Kapalua Key Fantasy Stats

Sentry Tournament of Champions

January 7th – 10th, 2021

Plantation Course at Kapalua

Kapalua, Maui, HI

Par: 73 / Yardage: 7,596

Purse: $6.7 million

with $1,340,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Justin Thomas

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:

This is based on the most important stats for Plantation Course at Kapalua, based on data from last year’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, and using data from all the players in the field with stats from a 2021 season.
It is important to know that the scoring average of the field last year was 72.23, so with par being 73, that means the average score is three-quarters of a shot under par, making Kapalua the 20th hardest course on tour. The year before, the average score was 70.92, a notch over 2 under per round, making Kapalua the easiest of 6th easiest courses to score on in 2019. That is all based on weather conditions. This course needs mother nature to protect itself.
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 you can’t hit the fairways at Kapalua, a 747 can land on them. Last year the course ranked 41st (the easiest course on tour to hit fairways in 2020) in driving accuracy with an 80.93 total. One thing about the course, since the fairways are firm and many of them downhill, you think the average drive would be big. But it isn’t, in 2020, the average drive was 265.4 yards making it the shortest average on the PGA Tour for last year.
Still, many think that the course is for bombers, but it isn’t. Yes, long hitters have a big advantage, 2018 winner Dustin Johnson finished 6th on the PGA Tour in driving distance that year and 2nd at Kapalua with a 296.3 average. In 2019, winner Xander Schauffele was 19th in driving distance on the PGA Tour and 14th at Kapalua with a 280.4 average. Last year’s winner Justin Thomas was 13th on the PGA Tour in driving distance with an average drive of 299.5 yards, but at Kapalua was 11th averaging 271.5 yards per hole.
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, 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. When that happens, especially if the winds are out of the north, it helps short hitters. The same thing when it’s dry, firm, and fast, it helps the short hitters. For this week, winds will come out of the northeast, and they are predicted to be for Thursday at 19 mph and then on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 14 mph, so look for a lot lower scores this year. Now there isn’t going to be any rain, so that it will help shorter hitters with the fairways firm and fast.
After play in 2019, the Plantation Course was closed and had an intensive, $11 million renovation project. The course was re-grassed and reshaped to make it play firmer and faster, which it did, and it made it a bit harder. They also redid the greens taking out the slope and undulations, making the course a bit easier.

The one undisputed fact that many still don’t understand about the winners at Kapalua will probably continue, in most cases, the best putter has been the victor. Here is a stat that will blow your mind, of the 22 Kapalua winners since 1999, the highest any of them have ranked in putts per round is 4th, that is until last year. Justin Thomas ranked T-11th, which is the highest of any winner. Still, if you looked at the playoff, Patrick Reed was in it and ranked 1st in putts per round.
Now Thomas didn’t putt that great in his win last year, in putts inside 10 feet, he ranked 29th (out of 34 players in the field), making 66 of 78 putts. But what Thomas did right was hitting greens, he ranked 3rd, hitting 56 of 72. Now, of the last four winners, they all ranked inside the top-ten, so hitting greens is important. Another important item in putting is the lack of three-putts. Last year Thomas had one three-putt over the 72 holes, which ranked T-2nd. In 2019 winner Schauffele had 1 in the first round. In 2018 Johnson didn’t have a single three-putt while Thomas had just 2 three-putts. Also, all of the winners were good in scrambling except for last year with Thomas. He ranked 32nd as he only got it up and down in 7 of the 16 greens missed. In 2019 Schauffele was 8th, in 2018, Johnson was 6th, while 2017 champion Thomas was 12th in scrambling, but the year before, Jordan Spieth was 3rd. The 2015 winner Patrick Reed was 2nd, the same for 2014 winner Zach Johnson. Now one thing to remember about Thomas victory last year was how ugly it was. He made bogey on 16 and 18 to force the playoff but made up when he went birdie, par, birdie in the playoff. The year before, Xander Schauffele’s victory was historic as he shot 62, which is the lowest round shot by a champion at Kapalua.

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

*Proximity to Hole: In greens in regulation, 70.02% were hit last year, making it the 29th hardest 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 45 feet, which is the farthest on any course in 2020. As for Thomas, he averaged 37 feet, 4 inches and ranked 2nd best, So you have to not only get on the green, but Proximity to hole is important

*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 9th hardest to putt, as one-putt is at a premium. Three putts aren’t that bad as the course ranked 7th in 3-putt avoidance last year. Last year Thomas was 13th in one-putts and T-2nd in 3-putt avoidance.

*Par Breakers: The Plantation Course has always been a pushover for the best players in the world. The field averaged T-17th in birdie average and 17th in Par Breakers last year. Thomas made 24 birdies, the most of anyone in the field.

*Scrambling: With big greens, it’s near impossible to miss them, still if you do miss a green, 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. Last year Thomas missed 16 greens and got it up and down 7 times (43.75%) to rank 34th, still, in past years, this stat has been important.

42 of the 42 players from this year’s field with stats from 2021 season:

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


  1. Hey Sal,
    I’ve been searching the net for any information on Xander since his positive Covid test and am coming up completely empty. He has an incredible course history here but I’m assuming he wasn’t able to practice for the past few weeks. Do you have any more information on him or how this might affect his game in Hawaii. The books still have him at 10/1 which was surprising to me.
    Thanks and Happy New Year!!


  2. Geoff, joing my twitter feed GOLFstatsSal and I posted something on it.
    Here is what I wrote on it, right now hasn’t hit news because there are no reporters at Maui other than Doug Ferguson and Golf Channel.

    One problem on Xander we have to worry about, we are finding out that he had COVID-19 after Christmas, he was very fatigued and had to spend time in bed. He feels great now but hasn’t been able to practice until now, so he may not be a solid pick for this week despite his great record in this event.

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