Aloha fantasy golf nerds. The PGA TOUR is back in swing and we are getting started on the beautiful island of Maui.
The Tournament of Champions is exactly what the name suggests. You must win a tournament the following year to gain entry. You would think this is a tournament you wouldn’t skip if you had the chance, but many of the big names don’t lose any sleep doing so. I guess they can go to Hawaii anytime they want. They don’t need a golf tournament to go as an excuse.
Getting back to the golfers that will be attending… they will be playing at The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort. It’s just over 7,400 yards but with elevation changes and a par of 73, this is nowhere near a bomber’s paradise like many will have you believe. The fairways are some of the widest on TOUR while the greens are some of the hardest to read. You would think with the greens running at just a 10 on the stimp, it would be easy putts left and right, but there are certain aspects of the greens you will just misread unless you’ve played here many times. Course experience is a big advantage here. Putting difficulty aside, it’s still one of the easiest courses on TOUR.
This is a section that may be omitted before season’s end. There are so many wrong ways to look at and interpret stats incorrectly.
Do you decide what the winning traits of all the winners have been? Well what about all those golfers finishing 2nd through fifth who have the exact opposite skillset? I think this is called survivorship bias.
Do you look at the top 10 and find any patterns? Well, what about when the field has a larger majority of one particular skillset? For instance, the previous champions here will all look very good on paper but that’s obvious. This is a tournament full of previous winners. Nearly all of them are going to have a stacked statistical profile.
This is also a longwinded way to say I didn’t want to crunch the historical numbers this week. Use strokes gained: tee-to-green, par 4 scoring, par 5 scoring, and you’ll be just fine.
Players to Watch
Matt Kuchar: He can seemingly do no wrong in Hawaii. He’s finished top 10 each of his last four visits here. Kuch was a top 10 machine last year, collecting
Jason Day: Aussie’s have been money here on Maui and Day is the leading candidate to continue that trend. He played a light fall schedule so he should be fully rested and close to 100%. At least, as close as Jason Day can get. He’s always a WD threat but should be one of the top three favorites this week regardless.
Bubba Watson: This isn’t a bomber’s paradise, but when you don’t have to worry about hitting fairways, many of the bomber’s will attack and do just fine. That is exactly what Bubba will do this week, but it will come down to the flatstick in the end. He’s made big improvements with the putter but this could be one of those weeks when the struggles are real. With large and tricky to read greens, I don’t want to put my money on Bubba who can really get down on himself if the putts are going the wrong way.
Hideki Matsuyama: The next man on my list of favorites. Hi-Mats is in for a monster season and career for that matter. He won overseas this fall and has the winning pedigree we like to see for a youngster. Playing in the Pacific Ocean, he will also be a little closer to home. Not usually a bad thing.
Zach Johnson: ZJ is the defending champ but his course track record really isn’t that appealing. He’s played here a lot but his median finish before last year’s victory was 19th place. That’s in the lower half of the field. The field is pretty weak this year, so I do expect a top 15, but I’m not seeing a repeat in the cards.
Matt Every and Matt Jones: Two guys named Matt that heated up before collecting their maiden wins. You could see how close both were to winning for a long time. Since winning, they’ve both gone cold. Call it a winner’s hangover or call it end of bermuda season. Either way, this could be an event that gets them back on track. I don’t have them high on my rankings this week, but I wouldn’t be shocked if either found their way toward the top. I’m actually playing them a fair amount in DFS lineups this week considering their bottom-dwelling salaries.
Chesson Hadley: I’m still trying to figure this youngster. He likes bermuda and likes easy courses, which are both on tap this week. However, he is extremely Jekyll and Hyde. If the wind doesn’t blow him and his 120 pound figure away this week, he could actually surprise by week’s end. Note that I just made that weight figure up, don’t quote me on that.
Patrick Reed: Speaking of Jekyll and Hyde. Reed has always had a knack for missing cuts when I expect him to do well. To alleviate that issue, I plan to throw him out in my OAD this week. No chance for a missed cut and he’s been known to tackle an easy course before (2014 Humana).
Scott Stallings: He’s classified in the new Fantasy Golfanac as a par 70 specialist, so I certainly don’t like his chance on a par 73. That being said, when has Stallings ever done anything that gamers expected him too. He’s such a rebel. No thanks.
There you have it. My first preview in months. It may take me a few weeks to get back in the preview zone. In other news, the Future of Fantasy DraftKings Golf Tour contest filled very early this week. Just remember that you can manually submit a lineup through Twitter DM or by commenting on any of this week’s posts. I will grade these lineups manually and you will be entered into the Golf Tour. It’s the perfect time to hop into the Tour if you haven’t done so already. Prizes and bragging rights are on the line.
Top 34 for the 2015 Hyundai Tournament of Champions
1. Matt Kuchar
2. Jason Day
3. Bubba Watson
4. Hideki Matsuyama
5. Jimmy Walker
6. Zach Johnson
7. Chris Kirk
8. Ryan Moore
9. Billy Horschel
10. Patrick Reed
11. Hunter Mahan
12. Geoff Ogilvy
13. Charley Hoffman
14. Kevin Streelman
15. John Senden
16. Seung-Yul Noh
17. J.B. Holmes
18. Robert Streb
19. Brendon Todd
20. Russell Henley
21. Brian Harman
22. Ben Martin
23. Matt Jones
24. Matt Every
25. Tim Clark
26. Kevin Stadler
27. Steven Bowditch
28. Camilo Villegas
29. Angel Cabrera
30. Ben Crane
31. Chesson Hadley
32. Sang-Moon Bae
33. Scott Stallings
34. Nick Taylor