Congratulations to Viktor Hovland 264 (-20) for winning the final official year end PGA Tour event at the Mayokoba Golf Classic prior to the Holiday break, and now we resume the 2021 season with the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Due to a shortened Covid-19 2020 season, this week we have a different format with a field expanded from the champions from the previous year to now also including all Tour Championship qualifiers. Out of the 45 players eligible to compete only three have chosen to not play, most notably, Rory McIlroy and Tyrrell Hatton, as well as Jim Herman, who contracted Covid-19 and will have to sit this week out. So, of the 42 players in the field this week they will have all 72 holes, without a 36-hole cut, to work their way up the leaderboard and to contest defending champion Justin Thomas ($10,700 DK $12,000 FD), as well as a host of other top 10 to 20 ranked challengers.
This week at the (Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort ) a course that will play to a Par of 73 at 7,596 yards located on the scenic Hawaiian Island of Maui. The tees, fairway, rough areas, are all Bermuda grass, and the greens are a tiff-dwarf Bermuda grass, which will be running at 10 to 10.5 on the stimp meter. The slower than normal PGA Tour green speeds are to guard against high winds rendering the course unplayable. This is a course that has a great deal of elevation change, where the gusty trade-winds can present a formidable challenge. The Plantation course was designed by the design team of Crenshaw-Coore, originally in 1991 as their architectural debut, and then renovated in 2019 in preparation for the 2020 Tour Season. This course has wide fairways and expansive greens with more undulation and tiers than prior to the 2019 renovation. In addition, when the course was renovated fairway and greenside bunkers were added to strengthen the challenge of the course. The forecast Friday through Sunday is for temperature highs ranging from 75 to 76 degrees, with wind reaching up to 19 miles per hour on Thursday out of the ENE; Friday, reaching 11 miles per hour out of the NNW; Saturday, 16 miles per hour out of the NE; and Sunday 17 miles per hour out of the ENE. Without a cut and only 42 players in the field there is no need to select (stack) players based on their tee times or starting hole, as they will play close together and will compete under similar conditions all four rounds.
Justin Thomas ($10,700 DK $12,000 FD) is the 2020 defending champion 278
(-14) in a playoff, over Patrick Reed ($9,600 DK $11,200 FD), and Xander Schauffele ($10,000 DK $11,400 FD). The (The Sentry Tournament of Champions) has produced winner’s that have predominantly gained strokes with ball striking stats with the emphasis from tee to green and on approach. I would also suggest paying attention to how a competitor has competed in the wind, as it will blow enough to affect every aspect of the game. Typically, the old tour pro saying – swing easy when it is breezy, will produce winning results from this style of player that has rhythm and balance without a lot of lateral upper body motion. Even in the wind, this playing style will allow a competitor to control their golf ball better than most, imparting less back or side spin on the golf ball, which I will elaborate on in the picks to follow. In addition to thoroughly combing through the stats prior to preparing my weekly FantasyDFSExperts recommendations, I review other expert’s opinions, I personally evaluate and view players weekly that are covered on television; I also consider recent form, tournament history, as well as current momentum and confidence a player exudes, especially in the aspects of their game that are most important to win or to have a high finish this week.
DFSExperts will provide two free value picks in the B and C categories that will be competitive to make the cut and quite possibly to be a contender for the win. Then exclusively for FantasyDFSExperts members, I will make additional predictions and recommendations to build a roster of six with supporting statistical and trending analysis from each of the A, B, and C, categories. Last season I provided valuable insights each week leading to the majority of those recommendations making the cut from the bottom third of the salary rankings to allow you to stack your lineup with top players with a high probability to win, or when the 8 to 15 salary ranked players would likely produce five to six competitors making the cut, with a winning roster, many times seeing all players among the top 10 to 20 place finishers. I predicted several winner’s out of the B category, and even out of the C category, such as Stewart Cink at the Safeway Classic. I also faded on favorites such as Bryson DeChambeau at The Masters, after he had won the U.S. Open only weeks before, because I did not feel his style of play and-or course history justified his salary, and he would not finish in the top 10 to 20 that week, which proved to be right on the money. I rely on not only stats, but intuition and 30+ years of experience in the golf industry as a competitor, instructor, and coach. Knowing a competitor’s game and tendencies in a variety of environments “under the gun,” along with passing the eyeball test from week to week, produced a high probability of accurate predictions in 2020, my first year of providing this service for DFSExperts members.
