Ogilvy is clearly in supreme form, adding the Mercedes to a recent first home win in Australia. He missed his first four Waialae cuts, before improving dramatically to finish 8th in 2007. Again, he looks a solid contender, but as long-term readers will know, I’m generally loathe to support those attempting back-to-back wins. It is extremely hard to maintain that level of form over eight consecutive rounds.
For me, the ultimate lesson from Kapalua was that DAVIS LOVE has retained his excellent autumn form and seems to be approaching the new season with renewed hunger. Remove a number of missed opportunities from short-range, and Davis would have given Ogilvy a run for his money. 2nd was no disgrace though, and this Hawaii specialist looks a rock-solid contender again. In five previous visits to Waialae, Love has finished 2nd, 3rd and 10th.
Defending champion KJ Choi is another course specialist who warrants close inspection, although its fair to say his form going in is less impressive than 2008. The same applies to Rory Sabbatini, twice a runner-up at Waialae, but who has only two top-10s in the last year to his name. Having missed his rare win in Australia, my ultimate jinx player Tim Clark isn’t even entering my calculations on his course debut. Stewart Cink showed nothing at Kapalua to suggest an imminent return to his very dangerous best.
Of course, for most of these, assessing recent form is a matter of guesswork as we haven’t seen them since early November at the latest. It may be worth chancing, then, that CHARLES HOWELL will start the year strongly as he has in the past. Howell has made the top-4 three times previously at Waialae, so clearly likes the set up. He generally seems to produce his best at the start of the year, though in fairness played reasonably well in the autumn to register a couple of top-10s during the Fall Series.