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BlogSentry Tournament of Champions Preview and Picks

Sentry Tournament of Champions

January 4th – 7th, 2018

Plantation Course at Kapalua

Kapalua, Maui, HI

Par: 73 / Yardage:

Purse: $6.3 million

with $1,134,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Justin Thomas

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL

This week’s field includes:

The field of 34 has 25 players in the top-75 of the world rankings including 21 of the top-50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with seven players from the top-ten: #1 Dustin Johnson, #2 Jordan Spieth, #3 Justin Thomas, #4 Jon Rahm, #5 Hideki Matsuyama, #7 Rickie Fowler and #8 Brooks Koepka.   The other top-75 players are #12 Marc Leishman, #19 Pat Perez, #25 Xander Schauffele, #26 Kevin Kisner, #27 Brian Harman, #28 Daniel Berger, #34 Kevin Chappell, #38 Patrick Cantlay, #41 Jason Dufner, #42 Siwoo Kim, #44 Jhonattan Vegas, #45 Brendan Steele, #46 Russell Henley, #48 Kyle Stanley, #60 Adam Hadwin, #61 Cameron Smith, #67 Wesley Bryan, #70 Billy Horschel.

Last year there were 14 top-50 players in the field

The field includes 16 of the Top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2017.  Those players are # 1  Justin Thomas, # 2  Jordan Spieth, # 3  Xander Schauffele, # 4  Dustin Johnson, # 5  Jon Rahm, # 6  Marc Leishman, # 7  Rickie Fowler, # 8  Hideki Matsuyama, # 10  Brooks Koepka, # 12  Kevin Kisner, # 13  Russell Henley, # 15  Pat Perez, # 16  Daniel Berger, # 23  Jhonattan Vegas, # 24  Kyle Stanley, # 25  Brian Harman

The field includes 13 of the Top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2018.  Those players are#1 Patton Kizzire, # 2 Pat Perez, # 3 Austin Cook, # 4 Brendan Steele, # 5 Patrick Cantlay, # 7 Justin Thomas, # 12 Ryan Armour, # 13 Marc Leishman, # 16 Rickie Fowler, # 17 Cameron Smith, # 18 Brian Harman, #T25 Dustin Johnson, #T25 Brooks Koepka.

The field includes only three past champions, last year’s winner Justin Thomas, 2016 winner Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson – 2013.

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Sentry Tournament of Champions field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.  

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the SBS Tournament of Champions

Player Australian PGA Championship The RSM Classic DP World, Dubai OHL Classic at Mayakoba Shriners Hospitals WGC-HSBC Champions Sanderson Farms The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges CIMB Classic
Cameron Smith
(141.33 pts)
Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 3
(30)
T5
(23.33)
Marc Leishman
(90.67 pts)
T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T38
(4)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP
Patton Kizzire
(85.67 pts)
DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP Win
(44)
T4
(26.67)
DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP DNP
Pat Perez
(81.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP T24
(8.67)
DNP T5
(23.33)
Win
(44)
Jon Rahm
(70.67 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(66)
DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Brian Harman
(66.67 pts)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP DNP 8
(16.67)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP
Austin Cook
(62.67 pts)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP T50
(0.33)
T20
(10)
DNP T25
(8.33)
DNP DNP
Ryan Armour
(58.33 pts)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP T55
(0)
T20
(10)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP
Patrick Cantlay
(55.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
T15
(11.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Justin Thomas
(55 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
T17
(11)
Kyle Stanley
(43.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP T19
(10.33)
T21
(9.67)
Dustin Johnson
(33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Brooks Koepka
(33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Rickie Fowler
(33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Xander Schauffele
(31.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T46
(1.33)
DNP T72
(0)
T3
(30)
Bryson DeChambeau
(30.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(12)
T7
(18.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Si Woo Kim
(28.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP 3
(30)
DNP T69
(0)
DNP T44
(2)
77
(0)
Kevin Kisner
(26.67 pts)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(23.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
Hudson Swafford
(14.67 pts)
DNP T29
(7)
DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP T28
(7.33)
T54
(0)
Jhonattan Vegas
(13.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP T20
(10)
DNP T54
(0)
T39
(3.67)
Brendan Steele
(12.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
Wesley Bryan
(10.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T62
(0)
DNP T36
(4.67)
T32
(6)
Russell Henley
(10.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP
Daniel Berger
(8.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T24
(8.67)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the SBS Tournament of Champions

