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BlogSentry Tournament of Champions Preview and Picks

Sentry Tournament of Champions

January 6th – 9th, 2022

Plantation Course at Kapalua

Kapalua, Maui,, HI

Par: 73 / Yardage: 7,596

Purse: $8.2 million

with $1,476,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Harris English

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field of 38 has 36 players in the top-100 of the world rankings including 27 of the top-50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with eight players from the top-ten: #1 Jon Rahm, #2 Collin Morikawa, #4 Patrick Cantlay, #5 Bryson DeChambeau, #6 Xander Schauffele, #7 Viktor Hovland, #8 Justin Thomas and #10 Sam Burns.   The other top-100 players are #12 Harris English, #14 Jordan Spieth, #15 Tony Finau, #16 Brooks Koepka, #17 Abraham Ancer, #18 Hideki Matsuyama, #19 Daniel Berger, #20 Jason Kokrak, #21 Cameron Smith, #23 Billy Horschel, #25 Patrick Reed, #26 Sungjae Im, #29 Kevin Na, #32 Talor Gooch, #33 Phil Mickelson, #35 Max Homa, #36 Marc Leishman, #41 Lucas Herbert, #43 Kevin Kisner, #52 Stewart Cink, #53 Siwoo Kim, #61 Garrick Higgo, #63 K.H. Lee, #66 Erik van Rooyen, #70 Branden Grace, #73 Seamus Power, #78 Cameron Davis and #93 Joel Dahmen.

#83 Cameron Champ was forced to WD after a postive COVID test.

Last year there were 29 top-50 players in the field

The field includes 11 of the Top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2022.  Those players are #1 Talor Gooch, #2 Sam Burns, #3 Sungjae Im, #4 Hideki Matsuyama, #5 Viktor Hovland, #6 Max Homa, #8 Jason Kokrak, #9 Lucas Herbert, #15 Collin Morikawa, #18 Marc Leishman, and #25 Seamus Power

The field includes five past champions: Harris English (2021), Justin Thomas (2017 & 20) Xander Schauffele (2019), Jordan Spieth (2016), and Patrick Reed (2014).

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 the 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.  For our fantasy golf players looking to pick six players, check out our GOLFstats IQ section for the Sentry Tournament of Champions, it will help you make those Draft Kings picks.

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

A look at the Las Vegas odds

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

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

Player Hero World Challenge DP World, Dubai RSM Classic Houston Open Mayakoba Bermuda Champ. Zozo Champ. CJ Cup Shriners Children’s Sanderson Farms Fortinet Champ. Tour Champ. BMW Champ.
Sam Burns
(198.67 pts)
T3
(60)
DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
T14
(12)
Win
(44)
DNP T18
(16)
8
(25)
Viktor Hovland
(196.17 pts)
Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
T44
(2)
DNP DNP T5
(35)
T17
(16.5)
Collin Morikawa
(176.33 pts)
T5
(46.67)
Win
(66)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP T26
(12)
T63
(0)
Justin Thomas
(141.33 pts)
T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP 3
(30)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP DNP 4
(40)
T22
(14)
Sungjae Im
(135.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(15)
Win
(44)
T31
(6.33)
DNP T20
(15)
3
(45)
Patrick Cantlay
(132 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(66)
Win
(66)
Talor Gooch
(120 pts)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
60
(0)
T11
(13)
DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
T11
(13)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP T57
(0)
Patrick Reed
(111.5 pts)
T3
(60)
T32
(9)
DNP T61
(0)
T56
(0)
T2
(33.33)
DNP T68
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP 25
(12.5)
DNP
Abraham Ancer
(107.5 pts)
T14
(24)
T27
(11.5)
DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP DNP T14
(12)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T9
(22.5)
T9
(22.5)
Bryson DeChambeau
(101.5 pts)
T14
(24)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 7
(27.5)
2
(50)
Cameron Smith  
(79.33 pts)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
T15
(11.67)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(15)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(18)
T34
(8)
Xander Schauffele
(78.83 pts)
T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP DNP T5
(35)
T49
(0.5)
Hideki Matsuyama
(78 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
T59
(0)
T67
(0)
DNP T6
(20)
T26
(12)
T46
(2)
Jason Kokrak
(77.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP T54
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T11
(19.5)
T15
(17.5)
Tony Finau
(73.67 pts)
T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T45
(1.67)
DNP DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(19.5)
T15
(17.5)
Marc Leishman
(71 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP DNP DNP T38
(4)
T3
(30)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP 51
(0)
Jon Rahm
(69.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
2
(50)
T9
(22.5)
Daniel Berger
(68.17 pts)
T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(19.5)
T26
(12)
Kevin Na
(58.5 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
3
(45)
T17
(16.5)
Seamus Power
(55.33 pts)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T11
(13)
T12
(12.67)
DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Erik Van Rooyen
(54.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
T25
(8.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T22
(14)
5
(35)
Jordan Spieth
(53.67 pts)
20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP DNP T20
(15)
T34
(8)
Lucas Herbert
(48.5 pts)
DNP T21
(14.5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Si Woo Kim
(47.5 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
76
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
T8
(16.67)
T11
(13)
DNP T29
(10.5)
K.H. Lee
(46.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
T25
(8.33)
T14
(12)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T12
(19)

