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Sentry Tournament of Champions: Preview & DFS Picks

Happy 2019 TWN fans! This past year has been quite the ride, and as we approach our first full year in business we have many new things in store for you all- including new podcasts, website upgrades, and a bolder social media presence. After working the NFL/NBA grind for the past few months it’s nice to get back to my roots and discuss the upcoming PGA Tour season, though unfortunately for us living in the Northeast, golf weather wont be upon us at least till March. But for the pros a select few will be heading to Hawaii this week to compete in the Sentry Tournament of Champions- the first stop on the PGA Tour calendar. TWN has already covered some of those calendar changes for 2019, including the movement of the PGA Championship and PLAYERS Championship earlier in the year, as well as a new tournament in Detroit and the removal of Tiger’s tournament in Washington, DC.

The Sentry TOC will be held once again at the Plantation Course on the Kapalua Resort in Maui. All previous winners in the past calendar year are invited to compete in the no-cut event, and for this upcoming running 34 of the 37 invited players will attend, though the 3 that are absent are arguably the 3 biggest names in the game right now- Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and former world #1 Justin Rose. For comparable tracks, Augusta National, home of the annual Masters Tournament, is regularly mentioned by players in press conference. Brooks Koepka has said that the fairways and greens are large and easy to hit, but little bumps and slopes in the fairway can limit what iron shots you can play based on lies. There won’t be power rankings this week since nearly every competitor did not play in December, but check out what Vegas has set the odds at and what TWN is considering this week for DFS picking.

Vegas Odds

Unfortunately in a tournament like this with such few competitors yet so many big names, it might not be the best week to put money down on a young dark horse. Since the TOC is naturally exclusive based on its invitational status, even solid players like Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas have previously struggled in their first few starts here. Plus, with many players coming off 1-2 month layoffs it can be difficult to predict their momentum and caliber at such an early juncture. Some Vegas experts have noted the past successes of Marc Leishman and Jason Day at this event are a sign that Australians should have the edge over their American competitors- the Australian golf season is largely played when the PGA is on break, so that could mean less rust and better stamina over their competitors. Another reason to not bet on young rookies- the past 7 champions have all been big names like DJ, Steve Stricker and Jordan Spieth. There’s a reason that Tiger, Phil, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus have all won this tournament multiple times- it rewards experience and course management much like Augusta. That’s why if I had to make a pick in the bottom half of the board, I’d go with Matt Kuchar. He’s coming off his first win since 2014 at the Mayakoba Golf Classic (November 2018)  where he had just 2 bogeys through 67 holes at one point. Kuch has played the Plantation Course many times and despite his struggles off the tee (especially with length), he’s a solid pick in windy conditions and will just need to make some putts to go low.

Dustin Johnson 5/1
Brooks Koepka 8/1
Justin Thomas 8/1
Jon Rahm 7/1
Rory McIlroy 10/1
Jason Day 12/1
Bryson DeChambeau 12/1
Patrick Reed 16/1
Webb Simpson 20/1
Francesco Molinari 20/1
Xander Schauffele 20/1
Cameron Champ 20/1
Gary Woodland 25/1
Paul Casey 30/1
Marc Leishman 25/1
Bubba Watson 30/1
Aaron Wise 30/1
Matt Kuchar 40/1
Keegan Bradley 40/1
Brandt Snedeker 50/1
Billy Horschel 50/1
Charles Howell III 60/1
Ian Poulter 60/1
Kevin Na 80/1
Scott Piercy 60/1
Kevin Tway 100/1
Andrew Putnam 100/1
Patton Kizzire 100/1
Brice Garnett 200/1
Andrew Landry 200/1
Troy Merritt 200/1
Ted Potter, Jr 250/1
Satoshi Kodaira 250/1
Michael Kim 250/1

DFS Picks

Much like with straight betting you should be hesitant at an early tournament with DFS- since you can’t predict momentum or where a player’s game is just yet. My list includes a couple of former champs and more importantly a ton of veterans (we are also going with the Aussies this week “Oi Oi Oi!”). Rahm is always a favorite because of his ball striking, the 2 Australians are coming off fantastic seasons and are craving some competition after spectating the Ryder Cup (they will get an opportunity against Team USA this year at the Presidents Cup), and Patrick Reed won this tournament in 2015. Obviously the risky picks are Keegan and Kuch, but Bradley hasn’t shot a round over par this season and came in 6th at the WGC event back in October. Kuch, as mentioned previously, is experienced and has some renewed confidence in his game coming off the win in Mexico.

Jon Rahm -> $9,800

Jason Day -> $9,000

Patrick Reed -> $8,200

Marc Leishman -> $7,700

Matt Kuchar -> 7,600

Keegan Bradley -> $7,300

Remaining Salary -> $400

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