Player Australian PGA Championship The RSM Classic DP World, Dubai OHL Classic at Mayakoba Shriners Hospitals WGC-HSBC Champions Sanderson Farms The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges CIMB Classic
Jonas Blixt
(-10 pts)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T64
(0)
T72
(0)
D.A. Points
(-6.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T75
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP 78
(0)
Chris Stroud
(-2 pts)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T47
(1)
75
(0)
Billy Horschel
(-1.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jason Dufner
(0 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 74
(0)
Grayson Murray
(0 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 76
(0)
T69
(0)
Adam Hadwin
(1 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T65
(0)
DNP T47
(1)
T51
(0)
Kevin Chappell
(6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T20
(10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Daniel Berger
(8.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T24
(8.67)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP
Russell Henley
(10.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

One of the most excellent perks on the PGA Tour for winning is getting to start the year off in Maui. For the average person, they would kill just to get to Hawaii.  The winners in 2017/18 they not only get to go to Hawaii, but they get a week at a Ritz Carlton on one of the prettiest beaches in the world. Food couldn’t be any better; the scenery is the best and for those that like water sports from surfing to snorkeling the Kapalua area is the best. Yes, this is arduous work and to think, there is no hustle or bustle this week, play lousy finish last, and you’ll still make $60 grand. What a life.

But let’s face reality, not every pro on the PGA Tour (or European Tour) thinks that playing in the Sentry T of C is their cup of tea.  For this year three players took a pass, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia leaving the field to 34.

In past years we have harped on how players could miss out on this event, for those that aren’t here it’s understandable since Rose and Stenson are starting their seasons on the European Tour, while Garcia is taking a big paycheck to play in the SMBC Singapore Open three weeks from now.  Still, the field is healthy with 34 starters, two more from last year.  Lots of oddities, for one only three past champions, are in the field (Justin Thomas, Patrick Spieth, and Dustin Johnson).

Of the 34, 14 are playing for the first time, seven have only played once.  2013 champion Dustin Johnson has the most experience, playing in seven, while Jordan Spieth and Jason Dufner is next playing in three previous Tournament of Champions.

So there isn’t a wealth of experience in this event and begs the question, the field could be better if they took the winners of the last two or even three years.  But the PGA Tour or the Sentry officials have stayed pat on just the previous 52 weeks winners getting an invite.

Let’s just say that if the event would invite those that won in the last 24 months, 2 years we would have Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker, Charley Hoffman, Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed, Jimmy Walker and Braden Grace in the field, which would have made this a much better event.

Course information:

The Plantation course was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and was opened in May of 1991. Between 1992 and 1997 the course was the venue of the Lincoln-Mercury Kapalua Open, with the Mercedes Championships moving to the Plantation course in 1999. The average green size at Kapalua is 9,500 square feet, which means that it has some of the largest greens on tour. This will place a premium on putting, especially on long putts. The course has 95 bunkers and no water hazards, with fairways so vast that a 747 can land on them.

Last year, the course played to a scoring average of 70.38 (remember it’s a par 73) that was just two and three quarters under par and it was the easiest course on the PGA Tour.  Surprising it’s the first time the average was over 70 since 2014 when the course played to an average of 70.58.  In 2016 it played to an average of 69.80.

