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PGA DFS: Vegas Report - Sentry Tournament of Champions

Welcome back to the PGA DFS: Vegas Report! A seven-tournament fall swing officially began the 2019 PGA season, but many golf fans consider the Sentry Tournament of Champions as the actual start to the annual campaign. And while I will admit that this week does feel more like the official inception of the year, our betting season got off to a blazing start in the fall. We produced nine top-10 finishes throughout the first seven events, which included an outright victory on Matt Kuchar at odds of 66/1 at the Mayakoba Golf Classic, three additional top-three finishes with golfers of 80/1 odds or higher and a 4-2-1 head-to-head betting record.

I didn't have the luxury to begin these articles until July 4th of last season, but I want to thank everyone that has been around since the commencement of this piece. I would also like to welcome any new readers that have come across this article and are looking to find PGA betting success. Our primary goal will always be to provide value in both outright wagers and head-to-head bets being offered for a given tournament, but since we get a chance to begin fresh this season, I would like these reports to include even more in-depth betting strategies. It is nice to break down why we are backing a specific head-to-head play, but deciphering how large our edge is and how that correlates with our bet sizing is very important.

I look forward to another successful year and hope this article can continue to render some useful information that will help you grow as a gambler. Without further ado, let's get right into some value plays we will be targeting for the 2019 Tournament of Champions.

For an in-depth breakdown of the top DraftKings and Fanduel plays, check out Joe Nicely's weekly Horse For The Course that highlights the best fits for the week's course.

Editor's Note: Our friends at Fantasy National have built some incredible DFS Golf lineup tools including a Lineup Optimizer, Stat Engine, Ownership Projections and Course Breakdowns. They are by far the best daily fantasy Golf tools in the industry. Seriously. You can read all about them here and see screenshots. 

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2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions - Kapalua (Plantation Course) - 7,452 Yards - Par 73 - Greens Bermuda.

Designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore in 1991, the Kapalua Plantation Course is a beautiful venue that starts the 2019 season off with an easy test for the players. There have been two instances of 30-under par or better at the event, and the course record is held by KJ Choi (2003) and Graeme McDowell (2011), who both shot a 62 in losing efforts.

While Kapalua shouldn't be viewed as anything other than a birdie-fest, it can become much more difficult if the winds blow. However, despite wind playing a factor, the fairways are extremely wide, and the greens are some of the most available on tour. The one caveat that does make Kapalua unlike other accessible venues is the fact that it consistently yields some of the worst proximity to the hole numbers of any event. Elevation swings and gusts of wind are the main factors for that statistic, but it very rarely affects scoring.

Three-putt avoidance does become more critical, but par-five scoring will most likely decide the tournament. All four par-fives generate nearly a 50 percent birdie or better rate, which includes the par-five fifth hole that produces almost a 70 percent birdie or better percentage. Five of the next seven easiest holes range between 350 to 400 yards so finding players that succeed between that distance will also be crucial.

Pick to Win

Webb Simpson (25/1, DK Price $8,500, FD Price $10,000)

Taking on the top of the board in any tournament is never easy, and it is going to be extremely difficult to ignore the big names in a 34 player event, especially considering that this isn't the most robust field we have ever seen. The bottom 15 guys come into the week at odds of 50/1 or higher, and while they shouldn't be discredited, I do believe that the winner will be one of the top players in the field.

My gambling mentality is always to find value where it is presenting itself, which is why it is so difficult for me to justify backing Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm or Rory McIlroy -- who all enter the week at odds of 10/1 or lower. Bryson DeChambeau, who is currently listed at 12/1, does have some intrigue at his price, but I'd rather invest in Justin Thomas at 8/1 if I wanted to get involved with the very top of the board.

If you are looking to take one golfer this week, I believe Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas are the two most likely winners of the event. But it must be noted that if you do decide to place a wager on either of the two, it is the end of your outright card. Gambling is all about bankroll management, and you don't want to become overly invested in any single event.

I eventually veered away from Thomas because I didn't entirely trust him in blustery conditions. And Johnson might be the best player in the world, but 5/1 is way too shallow. I'd prefer to back the American in a head-to-head matchup, rather than to take on such a small price for him to win.

When searching for actual value in the tournament, the first name that stuck out to me was Webb Simpson. The 33-year-old earned his bid into the Tournament of Champions by capturing the title at the world-renowned Players Championship, a course that also features Bermuda greens and windy conditions. The victory at TPC Sawgrass was Simpson's first win since 2013, but the American found himself knocking on the door for additional breakthroughs all season long. He recorded seven top-10 finishes in 2018, which included three top-six results in his last four events of the year.

At the end of the day, though, not being able to find the winner's circle more frequently has placed him in a weird position when it comes to his odds. Simpson enters the week as the eighth most expensive player on DraftKings, 10th on FanDuel but just 12th in the betting market. There isn't always a direct correlation between DFS pricing and outright odds, but you can see that there is some discrepancy of what his actual value is in Hawaii. We aren't talking about a vast disparity here, but every point matters when we are in this range, and I think he should be about 18/1 for this tournament.

