The PGA Tour is straight back into competition mode at the start of 2020 with some of the best players in the world competing in the winners-only event at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
A limited field of 34 will tee up at in Hawaii for the new year opener.
The Plantation Course at Kapalua, which is renowned for significant elevation changes, has undergone major renovation by designers Bill Coore and Bren Crenshaw, with the aim of toughening up the test and providing a firm and fast setup.
The 7,518-yard par 73 features 11 par fours and only three par threes. It typically provides low scoring, despite strong trade winds regularly featuring at the coastal track.
Course experience is valuable while distance off the tee and a hot putter is especially advantageous this week.
Jon Rahm tees up as the 4/1 favourite but the recently-married Spaniard looks short enough at the prices. Rahm is exceptionally consistent but most of his wins have come on the European Tour, failing to win an individual PGA Tour title in 2019.
Justin Thomas follows him at 5/1 and the American will have his backers but preference is for another home favourite at twice the odds.
Johnson can claim Kapalua hat-trick
Dustin Johnson has gone under the radar somewhat, after his injury layoff at the end of 2019, but the former world number one looks a strong bet to win the Tournament of Champions for a third time.
Johnson has grown to love the Plantation Course and was very positive about the recent changes during his practice rounds which started early just after Christmas. The 20-time PGA Tour champion first lifted this trophy in 2013 and reclaimed the title in 2018, shooting 24-under-par for an eight-shot triumph. His last seven starts at Kapalua have all resulted in top tens and he was fourth 12 months ago.
Johnson underwent knee surgery in September but made a successful comeback during USA’s Presidents Cup win in Australia in December.
The 35-year-old knocked off the rust and improved as the week progressed, finishing with an impressive 4 & 3 singles win against Haotong Li. Johnson played four times so there should be no concerns regarding his fitness after a long layoff.
Having dropped down to fifth in the world rankings, Johnson will be hungry to reassert his authority at the top of the game and this prolific winner looks generously priced at 10/1.
Patrick Reed has also won at Kapalua and the controversial American can challenge for another victory this weekend.
Reed ended 2019 strongly with third place at the Hero World Challenge. His performance was marred by allegations of cheating after he was given a two-shot penalty for improving his lie in a waste area. Reed often excels with a chip on his shoulder though and ended the Presidents Cup with a dominant 4 & 2 singles win against CT Pan.
Reed will like nothing more than claiming another victory to quieten his critics and this represents a golden opportunity for the 2018 Masters champion. In his second start at the Tournament of Champions in 2015, Reed lifted the title after winning a play-off. The 29-year-old produced a strong defence the following year, finishing runner-up and was also sixth in 2017.
Reed, who is ranked fifth for par four scoring, can start 2020 with a win at 14/1 each way.
Hot Todd can continue his winning formula
Brendon Todd ended 2019 in sensational form and could begin the new year in a similar fashion with success in Hawaii.
Todd was sitting outside the top 500 of the world rankings in November before a brilliant run of results including back-to-back wins pushed him just outside the top 60. It all started with his victory at the Bermuda Championship and he followed up immediately by claiming the Mayakoba Golf Classic, at another coastal track.
Brendon Todd currently lighting the world on fire. Might just mess around and win 3 straight tournaments. pic.twitter.com/W0VVtpcwLH
— Fore Play (@ForePlayPod) November 24, 2019
Todd was on the verge of a third successive win before a tough final round dropped him down to fourth place at the RSM Classic. The 34-year-old was last seen competing in the QBE Shootout in December, where he tied for third alongside Billy Horschel.
Debutants have a poor record in this event and significantly Todd produced a promising performance on his sole start at the Plantation Course. He was in contention midway through the tournament before finishing eighth in 2015.
With confidence levels still at a career high from his recent wins, Todd looks a lively outsider to upset the favourites at 40/1 each way.