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing on the Plantation Course at Kapalua:

This is based on the most important stats for Plantation Course at Kapalua, based on data from last years Sentry Tournament of Champions, and using data from all the players in the field for with stats from a combination of 2016 & ’17.
One thing that is important to know, the scoring average of the field last year was 70.38, so with par being 73, that means the average score was two and three quarters under per round, making Kapalua the easiest of 50 courses to score on in 2017.
Now there are many reasons for this. First, the Plantation Course is a resort course and not geared to be super tough. Another reason for the course being easy is the fairways; there is no way that you can’t hit the fairways at Kapalua, a 747 can land in them. Last year the course ranked 47th (of 50 courses) in driving accuracy with a 73.49 total. On top of that, since the fairways are firm and many of them are downhill, it’s not surprising that for all the drives the average is 292.3 yards. So with that said many would say gosh this is a course for bombers, but it isn’t. Yes, long hitters have a significant advantage, Justin Thomas last year finished 8th on the PGA Tour in driving distance. But in other years, short hitters have won. Look at some of the champions the last few years, Jordan Spieth was the 51st longest hitter on tour in 2016. Even better yet Zach Johnson won in 2014, Steve Stricker in 2012, Jonathan Byrd in 2011 were three of the shortest hitters in PGA Tour history. Even guys like Geoff Ogilvy (who won twice) and Daniel Chopra were very average on tour in driving distance, so the myth that this course is for bombers is not right, except for one small fact. Being on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Pailolo Channel the Plantation course tends to get hit by some high winds, and when that happens, especially if the winds are out of the north, it helps short hitters The same when it’s dry, it helps the short hitters. For this week winds are going to come out of the northeast, and they are predicted to be each of the four days over 20 mph, with some gusts up to 30 mph.

So this favors the shorter hitter. But the one undisputed fact that many don’t understand about the winners, in most cases the best putter is the victor. Here is a stat that will blow your mind, of the 19 Kapalua winners since 1999 the highest any of them have ranked in putts per round is 4th. Of the 19 champions, nine have led that stat while four were second and three were third. Makes sense, since the course is wide open and the greens the largest on the PGA Tour hitting fairways and greens are easy. But just because you hit a green doesn’t mean it’s going to help you to win. You got to get it close to the hole but more importantly be a great putter, avoid those nasty three putts and make lot’s of putts from six feet and in. Last year’s winner Justin Thomas and 2016 champion Jordan Spieth both made 59 of 60 putts from six feet and in. In 2014 when Zach Johnson won he made 63 of 65 putts from seven feet and in 2012 Steve Stricker made 58 of 61 putts from seven feet and in. Another key is lack of three putts, last year Thomas had just 2 three putts and was T-5th in that stat. Also, all of the winners are good in scrambling, last year Thomas was 12th in scrambling but the year before Jordan Spieth was 3rd, in 2015 winner Patrick Reed was 2nd the same for 2014 winner Zach Johnson. So be

So here are our four choices for the most critical stats from players to do well at Kapalua:

*Proximity to Hole: In greens hit 80.73% where hit last year, making it the easiest course to hit greens on the PGA Tour. In proximity to the hole, players tended to have a tough time getting it close to the hole, last year they averaged 37 feet, 8 inch as only three courses saw approach shots go further away from the hole.

*Strokes gained Putting: The greens average 7,120 square feet at Kapalua, making them above average on the PGA Tour. So with shots ending up far from the hole, it puts a premium on putting, so players that gain strokes putting have an advantage. Overall putting stats place it the 2nd hardest to putt, as one putts are at a premium. Three putts aren’t that bad as the course ranks 7th in 3-putt avoidance. But we can’t stop saying the importance of putting well at Kapalua and this is the kiss of death for a lot of players, balky putting.

*Par Breakers: The Plantation Course has always been a push over for the best players in the world. The field killed the course in 2017 averaging 4.66 birdies per round and a total of 596 birdies were made from the field of 32 players, so it’s important to be the best in this Par Breakers which is based on who makes the most birdies and eagles.

*Scrambling: With big greens it’s near impossible to miss them, still if you do you have to get it up and down. Last year the course ranked 24th on tour in scrambling, but that was a bit misleading because for those that win, you better get it up and down. So it’s important to look and find those that do scramble well.

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is the link to the other 24 of 34 players in the Sentry Tournament of Champions

Some stats to help you with Draft Kings picks for the week:

This is a new feature that we will run in our preview, looking at who to take in Draft Kings.  We have tried to pick our top-six over the past year, and frankly, my picks mean very little to you.  But what we are going to do is give you some notes and stats to help you make great choices in Draft Kings this week.

