Fantasy Golf Tournament Preview-Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff January 3, 2016 15:08

Words cannot describe how happy I am that GOLF IS BACK!!!!!!  I am sure that you share much of the same excitement.

Although it has only been a matter of weeks since we have been able to play, it seems like an absolute eternity.  Now we don’t have to worry about another dead period for a very long time as there are tournaments every weekend for the next 10 months!!!!!!!

For those of you who are new to FGI, welcome.  We are really glad that you have become a part of our team and will do everything within our power to help you be a profitable fantasy golf player.  For our loyal, long-term members, we truly appreciate your loyalty.  You know what to expect from us and the high standards that we maintain.  We have been in personal contact with so many of you and really value our relationship.  Many of you are active in helping promote FGI, but if you would do us a favor and shoot out a tweet or post on Facebook how much you like us, we would greatly appreciate it.  We believe the fantasy golf market will continue to see rapid growth and we want to stay on top of the industry.  Thank you again for helping us, and for being with us, we look forward to another huge year!!!!!!

The first PGA tour event of calendar year 2016 is the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and features all of the winners of PGA events in 2015, a total of 32 players in all.  This is a no-cut event so barring a withdrawal or DQ, everybody will have a full four rounds of golf guaranteed.

This year, unlike the past four years, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions will return to a Thursday start and Sunday finish.  Since 2011 this tournament has started on Friday and finished Monday.

Just another example of how lucky PGA Tour players are, they get to play the beautiful Plantation course at Kapalua in Maui, Hawaii this first week of the new calendar year.  The course has been the host of this tournament since 1999 and is a par 73 course and checks in at 7,452 yard long.  There are four Par 5 holes and three Par 3 holes.

Many are going to gravitate to long hitters this week because of the perceived daunting length of the course, as 7,452 yards sounds like a lot of distance to cover. That’s misleading however. With the extreme swings in elevation, many of the holes play significantly shorter than they appear, mitigating the advantage of distance off the tee.  A look back at the players who have had good results here rarely includes simply long ball hitters.  Dustin Johnson obviously sticks out, but when he won this tournament in 2013, he finished as the 2nd best putter in the field.  Actually historically, this tournament is one of those where putting is one of the most telling indicators of success.  Over the past several years great putters have dominated this tournament. Last year of the Top 10 finishers, five of them finished as the ten best putters, including Zach Johnson who was the best putter and finished 7th and winner Patrick Reed finished 1st.  In 2014 great putters dominated as well with winner Zach Johnson finishing as the second best putter, runner-up Jordan Spieth finishing as the sixth best putter, and 3rd place Kevin Streelman as the best putter.  Along with Dustin Johnson in 2013, all of the Top 6 finishers in the standings were among the best ten putters in the field.  Bottom line, putting is critical and you need to put significant weight on strokes gained putting.  In addition, greens in regulation is another key statistic here as well as Par 4 scoring, and birdies or better %, and obviously our focal point strokes gained tee-to-green.

Be sure to use all of our excellent tools including our tournament history page, current form rankings, sportsbook odds vs daily pricing, and ownership prediction tool.  All of these will help save you time with your research and guide you in selecting the optimal players each week.  We have heard from many of you requesting access to our sweet Fantasy Golf Insider gear, well we listened and have now made it available in our Online Store.  Be sure to grab it up and wear it when you are sweating the cut-line or a big time GPP win, it will bring you good karma!

I receive questions from members all the time about how I approach cash games week in and week out.  Both Zach and I have shared our strategy for cash games in the past, but I wanted to give you a specific example of my approach from this past fall and have included it in our premium member section below.  It certainly is not the only way to be successful playing cash games, but this system has proven to be profitable for us over the past two years.

For access to our Top picks, Value picks, Sleepers, and Valuable Strategy become a premium member.

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For cash games every week, I always identify a core of golfers that based upon my research show that they will outperform their price-tag.  This core group of guys should consist of between 10-15 golfers and we have found that a balanced approach is more effective than a high dollar/low dollar player roster composition.  That can obviously fluctuate because of many factors like who is included in the field, the pricing for a particular week, the expected scoring, etc.  As a whole however, I generally favor a balanced approach for my cash game teams.  From that core of 10-15 players build three cash game teams.  The 2-5 players that you like the most should be utilized on two of the three teams, but never on all three rosters.  This strategy is going to allow us to capitalize on the strong plays we have identified, but also not allow us to be destroyed if a player inexplicably misses the cut.  I have found that a decent share of the time two of the three teams will cash in their cash games.  Sometimes you will have a clean sweep of all three teams.  Rarely, but sometimes you will lose with all three teams if everything goes completely amiss.  That is the scenario that is the reason we preach to only expose 15% of your bankroll on a given week.

