This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Sentry Tournament of Champions
Course: Kapalua Resort Plantation Course (7,596 yards, par 73)
Winner: $1,340,000 and 500 FedExCup points
What better way to start the new year than by inviting all the winners of PGA Tour events in 2019 to ascend on possibly the most unique and fun course on the schedule. Four former winners at Kapalua have qualified this week: Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, and Patrick Reed. There are also 15 first-time winners who will be making their Tournament of Champions debut. After five weeks off since the last official PGA Tour event, plenty of players will be looking to get back in a rhythm and put together a strong opening part of the 2020 schedule. There are a total of eight qualified players who elected to skip a week in Maui for some reason, among them Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, and Justin Rose.
2019 – Xander Schauffele
2018 – Dustin Johnson
2017 – Justin Thomas
2016 – Jordan Spieth
2015 – Patrick Reed
2014 – Zach Johnson
2013 – Dustin Johnson
2012 – Steve Stricker
2011- Jonathan Byrd
2010 – Geoff Ogilvy
Key Stats to Victory
Birdie or better percentage
The greens and fairways at Kapalua are as big and wide as you will find on the PGA Tour. Players will also almost never have a flat lie for their second shots. This course rewards those who are creative enough to know how to play shots from all types of lies to greens that are very undulating. The bombers can wail away, but the slopes in the fairways often keep players of different lengths closer together than you might think. Strong iron players will have a huge advantage this week, especially with the traditional strong winds at this extremely exposed course. You won't win, however, without a hot putter. Avoiding three-putts on these enormous greens can be a challenge, but with how low scores have been here in the past, one-putts will be just as important. When you look at the list of past champion's here, the types of players are all over the spectrum. That is what makes Kapalua special.
FanDuel Value Picks
Jon Rahm, ($11,900)
The man has two wins and two runner-ups in his last five starts worldwide. He has also finished second and T8 in two starts at Kapalua. There's really not much else to say on Rahm's prospects for success this week.
Justin Thomas, ($11,700)
Thomas won here to kick off a dominant 2017 in which he piled up five wins, including a major. Kapalua fits his game so perfectly. Thomas is very creative and his iron play is one of if not the best in the world. His putter, when it's on, can be deadly as well. Don't hesitate with the hefty price tag this week.
Patrick Reed, ($10,800)
Reed has always been a terrific wind player, which is part of the reason he has had a lot of success at Kapalua. Reed followed his win here in 2015 with a runner-up in 2016. After a slow start to 2019, Reed took off the second-half of the year. He has made the cut in 18 straight events, with 14 top-25's in that span, including a victory in the opening playoff event.
Gary Woodland, ($10,400)
Kapalua is exactly the type of track for Woodland to feast on. That was evident in last year's edition when he had the title snatched from him after an incredible 11-under 62 in the final round by Xander Schauffele. Another wide-open course similar to Kapalua is Nine Bridges, home of the CJ Cup. There Woodland has gone 2nd-T3 the last two seasons. He has also finished T3-5th-T20-T7 in his last four starts overall. At just $10,400, Woodland has excellent value this week.
Longer Shots with Value
Matthew Wolff, ($9,100)
Without a doubt, Matthew Wolff is one of the most talented rookies we've seen on Tour this decade. It took him just three starts as a professional to pick up his first win last July at the 3M Open. Since the win, the Oklahoma State standout has made every cut with four top-25 finishes. Wolff's two biggest strengths will fit perfectly at Kapalua, driving distance and putting.
Corey Conners, ($8,900)
The Canadian has quietly been one of the best ball strikers on Tour for over a year now. Last season he led the PGA Tour in GIR percentage and proximity. He's made five starts this season with four top-20's. Conners ranks first in SG: Off-the-tee and sixth in SG: Tee-to-green this season. If the putter is just average, he will be very close to the top of the leaderboard.
Ryan Palmer, ($8,100)
Palmer is one of those guys that just knows how to take it deep. Last season he was 13th in birdie average and 15th in birdie or better percentage. Palmer has made the cut in nine of his last ten starts. He posted finishes of T12-T10 on the Asian swing before a T3 a few weeks ago at the QBE Shootout. Palmer ranks 10th in SG: Approach and 12th in SG: Tee-to-green this season.
Lanto Griffin, ($7,000)
What if I told you that you could get the No. 3 ranked player in the FedExCup standings for the cheapest price of any player in the field? Well this is about the only week you will see it happen, so you might as well take advantage of it. Griffin has made eight starts this season and has top-20 finishes in six of them, including his first win at the Houston Open. The 31-year-old is not exceptional in any one area of his game, but across the board he has been so solid. Griffin is 13th in SG: Total and 23rd in scoring average.
Strategy Tips for this Week (based on a 60k standard salary cap)
I think inserting someone as cheap as Griffin, who has been incredibly consistent this season, gives you so much roster flexibility. It allows you to include possibly three players in excess of $11,000. With eight winners electing not to tee it up this week, it has really separated some of the studs from the mid-field. I mentioned that Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas should be the two favorites, but defending champion Xander Schauffele is a great choice as well, along with two-time winner Dustin Johnson. That leaves two mid-field roster spots available where you need to be looking for firepower, which is why I'm focused on guys like Matthew Wolff and Ryan Palmer. Other in names in that range that I have not mentioned yet who I think would be good options are Kevin Na and Adam Long, as both of which had really strong fall seasons.