*Of the 34 who are playing this week, 20 have played in the past and had some history.  The biggest key to picking is those that make the most eagles and birdies.  So here is a cheat sheet of the 20 to see which players are going under par the most at the Sentry Tournament of Champions:

 

Player                     Eagles           Birdies         Total       Rds Played       Under par per rd

Jordan Spieth               3                   74               77                   12                       6.42

Brooks Koepka             1                   24               25                    4                        6.25

Kevin Kisner                 1                   23                24                    4                         6.00

Hideki Matsuyama       1                   46                47                    8                         5.88

Justin Thomas             2                   45                47                    8                         5.88

Dustin Johnson            5                 127              132                   23                       5.74

Russell Henley              0                 44                44                     8                        5.50

Rickie Fowler                2                 35                37                     7                        5.29

Pat Perez                      2                40                 42                     8                        5.25

Brian Harman               0                20                 20                     4                        5.00

Billy Horschel               0                39                  39                    8                        4.88

Jason Dufner                2                48                 50                    11                       4.55

Daniel Berger               0                18                 18                     4                        4.50

Si Woo Kim                   0                18                18                     4                        4.50

D.A. Points                    1                34                35                    8                         4.38

Jonas Blixt                    0                29                29                    7                         4.14

Brendan Steele             2                31                33                    8                          4.13

Jhonattan Vegas          0                30                30                     8                          3.75

Marc Leishman            0                11                 11                    3                          3.67

Kyle Stanley                 0                 8                  8                     3                           2.67

So it makes sense that the top seven or eight on this list are guys that will make lot’s of points this week

 

*Here are the guys that are very costly:

Justin Thomas – $11,100

Jordan Spieth – $10,900

Rickie Fowler – $10,500

Dustin Johnson – $10,300

All of these players are worth taking.  All have played well and proven themselves for playing in this event.  You can only pick one of these guys, so the best pick is the one that is the cheapest so either Fowler or Johnson.

 

*Here are those at the bottom of the scale

D.A. Points – $6,000

Ryan Armour – $6,100

Wesley Bryan – $6,200

Chris Stroud – $6,200

Jonas Blixt – $6,300

Grayson Murray – $6,400

Jhonattan Vegas – $6,400

Of the seven only Jhonattan Vegas had played before and didn’t do very well.  So I can’t see one of these guys worth picking, especially Vegas who is his two previous starts at Kapalua has only average 3.75 in ParBreakers.  If you have to pick two from this list the only ones that have been in the top-150 of the 2018 ParBreaker list is Ryan Armour who is ranked 40th and Grayson Murray who is 43rd.

*So are there any “Bargains” out there?

Kevin Kisner is an excellent choice at $8,400, he was strong in 2016 and does well in Kapalua ParBreakers.  On top of that was T-3rd at the Tour Championship, T-4th at the RSM and T-12th at the Hero.  You also can’t say no to Hideki Matsuyama who in two Kapalua starts was T-3rd in 2015 and runner-up last year.  Yes, he is a lot at $9,800, but he is a better bargain than those above him.

Daniel Berger is good at $8,200, but a better value comes with Pat Perez at $8,000, who is playing great and did well last year, finishing T-3rd

Also, take a look at Jason Dufner at $7,200 and Billy Horschel at $6,500.  Both have had a good week at Kapalua, they both have experience, and both are high up in Kapalua ParBreakers.  The disadvantage of Dufner he hasn’t played since CIMB, and he hasn’t had a top-ten since his Memorial win.  As for Horschel hasn’t had a top-25 since finishing T-4th at FedEx St. Jude.

Of all the rookies kind of like Xander Schauffele at $8,500 and Cameron Smith at $7,600.  Frankly, you have to pick Smith for no reason as he is the best value in that under $8,000 range.  People didn’t see that Schauffele was T-2nd in his last start at the Dunlop Phoenix.  Also, Smith won the Australian PGA Championship, was 4th in the Australian Open, 3rd at the CJ Cup and T-5th at the CIMB Classic.

*Anybody, to avoid?