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Hero World Challenge DP World, Dubai RSM Classic Houston Open Mayakoba Bermuda Champ. Zozo Champ. CJ Cup Shriners Children’s Sanderson Farms Fortinet Champ. Tour Champ. BMW Champ.
Kevin Kisner
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T54
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T66
(0)
Cameron Champ WD COVID
(-3.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T66
(0)
Lucas Glover
(4.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T45
(1.67)
T67
(0)
T58
(0)
DNP DNP T38
(6)
Phil Mickelson
(4.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP T66
(0)
Cam Davis
(8.17 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T64
(0)
T27
(7.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T29
(10.5)
Stewart Cink
(8.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T49
(0.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T26
(12)
T38
(6)
Branden Grace
(11.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
T68
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T52
(0)
Garrick Higgo
(16.5 pts)
DNP T21
(14.5)
DNP DNP T64
(0)
T34
(5.33)
T75
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Matt Jones
(21.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T18
(10.67)
T38
(4)
T27
(7.67)
DNP DNP DNP T38
(6)
Billy Horschel
(37.17 pts)
DNP T32
(9)
DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(22.5)
T52
(0)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

So this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions is back to normal again and is just open to the winners of PGA Tour events for the last 12 months.  This year 40 players qualified and 39 are in Maui this week. The only player to take a pass is Rory McIlroy, who likes to start his year playing in the middle east swing on the European Tour. One other player not in Maui the week is Dustin Johnson, who despite having won an official PGA Tour event every year going back to 2008, won the 2021 Masters played in November, so he was outside the 12-month window and will miss his first Sentry TofC since 2015.

Still one of the best 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 2021 will 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 $100,000 grand. But if you play well and win, it’s a $1.48 million payday. What a life.

Now with the new year, we are going to try and few things.  First, we are going to try and maintain a database on players, to see things that change in their lives that would affect their play.  This will be a blog post and go along with a new feature I am calling “Sure thing bets for the day.”  A lot of people have been doing Draftkings now for six or seven years.  But in 2021 DraftKings added a new segment called the Sportsbook in which you can make numerous bets on players in a field or match-ups, plus they have several proposition bets like if a certain player will win a major in 2022.  The interesting bets are the match-ups during a tournament in which you can bet head to head in pairings or matchups.  These bets are very competitive and frankly winning over 50% of them is a chore, that is unless you are really careful and picky.  Each day I run across a couple of what we can call “Sure Things Bets.” bets that aren’t well done and the odds are in your favor.  I would say the percentage of winning these bets is 80%, which is as close to a sure bet as you can get.  Now of course you can have a bet in which Jon Rahm is up against say, Joel Dahmen.  I would say that Rahm would probably beat Dahmen 8 out of 10 times, but the odds could be so bad that it would take a $5 bet just to win back 20 cents

or so, that isn’t what I can a great bet.  But if the odds are better, say that a $5 bet would return $3 or $4, that is what I call a sure bet.  So the night before play I will dig up these bets and pass them on to you.  So it will give you something worthwhile to come back to GOLFstats on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

