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Can Dustin Johnson star again in the Tournament of Champions?

| 03.01.2014

Everybody will be keeping their fingers crossed that the Tournament of Champions doesn’t suffer the appalling weather that struck Maui 12 months ago when the first two days were cancelled and the competition reduced to 54 holes.

Everyone that is, except perhaps the big-hitting American Dustin Johnson, who took everything in his stride as he cruised to a four-shot victory in a tournament restricted to winners on the PGA Tour the previous year.

Johnson is 15/2 with Coral to repeat his triumph and this quirky, undulating Plantation lay-out is the type of horses-for-courses venue which does seem to bring out the best in certain players.

Stuart Appleby won it three years in a row between 2004 and 2006, while Geoff Ogilvy lifted the trophy in both 2009 and 2010.

And Johnson says that the course is definitely to his liking, a place where he can let loose off the tee on to wide fairways and set up any number of birdies with short approaches.

But Steve Stricker has also done well here so it would be wrong to assume that only the bombers will thrive.

Fresh from a fabulous late 2013 campaign in his native Australia, Adam Scott deserves his spot as Coral’s 11/2 favourite and the extremely classy world number two has to be respected on any course in any conditions.

You do wonder how much that assault on the Australian Triple Crown took out of him mentally. It will be a fantastic achievement if he can raise his game again here and see off a host of top-notch Americans.

Maybe it will be third time lucky for Webb Simpson (9/1 with Coral). The 2012 US Open winner went close in this two winters ago and was then leading the tournament last year, only for his impressive efforts to count for nothing when torrential downpours and 40mph winds resulted in play being abandoned and early scores voided.

Coral also have a fascinating market on top débutante. Of the 30 pegging it up in Hawaii, 13 were first-time winners on the PGA Tour and they include one or two names who might well be challenging for Ryder Cup places later in the year.

More tournaments will surely come the way of  Harris English (7/2 favourite), Billy Horschel (11/2), Jimmy Walker (7/1) and Kevin Streelman (8/1), but the golfer who many feel has the best chance of going right to the top is 20-year-old Texan Jordan Spieth (5/1).

The first teenager to win on the PGA Tour in 2013 and unsurprisingly Rookie of the Year, Spieth has already worked his way into the world’s top 20 and has the game to climb much higher than that in the coming years.




Jon Freeman