Fantasy PGA Preview: Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Hyundai Tournament of Champions

So here we are, the first event of the 2015 calendar year. Of course, the season has already started due to the fall wrap-around format.

The Tournament of Champions (TOC) is exactly what it sounds like: a tournament of players that have won a PGA event within the last 12 months. This year, those deciding not to attend are Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer. In the field are 12 players who are making their debut at this event. Sang-Moon Bae is in the field, despite being in the middle of a Visa dispute. If he loses his battle with the Korean government, he will have to serve two years in the Korean army.

Out of the 22 players that have played here before, the top three in terms of number of starts are as follows: Zach Johnson (7 starts), Matt Kuchar (5 starts), Ben Crane and Geoff Ogilvy (4 starts each). Of those four players, the average finishing place is as follows: Geoff Ogilvy 8.5 (two-time winner of this event in 2010 and 2009), Matt Kuchar 9.8 (best finish was 3rd), Zach Johnson 15.8 (last year’s winner) and finally Ben Crane 16.0 (best finish was 9th, twice). Out of the four most experienced golfers in this field, their combined average finishing place at this course comes to 12.5.

It is always a tough tournament to predict, since all of these golfers have the ability to win a PGA event, hence the Tournament of Champions. I have researched this event for the last few weeks, and in my mind I had a rough core of players I would target. That was until the prices just came out on DraftKings. Boy are they tight. I was thinking two out of the three of the following players: Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar. Well, forget that. It is mathematically impossible to get any combination of those players on the same squad. I think DK is heading towards the old DraftStreet tight pricing scheme. In a way I love that, but I was starting to get use to the DK pricing. One thing this has done is it has peaked my interest in next week’s Sony, as I’m intrigued to see what they have installed for a full field with a cut line.

The Course

The event is being played on the Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort and Spa in Maui, Hawaii. Not a bad way to spend the winter. The event itself starts on a Friday and ends on the Monday. The PGA didn’t want to fight the NFL playoff games for a Sunday finish, so they changed the schedule so the golfers can get their own day. And yes, the tourney should be over before the National Championship game between Oregon and Ohio State.

This week is the only time the PGA boys will face a Par 73 course. It runs 7,452 yards long and usually plays very low, unless the winds pick up. In large, the reasons for low scores are that the greens are slow and there is not a single water hazard. Ninety-seven bunkers protect the course. Bogeys will feel like double bogeys on this course.

Golfers

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Jason Day
DraftKings $13,900
Fantasy Feud N/A
DraftDay $23,150
With the pricing so tight, getting studs is impossible, though every player in this field is a champion. I was always going to write about one of these top three players. Am I a homer for picking to write about Day? Maybe. Day has produced four top 10 finishes in his last five events. That is not including the first place finish at his most recent event (Franklin Templeton Shootout). To be honest, going with either Bubba or Kuchar could be just as rewarding. Picking out of one of these three studs is a tough one. As for this article, I’m sticking with my boy Day. If you play on DraftDay where the prices are softer, you can fit Day in with Bubba or Kuchar. If he can have an injury-free season, I would not be shocked if he picked up a major this year.
Last Three Events
Franklin Hero Tour Champ
1st 5th 4th
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Zach Johnson
DraftKings $10,100
Fantasy Feud N/A
DraftDay $21,000
Zach Johnson is the defending champion of this tournament. If I were to fit him in with one of the top three priced players, it would be Kuchar. That being said, the smarter play if you want Zach would be to slot him in with a few other players around his price range. In the last 10 years, two players have gone back to back wins at this tournament (Geoff Ogilvy and Stuart Appleby, Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!!). Zach has the most experience at this course and could very well pull off the back to back win achievement.
Last Three Events
Hero McGladrey Tour Champ
8th MC 21st
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Hunter Mahan
DraftKings $8,800
Fantasy Feud N/A
DraftDay $16,500
If there were ever a tournament where you need a couple of gut play picks, this is that tournament. Hunter has not been blowing the doors down, but in the three years I have been writing about the PGA, I have come to learn he can flip a switch in any given tournament and play lights out. Hunter has played here three times, with one top five and two near the bottom of the leaderboard (26th, 25th) finishes. Glancing over the history of this event, you don’t usually see players that continue to come back to this event have three poor showings in a row.
Last Three Events
Hero HSBC Frys.com
17th 28th 3rd
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Robert Streb
DraftKings $7,200
Fantasy Feud N/A
DraftDay $14,400
Streb is priced pretty low IMO. This will result in him most likely being heavily owned. His recent form has him finishing in the top 10 three of the past five events and four of the last six. He comes into this event number one in FedEx points as well – he’s number one in All Around Ranking.
Last Three Events
Mayakoba Sanderson McGladrey
37th 8th 1st
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Ben Martin
DraftKings $7,000
Fantasy Feud N/A
DraftDay $13,000
Ben Martin is in the field by way of a win at the Shriners event in Vegas. Picking him does worry me a little since he is a boom or bust player. This will be his first non-cut-line event since getting his tour card at the start of last season. Glancing through his results over that period, I’ve noticed one thing. He either missed cuts altogether or finishes in the top 40. Now it might mean something different to another person, but to me, he gets good results when he gets all four rounds in. He is a flyer though, so be careful.
Last Three Events
Mayakoba Sanderson McGladrey
MC 29th 17th
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Sleeper