You will also see that we have added a premium service called GOLFiQ in which you will get more detailed stats and analysis of players.  We will also have more and deeper DraftKings analysis, composite rankings, and hole by holes, thus giving you more of an advantage in not only fantasy golf, but individual betting through a Sportsbook.  We will also have more of these on our Twitter page so check us out @GOLFstats on Twitter.  Hopefully

Course information:
  • Plantation Course at Kapalua
  • Kapalua, Maui, HI
  • 7,596 yards     Par 36-37–73

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 8,700 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.  The event has been played on this course since 1999 and looking at the champions, there are as many short hitters on their winners roles as long hitters.  What makes the course difficult is mother nature, without an abundance of trees, the course is completely open to the elements.  Along with the Maui sunshine, winds affect the course every single day, sometimes as a gentle breeze but on most days wimping from off the ocean up the hillside winds of 15 mph are the norm.  When the winds go higher, sometimes in the 40 mph range, the Plantation Course at Kapalua is very hard to maneuver around.

Last year, the course played to a scoring average of 69.23 (remember it’s a par 73) that was just under two and three-quarters of a shot under par and it was the easiest course on the PGA Tour in 2021.

 

Let’s take a look at key 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 year’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, and using data from all the players in the field with stats from a 2022 season.
One thing that is important to know, the scoring average of the field last year was 69.32, so with par being 73, the average score was almost 3 shots under par, making it the easiest of the 51 courses charted in 2021. The year before, the average was 72.23, making it three-quarters of a shot under par, making the Plantation Course the 20th hardest course on tour. The big question many will wonder is, why was there a difference of almost 3 shots between 2021 and 2020?
First of all, the Plantation Course at Kapalua is one of the most unique courses to hold a PGA Tour event. The course was carved out of the side of a mountain, so the elements play an essential role. The architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore put a lot of thought into routing the holes and built the course with trade winds in mind. The trade wind blows toward the ocean, meaning the wind goes in the same direction as the slope and the grain. The ball then rolls for miles, or it seems that way. Each year the Plantation course appears to have its share of 400-yard drives. With Kona winds, it blows up the hill and into the grain, which reduces the role. Last year the course had 8 drives of 400 yards and longer. In 2000 there were only five, the difference in 2000 the week had Kona winds while last year trade winds.
So the course is at the mercy of the weather conditions, mostly the degree of wind and the direction. The Plantation Course is a resort course and not geared to be super tough. Another reason for the course being accessible is the fairways; there is no way that you can’t hit the fairways at Kapalua, a 747 can land on them. Last year the course ranked 51st in driving accuracy as 79.01% of the drives were in the fairway. The same goes for 2020. It was the most accessible course on tour as 80.93% of the fairways were hit. One thing about the course, since the fairways are firm and many of them downhill, you think the average drive would be enormous. But it isn’t. In 2021, the average drive was 2269.9 yards making it one of the longest averages on the PGA Tour for last year.
Still, many things that the course is for bombers, but it isn’t. Yes, long hitters have a significant 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. In 2020, 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. Last year’s winner Harris English was 82nd in driving distance for the year and ranked 25th at Kapalua with a 277.1 average. English was the second shortest winner in the 23-year history (the shortest was Jim Fury, 44.4 in 2001)
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 little fact. Being on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the Pailolo Channel, the Plantation course tends to get hit by high winds. When that happens, especially if the winds are out of the north (Kona), it helps short hitters. The same thing when it’s dry, firm, and fast, it helps the short hitters. For this week, winds are going to come out of the northwest, and they are predicted to be for Thursday at 11 mph and then on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 9 mph, so look for a lot lower scores this year because winds will be very mild. Now there will be no rain, so with the fairways firm and fast, it will help shorter hitters.

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, making it a bit harder. They also redid the greens taking out the slope and undulations, which made the course easier.

