Proud parent Chris Kirk is the pick of the prices in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at odds of 31.00 with 888sport to celebrate the recent birth of his second son with victory in the restricted competition.
Kirk’s wife, Tahnee, gave birth to the couple’s second son just before Christmas so what golf punters call the Nappy Factor – a theory that golfers improve their performances after becoming parents – is in full swing. Kirk won on his last PGA Tour appearance, capitalising on Briny Baird’s late bogey to claim the McGladrey Classic, his second title on the top circuit. That was the best part of two months ago so, even allowing for a few sleepless nights, should be fresh and motivated for what will be his second crack at taking out the Hyundai Tournament of Champions event.
Victory in the 2011 Viking Classic earned a place for Kirk in the 2012 Hyundai Tournament of Champions and he played remarkably well over the last 54 holes to finish seventh. Kirk shot a horrific 75 in the first round to be eight strokes behind the leader and one stroke in front of the backmarker. Kirk had an excuse: his playing partner, Lucas Glover, withdrew and that meant that Kirk had to go around on his own, facing long downtimes between shots that had a negative impact on his rhythm. Kirk learned his lesson in the second round and played with a marker, firing five birdies and one eagle, but the damage had been done.
Kirk’s PGA Tour statistics show that he is a fast starter to the year – it is a fact that some golfers are better attuned to playing well in January – and, also, that he produces his finest on courses similar to the Kapalua Resort Plantation Course on which the Hyundai Tournament of Champions takes place. Kirk is best suited to coastal layouts where one needs low numbers to be near the top of the leaderboard.
Only around half of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions field has competitive Kapalua Resort Plantation Course experience so one can take a risk and put a line through them and reduce the number of top chances to 17 golfers. Backing Kirk, who is in great form both on and off the course, at odds of 31.00 appeals in the circumstances.
Kirk features in several Hyundai Tournament of Champions match bets and he stands out as a good betting proposition in a couple of them. Ladbrokes is offering odds of 1.91 that Kirk beats Jimmy Walker, while 888sport’s option sees Kirk at odds of 1.65 to defeat Billy Horschel.
Walker is making his Hyundai Tournament of Champions debut after winning the Frys.com Open, his maiden PGA Tour victory on his 188th start. Walker’s last PGA Tour appearance saw him finish 46th in the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, although his other efforts this season have been more than sound. However, one cannot get past Walker’s lack of Kapalua Resort Plantation Course in comparison to Kirk.
Horschel is another Hyundai Tournament of Champions debutant following his success in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Horschel’s PGA Tour win occurred nine months ago and, since then, he has not pulled up many trees apart from finishing fourth in the US Open and seventh in the TOUR Championship.
Finally, Matt Kuchar is worth backing at odds of 1.61 with Sky Bet to get the better of Zach Johnson. Kuchar ended 2013 in fine fettle, playing excellent golf all around the world, plus he has been in the top nine in each of his last three Hyundai Tournament of Champions starts. Johnson’s Kapalua Resort Plantation Course numbers are poor for a golfer of his quality, with his career positions being sixth, 18th (twice), 20th and 23rd (twice) so he is very opposable.