Hyundai Tournament of Champions 2013: 4 Golfers to Watch at Kapalua

Daniel ZhuContributor IJanuary 2, 2013

Hyundai Tournament of Champions 2013: 4 Golfers to Watch at Kapalua

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    The 2013 PGA Tour season officially kicks off this week with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Set in the majestic Hawaiian island of Maui, this exclusive field includes big names like Zach Johnson, Keegan Bradley and defending champion Steve Stricker.

    Many top stars will be making their 2013 season debuts at this winners-only competition, and they all are looking for some early momentum to propel themselves into the rest of the season. Let's take a look at a few golfers who have a good shot to walk away with the victory this week.

Jason Dufner

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    Jason Dufner is one of the most consistent golfers on the PGA Tour. His two wins, eight top-10s and only one missed cut in his 2012 season is a good example of why his smooth swing and calm demeanor are forces to be reckoned with.

    Dufner will be looking to capitalize this week at Kapalua, and for a guy who hits it straight and putts well, this course is a green light for him. In his 2012 season, Dufner ranked seventh in the greens in regulation category, hitting an impressive 70 percent of his greens.

    Overall, if he can bring his accuracy to the course and his touch around the greens, Dufner will be in the mix when Sunday afternoon rolls around.

Ian Poulter

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    Ian Poulter, the fiery European who helped Europe win the Ryder Cup, also has his eyes set on the prize this week.

    Poulter, who had a solid 2012 season with a win at the HSBC Tournament of Champions, is looking to carry his momentum over into the 2013 season. Poulter's clutch putting is unmatched, and he proved to the world at the Ryder Cup that he would not falter under pressure.

    The main thing for Poulter is to get out on a hot start. If he can get on a hot streak, he will be a very formidable threat to contend with, but if he is sluggish out of the gates, it will be hard for him to win this week.

Keegan Bradley

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    After Rory McIlroy, Keegan Bradley may be golf's next biggest sensation. His ability to hit the long ball and clutch putting is a lethal combination that has won him the 2011 PGA Championship and the 2012 WGC Bridgestone Invitational.

    This time, Bradley will have his steely gaze set on the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, and his length off the tee will give him a significant advantage. Bradley also brings a firepower similar to Ian Poulter's, and it was also apparent at the Ryder Cup that he would not flinch under pressure.

    Bradley seems to be able to bring it up a notch when the pressure is on, and that is what makes him a true athlete. The rest of the field better watch out for the young superstar this week.

Steve Stricker

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    Defending champion Steve Stricker is also in the hunt this week at the Plantations Course, and he showed us last year that a golfer with a good short game can prevail over the big bombers.

    Stricker's solid ball striking and touch around the greens make him a formidable force to be reckoned with even if he is a 45-year-old veteran.

    Stricks has had a mediocre 2012 season with only one win and seven top-10s. He played quite poorly at the Ryder Cup without winning a single point, so hopefully he has taken some time in the offseason to rebuild his touch.

    Then again, with his experience, you can never count Stricker out of a tournament—and certainly not at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.