The one undisputed fact that many still don’t understand about the winners at Kapalua that will probably continue, in most cases, the best putter is has been the victor. Here is a stat that will blow your mind, of the Kapalua winners since 1999, the highest any of them have ranked in putts per round was 4th, that is until 2020. 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. Last year Harris English ranked T-5th in putts per round, so you can see putting is the key to winning at Kapalua, if your a poor putter, you have just about no chance of winning.
Now Thomas didn’t putt that great in his win in 2020. 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, they all ranked inside the top ten of the last five winners, so hitting greens is essential. Another critical item inputting is the lack of three-putts. Last year Harris English didn’t have a single three-putt, the year before, 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 in 2017 had just 2 three-putts. Also, all of the winners were good in scrambling except for last year’s winner English and 2020 winner Thomas. Last year English ranked T-17th in scrambling, while in 2020, Thomas 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. One thing to remember about Thomas’s victory in 2020 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 the key to remember about this week’s event in Maui, look for those that putt well, sure if they hit it long, it’s an added plus but putting rules this week.

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

*Strokes Gained Putting: The greens average 8,722 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 placed it 20th hardest to putt in 2021, as one-putts are at a premium as the course was the 19th hardest in that stat. Three putts are very common as the course ranked 36th in 3-putt avoidance last year. Last year English was T-16th in one-putts and T-1st in 3-putt avoidance.

*Proximity to Hole: In greens in regulation 78.84% were 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 38 feet, which is the 12th farthest on any course in 2021. As for English, he averaged 38 feet, 2 inches and ranked 23rd best So you have to not only get on the green but Proximity to hole is important

*Par Breakers: The Plantation Course has always been a pushover for the best players in the world. The field was the easiest in birdie average and easiest in Par Breakers last year. Thomas made 26 birdies, the 3rd best 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 50th on tour in scrambling, but that was a bit misleading because for those that win, you better get it up and down. Last year English missed 10 greens and got it up and down 7 times (70.00%) to rank T-17th, still in past years this stat as been important.

39 of the 39 players from this year’s field with stats from 2021/22 year:

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

To look at the stats of all 39 players hit this link

DraftKings tips

Of the 39 in the field, 27 have played at least once at Kapalua in the Sentry TofC since 2015.

*Here are the players with the most under par totals at the Sentry since 2015:
  • Justin Thomas is 93 under in 24 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Patrick Reed is 89 under in 24 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Xander Schauffele is 62 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Jordan Spieth is 58 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Hideki Matsuyama is 57 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Jon Rahm is 57 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Kevin Kisner is 42 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Marc Leishman is 42 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Daniel Berger is 41 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Bryson DeChambeau is 37 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Patrick Cantlay is 37 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Billy Horschel is 36 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Collin Morikawa is 29 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Cameron Champ is 27 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Harris English is 25 under in 4 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Tony Finau is 25 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Cameron Smith is 22 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Sungjae Im is 21 under in 4 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Abraham Ancer is 16 under in 4 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Matt Jones is 14 under in 4 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Brooks Koepka is 12 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Stewart Cink is 11 under in 4 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Si Woo Kim is 11 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Viktor Hovland is 11 under in 4 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Jason Kokrak is 9 under in 4 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Max Homa is Even Par in 4 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Branden Grace is 1 over in 4 rounds, playing 1 year
  • Kevin Na is 5 over in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
*Here are the ones with the best under par totals averaging it per year played (2 or more starts)
  • Jordan Spieth is 58 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Justin Thomas is 93 under in 24 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Xander Schauffele is 62 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Patrick Reed is 89 under in 24 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Collin Morikawa is 29 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Hideki Matsuyama is 57 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Jon Rahm is 57 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Marc Leishman is 42 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Daniel Berger is 41 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Tony Finau is 25 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Bryson DeChambeau is 37 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Patrick Cantlay is 37 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Cameron Smith is 22 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Kevin Kisner is 42 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Billy Horschel is 36 under in 16 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Cameron Champ is 27 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Si Woo Kim is 11 under in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
  • Brooks Koepka is 12 under in 12 rounds, playing 3 years
  • Kevin Na is 5 over in 8 rounds, playing 2 years
Historical ParBreakers

Here is a look at those playing this week and who has made the most eagles and birdies:

 

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

DraftKings tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

Jon Rahm – $11,000

Collin Morikawa – $10,800

Justin Thomas – $10,600

Bryson DeChambeau – $10,200

Viktor Hovland – $10,000

Patrick Cantlay – $9,700

Xander Schauffele – $9,500

Sam Burns – $9,100

A happy New Year to you and happy picking in DraftKings for the year.

