Fantasy golf advice: One & Done, Sentry Tournament of Champions
January 02, 2019
By Rob Bolton , PGATOUR.COM
- Dustin Johnson won the 2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Greetings, gang. Say hello to the beginning of the remainder of the season. The Sentry Tournament of Champions is tournament No. 9 of 46, but it's the first since Charles Howell III became the last to qualify with victory at The RSM Classic on Nov. 18.
The impossibly short, official offseason that exists between the TOUR Championship and Safeway Open contributes to many leagues sitting out the fall. If you're in one and new to reading this weekly column, I review numerous notables for every tournament even though my little league competes in all 46 tournaments.
Whether it was leading off the season (through 2013) or since it's served as the annual restart in the wraparound era, the limited-field affair on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort always has rolled out like a soft open. It's real business, just sans the stress that goes with what's at stake beginning with next week's Sony Open in Hawaii. All 34 in the field on Maui are fully exempt on the PGA TOUR through at least 2019-20 and there is no cut. It's a time to live large and get fat. They've earned it.
Customarily eliminating all nine first-time participants, including Rory McIlroy, Kevin Tway, Cameron Champ and Aaron Wise, logic encourages us to throw a haymaker at the piñata with 500 FedExCup points awaiting the one who breaks it open. After all, the likes of Dustin Johnson (twice), Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas all have prevailed on Kapalua in the last six years, and none was a tournament debutant. Yet, because the event arrives so early in the season, and because you'd need to emerge victorious to think that burning a behemoth was worth it, only those in pursuit should consider the option. Otherwise, holstering the like of DJ, Thomas, Jason Day and Brooks Koepka for the majors and Playoffs is smart.
Note that I didn't loop Reed into that short list. As roster gamers would be quick to explain, and given how his ownership percentages have tracked over time, he's not a guy who's expected to contend for victory often. He's the guy who'll get you a top 15 or top 25. However, at Kapalua and in the One & Done, he's an easy endorsement.
Jon Rahm already has built a portfolio of sites at which we're more comfortable than where Reed presents strongly, but the Spaniard is comin' in hot. With last year's (distant) runner-up finish at Kapalua, he's also one of the rare success stories in a first appearance. This sets up to be a banner year, so he'll continue to attract our attention, but he's not quite at the level of the others in whom we have more trust on the bigger stages.
Marc Leishman sits No. 1 in my Power Rankings, but note that the Sentry TOC doesn't even qualify as one of his sensible spots in Future Possibilities. Perhaps next year.
The same goes for Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson and Francesco Molinari. Holster.
Bubba Watson is making his season debut this week. The tournament slots third among his targets, but there's a massive drop-off after the Genesis Open (1) and Travelers Championship (2), both of which he's defending this season. Reduce your pick to one of those two.
Because of the format and the depth eventually reached over the course of the season, two-man gamers are not instructed to dismiss first-timers. Combined with guaranteed FedExCup points and earnings, the limited field warrants consideration for Champ or Wise to ride shotgun.
RANK PANELIST PICK COMMENT 148th
Jon Rahm Opening the 2019 portion with a blend of pressure and patience as the front-runner. Gotta keep the heat applied properly with one eye on the horizon. 179th
On the Mark
Jon Rahm Full disclosure, I had Cameron Champ lined up but I couldn't resist Rahm who played well at Kapalua last year and seems to be operating with high confidence. 293rd
With plenty of timber in the field it's going to take a big talent again to win again this year. Jon Rahm made 24 birdies last year in his debut to finish second and just wiped out a big field in the Bahamas last month. He gets the nod over course horse Patrick Reed. 392nd
Patrick Reed Has form at the course and is usually up for a fight if conditions get a bit windy .. plus I’m saving Marc Leishman for a later date.
Xander Schauffele Finished T22 in his debut at Kapalua, but I expect better things with a year of experience under his belt. 888th
Marc Leishman The first-round leader at last year’s Sentry has kept his game sharp. He’s long. And he can putt. That’s the secret at Kapalua.
