It’s finally here! The first “real” event on the PGA tour this season! Remember, this is a no-cut event with a field of golfers only eligible if they won an event last season. Since this is a small field, there are only 20 eligible golfers who have played this tournament before. Below you will find those players full histories in this tournament as well as the complete standings for the last three seasons including DraftKings Scoring. Additionally, Kendo_VT provides his player analysis for who you should roster and who to avoid. Enjoy!
After what felt like forever, the PGA season resumes after a month long break. The first tournament of 2016 is the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which will be played at The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort in sunny Hawaii. As the name of the tourney suggests, the field is comprised of golfers who won a Tour event last year and there is no cut. The Plantation Course is a 7,411 yard Par 73 with four par 5s and only three par 3s. The course itself is like no other on Tour. It was built on the side of a mountain and near the coast, so elevation changes and breath taking views abound. The course is not as long as the yardage suggests due to these massive elevation changes off the tee and because there are only three par 3s on the course. The fairways are very large and the rough is not that penalizing. Pretty standard features for a resort course. The main difference between The Plantation Course and other resort courses the PGA plays on is the hilly, undulating nature of the fairways. There are no water hazards on the course but there are over 90 bunkers that surround the fairways and greens. The greens are quite large but are very hilly, undulating, and slow. The grass used on the greens is Bermuda grass and the speed on the stimpmeter shouldn’t be more than 10 this week. Since the course is so near the coast, trade winds could play a part in how well the golfers play. As of now, the weather report says that Thursday and Saturday might have the strongest winds but it’s not supposed to get crazy like it did in 2013 when they had to cut the tournament short due to intense winds. If the winds are as light as the weather report says, expect low scores. Because of the unique nature of the course and greens, course experience will play a large role in which golfers I like. I would try to avoid newbies to the course in cash lineups this week unless you have no other choice.
Looking at the course description above, a few key stats come to mind. I will be using these stats and course history to select golfers for my DraftKings lineups this week. I might take a peek at current form as well but because of the lengthy break, current form is less important to me than usual.
Key Stats For The Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G) and Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P), which are key stats every week. Though I will be putting more emphasis on SG:P this week due to the difficult nature of the greens.
Birdie or Better % (BoB%)
Only twice in the last ten years (not including ’13) has the winner of this tournament won with a score of less than -15. As long as the wind stays down, making as many birdies as possible will be key. Last year the worst BoB% ranking in the Top 5 finishers was 31st. In the last ten years at Kapalua only 5 golfers that finished in the Top 3 were ranked outside the top 80 in BoB% for that specific year.
Par 5 scoring (P5):
In the last 10 years only 4 out of 38 golfers who have finished T3 or better at Kapalua have finished outside the Top 80 in P5 for that specific year.
Proximity from 50-125 yds (Prox125):
Even though on paper the course is lengthy, the elevation changes off the tee actually make this course a lot shorter than it says. Because of this, a lot of wedges will be hit on approaches to the green. Getting it close with these wedges will be key because of how slow and how hard to read these greens are. Of the 22 golfers to finish T3rd or better here in the last 5 years, 18 of them were ranked 65th or better in Prox125 for that specific year.
Driving Distance (DD):
Shorter hitters have played well here in the past, so I wouldn’t eliminate anyone from consideration just because of their lack of distance off the tee but with huge fairways and very little trouble off the tee, hitting it long should be a slight advantage this week as long as the wedge play is good as well.
High End Picks ($9000 and up)
*** I will be using stats from last season but I will take a peak at this year’s stats (Fall Series) where applicable.
Jason Day ($11,800):
Day and Spieth are both solid plays and both have a good chance at picking up the win this week but if you made me choose one, I’d pick Day. His stats for the course are slightly more superior than Spieth. Day is 1st in Bob%, 7th in P5, 6th in SG:P, 5th in SG:T2G, 46th in Prox125, and 3rd in DD. The only worry I have about Day is the extended time off but he is such a good player that it shouldn’t affect him too much. He also has two Top 9 finishes in his two appearances here in the past.
Bubba Watson ($10,300):
When I initially wrote this article I misread the scorecard and thought there were 5 par 5s on the course. I was mistaken and if you read the original article, I apologize. In the initial article I picked Bubba Watson to win because I thought there were 5 par 5s. I’m still not changing my pick. I think other than Day and Spieth, Bubba has the best chance to win. His stats for the course are solid. He’s 3rd in BoB%, 1st in P5, 54th in SG:P, 1st in SG:T2G, and 2nd in DD. He won the last tournament he played and had ELEVEN Top 10s in 2015. This will be the 6th time he has played Kapalua and he has finished as high as 4th in the past.
Rickie Fowler ($10,000):
I expect big things from Rickie this year and it could start this weekend. His stats for the course are solid and he finished 6th in his last appearance at Kapalua. He’s 13th in BoB%, 19th in P5, 35th in SG:P, 26th in SG:T2G, and 39th in DD. His Prox125 stat (80th) leaves some room to be desired but he is 3rd in Prox125 during the Fall season. His much improved wedge game could help him to a high finish this week.
Patrick Reed ($9,900):
Patrick Reed won at Kapalua last year so you know he has the experience to win here. He is also one of the hottest golfers in the world right now. In his last five events worldwide, he has finished inside the Top 10 in ALL of them. In my opinion Reed is a safe cash game option. A Top 10 finish for him seems almost automatic this week.
Kevin Kisner ($9,200):
With all the big name options around the same price range as Kisner (ZJ, Koepka, JT, McDowell), I think he will be a low owned high upside GPP play this week. His 2015 stats for the course are not the best but if you look at his stats for the Fall series, they are solid. In the Fall he was 11th in BoB%, 39th in P5, 14th in SG:P, 9th in SG:T2G, and 61st in DD. He has no previous experience at Kapalua so I probably won’t be using him in cash lineups but I will be using him in a bunch of GPPs. If he can hit his wedges well, he has a chance to surprise people this week.
Below are the full box scores for every player over the last three tournaments. They include everything from round by round scoring to fairways hit to DraftKings points. Also, Kendo_VT continues his player analysis with the mid-tier and value options for this week! These are available to Pro Members.
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Commentary based on DraftKings strategy and scoring.