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!

Plantation Course:

Par: 72
Length: 7452
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:

Statistic Description
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
Scrambling: 5

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
Dustin Johnson $12,000 $11,000 6 125 27 38 11 3 22 44 32 32 1 25 43 1 0 0
Bryson DeChambeau $10,900 $8,700 24 83 37 110 70 56 19 57 23 23 10 38 46 2 5 2
Justin Thomas $11,200 $10,500 11 138 17 23 52 49 10 26 45 44 3 47 48 3 -1 0
Billy Horschel $8,100 $7,000 100 22 10 121 141 81 50 101 7 6 32 23 52 4 18 20
Brooks Koepka $11,600 $10,200 8 155 34 54 2 5 3 29 61 61 39 84 56 5 -2 -3
Gary Woodland $9,400 $8,000 12 64 118 13 154 82 7 179 12 11 18 110 60 6 7 8
Webb Simpson $10,000 $8,500 120 84 16 20 87 58 39 3 63 62 29 8 61 7 1 3
Francesco Molinari $10,200 $8,400 52 46 66 75 26 8 61 83 43 43 2 182 61 8 1 1
Rory McIlroy $10,700 $9,600 1 163 4 57 73 19 30 41 123 123 6 97 65 9 -4 -3
Jason Day $10,800 $9,000 14 141 38 43 89 62 26 33 126 126 50 2 65 10 -4 -5
Jon Rahm $10,500 $9,800 16 129 6 174 129 136 1 120 45 45 20 147 65 11 -7 -4
Keegan Bradley $8,300 $7,300 65 15 142 24 21 37 34 121 52 52 14 174 68 12 8 10
Paul Casey $9,700 $7,900 31 78 150 47 62 114 13 63 72 72 26 77 69 13 1 -1
Charles Howell III $8,500 $7,100 54 81 21 110 70 167 158 58 30 30 42 56 69 14 7 6
Kevin Na $8,500 $6,900 143 67 29 29 8 27 26 18 142 142 85 31 75 15 8 5
Xander Schauffele $9,500 $8,300 28 124 62 91 112 65 24 102 122 122 62 66 77 16 -6 -3
Aaron Wise $8,200 $7,500 38 78 124 66 46 75 125 152 47 47 56 55 79 17 1 6
Ian Poulter $8,600 $6,800 118 28 49 118 70 97 138 113 89 89 38 56 81 18 6 1
Andrew Putnam $7,900 $6,600 116 113 11 169 68 12 182 32 14 14 66 100 84 19 7 6
Scott Piercy $7,700 $6,700 91 34 106 24 162 74 169 136 24 24 27 182 87 20 5 7
Brice Garnett $7,300 $6,400 96 54 36 165 179 102 71 88 89 89 150 131 87 21 7 10
Kevin Tway $7,800 $6,500 12 183 77 104 134 48 63 121 89 88 76 97 90 22 5 4
Cameron Champ $9,100 $8,100 1 163 155 57 32 39 138 227 36 36 22 28 91 23 -11 -7
Bubba Watson $9,800 $7,800 9 142 125 89 122 3 153 135 57 57 45 116 92 24 -9 -13
Troy Merritt $7,200 $6,300 94 85 33 99 159 182 81 108 129 129 95 87 93 25 4 7
Brandt Snedeker $8,900 $7,400 112 90 31 85 109 117 152 68 138 138 87 16 94 26 -7 -8
Matt Kuchar $9,000 $7,600 161 69 122 12 51 117 157 13 85 85 82 48 99 27 -10 -10
Marc Leishman $9,300 $7,700 80 117 183 114 3 24 119 70 88 88 52 80 100 28 -12 -13
Andrew Landry $7,500 $6,100 144 84 32 134 101 54 104 113 116 116 117 125 102 29 2 1
Patrick Reed $10,300 $8,200 83 173 65 69 13 68 130 44 158 157 29 72 102 30 -19 -22
Patton Kizzire $7,600 $6,200 79 163 162 131 42 23 66 167 55 55 122 99 109 31 -1 -3
Ted Potter, Jr. $7,600 $6,000 180 22 123 137 13 114 182 123 156 155 146 102 121 32 1 -4
Satoshi Kodaira $7,200 $6,000 109 36 169 19 150 123 112 184 191 191 169 191 126 33 0 -1
Michael Kim $7,000 $6,100 156 174 102 69 128 170 164 153 186 186 190 60 147 34 -3 0

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!!

This week’s spreadsheet in the old format

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About the Author

  • Sean O'Donnell (hokie2009)

  • Sean O’Donnell is a proud Hokie (Virginia Tech class of 2009, electrical engineering) as well as a Grateful Dead enthusiast. A fantasy baseball player since age 12, he has flirted with DFS in the past, but only this season stumbled onto the dearth of information that exists pertaining to daily fantasy golf and made a commitment to analyzing PGA tournament data on a weekly basis. When he’s not scouring the web for obscure PGA data, he works as a consultant for small businesses involved in research grants with the federal government.

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