In looking at the prices for the Sentry Tournament of Champions, the first one is Jon Rahm at $11,000.  Makes sense since he is world number one but after that, it gets a bit vague.  Sure we know he makes a lot of birdies and in four previous events has not finished higher than 10th.  His best finish was 2nd in 2018 but frankly am worried about his lack of play.  He had a very long season and in October played in two events in Spain and was T-17th and missed the cut.  After that, he took the rest of the year off and many wonders why.  It seems that since the fall golf last year went so long, he changed clubs in December of 2020 and worked hard on his game.  On top of all that he became a dad, won the U.S. Open and by the time the Ryder Cup came around was dead tired.  After Spain, he decided to shut it down, didn’t play any the first couple of weeks in November, and started to get back into it.  Trying a new driver this week, all of this has me a bit concerned.  Frankly, with his high price, it’s best to take a pass on him this week.  Next is Collin Morikawa at $10,800 and he had a great fall and it should carry over into this week.  Not only did he finish 2nd at the CJ Cup and T-7th at the Zozo Championship, he also won the European season-ending DP World Championship, Dubai.  A couple of weeks later he had a sizable lead going into the final round of the Hero World Challenge, but shot 76 and finished T-5th.  This and the fact of him finishing 7th twice at Kapalua makes me think that he is too much money and I will pass on him.  Now Justin Thomas at $10,600 is too good to pass up on.  He has won twice at Kapalua and was 3rd twice including last year.  He also played well in the fall finishing 3rd at Mayakoba and T-5th at the Hero World Challenge.  I also like that he is an eagle and birdie machine at Kapalua, averaging 5.96 eagles and birdies per his 24 rounds played.  The price is high but he should bring home the goodies.  Bryson DeChambeau at $10,200 will get a lot of takers because of his length and good putting.  These should carry him over to a good week, but frankly, I am worried that Kapalua has a lot of places he can get in trouble at.  In three starts he has a 26th finish in 2018 and 7th place finish in both 2019 and last year.  I also don’t like that in his only start after the Ryder Cup he played poorly at the Hero World Challenge finishing 73-74 over the weekend.  So it’s best at his cost to take a pass.   Viktor Hovland at $10,000 will get a lot of interest, first because he won in his last two starts at Mayakoba and the Hero World Challenge.  Now he wasn’t very impressive last year in his debut finishing T-31st but we have to give him a pass and feel he will play well, many when you consider in the last three years has won twice at Mayakoba, once in Puerto Rico and once at the Hero, all courses on the ocean.  So with that should fit in, but his putting needs to be spot on this week.  Patrick Cantlay at $9,700 is a player I am going to take a pass on.  Yes, he was 4th at Kapalua in 2020 and T-13th last year, but don’t like the fact that he hasn’t played since the Ryder Cup.  Cantlay has a knack for taking a lot of time off and he tends to be sluggish after his break.  He has been in California the last couple of weeks and hasn’t been able to work on his game with all of the rain out there.  So it’s probably worthwhile to take a pass on Cantlay.  Xander Schauffele at $9,500 will be one of those players who should contend on Sunday.  He has been great in his last three Sentry TofC starts, he won this event in 2019, was T-2nd in 2020 and T-5th last year.  So in his last three starts is 58 under par and should be solid on a course he likes.  Now Sam Burns at $9,100 has no history at Kapalua but off of his 2022 play is the man to beat.  He won the Sanderson Farms and after finishing T-14th at the Shriners, was T-5th at the CJ Cup, T-7th in Houston, and T-3rd at the Hero World.  So he is a great pick

