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Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Brendan Steele should be too strong for Kapalua virgin Swafford

World number one can assert superiority

Brendan Steele performed well at the Plantation Course last year
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Sky Sports Golf, 11pm Thursday

The US Tour season is eight events old, but for purists the circuit never properly starts until the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, which features a small but elite field at one of the most iconic venues in golf.

Open champion Jordan Spieth and USPGA victor Justin Thomas tee off at 10.50pm UK and Ireland time in the final twoball at the Plantation Course, Kapalua, headlining a mouthwatering gathering featuring seven of the top eight players in the world.

Punters looking for the day-one value should consider Brendan Steele to beat Hudson Swafford in their 9.10pm meeting. Steele finished sixth in the event last year, while Swafford is making his course debut. The layout, full of huge elevation changes and exposed to trade winds, takes plenty of getting to know.

Steele is making his third appearance, having struggled on his debut in 2012, and he should know too much for the newcomer. Regardless of experience, Steele could be fancied to edge it, having won the Safeway Open in fine style in October. He followed up with 13th spot in the CIMB Classic. Swafford earned his place in this winners-only event courtesy of strong early-year form and victory in the CareerBuilder Challenge in January.

World number one Dustin Johnson is a surprisingly big price at 8-11 to defeat another debutant, Xander Schauffele, in the 10.40pm contest. Johnson is the most experienced Kapalua performer in the field, making his eighth appearance in the Tournament of Champions.

Johnson is still smarting from throwing away the WGC-HSBC Champions title at the end of October, but only two months earlier he won the Northern Trust and he played well all year. DJ was the ToC victor in 2013 and deserves to be much shorter odds for his twoball.

Marc Leishman, more confident than ever after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational and BMW Championship last season, is an Australian who will not fear the winds which usually whip across the Plantation Course. Leishman can be fancied to outscore Kapalua debutant Patrick Cantlay over 72 holes.

Spieth and Rickie Fowler have the most outstanding title credentials this week and both should be in contention on Sunday. The Spieth-Fowler dual forecast is a tempting option at 22-1.

B Steele to win twoball
2pts 5-6 Betfred, Sky Bet

D Johnson to win twoball
2pts 8-11 general

M Leishman to beat P Cantlay
2pts 4-5 bet365

Spieth-Fowler dual forecast
1pt 22-1 Coral, Ladbrokes

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Johnson is the most experienced Kapalua performer in the field
E.W. Terms
Sky bet