Since 2014, Simpson has gained 2.076 strokes total per round in windy conditions, the 18th best total for any player on tour. And as mentioned above, the five-time PGA Tour winner has been dominant on Bermuda greens during his career. In his last 50 rounds compared to the field on Bermuda, Simpson ranks second in strokes gained on par-fives, second in strokes gained with his short game, third in strokes gained-putting, fifth in par-four scoring between 350-400 yards, fifth in strokes gained approach, seventh in three-putt avoidance and seventh in birdies or better gained. He is currently projected to be the eighth highest owned player on DraftKings, but I wouldn't put too much stock into that. Everyone is going to be widely used in a 34 player field.

 

Patrick Reed (20/1, DK Price $8,200, FD Price $10,300)

I am a little frustrated with the movement that Patrick Reed's outright price has had over the last few days. I was going to install him as my pick to win when he was at 25/1, but he has fallen to 20/1 at the time of writing this. I still think there is value to be had at his new number, but it has slightly depreciated the expected value on the wager.

With my article being released every Wednesday, these are things that sometimes can happen if you don't get in front of the market. However, I will never include a wager if I think the value is completely gone. So the question becomes, what should Reed's real odds be for the event? I'd have installed him at 16/1, so I believe we still have a little value left in the number.

Reed won his first major at the 2018 Masters to earn his invite to the Tournament of Champions but did disappoint slightly throughout the rest of the year. Maybe that is unfair to say because he did produce five top-10 finishes in his final 18 tournaments, but he was unable to put together many Sunday rounds when he needed them most.

In the American's past three appearances at the Kapalua Plantation Course, he has provided three top-six finishes, including a win in 2015 and a runner-up result in 2016. Part of his success has to do with his strength on Bermuda greens and immaculate around the green game. In Reed's last 24 rounds on Bermuda compared to the field, he ranks first in strokes gained on par-fives, third in strokes gained with his short game, sixth in par-four scoring between 350-400 yards and ninth in strokes gained approach.

I do have some concerns about his lack of explosiveness on easy courses and believe he is better suited for a difficult test, but he is a top-notch Bermuda player that can excel in windy conditions. Since 2014, the 28-year-old has gained 2.328 total strokes per round in wind conditions of at least 14 MPH, ranking him 15th on tour and sixth in this field.

I am not a huge fan of the amount of publicity the six-time PGA Tour winner is receiving this week, but as I mentioned for Webb Simpson, a small field event will cause some similar sentiments throughout the industry. And frankly, his price is just too good for somebody with his course credentials. Reed is the 11th most expensive player on DraftKings, eighth on FanDuel and eighth in the betting market.

Head-to-Head Play of the Week

For those of you that follow my articles weekly, you will know I am not a massive fan of no-cut events, particularly when it comes to head-to-head wagers. I think our edge gets diminished because all players are guaranteed four rounds, and it forces us to survive some weird Sunday swings.

I think the bookmakers did an excellent job this event of not giving us too many mismatches to choose from either. For that reason, I am going to pass on the card this week and will get back into the swing of things during the Sony Open. If you are looking for a potential pivot option in your DFS lineups, Brooks Koepka is an alternative choice that has a chance to win but won't be as highly owned as his counterparts.

2019 Head-to-Head Record (4-2-1)

+2.70 Units Year-To-Date From H2H Bets

Tournament Head-to-Head Bet Bet My Picks Finish Opponent Finish Result Total
Safeway Open Sangmoon Bae +130 Over Chris Kirk 1.00 Units to Win 1.30 MC (+2) MC (E) Loss -1.00
CIMB Classic Kevin Na -120 over Kevin Tway 1.50 Units to Win 1.25 T19 (-17) T27 (-13) Win 1.25
CJ Cup Paul Casey +100 over Marc Leishman 1.25 Units to Win 1.25 T18 (-8) T18 (-8) Push 0
WGC-HSBC Thomas Pieters +120 over Kevin Na 1.00 Units to Win 1.20 T18 (-1) T54 (+10) Win 1.20
Shriners Austin Cook +100 over Russell Henley 1.00 Units to Win 1.00 MC (+1) MC (-1) Loss -1.00
Mayakoba Kevin Chappell +100 over Charley Hoffman 1.25 Units to Win 1.25 T41 (-9) MC (+2) Win 1.25
RSM Classic Patrick Rodgers -105 over Bronson Burgoon 1.05 Units to Win 1.00 2nd (-19) MC (+2) Win 1.00


2019 Outright Bets That Have Finished Inside the Top-10

Player Event Odds Finish Position
Matt Kuchar Mayakoba Golf Classic 66/1  1
Chesson Hadley CIMB Classic 110/1  T2
Ryan Palmer CJ Cup 150/1  T3
Sam Ryder Shriners Hospitals 80/1  3
Jason Day CJ Cup 13/1  T5
Zach Johnson RSM Classic 40/1  T7
Kevin Kisner RSM Classic 40/1  T7
J.B. Holmes Safeway Open 60/1  9
Shubankar Sharma CIMB Classic 150/1  T10

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