US PGA Tour golf tips: usual suspects set to shine at the Tournament of Champions

The US PGA Tour reboots with the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii this week, and golf tipster Martin Colwell has been examining the prospects of some of the contenders among the stellar field.

The professional golf circuit gets under way again, as we journey across the Pacific to Hawaii for the next two weekends. 

The USPGA tour kicks off the new year at the Plantation Course in Kapalua on the island of Maui this week, the traditional home of the Tournament of Champions.

A select 39-man field of 2022 USPGA tour winners and some FedEx finalists will be playing for total prize money of $6.7million in what is the first of the 'elevated' tournaments of the 2023 tour, in which all the highest-ranked PGA-qualified golfers are required to play.

Members of this select group are allowed to miss only one of these elite tournaments in a season, and Rory McIlroy has chosen to do so this week, opting instead to commence playing again in Abu Dhabi later this month.

The plantation course is a par-73 and is 7,596 yards in length, a long course built on undulating terrain, with plenty of bunkers and large patches of tropical-type rough that can be difficult to escape from.

With very wide fairways, the course should not prove difficult for players of this quality, although, while the greens are large, the grainy version of Bermuda grass can be difficult to read, so putting will be key this week.

While temperatures should remain warm throughout the week, as always with an island course, the wind could be a big factor if it blows at any time.

If we look at the previous four times the tournament has taken place, the same names crop up towards the top of the leaderboard, and with no 36-hole cut this week, all the big names will fancy their chances of being in contention on Sunday.

With the likes of Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa (who has family on the island), Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele jostling for position, it begs the question, which one of these players will start 2023 in form after a break of a few weeks?

This small-field tournament is usually won by those towards the top of the betting and so that seems to be our best route of attack this week.

Jon Rahm is our current 6/1 favourite, which makes sense and seems fair after finishing runner up to Cam Smith last year and enjoying a decent finish to 2022.

Justin Thomas had his putting woes in 2022, although he did claim a major when lifting the US PGA Championship after a playoff with Will Zalatoris. JT recently got married, which might have settled him down in some respects, but his practice regime may well have suffered as a result.

The same might be said for Collin Morikawa, who is also a newl-wed, so it really appears to be the marriage season for these guys!

As a multiple place finisher here in recent years, albeit without looking like winning, Morikawa's 18/1 price looks appealing for an each-way pick, but there remains concern about his form in 2022.

Xander Schauffele won here in 2019 and was placed in 2021, and while his 10/1 tag appears a bit short on value, he ended 2022 in decent form and can also go well again this week.

Patrick Cantlay is also 10/1 currently, and has a proven track record after being placed here last year and in 2020. However, Cantlay can have occasional putting woes in the final rounds of tournaments, particularly when leading, so if in contention, he might provide a few moments of drama down the stretch.

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