This week’s free choices in the B-List category are Cameron Smith ($8,400 DK $9,400 FD), who has had consistent strong ball striking stats over the last five to ten events of 2020, plays well in the wind, and finished second at The Masters, where a similar hilly course has produced common top finishers and champions at both venues. The other B-List value is Abraham Ancer ($8,000 DK $8,800 FD) who has been trending up in all ball striking categories, is especially a strong iron player, and is a swing easy when breezy candidate that may surprise the field this week with his accuracy and precision, even in the wind. He has played well in the wind and finished 13th at the 2020 Masters after being in contention for the win after 54 holes. My two free C-List selections are Stewart Cink ($6,600 DK $7,100 FD) who has the profile in strokes gained tee to green, on approach, putting, and has always played well in the wind. My other C-List free pick is Hudson Swafford ($6,100 DK $7,000 FD) who has been gaining strokes in all ball striking stats in his last ten events and has been in good form of late. He is a big guy that has Ernie Els like tempo that should bode well this week for Swafford. Both competitors are good values at this price, especially if you are looking to stack a few of the top third in the salary rankings and need one or two players to fill out your roster that are capable of making the cut, and quite possibly, finishing among the top 10 to 20 place finishers.
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A-List DFS Picks for the Sentry Tournament of Champions: 2021
I consider the A-List category this week to be all players on the salary roster to be at or above $9,000 DK $10,400 FD. FantasyDFSExperts will add to the obvious statistical analysis, with deeper research and the eyeball test. These details and trends from the entire field are only possible to come from someone that is intimately familiar with competitive golf, that is willing to go beyond the numbers and reaches the depth and breadth of the competitor and person to be out in front of positive results.
Heading the A-List players this week in the DraftKings and FanDuel salary rankings at the Sentry Tournament of Champions are Dustin Johnson ($11,000 DK $12,200 FD), Justin Thomas ($10,700 DK $12,000 FD), Jon Rahm ($10,400 DK $11,800 FD), and Bryson DeChambeau ($10,200 DK $11,600 FD). All of these competitors are consistently strong and leaders in the ball striking stats relative to strokes gained, with a good putting week, I believe all four have a good chance to win and will finish in the top 10, with Justin Thomas being the odds-on favorite to win and to defend his title. However, I would watch out for the top 10 player’s that have the most to prove and incentive to win in this top 10; with that being said, I like Xander Schauffele ($10,000 DK $11,400 FD), Patrick Cantlay ($9,800 DK $11,000 FD), Viktor Hovland ($9,200 DK $10,400 FD), and Hidecki Matsuyama ($9,000 DK $10,800 FD), that fit this profile and I recommend having two or three of these competitors making up the core of a six man roster this week. After having such a great 2020 season, this may be a week to fade on Dustin Johnson ($11,000 DK $12,200 FD), as he likely has taken some time off over the holidays and does not have as much incentive this week to perform at the top of his game.
B-List DFS Picks for the Sentry Tournament of Champions: 2021
My B-List grouping ranges in salary from $8,900 down to $6,900 in DK and $10,200 to $7,400 in FD. Collin Morikawa ($8,800 DK $10,100 FD), Scottie Scheffler ($8,500 DK $9,700 FD),Cameron Smith ($8,4000 DK $9,400 FD), Joaquin Niemann ($8,300 DK $9,500 FD), Abraham Ancer ($8,000 DK $8,800 FD), and Kevin Kisner ($7,800 DK $8,300 FD) all have consistent strokes gained tee to green, on approach, with putting, have been in recent good form, and have experience and positive results at the Sentry Tournament of Champions or a similar course that demands the same skillset as The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort. With a hot putter, all have the potential to have a top 10 finish. I think there are many good three to five roster selections in this B-List grouping. A fade I see in the B-List category is Ryan Palmer ($7,000 DK $7,700 FD), who is a great player and had his moments in the sun last season, but I just don’t see him finishing in the top 20 and helping a roster here with many quality, younger players in the field this week.
C-List DFS Picks for the Sentry Tournament of Champions: 2021
There are several good values and dark horses that can have some success this week in the C-List category, ranging in salary from $6,000 to $6,800 in DK and $7,000 to $7,400 in FD. Three excellent choices in the C-List category are Stewart Cink ($6,600 DK $7,100 FD), Hudson Swafford ($6,100 DK $7,000 FD), and Robert Streb ($6,000 DK $7,000 FD). All of the aforementioned have had success during the latter half of the 2020 season with ball striking success and in challenging windy conditions. A fade in the C-List category this week is Brian Gay ($6,100 DK $7,000 FD). While Gay had an impressive comeback win out of nowhere at the Bermuda Championship last season, this was with a watered-down field, on a shorter course where he had had multiple top 10 finishes. I believe he does not have the ball striking skill set necessary to compete with this strong field and to have a top 20 finish this week.
While these are a few teasers for this week, more in depth analysis and justification for my recommended lineup plays, or don’t play this week, are exclusively available for members of DFSExperts.com. If you benefit from these opinions and recommendations please send us any fodder for the “Wall of Fame” including screenshots. We will put them up on social and proclaim you the DFS champion of the world. Good luck, and Golf On!
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