We are BACK! After a nice hiatus, the PGA Tour season is back in full swing from Hawaii this week for the SBS Tournament of Champions. The host course is the familiar Plantation Course at Kapalua, and is statistically the easiest course on the PGA Tour. It's also the only par 73 course on tour , with undulations you'll only find elsewhere at Augusta. The course is much easier than Augusta though, allowing most players to grip it and rip it off of most tees, without fear of much penalty. The wind can wreak havoc here, but the forecast looks very mild for this week, so the winning score will likely be -25 or lower. For a great first look at the course, check out BJ's article on the DF Cafe homepage. There are only 32 players in attendance here, and no cut, so you will definitely need the winner to have any chance in tournaments. I use a lot of data in making my picks, and the following sources outside of PGAtour.com have proven to be very handy, and are much appreciated by many in the DFS community; Fantasy Golf Metrics, Future of Fantasy and Fantasy Insiders.
Key Stats for the Plantation Course
As mentioned earlier, this is the easiest course on the PGA tour, so birdies will be flowing, making birdie or better percentage (BoB%) our first key stat. Every player who has finished t3 or better the last two years here (10 total0, has also finished that respective season inside the top 35 in BoB%. This isn't necessarily surprising, considering everyone in the field was a winner last year, but it's still relevant. Par 5 scoring (P5S) has also proven to be very predictive to success here in the past, with the winners consistently feasting on these very reachable Kapalua par 5's. Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, and Brooks Koepka all finished inside the top 3 last year, as well as the top 30 in P5S for the 2016 season. Spieth has specifically dominated the par 5's here, with the second best all time P5S average of anyone to tee it up at Kapalua. Finally, weirdly enough strokes gained putting (SGP) also seems to have a correlation with success here. Everyone inside the top 3 or better last year also finished inside the top 40 in SGP for the year. Going back to 2012, the top 3 leaderboard is littered with players inside the top 50 in SGP. Not onto the picks, which will have a different look for this event due to the smaller field and no cut. I will give you my favorite three plays at each tier, with some contrarian plays to help you make unique lineups.
Top Pin Seekers
Jordan Spieth - DK Salary $11,500 - Ridiculous track record here , with a win and second place finish last year. Has averaged an absurd 139.5 DK points in his two appearances, and owns the 2nd highest BoB% at Kapalua all time. He will be the mega chalk in cash games this week where I couldn't imagine fading him, and his ownership in tournaments will likely be north of 25%. Top 5 in all three key stats, fade at your own risk.
Jason Day - DK Salary $10,600 - Day holds the course record at Kapalua, and has averaged 111.3 DK points in his three starts here. The price for him seems very reasonable, as he is usually the highest priced golfer in many full field tournaments. Ranked top 3 in all three key stats, and I think his ownership will be around 10-15% in tournaments, creating an opportunity to go overweight on a player who could lap the field if he's on his game. Has never finished outside the top 10 here.
Hideki Matsuyama - DK Salary $11,000 - Hideki will be a popular play this week, and for good reason, he's the hottest player on the planet right now. He also came 3rd in his only appearance here two years ago, and his elite approach game will put him in contention again this week. Ranked 17th in P5S & 6th in BoB% last year, and the slow greens will minimize his putting issues that usually bring him back to the field.
Middle Tee Plays
Patrick Reed - DK Salary $9,500 - Like Spieth, Reed could see ownership spike over 25% in tournaments, but he might be the best dollar for dollar play of the week. In his three appearances here he's averaged an elite 119 DK points, with a 2nd and a win the last two years. He ranks in the top 40 in all three key stats, and outside of Spieth would be my next pick to win the tournament.
Brandt Snedeker - DK Salary $8,700 - Could be chalky in cash games, but will have around 20% ownership in tournaments, and like Reed, is a great play for his price. He has two top 3 finishes in four appearances here, where he has feasted primarily on the par 4's. Ranked inside the top 35 last year in SGP & BoB%, fire up Sneds with confidence.
Daniel Berger - DK Salary $8,500 - Announced a club switch to Callaway today, which hopefully will put other DFSers in a wait and see with him, but not me. Berger has no course history here, but seems to have a game that will translate here, ranking inside the top 50 last year in P5S & BoB%.
GPP Dart Board Dreams
Jason Dufner - DK Salary $7,400 - Duf Daddy is my favorite sub 8k play this week, with an elite wedge game that will give him boatloads of birdie opportunities. As usual, it will come down to the flat stick with him, and he hasn't putted well here traditionally. He came 5th here in 2014 though, so the upside is there and the price is very reasonable. Top 50 in P5S & BoB%.
Ryan Moore - DK Salary $7,700 - In good form before the break, and has some good course history with two top 10's in four starts. Top 45 in SGP & BoB%, and has averaged over 80 DK points in his career at Kapalua.
Branden Grace - DK Salary $7,200 - Grace is the ultimate wildcard play, with an inconsistent game that is world class when in good form. First appearance at Kapalua so not course history to analyze, but he was in good form in his last five starts before the December break.