players. Oh, and he's finished no worse than T22 in his last three events in Europe. I love this value. Odds: 80-1
CBS Sports Writer

Kyle Porter began his sports writing career with CBS Sports in 2012. He covers golf, writes poetry about Rory McIlroy's swing, stays ready on Tiger watch and loves the Masters more than anyone you know.... Full Bio

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