2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions FanDuel Fantasy Preview
Although the 2017-18 PGA season has already begun, the Tournament of Champions seems like the kick-off for the new campaign as the winners from the past calendar year join in Kapalua Hawaii at the Plantation Course on Kapalua Resort.
The field is limited to only the golfers who were able to take home a trophy in 2017 and is set at 34 while featuring some of the elite talents that the world of golf has to offer. The venue stretches over 7,452 yards and this host, which first took on the tournament in 1999, features a par-73 layout unlike most, if any, that we will see for the rest of the year. This event really sparks the fire in all golf fans as it is followed by a slew of exciting tournaments in the most beautiful parts of the United States.
With the field being so limited and with there being so much talent, it is quite difficult to really call anyone a true favorite, but there are of course a few names out there which sparkle with quite a bit more tenacity.
Justin Thomas of the United States celebrates with the trophy on the…
Justin Thomas of the United States celebrates with the trophy on the 18th green after winning during the final round of the SBS Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club… Get premium, high Resolution News Photos at Getty Images
The top-five players from the Official World Golf Rankings will each be in attendance and are headlined by the power of No. 1 Dustin Johnson. Reigning Player of the Year, No. 3 Justin Thomas, will also be looking to start the New Year off right with the likes of No. 2 Jordan Spieth, No. 4 Jon Rahm, and No. 5 Hideki Matsuyama right on his tail.
As a fan favorite, Rickie Fowler is another big name to keep an eye on as he strives to earn his first career major championship this year and jump into the top tier of professionals. Xander
Schauffele took the world by storm as he grabbed Rookie of the Year honors behind his Tour Championship victory and will be joined by fellow sophomores Wesley Bryan and Grayson Murray as well as RSM Champion, Austin Cook, who is in the midst of his debut season.
It is no surprise that the list of past winners in the event is comprised of almost every top golfer out there right now, but it is interesting that there has not been a multiple-time victor since Geoff Ogilvy did so in back-to-back years (2009, 2010). The past handful of seasons has seen all Americans taking home the trophy with Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Thomas being the last five to etch their names in the hardware.
This was the outing last year that started Thomas’ spectacular five-win season; including his first major championship at the PGA Championship. His score of 22-under-par dominated the field with Hideki Matsuyama sitting three shots back, and it was the sixth time in the last eight installments of the event that the winner sat at 20-under or better. Although Thomas’ win was impressive, Spieth showed up in an even bigger way during his victory in 2016, posting a score 30 strokes better than par and defeating Patrick Reed by a whopping eight shots.
With the field being so small compared to most, the FanDuel setup features only six golfers instead of eight this week. As there are fewer golfers, it is often more difficult to separate yourself from the rest of the pack in cash games (head-to-head, 50/50, double-ups), and sometimes it is better to take a stab at more tournaments with diversified lineups.
You know that there will always be a few surprises, so using a core of players you feel will perform well and swapping out some of the more lesser-known golfers can really pay off in the larger GPP events. Below are a few players whom we believe will be successful this week and can help towards winning you some money.
2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions FanDuel Fantasy Picks
Jordan Spieth – $12,300 – We believe that Spieth will be the highest owned player across the board as it is easy to fit the higher priced players into lineups and he has the greatest name recognition of anyone in the game right now. That recognition was earned, though, as he added three more victories to his resume last season, bringing his career total to 11 at the age of 24.
Overall he finished second in total strokes gained (1.871) thanks to hitting 70.01% of greens in regulation (4th on TOUR) and netting a birdie or better in 25.50% of his holes played (2nd on TOUR). Spieth was in the top-15 in a birdie or better percentage on each length of hole and turned all that into the best scoring average (68.846) on Tour.
It is no surprise that with his amazing career thus far, that he has been dominant at this tournament as well, playing three times and coming in as the runner-up in 2014, winner in 2016, and third-place last year. Overall he has tallied 64 strokes better than par and scored better than 70 in 9-of-12 rounds played. Spieth is the easy choice for us to anchor any lineup.
