PGA Weekly Course Analysis: Sentry Tournament of Champions
Each week, Sean O’Donnell will break down the course in detail to figure out which golfers will be in the best position to succeed.
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Sentry Tournament of Champions
This week we re-start the PGA Tour season that actually … already re-started! But for most intents and purposes, the bigger names enter the fray again this week starting in Hawaii, as we come back after the holiday break with the start of the 2019 calendar year. This event is basically the PGA Tour equivalent of the “All Star Game” featuring all of last year’s event winners. Let’s take a look and see what they’ll be up against!
Scoring average per round: -2.6
Chances of bogey free round (field): 10.2%
Best opportunities for 3-birdie streak (field): 14-15-16
Best chances for eagle: #5
Projected Cut: N/A
Key Holes: #15
Here’s a visual representation of the eagle/better(dark blue), birdie(light blue), par(gray), bogey(orange), and double bogey/worse (red) percentages for each of the 18 holes:
And a quick refresher on the stats we use each week in grading our course:
|Total Driving||Combines Driving Accuracy and Driving Distance|
|Driving Accuracy||Measures average number of fairways hit off tee shots|
|Driving Distance||Measures average total yardage of drives|
|Approaches from * yards||Measures average to-hole accuracy from fairways or tee shots on par 3s, from varying distances|
|Approaches from * yards (RTP)||The average relative-to-par score for holes completed from a given range of approach distances|
|Scrambling||The % of times that a player saved par or better after a missed green|
Just a reminder that I combine the Proximity and the Relative to Par statistics for each approach yardage in an effort to incorporate the putting skill that is inherently included in the RTP statistic.
These are the approach yardage bins we’re going to use to set our course fit defaults in the spreadsheet:
Driving Distance: 14
Driving Accuracy: 14
Approaches <125: 10
Approaches 125-150: 2
Approaches 150-175: 2
Approaches 175-200: 2
Approaches >200: 8
|Name||FD$||DK$||Dr. Distance||Dr. Accuracy||u125||125-150||150-175||175-200||o200||Scrambling||GIR||BoB%||SG: T2G||SG: Putt||Weighted||Rank||RankOverSal DK||RankOverSal FD|
|Charles Howell III||$8,500||$7,100||54||81||21||110||70||167||158||58||30||30||42||56||69||14||7||6|
|Ted Potter, Jr.||$7,600||$6,000||180||22||123||137||13||114||182||123||156||155||146||102||121||32||1||-4|
As mentioned in the intro, this event is basically the “All Star Game” and fittingly so, it is played at a course that is seemingly intentionally set up to allow “All Star Game” type scoring. Especially with a field that has largely not been in competition for some time now.
The Plantation Course at Kapalua is no stranger to PGA Tour pros, but it definitely represents a different kind of “test” than most of the events we see on Tour, and especially most events with big names in them. It’s also in Hawaii, just like the pro bowl! The crux of this course, though, is that it basically automatically puts a wedge in our guys’ hands on about half the holes, at least. So it’s set up for scoring, and skews towards a certain type of game.
But this section is famous for saying that, well, every one of these guys can get hot with a wedge on a weekend, or they wouldn’t be on TOUR much less in the Tournament of Champions. And that is meaningful this week in that, like most “All Star Game” type formats in most sports, the action is going to trend towards the concept of “there’s little reason to go crazy with the favorites, and less reasons to NOT pick the underdogs.” If we can follow that …
That said, let’s start by looking at the golfer who I think has been the best in the world for some time now, as well as the defending champ for this course- Dustin Johnson. Known typically for his long drives more than his pinpoint wedge and putting games …. he really does have both. He deserves the top salary spot here, and will probably be chosen often enough, but rightfully so. I won’t be staying away from him!
After that I think it’s interesting to see Justin Thomas tucked in there … pretty clearly the #2 golfer in the field with Justin Rose sitting this one out, it’s shades of gray between his salary and Brooks Koepka’s, but I still like Thomas over Koepka on both sites if you want to go there.
The real meat comes in the middle, here … where there does seem to be some value to be had. Bryson Dechambeau is a borderline must-play candidate for me at that salary, very little analysis is needed after he has seemingly broken out in 2018 but still not QUITE getting credit for it, at least in the opinion of this prognosticator. The ownership projections will help clear this up, but even if he’s high-owned I will probably include him even in tournament formats and look to get different elsewhere.
As far as getting different- I like looking at fields like these from the bottom up, some times. Basically almost anyone has a chance here, but working up from the bottom of the salary list, I think you can eliminate Kizzire, Potter, Kodaira, Merritt, Garnett … and to a lesser extent Mike Kim, but I like him more than the others and wouldn’t mind rostering him some. Above that though, I think we enter a WORLD of possibilities, and really just … let ‘em rip …
Billy Horschel can get as hot as anyone and hasn’t been consistent but even being in this field shows that he can still rise to the top of a leaderboard, especially in a fun-loving event like this one. Somebody like a Scott Piercy or Aaron Wise absolutely has the talent to shoot WAY under par here, despite being dramatically inconsistent over the past year. Finally, Keegan Bradley doesn’t NECESSARILY fit the bill here but he’s been performing beyond his talent level consistently for awhile now so I’d definitely still consider him.
One last mention has to go out to Patrick Reed. I rarely say this, but throw the statistics out the window … it’s not a MONSTROUS course history here but it’s enough, and ideologically he very much fits the bill here as he is well-suited to a birdie-making competition from inside 130 yards. That said, this won’t really be a secret, and I doubt he’ll be one of the lowest-owned players so there’s not a monster edge in focusing on him, but he’s worth a look for sure if he ends up fitting in with the rest of your team.
Good luck his week everyone! Stay warm, and have some fun!!
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