The PGA Tour is back and ready to go for week-after-week action until the fall when the 2022-23 season concludes.
This week, we get kickstarted with the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua.
To make the field, you had to have a win on the PGA Tour or play in the TOUR Championship (be in the final 30 in the playoff standings) last season. That gives us 39 golfers to dissect this week.
Let's dig into the course, the key stats, the win simulations, and the best bets of the week.
You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.
Kapalua Resort (Plantation) Course Info & Key Stats
Fairway Width: 49.6 yards (75th of 80 qualified courses)
Average Green Size: 8,722 square feet (~142% of the PGA average)
Green Type: Bermuda
Past 5 Winning Scores: -34, -25, -14, -23, -24
Past 5 Cut Lines: N/A
Key Stats (in Order of Importance): Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (Emphasis on Driving Distance), Birdie or Better Rate, Adjusted Strokes Gained
We've got ourselves a long par 73 on tap for the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Width is the main variable both in fairways and greens. The fairways are some of the widest we get on Tour all season, and the greens are massive. Lag putting could be crucial, but as evidenced by the winning scores, we need our golfers to go low whether by throwing darts or sinking putts.
You need birdies, which can't be faked even on an easy course such as this one. Distance, proximity, and birdies are the only way to get the win here if the course plays as expected. The par 73 gives us an extra birdie chance, and unless we get heavy winds, we're going to see winning scores at 20 under or lower.
Golfers With Great Course/Event History
The best strokes gained averages among golfers who have played at least twice here over the past five years:
- Jon Rahm (+1.88: 2nd, 7th, 10th, 8th, 2nd)
- Justin Thomas (+1.63: 5th, 3rd, 1st, 3rd, 22nd)
- Xander Schauffele (+1.58: 12th, 5th, 2nd, 1st, 22nd)
- Collin Morikawa (+1.42: 5th, 7th, 7th, DNP, DNP)
- Sungjae Im (+1.39: 8th, 5th, DNP, DNP, DNP)
- Patrick Cantlay (+1.18: 4th, 13th, 4th, DNP, 15th)
- Jordan Spieth (+0.47: 21st, DNP, DNP, DNP, 9th)
- Hideki Matsuyama (-0.17: 13th, 41st, DNP, DNP, 4th)
- Max Homa (-0.28: 15th, DNP, 25th, DNP, DNP)
- Billy Horschel (-0.39: 23rd, 24th, DNP, 25th, 11th)
- Tony Finau (-0.48: 19th, 31st, DNP, DNP, DNP)
- Viktor Hovland (-1.11: 30th, 31st, DNP, DNP, DNP)
Past winners in the field include Justin Thomas (2017 and 2020), Xander Schauffele (2019), and Jordan Spieth (2016).
A lot of former winners are no longer on the PGA Tour.
Win Simulations for the Sentry Tournament of Champions
Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their golf betting odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets for the Sentry Tournament of Champions
A couple of favorites sit at the top of the board with Jon Rahm (+600) and Scottie Scheffler (+750). Though I won't fault anyone for going to them on their cards, I'm not quite seeing the value required to invest in guys with odds that short.
The guy who is really popping in the model is Will Zalatoris (+3100). The odds are great, he's a good wind player, and I'm honestly a bit confused as to why he's longer than certain names in the field. That's not a guarantee for a victory, of course, but he's hard to nitpick right now at those odds.
Cameron Young (+2100) is also a slight value. While distance itself isn't enough this week, he has plenty of it, and as with Zalatoris, the form is better than the odds imply.
If opting with a long shot, I think it's Scott Stallings (+10000).
First-round leader targets include Cameron Young (+2200), Stallings (+5000), Sahith Theegala (+4200), Zalatoris (+2600), and Bradley (+3100).
Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for the Sentry Tournament of Champions
All stats cited below originate at datagolf and reference ranks relative to the field over the past 50 rounds. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.
Best of the Best
Jon Rahm (FanDuel Salary: $12,000 | Golf betting odds: +600) - The heavy favorite, Rahm can be rostered at a salary that is pretty reasonable in a 39-golfer field. Rahm easily rates as the best golfer by course form at Kapalua among those in the field, and he has reeled off five top-10 finishes in his five starts here. Rahm finished the 2022 calendar year with eight consecutive top-15 finishes, including two wins on the DP World Tour.
Xander Schauffele ($10,900 | +1100) - An outlier in win odds versus salary, Schauffele will likely be a popular play this week, but it's not without merit. Schauffele has a good track record in no-cut events and has a win here (2019). His results since are 2nd, 5th, and 12th. Schauffele isn't super long compared to the field (20th) but is still a plus driver overall and ranks 2nd in approach and 8th in both short-game stats. There's a reason he's always in the mix with a guaranteed four rounds available.
Others to Consider:
Justin Thomas ($11,500 | +1000) - Former two-time winner with five straight top-fives here; just two starts since TOUR Championship, though.
Tony Finau ($10,700 | +1500) - Modest form at Kapalua but has the tools to thrive: top-10 in all four strokes gained stats over the past 50 rounds.
Sungjae Im ($10,100 | +1900) - So accurate off the tee he still gains strokes despite world-average distance; consecutive top-10s in two starts here.
Cameron Young ($10,000 | +2100) - Young fits the prototype for someone who can break through here. He has field-leading distance as well as top-half irons and wedges. He hasn't played here but was third at the Hero World Challenge in early December and is a near lock to gain strokes from ball-striking. That's a really good start.
Will Zalatoris ($9,600 | +3100) - Zalatoris is an afterthought in the betting market but is the best betting value, per my model, and the FanDuel salary is low enough to make him a standout DFS value, as well. He gains an average of 12.3 yards off the tee from the world-average golfer and ranks top six in both ball-striking stats over the past 50 rounds. The main knock is a lack of course knowledge.
Others to Consider:
Tom Kim ($9,900 | +2200) - Unfadeable when irons and putter are going; he lacks distance but is hyper accurate and has overcome distance concerns in the past.
Max Homa ($9,400 | +3100) - Irons are just okay for the field; has finished 15th and 25th here in the past.
Aaron Wise ($9,300 | +3400) - Not a name that'll jump out from the rest but carried a balanced game and good putter to the TOUR Championship.
Brian Harman ($8,800 | +4200) - The field drops off quickly, and for that reason, balanced lineups outside of the studs make sense. Harman is 12th in approach, and despite a lack of distance, he finished 3rd here in 2018. We've seen him finish top-25 in all four starts for the new PGA Tour season, including consecutive runners-up (World Wide Technology Championship and the RSM Classic).
Corey Conners ($8,500 | +4200) - With how far behind the value plays rank compared to the rest of the field, it's important not to load up on too many of them even in a no-cut event. These generally mean a more balanced lineup. But Conners is one of 14 golfers to rank 20th or better in strokes gained: off the tee and strokes gained: approach. Only three of them are also at a salary of $9,000 or lower. Harman is another, and the third is Keegan Bradley.
Others to Consider:
Keegan Bradley ($8,900 | +4200) - As mentioned, one of 14 to rank top-20 or better in off-the-tee and approach play but one of three below $9,000.
Tom Hoge ($8,100 | +6500) - When in doubt, look to the irons. Hoge ranks 7th in approach among the field.
J.T. Poston ($7,700 | +10000) - Can manage his way around the greens with a good short game.