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Feel that Jordan Spieth at $8,900 is the bargain of the week.  He is a good putter, which is important at Kapalua, and hits the ball far, things that will help him.  In four starts he has a win (in 2016), a 2nd in 2014, T-3rd in 2017, and 9th in 2018.  Hasn’t played much in 2022 was T-18th at the CJ Cup and 20th at the Hero World Challenge but still am not worried.  Yes, he became a father for the first time a couple of months ago and despite being at home a lot says he worked hard on his game.  His track record at Kapalua is just too good, in 12 rounds has made 4 eagles and 76 birdies so he knows how to rack up DrafKing points.  So he is my main man for this week.  Hideki Matsuyama at $8,700 is also someone to think about, yes he finished T-41st last year which had to be a flunk since he was T-4th in 2018, 2nd in 2017, and T-3rd in 2015.  His last start was a victory at the Zozo Championship in Japan so he is on a roll.  The only thing that I worry about is his putting, one of the reasons he played so poorly last year.  Brooks Koepka at $8,500 is a hard choice, yes he is Brooks Koepka and seems healthy again after two years of injuries.  He has struggled in 2022 and was 24th at Kapalua in 2019, 34th in 2018 but T-3rd in 2016.  I say think about him I think he will have a great year.  Sungjae Im at $8,200 is a very good buy, in his only Kapalua start was T-5th last year, and won at the Shriners.  I do worry about his putting, he is not a great putter but not a poor one as he is in the middle of all the players.  I like that Patrick Reed is only $7,900 and a great buy.  He has an up and down record at Kapalua, won it in 2015, was 2nd the next year, and T-6th in 2017.  Since then was T-25th in 2019 and T-21st last year, but in between was T-2nd.  So I shake my head and think that he was T-2nd at the Bermuda Championship and T-3rd at the Hero and feel he will be a safe bet this week.  Jason Kokrak at $7,700 is a very good bet this week.  Yes played terribly last year in Maui finishing T-35th.  But the key to his good play in the last year has been a drastic improvement in his putting, so between that and winning a few weeks ago in Houston have to think he will be picked by a lot of folks.  Also, feel that Talor Gooch at $7,600 is worth the price.  He had the best fall of anyone, winning for the first time at the RSM Classic and in six starts was in the top-11, five times.  In looking at his putting stats, he is in the top 40%, does avoid three-putting, and is solid from 4 to 8 feet.

*So are there any “Bargains” out there?

Of the field of 39, 9 of the players have never played in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.  So that will mean it will be hard to dig up a bargain or two this week when you consider that eight of the nine are priced below $7,500.  Of the bat you have some value in Marc Leishman being only $7,500, he has played four times at Kapalua and was T-4th in 2019 and T-7th in 2018.  Last year he was T-24th, the thing that he has working for him is his putting has improved over the last few years.  Kevin Na at $7,100 is someone that has never played well at Kapalua, but in his last few wins, his record wasn’t good at those events either.  He is a streaky putter, frankly, even at the low price, I will take a pass on him.  Si Woo Kim at $6,900 is probably my one choice of those under $7,000.  But the big problem with him, his putting is not very good and that may eat him alive this week.  Of the 16 players under $7,000 the only one in the top-50 in Strokes Gained putting is Joel Dahmen and he is ranked 41st so that is why the bottom of the field is not very good picks.  Yes, Phil Mickelson may seem appealing at $6,500 but there is a reason he hasn’t played at Kapalua since 2001 and that is a dislike toward the course over the wind and walks up and downhills.  Who knows maybe the 21 years absence will change his thoughts on the course?

*So who are my six DraftKings picks for this week?