Yes, first is Kyle Stanley, who struggled when he played in 2013.  Also Marc Leishman, but both players teed it up in 2013 which was a terrible year weather wise.  Since Leishman is 9th and Stanley is 32nd in ParBreakers, maybe but Leishman at $9,000 eliminates him and Stanley at $6,800 is perhaps an ok pick.

I would last avoid Brooks Koepka.  Yes he won the Dunlop Phoenix Open by nine shots, was runner-up at the WBC-HSBC Champions but at the Hero, after he returned from Asian had soreness in his left wrist and had a tough time gripping the club.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the SBS Tournament of Champions:

Key stat for the winner:

  • The Plantation Course is not a driving course. A good driver has no advantage here so players just have to rear back and hit it as far as they can. The fairways are big enough to land a 747 on them, and for those that miss the fairway, the rough frankly is of no worries, so this is one of the rare events that driving means nothing.  2013 was a perfect example, winner Dustin Johnson missed the most fairways of anyone in the field (missed 37 of the 60 attempts) but on the other end of the spectrum, Johnson’s average drive of 279.5 yards the second longest.  Last year’s winner Justin Thomas was T-17th in driving accuracy hitting 44 of 60 fairways while he was 3rd in driving distance for the week at 301.6 yards per drive.  But in the long run, hitting it long does not have that much of an advantage.
  • Again in some cases, stats are misleading because even though you can hit it long, the course is one of those that everyone hits all the greens so everyone is in the same boat.
  • So along with players hitting it as far as they can, also look for players hitting lots of greens. Since they are so large, averaging 7,200 square feet, you can see that players miss only three greens per round. So hitting lot’s of greens is a misnomer.  The average proximity to the hole is 37 feet, 8 inches so you can see that lag putting is crucial since only nine courses in 2017 had figures higher.
  • So two key stats standout as necessary, first approach putt performance which gauges who lag putts the closet to the hole? In 2017, those playing at Kapalua averaged getting their first putt within 2 feet, 3 inches away.  The other key stat is birdie or better conversion per greens hit, Kapalua was tenth as players birdied 31.84% of the greens they hit.

Here are some more key stats to look for this week:

  • Still, the king of stats is putting.  With big greens, putting is essential.
  • Look at Justin Thomas last year.  He was 2nd in hitting greens and averaged 31 feet, 1 inch from the hole that ranked 3rd.  So add in putting stats like Thomas was T-1st in putting average, 4th in strokes gained putting and T-3rd in 3-putt avoidance you can see how he won.  The same for 2016 champion Jordan Spieth.   He was T-11th in hitting greens and averaged 34 feet, 11 inches from the hole that ranked 3rd.  So when Spieth was 1st in strokes gained putting and 1st in total putting, again we can see why he won by 8 shots.
  • Another example was Patrick Reed, who won in 2015.  He was T-15th in hitting greens, but of the greens he hit averaged 44 feet, 8 inches from the hole that ranked 26th.  Now, Reed may have been 16th in strokes gained putting and T-15th in total putting, but again look at some vital putting stats for Kapalua.  First, Reed one-putted 28 of the 72 greens, which ranked T-5th.  Of the 60 putts of five feet or under, Reed only missed three.   One last item Johnson just took 114 putts which ranked 4th.  This is a fantastic comparison of the 16 winners at Kapalua, 12 of them finished either first or second in putting (8 led that category).
  • In 2013 over 54 holes, Dustin Johnson was T-2nd in putting taking only 92 putts.  Going a step further, on putting from three feet, five feet, and ten feet in.  Johnson was perfect 32 for 32 on putts of three feet and in.  On putts of five feet and in, out of 46 attempts he missed only two and of putts inside 10 feet he just missed six of 55 attempts.  In 2012 Steve Stricker won and was perfect 44 of 44 on putts of three feet in.  On putts of five feet and in, Stricker was 56 of 58 and inside ten feet 62 of 71.  In 2011 Jonathan Byrd won and was a perfect 39 of 39 on putts of three feet in. Putts from five feet and in he missed only one of 56.  On putts ten feet and in he was 66 of 73, the best in the field.  And in 2010 Geoff Ogilvy was nothing short of near perfect as he made all 55 of 55 putts from five feet and in.  He only missed four putts from ten feet, and in, it’s very hard to be better than that.  So of the last five winners since 2010 none of them have missed a putt shorter than 3 feet and all of them missed only an average 1.6 putts per event under five feet.  So the tournament is won with the putter.
  • Every year we see how Kapalua is a very unpredictable place. The Plantation Course was built on the side of a mountain and is exposed to winds off the ocean, so if they get winds of 20 and 30 mph, which is common, the scores will climb. A perfect example of this was in 1999 when favorable conditions the first three rounds brought the scoring average down to 70.58. But in the final round, trade winds came, and the scoring average was two and a half strokes higher at 73.00. In 2000, all four days were played in high winds with the scoring average being 73.03 while in 2006 a combination 74.893 scoring average made it the fourth toughest course played on the PGA Tour in 2006. But the last six years have seen significant changes.  Conditions couldn’t have been better, and the scoring average has gone down to the point that Kapalua is one of the easiest courses on the PGA Tour over the last five years.  In 2013 with the poor weather and some wind, the course still played under par at 72.111 but wasn’t the easiest as it was ranked 32nd out of 43 courses.
  • So what does this year look?  According to the ten-day forecast on Weather.com, it’s going to be a very windy week with each day having winds blow over 20 mph.  So this favors the shorter hitter, especially with the winds coming out of the North.
  • One important thing to look at is a player who ended last year strongly.  That player is Justin Rose, who won in three of his previous six starts and has been in the top-ten in his last ten starts.  For the field at Kapalua, they dodge a bullet with Rose not playing this week.  Still, there are some recent winners at Kapalua.  Rickie Fowler won the Hero World Challenge the first week of December, in the same week Cameron Smith won the Australian PGA.  Also, don’t discount the fact that Jon Rahm won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai and Austin Cook also won the RSM Classic the same week.  Brooks Koepka was also a winner five weeks ago in the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan.