NOTE: Select golfers committed to the tournament are listed alphabetically. Future tournaments are sorted chronologically and reflect previous success on the courses on which the tournaments will be held in 2018-19. The numerical values in parentheses represent the order of relative confidence of where to use each golfer if multiple sites are listed (e.g. 1 for strongest, 2 for next-strongest and so on). To present weighted confidence in real time, numerical values will not change all season no matter how many tournament remain listed for each golfer. All are pending golfer commitment.
Keegan Bradley … Farmers (2); Memorial (5); Travelers (4)
Paul Casey … WGC-Mexico (6); Honda (10); Valspar (7; defending); WGC-Match Play (8); Masters (2); Wells Fargo (9); Travelers (1); TOUR Championship (3)
Jason Day … Sentry (8); Farmers (2; defending); Pebble Beach (1); Arnold Palmer (5); PLAYERS (7); WGC-Match Play (11); Masters (4); Wells Fargo (6 defending); PGA Championship (3); U.S. Open (10); Open Championship (9)
Bryson DeChambeau … Waste Management (5); Arnold Palmer (3); Heritage (1); Memorial (2; defending); Travelers (4); John Deere (7)
Billy Horschel … Honda (4); Arnold Palmer (7); Valero (2); New Orleans (3; defending); Wyndham (6); TOUR Championship (1)
Charles Howell III … Sony (3); Desert Classic (4); Farmers (1)
Dustin Johnson … Sentry (4; defending); Pebble Beach (2); Genesis (3); WGC-Mexico (5); Masters (8); PGA Championship (11); Memorial (10); U.S. Open (1); WGC-St. Jude (6); TOUR Championship (7)
Brooks Koepka … WGC-Match Play (3); Masters (7); PGA Championship (2; defending); Charles Schwab (6); U.S. Open (1; two-time defending); Open Championship (8)
Matt Kuchar … Sony (3); Waste Management (4); PLAYERS (5); Valspar (9); Masters (6); Heritage (2); Charles Schwab (7); Memorial (1); Open Championship (8)
Marc Leishman … Farmers (2); Arnold Palmer (1); Byron Nelson (6); Memorial (4); Travelers (3); Open Championship (8)
Rory McIlroy … Arnold Palmer (2; defending); Masters (4); Wells Fargo (3); Memorial (5); Travelers (8); Open Championship (1); TOUR Championship (6)
Francesco Molinari … Desert Classic (5); Arnold Palmer (2); PLAYERS (3); Wells Fargo (6); PGA Championship (4); Open Championship (1; defending)
Kevin Na … Genesis (2); Valspar (6); Charles Schwab (3); Wyndham (5)
Scott Piercy … Sony (3); New Orleans (1; co-defending); Canadian (7; last winner at Hamilton in 2012)
Jon Rahm … Sentry (2); Desert Classic (3; defending); Farmers (6); Waste Management (4); Masters (5); Charles Schwab (1); TOUR Championship (7)
Patrick Reed … Sentry (2); Pebble Beach (6); Valspar (1); Masters (5; defending); PGA Championship (4); U.S. Open (3); Travelers (7)
Xander Schauffele … Genesis (6); PLAYERS (5); U.S. Open (3); Open Championship (4); TOUR Championship (1)
Webb Simpson … Sony (3); Desert Classic (11); Waste Management (2); Honda (10); PLAYERS (5; defending); Heritage (6); Wells Fargo (7); Charles Schwab (8); Travelers (9); Wyndham (1)
Brandt Snedeker … Sentry (4); Farmers (3); Waste Management (8); Pebble Beach (2); Masters (10); Heritage (6); Charles Schwab (7); U.S. Open (5); Travelers (9); Wyndham (1; defending)
Justin Thomas … Sentry (6); Sony (4); WGC-Mexico (2); Honda (7; defending); PLAYERS (11); PGA Championship (9); Memorial (8); TOUR Championship (3)
Bubba Watson … Sentry (3); Waste Management (4); Genesis (1; defending); WGC-Match Play (6; defending); Masters (5); Memorial (7); Travelers (2; defending); TOUR Championship (8)
Gary Woodland … Sony (1); Farmers (2); Waste Management (3; defending); Memorial (4)