  • Xander Schauffele – $9,500
  • Jordan Spieth – $8,900
  • Sam Burns – $9,100
  • Sungjae Im – $8,200
  • Jason Kokrak – $7,700
  • Phil Mickelson – $6,500

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

The 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 was the second-longest.  2017 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.  Thomas in 2020 was T-19th hitting 47 of 60 fairways but was 3rd in Greens in Regulation hitting 56 of 72 and ranking 3rd.  Last year’s winner Harris English was T-14th hitting 50 of 60 fairways but was T-3rd in Greens in Regulation hitting 62 of the 72 and ranking T-3rd.  The motto in this, 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 8,700 square feet, you can see that players miss only three greens per round. So hitting lots of greens is a misnomer.  The average proximity to the hole is 45 feet which made the pins the hardest to get close to in 2020 so you can see that lag putting is crucial.
  • So two key stats stand out as necessary, first approach putt performance which gauges who lag putts the closet to the hole? In 2021, those playing at Kapalua averaged getting their first putt within 2 feet, 2 inches away.  The other key stat is birdie or better conversion per greens hit, Kapalua was 49th as players birdied 36.74% of the greens they hit, so making birdies is easy and necessary.
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 last year’s winner Harris English.  He was T-3rd in hitting greens and averaged 38 feet, 2 inches from the hole that ranked 23rd.  But he won the tournament with his putter as he was 1st in Strokes Gained Putting.
  • Last but not least we need to access the true changes made to the course.  Lots of times these changes are just cosmetic in nature, but in the case of these changes after the 2019 tournament we won’t see the changes on TV, but the players have experienced them.  The talk among the players was about how much you had to be careful about driving the ball. Now the ball can roll into danger because there is more roll in the fairway.  What could be misleading this year is the winds, they will be low and with the changes to the course, many will say it will be interesting to see if more of the shorter hitters, the Patrick Cantlay’s, the Patrick Reed’s, the Kevin Na’s and the Kevin Kisner’s of the world will have a better chance and will content this week on a really long course.

Who to watch for at the Sentry Tournament of Champions

Best Bets:

Jordan Spieth

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
9 T3 Win 2

Historically always plays well at Kapalua. In four starts has not finished higher than 9th, won in 2016, was 2nd in 2014, and T-3rd in 2017. Only played twice since the Ryder Cup, T-18th at the C.J. Cup and 20th at Hero World Challenge. Has been one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, at Sentry Tof C in 2017 when he finished T-3rd, was 3rd in Strokes Gained Putting, in 2016 when he won the Sentry TofC was 1st in Strokes Gained Putting and in 2014 when he finished 2nd was 4th in Strokes Gained Putting so he does well on the greens at Kapalua.

Justin Thomas

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
3 Win 3 T22 Win T21

Has played at Kapalua the last six years and has two wins and two 3rd place finishes. Has worked hard on his game, was 3rd at Mayakoba, and T-5th at the Hero World Challenge. Key for his great play at Kapalua, hitting lots of greens and making lots of birdies, 139 in 24 rounds which is one for every four holes played.

Xander Schauffele

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
T5 T2 Win T22

He has played four times, T-22nd in his first year, won in 2019, T-2nd in 2020, missing out in a playoff, and T-5th last year. In those four starts is 62 under par. Since Ryder Cup was T-18th at CJ Cup, T-28th at Zozo Championship, and T-12th at Hero World Challenge. In his 16 rounds at Kapalua has hit 221 of 288 greens for an impressive 76.7%. Has dominated the par 5s, playing them in 42 under par.

Best of the rest:

Collin Morikawa

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
T7 T7

T-7th at Kapalua last year and T-7th in 2020. Has had a good fall, was 2nd at the CJ Cup, T-7th at the Zozo Championship, and T-5th at the Hero World after leading going into the final round. His putter has always been what kept him back, but he has drastically shown improvements at the British Open and in the fall. In 2022 is 10th in Strokes Gained putting.

Jon Rahm

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
T7 10 T8 2

Seems to always play well at Kapalua, but has never been spectacular. After he finished 2nd in his first start in 2018 has finished T-8th, 10th, and T-7th last year. Has struggled since the Ryder Cup, after he missed the cut at the Andalucia Masters in October took the rest of the year off to rest up. Is not a great putter, but always in the top-50 in Strokes Gained putting. The key to him playing well is a great tee-to-green game if that comes together with some timely putting could win.

