What You Need To Know
Golf is back and we are headed to Hawaii for the SBS Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course in Kapalua.
As the tournament’s name suggests this is a tournament for champions of the 2016 PGA Tour. Not all the qualifiers play — probably because a trip to Hawaii in January with a guaranteed pay check isn’t very inviting — and it’s a no-cut event. With a small field (32 of 38 qualifiers are scheduled) and no cut, you’ll likely need the winner on your team to finish well in guaranteed prize pools (GPPs) on DraftKings.
The course is the only Par 73 on the PGA Tour, and it’s extremely wide and forgiving fairways allow golfers to get wild off the tee. There were 24 bogey-free rounds in this tournament last year. Knocking second shots close to the pin, converting birdies on Par 4s, and scoring well on the Par 5s are how golfers have success in Kapalua.
“Baby, breakdown. Go ahead and give it to me.”
— Tom Petty
The Big Five
Paulina Gretzky’s Baby Daddy
Nobody had a bigger year in 2016 than Dustin Johnson ($11,200). DJ received the Jack Nicklaus Trophy for the 2016 PGA Tour Player of the Year after winning the U.S. Open, the WGC: Bridgestone Invitational, and the BMW Championship (a FedEx Cup event).
Johnson is currently the No. 1 player in the Bales Player Model. He has four top-10 finishes in this event — including a win — in his last four starts here.
DJ leads the field in both long-term Driving Distance (LT DD) at 314.6 yards and LT Adjusted Birdies Per Tournament (Adj Bird Avg) with 16.6. His 67.9 LT Adjusted Round Score (Adj Rd Score) and 28.2 Adjusted Putts Per Round (Adj PPR) both rank second overall.
Per our Trends tool: Golfers priced at least $10,000 with comparable LT DD & Adj Bird Avg numbers have previously produced an +8.24 Plus/Minus while averaging 85.94 DK points per tournament. A healthy 33.3 percent (15 of 45) of those golfers scored at least 100 DK points.
The Defending Champion
Jordan Spieth ($11,500) smoked this course with a winning 30 under par last year — one shot off the tournament’s record — and he finished second in his only other appearance in 2014. It’s safe to say he likes this track.
Spieth’s 68.2 LT Adj Rd Score and 15.8 Adj Bird Avg rank third, his 63.3 percent LT Scrambling (SC) ranks second, and his 28.0 Adj PPR is the best mark in the field. He won the Emirates Australian Open back in November, so he was playing well before the holiday layoff.
Spieth is the highest-salaried golfer in the field this week and for good reason. He’s a great play.
Just Do It
New Nike pitchman and oft-injured World No. 1 Jason Day ($10,600) makes his return to the course after concluding the 2016 season with back-to-back withdrawals in the FedEx Cup due to his persistent back issues. Day is currently the No. 1 player in the CSURAM88, Sports Geek, and Colin Davy Models.
Even with his season-ending withdrawals, Day leads the field with a 67.2 LT Adj Rd Score. His 308.3-yard LT DD ranks fourth, his 16.1 LT Adj Bird Avg is second, and his 63.8 LT SC percentage is the best mark overall.
In his three starts at this event, Day has two top-10s to go along with a third-place finish in 2015. There is always risk involved with a potential withdrawal — especially in a no-cut event — but this may be one of the few times this season that Day can be rostered for under $11,000.
There is nobody on planet Earth hotter than Hideki Matsuyama ($11,000) right now. Have a look at his recent game log:
This shows three wins, a second-, and a fifth-place finish in his last five starts. That does not suck. What’s more, this game log doesn’t include the Hero World Challenge from December (an unofficial Tour event) which he also won. That’s actually three straight wins and four wins in five tournaments.
Matsuyama currently has the field’s highest Odds to Win (16.7 percent), and he finished here in third place in 2015. Hideki has the fourth-best LT Adj Rd Score (68.5) and LT Adj Bird Avg (15.7) in the field. He is likely to be heavily owned in GPPs this week.
The Fifth Dude
Patrick Reed ($9,500) finished 16th in his debut at this event in 2014 but followed that up with a win in 2015 and a runner-up finish to Spieth last season. His 68.3 Course Adj Rd Score is second among golfers who have made more than one start at this track.
Reed’s 68.9 LT Adj Rd Score ranks sixth, his 62 LT SC percentage is fourth, and his 14.7 LT Adj Bird Avg is seventh. Reed’s form was off at the end of last season — he didn’t finish better than 43rd in his final three events — but if there’s any place that’s likely to cure him it might be Plantation.
The Bump and Run
Choke up and take a narrow stance.
Bubba Watson ($9,200): Watson has the fifth-best LT Adj Rd Score (68.6) and LT Adj Bird Avg (15.1) in the field, and his 69.3 percent LT Greens in Regulation (GIR) is sixth overall. Bubba finished fourth in 2013, and his 69.8 Course Adj Rd Score ranks eighth among golfers who have made more than one start here.
Jason Dufner ($7,400): Dufner leads the field in LT GIR at 69.9 percent, and his 14.3 LT Adj Bird Avg is ninth. Dufner finished fifth here in 2014 and offers some decent upside at a cheap price. Golfers comparable in price and LT metrics have previously produced a +3.59 Plus/Minus with 58.6 percent Consistency.
Justin Thomas ($8,900): JT finished 2016 with a bang, piling up four top-10 finishes including a win at the CIMB Classic in his final five starts. Thomas’ 69.1 LT Adj Rd Score is eighth, and his 14.8 Adj Bird Avg is sixth. He finished 21st in his debut here last season.
Brandt Snedeker ($8,700): Snedeker’s 68.3 Course Adj Rd Score is second to only Spieth’s among golfers who have made more than one start at Plantation. He has finished third here in two of his last three attempts.
Jimmy Walker ($7,800): Walker is another golfer who has played well in Maui: His 69.3 Course Adj Rd Score is sixth among golfers who have made more than one start here. He won the PGA Championship last year and followed that up with two missed cuts in his next two events. The forgiving fairways may help him overcome his field-worst 46.6 percent LT Driving Accuracy problem.
Daniel Berger ($8,500): Berger’s 69.2 LT Adj Rd Score is tied for tenth in the field, and his 13.6 LT Adj Bird Avg is 12th overall. The last golfer to win this event in his debut was Daniel Chopra in 2008, so the #DanielNarrative is strong with this one. (That was a joke.) Berger has played well on Bermuda greens historically, and he concluded his 2016 season with a second-place finish at the HSBC Champions event.
Good luck this week!