What: Sentry Tournament of Champions
Where: Plantation Course at Kapalua, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii. The only PGA course that features a par 73.
When: January 4-7
Defending Champion: Justin Thomas
How many FedEx Cup points? 500
We have finally made it to the first PGA event of the 2018 calendar year, and that means it is time to preview the following event. The first event up on TOUR is the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Last year, Justin Thomas took the win by three strokes over Hideki Matsuyama. Past winners also include Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson, and Steve Stricker.
The field for this year’s tournament will feature 34 golfers, and it’s a very strong field. Only golfers who have won in the previous year are allowed to take part in this event. The field actually allows for 47 golfers to be featured, but when you factor in multiple winners and some players not wanting to make the trip, we are left with a field of 34. Winners not in the field include Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, and Henrik Stenson.
This tournament is a slam dunk for fantasy golf players, as there is no cut. You also don’t need to dive deep to find sleeper picks; you will only have to round out your salary-cap rosters with lower-priced golfers, of course. For a tournament like this, you can almost create your rankings based off of whatever your top-25 list for the 2018 season might be, but we’ll break things down further below.
Spieth, Thomas, and Johnson can be grouped together for this event, as the world’s top three golfers look to start their years off on the right foot. The consensus top three golfers in fantasy golf for 2018 all have great stats at Kapalua.
Jordan Spieth – Had a win in 2016 and has never finished below third in three appearances at Kapalua. Spieth also has six straight top-10s.
Justin Thomas – The defending champion is primed for yet another strong finish. The wide fairways and largely visible greens will be great for Thomas.
Dustin Johnson – Has been in the top-10 in five straight Tournament of Champions while winning in 2013. A win here would go a long way toward restoring confidence in Johnson after he tailed off last summer.
Rickie Fowler – Coming off that incredible win at the Hero World Challenge a month ago, but he has played in this event only twice before, recording a T6 and a fifth-place finish. Although the momentum from last season won’t exactly translate, Fowler also has two second-place finishes over his last four events.
Marc Leishman – In four of his last six starts around the world, Leishman has finished in the top-five. Potentially windy conditions in Hawaii this weekend play to his strengths.
Hideki Matsuyama – Matsuyama hopes to show his us true potential this season in terms of consistency. We will see if he can come out of the gate strong. He owns a T3 and a runner-up at Kapalua and is an absolutely incredible -39 combined in those two starts.
Brian Harman – Harman came hot out of the gate this fall. He had three top-10s in three starts. A T4, a T5, and an eighth-place finish. He should improve on his T17 at this event in 2015.
Brendan Steele – Posted a sixth-place finish last year at Kapalua. Steele also has a win and a T13 this past fall. First in Strokes Gained: Total, and fourth in Proximity to Hole this fall.
Jon Rahm – Rahm is looking to follow up his great first full season on TOUR with his very first appearance at this event. The slow greens and easygoing tee-to-green layout play right into Rahm’s game. He will be able to battle the wind well with his strength.
Cameron Smith – Smith is the hottest player on TOUR right now. He’s coming off a win at the Australian PGA Championship a month ago, and a great recent fall swing of a T5, and third- and fourth-place finishes.
Russell Henley – Finishes of just T33 and T36 this fall, but Henley has one of the nicest mixes of ball-striking and short game.
Kyle Stanley – 3-of-3 cuts made so far in the fall, Stanley posted a T21, T19, and a T5, gradually finishing better and better as the fall went on. Another very good ball-striking golfer, who was 11th last season in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green.