2013 PGA Tour: Hyundai Tournament of Champions Fantasy Challenge Picks

Jonathan BilesContributor IIIJanuary 5, 2013

Let's hope the rain holds up.
Let's hope the rain holds up.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

This week signifies the return of the 2013 PGA Tour, and for this season the Golf Channel has started a fantasy golf game called Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge. Fantasy players select four golfers from four groups (one per group) competing in that week’s tournament, and their scores and prize money determine their fantasy value.

Each week, I will pick my four players and write why I think they will do well in that particular tournament.

The 2013 PGA Tour starts as winners of tournaments in 2012 gather in Maui for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. After Friday’s round one was scrapped due to high winds and “unplayable conditions,” a similar forecast on Saturday will challenge the planned 36 holes of golf. Who knew that Maui and Scotland had so much in common?

Though other than the wind and rain, there is no downside to this tournament. There is no cut, the minimum amount that a golfer can win is $100,000 and it is a free trip to Hawaii. What else do you want? 

Here are my picks for this week’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions from the Plantation course in Kapalua, Maui, Hawai’i.

Group 1: Keegan Bradley: With his fleetingly legal belly-putter and long drives in toe, he will enjoy the par 73 course and come out of the blocks raring to go. A 16th place finish in his first appearance at the Plantation course last year, along with a final round of 65 should bolster his confidence for this year’s tournament. Experience is key in Maui. 

Group 2: Steve Stricker: The defending champion of this tournament and the “semi-retired” Stricker only plans to play in the Majors and a handful of other tournaments this season. He would not dare miss Maui. An experienced Kapalua veteran, the soon-to-be 46-year-old Stricker, in his past four Kapalua starts has a win, a runner-up and two top-10s finishes.

Group 3: Ian Poulter: Poults has yet to turn his success in the Ryder Cup or match-play tournaments into overwhelming stroke play success but this year may be different. He did have a successful winter, winning the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in Shenzhen, China last November. He should be confident and play well in Maui. 

Group 4: Jonas Blixt: Narrowly losing to John Huh for 2012 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, the Swedish Seminole won the Frys.com Open last October to earn a place in this champions' tournament. For a rookie to have a win, three top 5s and five top 10s in 2012, Blixt is poised for a breakout 2013. 

Go play, and good luck!

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