Viktor Hovland

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
T31

Yes was T-31st in his only Kapalua start last year, But we like him because in his last two starts won at Mayakoba and Hero World Challenge. Does play well on courses by oceans and Bermuda Greens, winning Mayakoba twice, in Puerto Rico and Hero World Challenge. His tee to green game is good and makes a lot of birdies. He also is weak in putts between seven and 15 feet but has historically been ok in 3-putt avoidance. If he has a great putting week, he will contend.

Solid contenders

Hideki Matsuyama

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
T41 T4 2 T3

After finishing T-3rd in 2015, 2nd in 2017, and T-4th in 2018 was a very disappointing T-41st last year. Feel that was a fluke and he will be back to normal this year. Won in his last fall start at the Zozo Championship. Has never been a good putter, but has putted well at Kapalua. Also makes a lot of birdies and is good from tee to green.

Jason Kokrak

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
T35

Yes played terrible last year in Maui finishing T-35th. But the key to his good play in the last year has been a drastic improvement in his putting, so between that and winning a few weeks ago in Houston have to think he will be picked by a lot of folks.

Marc Leishman

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
T24 T4 T7 T23

Mixed results at Kapalua, was T-4th in 2019 and T-7th in 2018 but T-24th last year and T-23rd in 2013. Was T-4th at the Fortinet and T-3rd at the Shriners. Putting has always been his weak link, but the rest of his game is good, and plays well in the wind.

Patrick Reed

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
T21 T2 T25 T6 2 Win T16

In six starts won in 2015, was 2nd in 2016, and in 2020, he lost in a playoff. Was T-21st last year In these six starts is 105 under par. In the fall was T-2nd at Bermuda and T-3rd at Hero World. Reed for years has been one of the best putters on tour, his success at Kapalua is putting well.

Long shots that could come through:

Sungjae Im

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
T5

Was T-5th last year at the Sentry TofC. Played well in the fall including a win at the Shriners Children’s Open, T-9th at the CJ Cup. Im is great from tee to green and an average putter, if he can putt above his average he could win and surprise a lot of folks.

Sam Burns

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
First time playing in this event

has no history at Kapalua but off of his 2022 play is the man to beat. He won the Sanderson Farms and after finishing T-14th at the Shriners, was T-5th at the CJ Cup, T-7th in Houston, and T-3rd at the Hero World. So he is a great pick.

Talor Gooch

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
First time playing in this event

He had the best fall of anyone, winning for the first time at the RSM Classic and in six starts was in the top-11, five times. In looking at his putting stats, he is in the top 40%, does avoid three-putting, and is solid from 4 to 8 feet.

Those that will struggle this week:

Patrick Cantlay

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
T13 4 T15

Was 4th in 2020 but struggled with a T-15th in 2018 and T-13th in 2021. Ended his 2021 in spectacular form winning the BMW and Tour Championship to claim the FedExCup, but has not played since the Ryder Cup. Normally a good putter plus a good tee to green game. Cantlay has a nack for taking a lot of time off and he tends to be sluggish after his break. He has been in California the last couple of weeks and hasn’t been able to work on his game with all of the rain out there.

Bryson Dechambeau

2022 ’21 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10
T7 7 26

Was 7th in 2021 and 2019, placed 26th in 2018. Has only played once since the Ryder Cup, T-14th at the Hero World. Rumors had him mentally down and thinking of possible retirement. He does hit the ball a long way, which could give him such a significant advantage that he is left with nothing but wedges to the hole. Between that and he is a good putter, he should do well but his mental attitude will be questioned. Also, we will see if he still believes that bomb and gouge are the best way to play golf in the future.

Comments

  1. William Hollingsworth says

    Where can I find sure bets for the day?

  2. William Hollingsworth says

    For entertainment purposes

  3. PUTTING4BIRDIES@GMAIL.COM says

    I see you have Cam Smith as a WD in the hot list… supposed to be Cam Champ?

  4. Yes, I messed up, it was Cameron Champ that WD not Cameron Smith. Have changed it

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