PGA Tour: Fowler should flourish at Tournament of Champions

Profile Picture: Tommy Raymond

January 2nd, 2020

The PGA Tour will waste no time getting off to a rousing start in 2020, with the first tournament of the decade–the Tournament of Champions at Kapalua Resort in Maui. It’s restricted to players who have won on the PGA Tour, from last year’s Tournament of Champions to the RSM Classic in November. There is no cut and, assuming a player isn’t disqualified, the tournament provides guaranteed money.

2020 Tournament of Champions odds

Many of the PGA's top stars will be absent

One player will gain 500 FedEx Cup points and be assured a return trip next year. What is disappointing is the lack of participation by so many players who are qualified. That list includes Tiger Woods (who won this event in 1997 and 2000, the latter on this very course), Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka (injured and apparently not fully recovered), Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari and Shane Lowry, all of whom have won at least one major. Three of the four major championship winners from last year aren’t here, either. Only U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland made the trip.

I’m all for players deciding when and where to work, by the way. Be that as it may, however, this is a bit concerning.

Fans of 400-yard drives will likely be able to witness a number of them at Kapalua, because of some wind directions and downhill fairways. The Plantation Course, as it’s called, is listed at 7,518 yards and has a par of 73. Designers Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore did some renovations leading up to this tournament, so it will be interesting to see if the scores change a bit from the routine of 20 under or better.

Keep an eye on Fowler

One player I can envision making a splash here is Rickie Fowler. Newly married and coming off an appearance in the Presidents Cup, where he was a last-minute replacement for Koepka, Fowler has the following finishes in three Kapalua appearances—tied for sixth in 2013, fifth in 2016 and tied for fourth two years ago.

He is +1200 to win and should merit a look in each way and matchup wagering. Fowler also excels in windy conditions, a point he’s proven with a win in the Scottish Open and three top-five finishes at the Open Championship. Those factors have probably helped him at Kapalua in the past, as well, and can do so again.

Conners is worth a wager

One player who is making his Tournament of Champions debut but should warrant a look is Corey Conners. After he missed the cut at Sanderson Farms, the reigning Texas Open winner owns four straight top 20 finishes, including a top 10, and currently ranks first on the PGA Tour in strokes gained off the tee and is sixth in strokes gained tee to green.

Last season Conners led the Tour in greens in regulation, which never fails to come in handy. At +5000, the Kent State product could contend with a hot putter at a price.

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