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Tournament of Champions Recap:: The Rodney Dangerfield of Golf

Len Hochberg

Len Hochberg

Hochberg covers golf for RotoWire. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years, covering the Washington Capitals. He co-authored a book on the history of hockey.

In a tournament filled with champions, it wasn't surprising to see some of the biggest names in golf jockeying into and out of the lead.

Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson shared the top spot entering the final round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Monday. Then Spieth secured sole possession as he made the turn. He soon was joined by Jason Dufner. But those two couldn't take advantage of the easiest stretch of the Plantation Course at Kapalua, allowing Zach Johnson to pass everyone in capturing the year-opening PGA Tour event.

While the phenom Spieth and Dufner, hours before his beloved Auburn Tigers played for the BCS national title, parred Nos. 14-16, Johnson birdied all three.

The steady but silently deadly Johnson didn't land among the top-10 dollar values in the Rotowire Staff Golf Draft on Sunday night. That despite leading the Hyundai after two rounds, that despite finishing 2013 by coming from behind to best Tiger Woods in Woods' own tournament and that despite winning the BMW Championship in the FedEx Cup playoffs in September.

Johnson has made a career of being underestimated (not only by RotowWire staffers) going back to his breakthrough 2007 Masters victory, the second of what are now 11 career titles. That's fourth on the PGA Tour over the past decade, with only Woods, Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh owning more victories in that stretch.

So ... if you haven't drafted yet ... maybe ... consider ... possibly ... Zach Johnson. (Bonus obvious tip: Johnson is a former winner of the Sony Open, which is this week's Tour stop.)

Here's a look at some of the other golfers who were part of the 30-man field.

Jordan Spieth

Everyone wanted to see whether the 20-year-old could continue what he started in his rookie 2013 season. And if this week was an indication, he surely can (he went for the same $34 as Johnson did in the RotoWire draft). While Spieth had that shaky stretch on Nos. 14-16, he did birdie the final two holes to take home second place.

Kevin Streelman

By all means, Streelman had a wildly fantastic 2013. But on closer inspection, he didn't secure a top 10 after May. So while his rapid start carried him all the way to the Tour Championship and his best year as a pro, it would be entirely understandable if in 2014 he returned to being regular Kevin Streelman. But he hung around with the big boys all week, then passed all but one with four straight birdies late in Monday's round to finish tied for third.

Webb Simpson

Simpson already has a win this season, taking the Shriners Hospital for Children Open in October. And he nearly had a second. But he bogeyed Nos. 3 and 4 on Monday, and never really recovered, despite adding five birdies with no more bogeys in tying Streelman for third. Still, Simpson represented himself well. He seems to be in good form for another strong season.

Jason Dufner

Dufner drained a 60-footer for eagle on No. 6 and, after birdieing the 13th, had a share of the lead with Spieth. But perhaps he was thinking ahead to getting his game face on for his alma mater Auburn, only parring the short par-4 14th, three-putting the par-5 15th and parring the short par-4 16th before doubling No. 17. He did birdie the 18th, good for solo fifth. Incidentally, Dufner went for $1 more than Johnson in the RotoWire draft.

Billy Horschel

Horschel is another golfer angling to show that his first foray into stardom was not a temporary standing. He shot a bogey-free 66 on Monday, tied with Zack Johnson for the best round of the day, to tie for sixth with Matt Kuchar, Adam Scott and Dustin Johnson. And he did it while wearing bright red pants. Really bright red pants.

Dustin Johnson

Johnson bogeyed the first two holes and three of the first six and that was that for the defending champion, closing with an even-par 73. Such is life for DJ owners. Feast/famine. All/nothing. And maybe finally a major title in 2014. He went for $2 more than his namesake in the RotoWire draft. Imagine that: Zach Johnson, he's not even considered the top Johnson.

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