Expert Picks: 2016 Hyundai Tournament of Champions


This week start of the 2016 fantasy golf season, as 32 players tee it up at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard and Randall Mell; editorial director Jay Coffin; associate editor Will Gray; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; host Charlie Rymer and defending fantasy champion Ryan Lavner.

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Jordan SpiethFirst event of the year is always a bit of a guessing game, so plug in the world No. 1 - who finished second here in his only appearance, in 2014 - and see what happens.

Group 2: Patrick ReedThe defending champion is one of the hottest players on the planet, with six consecutive top-10s worldwide.

Group 3: Graeme McDowellWin in Mexico turned around an otherwise pedestrian season, and he followed with a solo third at Sea Island. Was third in 2011, his only start in this event.

Group 4: Alex CejkaFirst time at Kapalua, but he ended 2015 with three top-20s in his last four starts. That's good value here.

Will Gray

Group 1: Jordan SpiethWhen in doubt, start with chalk. Jason Day is a viable alternative if you can stomach taking him off a significant layoff, but I think there's plenty of cash to be made plugging in Spieth for your Group 1 pick this year.

Group 2: Patrick Reed: Reed was relatively quiet following his playoff win here a year ago, but he caught fire during a late-season stretch in Asia. Expect that form to carry over on a course where he clearly feels comfortable.

Group 3: Justin ThomasExpect his stock to continue to climb in the new year. Despite a slight frame, Thomas has the length to tackle the par-73 layout at the Plantation Course and should make plenty of birdies this week.

Group 4: Davis Love IIII'll take a chance on the veteran, whose five appearances at Kapalua have netted four top-10 finishes, including a T-2 result the last tim he played this event in 2009.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Bubba WatsonAlthough his best finish at Kapalua is a T-4 (2013), the big-hitting southpaw rolled to victory in his last start on an island (Hero World Challenge) and he is certainly fond of this week's sprawling fairways.

Group 2: Brooks KoepkaHe spent the off-season transitioning to new equipment and told your scribe the new stuff allows him to drive the ball better in the wind. This week will be a chance to test that newfound confidence.

Group 3: Russell Knox: It's the Scot's first trip to the year-opener, but in his last four starts he's won (WGC-HSBC Champions) and finished runner-up (OHL Classic at Mayakoba).

Group 4: Steven BowditchThe Australian is one of the Tour's top ball-strikers and should have an advantage this week if the winds continue to blow.