This Week’s Event: 2019 Tournament of ChampionsPat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2019 Tournament of Champions Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks and provide their one and done strategy for the event from Kapalua
DraftKings Golf Strategy — Starting Research and Building Lineups | Full Strategy Session | Building 20 Lineups | Single Entries | Course History vs. Recent Form | Common Mistakes/Bad Habits | Weekend DK Golf Tips | Audio Podcast
2019 Tournament of Champions Picks: Show Index0:22 Giveaways
8:13 ToC Recap
30:16 Mid Tier
39:39 Long Shots
49:51 Quick Picks
56:56 One and Done
2019 Tournament of Champions Field34 Players | No Cut
First Tee: 3pm ET; Thursday, January 3
Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson
WE’RE BACKKKKKK for 2019. The PGA season kicks off for back-to-back in Hawaii, starting with the Tournament of Champions. The only way to get an invitation? Win during the previous calendar year.
Since there are so many different strengths of field and surprise winners, the ToC field is rather uneven. Even with Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, and Phil Mickelson skipping the tournament, the 34-man field still boasts eight of the world Top 10 players: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Francesco Molinari, Rory McIlroy, and Xander Schauffele. Toss in Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Webb Simpson, Paul Casey, Marc Leishman, Matt Kuchar, Gary Woodland, Billy Horschel, Keegan Bradley, and Ian Poulter, and you’ll see over 50% of the field is comprised of golfers currently inside the Top 40.
So, there’s a YUGE gap between the skill at the top and the bottom in the field, as it’s rounded out by Troy Merritt, Ted Potter Jr., Andrew Landry, Satoshi Kodaira, Kevin Tway, Michael Kim, Patton Kizzire, Andrew Putnam, Brice Garnett, and Scott Piercy
2019 Tournament of Champions Key StatsStrokes Gained: Approach
Par 5s Gained
Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee
Proximity 75-125 Yards
2019 Tournament of Champions CourseKapalua (Plantation) | 7,452 Yards | Par 73
Greens: Bermuda | 47/51 in 2018 Difficulty
The Plantation Course at Kapalua has hosted this event since 1999.
Situated on the ocean in Hawaii, wind has been rather impactful on the results over the years. Currently, close to 30 mph winds are expected Thursday and Friday, then calming, relative to the firs two days, over the weekend. Obviously, like Fantasy prognostication, predicting the weather, especially wind, can make you look foolish; however it’s worth keeping an eye on before the tournament begins. The weather station next to the course can be found here.
The past eight winners have been American.
Between the elevation changes and slanted fairways, there has been a lot of crossover success between Kapalua and Riviera CC, Augusta National, and TPC Deere Run. Pebble Beach and Sedgefield CC being two others to consider, as well. TPC Deere Run seems like an outlier in this group, but it’s been a good predictor of which shorter hitting players can compete at a longer course where wedge play will be highly emphasized. Since very few eagles are made at the Plantation Course (17 in 2018; 10 in 2017), bombers don’t have the advantage at this track many believe. Of the past eight winners at Kapalua, four have won the John Deere Classic — Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, and Jonathan Byrd. This can be easily forgotten when you look at last year’s leaderboard and see Dustin Johnson and John Rahm first and second won the leaderboard.
Don’t bother considering driving accuracy. The fairways are wide enough to land a jumbo jet horizontally. Players find the short grass almost 71% of the time against the TOUR average of 61%.
No first time player at Kapalua has won since Daniel Chopra in 2008.
Greens are large and very slow. A stat like Greens in Regulation is irrelevant this week, since the field hits almost 81% of GIR. Instead, focus on the Fantasy National stat, “Opportunities Gained,” which is the percentage of times a player has a putt under 15-feet from the fringe or green in regulation. With three-putts being almost 50% more common at Kapalua versus a regular course, finding the players leaving themselves makable putts against routinely lag putting will be imperative. Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, and Gary Woodland lead the field in Opps Gained over the past 50 rounds.
Kapalua also features historically slow, Bermuda greens. Of the players in the field, Jason Day, Webb Simpson, and Patrick Reed have gained the most strokes putting on Bermuda greens over the past 50 rounds, while Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, and Billy Horschel have gained the most on slow green over that same time frame.
Five Par 4s measure between 350 and 400 yards. This is another way the course allows shorter hitters to remain relevant. Over the 50 rounds, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, and Kevin Na lead the field on average strokes gained on Par 4s in this range.
Five players in the field won in the last start of 2018: Rahm (Hero), Kuchar (Mayakoba), Charles Howell III (RSM), Kizzire (QBE), Kodaira (JT Cup).
While statistical analysis should always only be one element of research, it tends to be less relevant, in terms of short term stats, at this time of the season. With so many players taking time off, and the post-Ryder Cup event lacking other Shot Tracker or appearing on different Tours worldwide, it’s difficult is assess where their games currently rest. Looking at long term number to gather a baseline player skills is the better approach early in the season.
2019 Tournament of Champions Picks — Targets From Each RangeJon Rahm ($9,800)
The runner up last year, Rahm enters fresh off a win at the Hero World Challenge with enough length off the tee to potentially “bomb and gouge” this track like he’s done at shorter courses in the past. Frankly, as long as he doesn’t bleed strokes with his putter, you’ll see him in contention again in 2019. The past five years, any player who finished inside top five at the Hero and competed in the ToC never failed to finish outside the Top 10. This year, that only applies to Rahm.Bryson DeChambeau ($8,700)
After a very disappointing 2018 showing at Kapalua, I’m hoping Bryson can follow the Justin Thomas trajectory at ToC: Finish out the Top 20 in your debut appearance, and immediate value into the winner’s circle. Once a winner at the John Deere Classic, Bryson’s been the hottest player in the world the past six months, winning three of his past six starts, never finishing worse thann T19.
Matt Kuchar ($7,600)
Let’s go back to the Kuchar well one more time, since there may be a few drips remaining. Fresh off his first win in four years, Kuch enters with a solid history at Kapalua (17/6/9/6), and with solid form in the ball striking department. Sure, everyone looks great when the win an event, but even during his disappointing T57 at the Shiners, Kuch still gained almost seven strokes ball striking. It was the putter that let him down (-5.5 SG: PUTT). If Kuch can retain some semblance of that kind of ball striking, the rest of the course perfectly suits what he loves: Bermuda greens, coastal winds, and short Par 4s.Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: Juston Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Cameron Champ, Webb Simpson
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo’s (@ThePME) 14 Fantasy Sports Writing Association nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting) and genre (humor). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.