WATCH: VALUE PLAY – BRANDT SNEDEKER
The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help with roster selections.
Welcome back DraftKings Daily Fantasy Golf! The PGA season opens up with a smaller field event in Hawaii. The SBS Tournament of Champions is an event which features only players who won an official PGA Tour event last season. As you can imagine the field here is generally pretty elite, and this year is no exception. Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Bubba Watson are all here along with recent man-on-fire candidate Hideki Matsuyama. Since it’s such a small event, this tournament features no mid-way cut, so all 32 players will play four days barring an injury or disqualification.
Note some of the international players have withdrawn from this event, including: Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Danny Willet, Charl Schwartzel and Adam Scott.
The Plantation Course — Kapula, Maui (Hawaii)
Par 73, 7,400-7,500 yards
Before we go any further, no that is not a mis-print… this course is actually a par 73 and is the only one of its kind of the PGA Tour. There are four par 5’s on The Planation Course but only three par 3’s which accounts for the odd par total. While this track is certainly what you could call wind exposed, that hasn’t stopped players from absolutely blitzing it every year, and last season it was ranked as the easiest on Tour, with all players averaging three strokes below par for the tournament (69.8 stroke index). The course is sloping but it’s also extremely wide open and very un-punishing to players off the tee, so Driving Accuracy here is not something to be concerned with. While length can help, the truth is, what the players do off the tee this week isn’t hugely important as it will be their play around and approaching the greens that makes the difference. This is a fun course that really emphasizes scoring.
As for layout, The Plantation Course offers a huge variety of holes as well. Three of the four par 5’s are very reachable in two for the entire field, but the 18th is a behemoth at 663 yards. Likewise, the course features six par 4’s that come in under 400 yards (including a drivable 305-yard hole) but also features three that are over 500 yards in length. Players will have to score in a variety of situations this week, but with how easily the course is setup, pretty much every hole on the course will represent a birdie opportunity.
Last 5 Winners
2016 — Jordan Spieth -30 (over Patrick Reed)
2015 — Patrick Reed -21 (over Jimmy Walker playoff)
2014 — Zach Johnson -19 (over Jordan Spieth -18)
2013 — Dustin Johnson -16 (shortened to 54 holes)
2012 — Steve Stricker -23 (over Martin Laird -20)
- The last six winners of this event had all played this event at least once prior to their victory.
- The last six winners all ranked 52nd or better in putting from inside 10 feet in the year prior to their victory.
- The last five defending champions have all finished 7th or better in their title defense.
Par 5 Scoring
I don’t want to overload readers with statistics this week, as many players will be at or near the tops of many of these lists already, but I would emphasize a select few. Par 5 Scoring is obviously important given the easiness of the course, and the fact all of the Par 5’s generally rank inside the top eight holes in terms of easiness of play. In 2015, five of the top seven players at this tournament ranked inside the top 30 of Par 5 Scoring for the year, and past winners have traditionally all been ranked highly in this category.
As far as other categories go, I would emphasize stats that look at scoring this week over off-the-tee play. Scrambling may not seem important on a course as easy as this, but it comes into play a lot when players are trying to get up and down for birdie on a par 5 or short par 4. Patrick Reed ranked second in that category last year for the week, and a look back at past winners finds golfers like Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker who are more known for their work around and on the green than off the tee.
Putting wise, there are a ton of categories you could look into as a hot putter is almost a must here if a player is going to excel in a birdie-fest type of event. Still, rather than cherry pick any putting stat, I might be tempted just to use Birdie Average as an overall marker instead. 6 of the top 7 from the 2015 version of this event finished inside the Top 30 in that category.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
|Charley Hoffman||70-1||$6,300||James Hahn 100-1 and $6,800
Cody Gribble 100-1 and $6,700
Brian Stuard 200-1 and $6,900
|Ryan Moore||25-1||$7,700||Jimmy Walker $7,800 and 28-1
Tony Finau $7,900 and 35-1
Brendan Steele $7,600 and 50-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
Jordan Spieth has now played this event twice and finished second and first in his two starts. He just missed setting the tournament record last year when he blitzed the field at -30 (the record is -31). The lack of accuracy needed off the tee and focus on short game and putting make it an ideal course for his game.
Patrick Reed has now played this event three times, and after a debuting 16th place finish, Reed has gone first and second in his past two visits to The Plantation Course. Reed is another short game specialist who thrives on the huge fairways and has really taken to this venue the past two seasons.
Brandt Snedeker has two third place finishes and an eleventh in his last three visits to The Plantation Course and has proven himself very amenable to windy venues with wins at Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines. He’s definitely deserving of being on this list given his two top-fives.
Cash Games: It seems hard to fade either Jordan Spieth or Hideki Matsuyama this week given their combo of recent form and course history. You can fit both into one lineup, but the remaining salary you have left for your remaining our spots will be under $7,000 on average, so you’ll have to rely on some bottom-of-the-field talent to round off four spots – it might still be worth it.
Tournaments: There are definitely a lot of players to pivot to. Brandt Snedeker, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson all make for great targets and have proven capable of taking down events of this nature before. Jason Day might also be under-owned due to injury concerns; he withdrew from the Tour Championship in September but is reportedly now fully healthy. At the lower end, both Pat Perez and Jhonattan Vegas had strong ends to 2016 and could return here in good form.
Jason Day (back) is reportedly fully healthy, he pulled out of the Tour Championship in his last start in September 2016 but has rehabbed for two months. This will be his first competitive start since then.
My Pick: Brandt Snedeker ($8,700)
Snedeker has had a nice offseason, he picked up a win overseas in Fiji at a Euro Tour event and then backed that up with a solid sixth place at the Hero World Challenge. To add to his recent form, Snedeker also some really good vibes going on in Hawaii. Last year he finished 3rd in this event and lost in a playoff the following week in Maui to Fabian Gomez. He’s gone 3-11-3 at The Plantation Course over his last three starts here and is just generally a good early season player as he has three wins and three runner-up finishes in the months of January/February over the past four seasons. At $8,700, he’s not the favorite, but offers a significant discount from the top golfers, and I think he is a great target to pair with a Spieth/Hideki/Day type of player. I won’t be shocked if he ends up besting them all this week.
My Sleeper: Aaron Baddeley ($7,000)
Baddeley isn’t someone I expect a ton of players to roster this week, but I do feel as if he’s the type of golfer who could get hot on this course and end up with a good fantasy week. He’s not accurate at all off the tee (that won’t hurt much here), but more importantly, he’s great around and on the greens as he ranked 5th in Sand Saves and Scrambling on Tour last year and 8th in Strokes Gained: Putting. Baddeley hasn’t played this event since 2012 when he finished a decent twelfth, and did have a bit of a bounce back season last year, winning for the first time since 2011. He’s played some competitive golf recently (4th at the Australian PGA in December) and should be in decent form.
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