Happy New Year! The PGA Tour reconvenes this week at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in Hawaii, where only winners from the 2013 and 2013-2014 PGA Tour seasons are invited. Here's our first stats column of 2014.
Who's Not There
While we normally begin these stats columns with a history lesson, it's important to first establish who is not playing this week, as your fantasy picks may be instantly impacted.
Five players: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson are all somewhere in the world ... and that place is not Hawaii. We'll see Tiger in San Diego in about a month and Phil a week earlier in the Middle East.
So Who Is?
The field is actually still pretty strong considering who is in Maui. It's headlined by Masters champion Adam Scott, "recent" (as in the fall) winner Dustin Johnson, along with Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth among others.
Johnson won this event last year in an event dominated by wind delays that shortened the event to 54 holes and put the final round on Tuesday. But besides Johnson, there are no - that's right, zero - former winners in the field.
The closest we have to any recommendation off the History Lesson area is Martin Laird, who finished second here in 2012.
We should also note here that this event is a Friday-Monday event.
Who to Pick
Matt Kuchar - Kuchar has played a bunch in "offseason" events and is planning to play both this week and next week before a four-week vacation. He finished T3 in Tiger's event in early December and then won the Shark Shootout the following week. That followed a finish of seventh at The (official) McGladrey Classic and a fourth place finish at the (unofficial) World Cup of Golf in November. If there's someone to be on form, it's probably Kuchar.
Webb Simpson – Per the all-around ranking (which his exactly what it sounds like), Simpson is the highest ranked player in those standings in this week's field (third.) A win in Vegas helped his cause, as is being first in greens in regulation, birdie average and scoring average.
Who Not to Pick
Brandt Snedeker - Snedeker injured his knee when he fell of a Segway in China in October and hasn't played since. While the doctors held him out of two December events to be cautious, it's hard to tell where exactly Sendeker's game is at the moment. Avoid him as a fantasy pick this week.