Who to watch for at the SBS Tournament of Champions

Best Bets:

Jordan Spieth

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T3 Win 2

If he is on with the putter will be impossible to beat. Also, like him in the wind, he showed that he could win in foul weather at the British Open.

Rickie Fowler

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
5 T6

Always seems to be knocking at the door, again if he putts well could win. Another that plays good in windy conditions

Hideki Matsuyama

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
2 T3

His tee to green game is so good it’s perfect for the Plantation Course.

Best of the rest:

Dustin Johnson

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T6 T10 T6 Win T9 T16 11

Past champion in this event, like him a lot but I think under windy conditions he will be at a disadvantage. Still, he did win in 2013 under the worst weather mother nature could throw players so maybe that will be an omen for him.

Justin Thomas

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
Win T21

Should be a perfect pick, the thing that worries me is that this is a new year and what he did last year will be very hard to match. Also he is young and cocky, that could hurt him.

Pat Perez

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T3 T10

Like him a lot, so much that I think he has a great shot at winning.

Kevin Kisner

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
9

A good longshot pick, like that he makes a lot of birdies, plays well on Bermuda and will surprise a lot.

Solid contenders

Daniel Berger

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T14

Played ok in this event last year, think he will do even better this year.

Brian Harman

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T17

Course is a bit like Erin Hills, but without the flatness, Harman did well at the U.S. Open on a course similar to the Plantation Course.

Brendan Steele

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T6 25

Did well last year, this could carry over to this year.

Jason Dufner

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
21 5 T18

Played well in 2014, the only problem is that he may not be that great in the wind.

Kapalua rookies that could come through:

Cameron Smith

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

He is top on the list for playing well due to his good play the last couple of months. If he can win in Australia like he did last month, he can win at Kapalua.

Xander Schauffele

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

Played well in Japan last month, frankly he has played great since the summer. Should be a guy high on everyone’s list for 2018.

Patrick Cantlay

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
First time playing in this event

Talking about a guy that should do well in 2018, this is your man. Should do well this week.

Be very cautious in picking him:

Brooks Koepka

2018 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06
T3

Played great in 2016 and has been strong in the fall including a nine-shot win in Japan last month. But still a bit worried over his wrist that was bothering him when he played at the Hero.

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