PGA Value Breakdown: Sentry Tournament of Champions
Selecting the absolute best value out there is crucial to cruising to top of the leaderboards. PGA guru Josh “futureoffantasy” Culp dives into the player pool, picking out his favorite value options for the week’s tournament.
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Sentry Tournament of Champions
The PGA TOUR is back and we ease into things with a limited-field, no-cut event in Hawaii.
With just 34 golfers to choose from, there won’t be a lot of surprise plays in the value department. That being said, picking the right value plays will still be crucial to success in GPPs. Here are some of my favorites value plays to build around this week…
Marc Leishman ($7700 DK / $9300 FD / $15700 FDRFT)
We have a lot of wind in the forecast and sometimes confidence is all it takes to thrive in the conditions. The Aussie can fill a piggy bank with confidence in the wind. “I grew up in it. I enjoy playing in it, which is helpful. When you enjoy playing on certain golf courses or certain conditions it’s easy to play well. So I played well in the wind before and I think growing up in it certainly helps.” Finished T7 here last year and I’d expect a similar result.
Gary Woodland ($8000 DK / $9400 FD / $15700 FDRFT)
He’s been on fire since the summer and based on his interviews he attributes it to improved putting confidence. He’s made some tweaks with his putting coach and it’s showing big time. If we look his LAST 50 ShotLink rounds then he’s gained strokes putting in just 44 percent of those. If we isolate it to the LAST 12 ShotLink rounds then Woodland has gained strokes in 9-of-12 (75%) which is 2nd in this field, over that short window. He’s also stayed active in December, playing the Hero World Challenge and the QBE Shootout, both exhibition events. They should help him above a rusty start to 2019.
Aaron Wise ($7500 DK / $8200 FD / $14900 FDRFT)
While many have spent their offseason resting, Wise has hit the gym. HARD. A recent Instagram update showed him talking about a gain of 25 pounds, presumably muscle. He was already strong off-the-tee but this could talk to him another level. He’s also a proven winner on every stage he’s played at. I like his winning upside in a small-field event like this where he’s in the bargain bin. This time next year we might see him with a 5-figure price tag at this event.
Brandt Snedeker ($7400 DK / $8900 FD / $14300 FDRFT)
He brings experience to the table as it’ll be his sixth start at Kapalua. He’s finished 3rd in two of those trips and no worse than T14. The strength of his game is wedge play and short game. With windy conditions on hand, that short game should really come in handy. It’s never a bad thing to get a 9-time winner on your side, either.
Matt Kuchar ($7600 DK / $9000 FD / $14600 FDRFT)
If you look at the wind forecast for the week then you might want to bump up short game just a bit. That should help a guy like Kuchar who is always sharp around the greens but never keeps up with the big boys off the tee. We have some course data to back him up, as well. This will be his seventh trip to Kapalua and he’s finished T9 or better in 4-of-6 starts here. With his win coming in November, we know confidence won’t be an issue. Should easily pay off his price tag without much risk to drafting him.
Patrick Reed ($8200 DK / $10300 FD / $16600 FDRFT)
Reed is a little pricier but he’s still a value when you account for all the variable. Course History? He’s finished WIN, RUNNER-UP, T6 over his last three trips here. Current Form? He finished T7 at the HSBC and T2 at the Euro Tour season finale. He also roared out to a fast start at the Hero World Challenge, keeping his game sharp. You could argue he’s a top-5 overall play this week but his salary is closer to 10th.
Webb Simpson ($8500 DK / $10000 FD / $15900 FDRFT)
The Wake Forest product is making his first appearance here since 2014 but Kapalua has been good to him in the past. He finished T3 in his 2012 debut, T11 in 2013, and T3 again in 2014. We saw him break the $5 million mark in earnings last season and I will look to ride that improved play until it cools off. It will eventually cool off, but I don’t think it’s this week as we head to a course with a lot of wedge opportunities and bermudagrass greens. Both areas that fit his game well.
Paul Casey ($7900 DK / $9700 FD / $15300 FDRFT)
I initially had Bubba Watson in this last slot but the current wind forecast has been a bit concerned. Bubba is usually pretty good in the wind despite what he says in interviews, but when he’s not, he’s really bad. That makes him a nice boom-or-bust option in GPPs but Casey is a bit steadier of an option. The Englishman went through a cold patch last summer but ended on a high note with four straight top 20s to end 2018. Going back to the wind angle, Casey has the 4th-best percentage of good rounds in wind since 2014. The only names above him are Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, and Jon Rahm. I wouldn’t get my hopes up for a Paul Casey win this week but a top 10 is very likely and he won’t break the bank in the process.
I don’t usually update this article as the week progresses but I stumbled across an interesting nugget during my research that may or may not affect how you want to target golfers. I noticed that recent winners of this event had all played the Hero World Challenge or QBE Shootout. When I looked back 10 years that trend held true with 9-of-10 winners playing in the Hero, QBE, or Australia in weeks 48, 49, 50 in the weeks leading up to their win.
For value purposes, it won’t be necessary to win but if you want to avoid the rust factor entirely then consider shifting some shares of Casey, Webb, Wise, and Kuchar from above. Here are two additional value options you may want to look at.
Charles Howell III ($7100 DK / $8500 FD / $13800 FDRFT)
He’s a recent winner so his confidence tank will be full. He played in the QBE Shootout to keep himself sharp in competition. For someone that has struggled to hit the winner’s circle over the course of his career, I would expect he cherishes this opportunity to play in a winners-only event. Worried about Hawaii being a new experience for him? Don’t be. CH3 has SEVEN top 5s at the Sony Open. His recent win was also at Sea Island, another coastal course with winds always in play.
Keegan Bradley ($7300 DK / $8300 FD / $14300 FDRFT)
This will be his third trip to Kapalua. He finished 16th in his 2012 debut but improved to T4 the following year. What’s most appealing is his recent form in terms of racking up birdies and eagles. Over the Last 24 Rounds played he’s beat the field in DK Points in 71% of those rounds, which ranks 2nd in this week’s field behind only Bryson DeChambeau. We also have it on record that he likes the greens as he said this in 2012, “I actually really like the greens Bermuda and grainy. Being from New England, I putt Bermuda greens better than bent these days. I actually love them.”
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