The PGA Tour returns to action this weekend after it’s longest break of the year with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, played out at the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Maui, HI. With the next two weeks both playing out in Hawaii, with the benefit of a limited field and no cut this weekend, a bunch of the top PGA Tour players are on hand for a nice long stay – with beautiful courses, beautiful accommodations, perfect weather and huge purses, why wouldn’t they be? So there are plenty of tough choices to be made, and plenty of fantasy points to be had.
Jordan Spieth ($12,500) – He finished T2 and solo-4th in his last two events off the PGA Tour (Australia and the Bahamas). He played in this “winner’s only” tournament one time before, in 2014, and he finished 2nd. Oh, and also, he’s the best golfer in the world.
Jason Day ($11,800) – The question is, can you find enough inexpensive options you like to afford one of these guys. If you choose all the money-saving guys you can think of and are left with $11,800 to spend and not $12,500, though, there is no need to look for more cuts to make. Day shot a 62 to tie the course record on Sunday here last year and finish T3. And if anyone can make a claim to be the world’s best golfer, it’s the guy who has won four of his last seven tournaments, in some of the biggest events of the 2015 season.
Bubba Watson ($10,300) – He’s got more experience here than most, with five appearances. He finished inside the top-10 here in 2014 and 2015. The victory at the Hero World Challenge a month ago was just the apex of the trajectory he was on to end the year generally, playing much better than he did to start the season.
Rickie Fowler ($10,000) – If you read the PGA Insights piece, you’ll see why it’s obvious a strong putter is even more of an asset this week than every other. Fowler is always somewhere near the top of most putting statistics, and recently, he has been absolutely on fire. If he brings anything like that kind of stroke this weekend, he could win the whole thing.
Patrick Reed ($9,900) – He’s been inside the top-10 in six straight starts across a couple of different tours, and he is here to defend his title from last year. It was a pretty good field here last year too. Reed has shown he can compete with anyone, and compete here, and there are only a couple of guys on tour playing as well as him right now (think Spieth and Day, and that’s it).
Graeme McDowell ($8,500) – On the heels of a great season in 2014, he didn’t have his best year last year. But he did manage a win in Mexico a couple of months ago, and followed it up with a third at the RSM Classic. When he is playing at his best, he is one of most talented players out there, certainly able to both give himself scoring chances on this course and capitalize on them. Near the top of the list at Proximity to Hole and Putting stats right now, all the parts of his game he’ll need to succeed here seem to be working right now.
Jimmy Walker ($8,000) – He finished 2nd here last year, but wasn’t playing as well down the stretch. At the Hero World Challenge, though, he carded 27 birdies. A performance like that could be setting the stage for another run of early season success he’ll be looking to build on as he moves deeper into the summer.
Emiliano Grillo ($7,900) – If you’re looking for an inexpensive option to do more than just not sink your hopes and dreams, Grillo could be your man. The great thing about this tournament – or one of them – is the lack of a cut, which means that even if your pick has a bad round that knocks him out of real contention, he still has four tries at a monster round. Grillo has that kind of upside, at least for a day or two, which could be plenty to make him a solid value at this price.
Chris Kirk ($7,300) – He’s been here three times, he’s finished respectably in all three, with none worse than T16. This course demands you give yourself scoring opportunities, but it gives you plenty of ways to get there – solid play off the tee, or with irons, or getting up and down from right off the green – all of it can work, which is another way of saying any set of skills can play here. Kirk is sometimes streaky with his irons, but if can figure a way onto the green, he can make some noise with his putter.
David Lingmerth ($7,200) – I don’t think he is going to win this tournament, but he has been playing very consistent golf, managing to card more than his fair share of birdies without those holes that can ruin your weekend. He’s the 18th most expensive golfer available, but someone like him can finish better than 18th just by being consistent.
Peter Malnati ($6,900) – Just me applying the same logic I did to Fowler – a guy with a hot putter can make a run at the top of the leaderboard this weekend as long as the rest of his game doesn’t screw him up too badly. He’s had a victory and a few other good performances in smaller tournaments over the last couple of months – he might be moving to the big time now, but it does at least show he has the game to keep the ball in play and compete.