Jordan Spieth of the United States poses with the trophy for…
Jordan Spieth of the United States poses with the trophy for photographers after winning the 115th U.S. Open Championship at Chambers Bay on June 21, 2015 in University Place, Washington. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Rickie Fowler – $12,000 – There are arguments to be made and rosters that can be constructed fairly easily while pairing Spieth with any of the top four players according to salary. Our favorite pairing would be Fowler to go with Spieth as he comes into the week playing some fantastic golf and seems poised to post his best season yet.
He has already played in both the OHL Classic and Hero World Challenge this season, coming in as the runner-up at Mayakoba behind four rounds of 67 or better and following it up with a win in the Tiger Woods hosted event in the Bahamas after a final round score of 61. This will be his third visit to Kapalua with a top-six in both 2013 and 2016 as he looks to add to the ten top-10 finishes from last season.
The key to his game is his flat iron which earned him 0.761 strokes on the field last season (2nd on TOUR) and with strong putting comes great consistency. We’re banking on a breakout year for the outgoing 29-year-old and believe it will start this week.
Pat Perez – $9,400 – Perez lit the golf world on fire last season with an improbable career year in which he was able to make the cut in 22-of-25 tournaments (88%) while getting three finishes in the top-three; including a win at the OHL Classic. He looked to continue his hot play with plenty of early-season starts in the new campaign and grabbed his third career victory at the CIMB Classic in mid-October followed by a tie for fifth in the CJ Cup.
This is his third visit to this course, placing tenth in his first attempt back in 2010, and third just last year. At 41-years-old, Perez isn’t going to blow away the field with his power, but he used a steady game to gain 0.853 strokes on the field (30th on TOUR) behind 0.450 strokes gained around the greens (4th on TOUR). In his four made cuts already this year he has managed to hit 73.66% of the fairways and 76.39% of greens in regulations while posting a birdie or better on 26.39% of his holes.
It is not likely that Perez will be playing at this level for much longer, but he is warmed up with all of his early season rounds and will certainly pose a threat in Hawaii this week.
Patrick Cantlay – $9,300 – Cantlay is one of the more recent Tour winner as he took home the trophy back in November at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. It was a fantastic way to start off his new year after going a flawless 13-for-13 on cuts made in his first season with more than 10 starts at the highest level.
Over his last 15 outings dating back to the beginning of last year, Cantlay has five top-10s, a runner-up, and the one victory. The 25-year-old has no issues hitting the greens in regulation (69.21% last year, 13th on TOUR) and earned the 15th-best scoring average (69.971) in his 13 tournaments. He will benefit from the par-73 layout here as he had a birdie or better on 48.75% of the longer holes (17th on TOUR) and can certainly hang with the rest off the tee where he gained 0.623 strokes on the field (10th on TOUR).
Cantlay is part of the next generation of top golfers and will relish in the excitement of his first Tournament of Champions.
Patrick Cantlay poses with the winner’s trophy after winning the…
Patrick Cantlay poses with the winner’s trophy after winning the Shriners Hospitals For Children Open at the TPC Summerlin on November 5, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Brendan Steele – $9,000 – Steele is headed to this event for the second consecutive season thanks to the Safeway Open which he has taken down in back-to-back years. Those wins added to his victory at the Valero Texas Open back in 2011 and he gets to come into this one in tremendous form.
Along with his win at the first event of the new campaign, Steele put together a tie for 13th at the CIMB Classic, and has shot better than par in all but one of his first eight rounds played. Over that time he hit greens in regulation at a 79% or better clip in each event and accumulated 19 strokes better than par on his par-five opportunities.
We think Steele will be low owned this week across the board and could really be the difference for those who choose to roster him.
Austin Cook – $7,900 – Cook was the last player to punch his ticket to the prestigious event with his win at the RSM Classic where he shot 21-under and added to his first three made cuts of the new season. The 26-year-old rookie had been a staple on the Web.Com Tour towards the end of last year, netting three straight top-11 showings; one of which was a tie for eighth in the Web.Com Tour Championship.
His great play over these beginning parts of the 2017-18 season have stemmed from strong work with his short game where he is 16th in strokes gained putting (0.928) and 19th in strokes gained around the green (0.641) while ranking 12th overall in strokes gained (2.008).
There is definitely some worry about how he will hold up against the best in the world, but his game is on the rise and his salary relief allows you to put together a safe squad ahead of him.
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