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Seung-Yul Noh
DraftKings $7,200
Fantasy Feud N/A
DraftDay $13,400
Do I have a good reason to write about this player? Noh. Has he done something recently that makes him standout? Noh. Does he have a great history or any history at this event? Noh. Do I think he will be heavily owned? Noh. I can’t stress this enough: it is very hard to predict a tournament full of champions. Noh is priced the same as Streb, $100 more than Hoffman and $200 more than Ben Martin. My bet is each of those three players are much more heavily owned than Noh. He is coming off a 36th in Asia, but over his career in the PGA he has played solid the first tournament back from being overseas. In a “you never know” tournament, you never Noh if a player named Seung-yul, who is still relatively young (23), could be a winner by the end of it.
Last Three Events
Chiangmal CIMB Korean Open
36 39 2nd
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So there you have it folks: my picks for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. This is the perfect event to have a bit of fun with. Your players will keep you checking the leaderboard everyday. It is a great tournament to get your feet wet if you are new to daily PGA as well.

Good luck to all.

Cheers
Gibb

About the Author

  • Gibb Pollard (gibbathy)

  • Gibb Pollard has been a member of RotoGrinders since 2012. He is an example of the power of the RotoGrinders blog section, taking a little weekly PGA blog in 2012 and turning it into a two-time FSWA nominated column. In 2014 he took down the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year award. Originally hailing from Australia, he is a regular on our PGA GrindersLive shows, giving our cast of hosts some international flavor.

Comments

  • 420Nickster

    hey whats up gibs ,i wanted 2 invite u 2 a lil lg on draftday ? cheers matey lg is called draftdaygolf2 ,its just an $11 10 man ,Happy new yr bro down under

  • Bolwellb

    • 717

      RG Overall Ranking

    • 2015 FAFC Finalist

    What are your thoughts on Ogilvy… two time winner of the event and is decently priced on both DD and DK. I know he hasn’t been to Kapalua in quite some time but he’s got to be in the mix come Sunday wouldn’t you think?

  • gibbathy

    2014 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year

    • Blogger of the Month

    He has the experience here. In fact he owns the best average finishing position of every golfer that has played here more than once. The only problem is this. To qualify for this event he won one of the weakest tournaments on Tour The Barracuda), and his recent trip to Australia he missed the cut at the event in Perth and placed 71st in the Australian Open. He did place 25th at the Australian Masters, but those two other results scare me.

    In fact I will break it down like this. The event he won had a strength of field rating of 28, dismal. The Australia Open was rated 108 and the Perth event had a rating of 46. Meaning he struggled in events that had the same talent level as events like the Puerto Rican Open (32), The Mayakoba (67), The Barracuda (which he won,28) and Sanderson Farms event(40).

    That being said, it golf. He could blitz it, but just remember his past history is his rose, his current form is his thorns.

  • Bolwellb

    • 717

      RG Overall Ranking

    • 2015 FAFC Finalist

    Thanks for the analysis Gibbathy. Recent play is definitely a strong indication of how a golfer will perform but as you know (I’m assuming you are a golfer) there are just certain courses that fit a golfers eye and they always play well. Think Stricker at John Deer, Tiger at Bay Hill. The examples are endless. I’m not saying Ogilvy is definitely going to play well this week I’m just saying I like has chances more than others at his price range. The other golfer I like in that area is Bae. Speaking of strong performances of late he is certainly on top of his game and was 18th last year on tour in strokes against putting which is key this week with the huge greens. I know he has the Korea controversy to deal with but I think he’s a reasonable play this week as well. Do you concur?

  • gibbathy

    2014 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year

    • Blogger of the Month

    I don’t think Bae will be heavily owned so in a GPP formt he might be a good play. When you boil it all down though I have no clue where his head is at. I’m not a lawyer so I have no idea how his Visa battle will pan out, he could very well be told he needs to go back to Korea mid tournament (not that I’ve heard that).

    I was very high on him after he won the Frys and then he followed it up with a missed cut the very next week. I will need to see more from him (if his country lets him) to overturn my opinion that he is an inconsistent golfer

  • 420Nickster

    Hows a team of Matt Kuchar Bubba Watson Ryan Moore Charley Hoffman Scott Stallings and Matt Jones sound?Cheers

  • gibbathy

    2014 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year

    • Blogger of the Month

    I don’t like Jones. He hasn’t had a decent finish since THE PLAYERS.

    Since his win he has played in 18 events. 7 missed cuts, 3 events were non cut events where he finished near the bottom in two of those three times and middle of the pack in the third, and two events where he finished 78th both times.

    If Kuchar, Bubba and Moore are a must, I’d be more inclined to drop Hoffman and Jones for Chesson and Senden

    Or drop Bubba for Day, keep Hoffman and put in Chesson

  • 420Nickster

    Alright,I’m going to try out the Chesson and Senden option.Thanks buddy!GL this week.

  • Bolwellb

    • 717

      RG Overall Ranking

    • 2015 FAFC Finalist

    Now that would certainly be poor luck having your golfer pulled from the tourney! I’m sold with my core of walker, Kirk, Moore and ogilvy. I know Streb will be highly owned but he’s been playing great and is trying to make a name for himself. Do you like Scott stallings or every more as your cheap option?

    Thanks!

  • bigbat23

    Watch out for Kevin kisner this season

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