Here is a specific example of my core players and the cash game teams that I built on Draftkings for the RSM Classic played at Sea Island Resort this past fall.

My core players for cash games

Brendon de Jonge
Robert Streb
Jason Dufner
Smylie Kaufman
Jim Herman
Kevin Kisner
Scott Brown
Vaughn Taylor
Kevin Chappell
Charles Howell III
Spencer Levin
Sean O’Hair
Patrick Rodgers


Cash Game Team #1

Golfer Salary Points Place
Kevin Kisner 10,400 140.5 1
Brendon de Jonge 8,700 70 T33
Scott Brown 8,000 81.5 T18
Jason Dufner 7,600 64.5 T9
Vaughn Taylor 7,600 82 MC
Smylie Kaufman 7,500 73.5 T33


Cash Game Team #2

Golfer Salary Points Place
Patrick Rodgers 9,600 61 T44
Robert Streb 8,700 76 T25
Brendon de Jonge 8,700 70 T33
Jason Dufner 7,600 64.5 T9
Smylie Kaufman 7,500 73.5 T33
Jim Herman 7,500 78 T18


Cash Game Team #3

Golfer Salary Points Place
Kevin Chappell 9,000 118.5 2
Charles Howell III 9,100 81 T9
Spencer Levin 8,900 31.5 MC
Robert Streb 8,700 76 T25
Jim Herman 7,500 78 T18
Sean O’Hair 6,600 83.5 T18


This particular week I had 13 players in my core group for cash games. I had a lot of conviction about the top five players of my core grouping so I used each of them in two of three of the cash game lineups.  All the others I used once between the three teams. The score that was necessary to cash in most 50/50 and double up contests ranged from 330 points-365 points.  Most of the contests that I played in ranged from $10-$100, 340 points was about the magic number to win. Fortunately, I was well within the money in all of the contests I played and was able to sweep all of my cash games.  For the most part, I went with a very balanced approach with “high floor” guys.  The cut percentage of the entire core grouping was extremely high this week as I always want the best chance to get six golfers through the cut.  This is the strategy I employ almost every single week.  I did venture up to Kevin Kisner this week who was $10,400, and the fourth highest priced player, but he ranked incredibly high for me this week and I only had him on one roster.  This particular week there were quite a few golfers in the $7,000 range that I felt offered a tremendous amount of value. Three of those players Dufner, Kaufman, and Herman I wanted to include on two of the teams.  This allowed me to reach up and get a couple higher priced guys like Kisner, Rogers, and Chappell.  I did have one golfer miss the cut on each of two of my teams, but it did not hinder the ability for them to cash.  Obviously it was extremely helpful to have the guy who won the tournament and the runner-up on two of my rosters, but even if they would have just simply finished in the Top 15, those teams would have most likely cashed anyway.

If you are looking for an improvement in your cash game results, I would recommend implementing this same strategy.  This week is a little different for the Hyundai TOC, because there is not a cut, but the coming weeks with full field, cut events are the perfect time to implement this strategy that has proved profitable for me over the long-term.


Top Stud Picks:


Jordan Spieth- While Jason Day was spending time with his new baby, a.k.a. horsing around at sporting events and watching his wife get obliterated by Lebron James, Spieth was taking his career seriously and playing golf.   In my opinion, this is an indication that Day is satisfied with his career year last year and believe Spieth and Rory will pull away from Mr. Day this season.  Spieth not only played, but he played well since his Tour Championship win with a T7 at WGC-HSBC, T2 at the Australian Open, and 4th at the Hero World Challenge.  Spieth did not play in this event last year, but took runner-up in 2014.  The length of the course is deceiving and will not hinder Spieth’s lack of distance.  If his putter can perform up to where it should (8th in strokes gained putting in 2015), Spieth should be able to capture the crown this week. (Mostly GPP because of salary)


Patrick Reed- Even though I believe Reed will be highly owned this week, I still have a hard time not including him on many of my rosters.  He is absolutely one of the hottest players in the world over the past few months.  Since the Tour Championship, Reed has a T3 at the UBS Hong Kong Open, T10 at CIMB Classic, T7 at WGC HSBC, 2nd at BMW Masters, T10 at DP World Tour Championship, and runner-up at the Hero World Challenge.  I highlighted Reed as one of my Top 20 players of 2016 in the Fantasy Golf Insider Crystal Ball: 2016 Edition.  His red hot current form combined with the fact that Reed typically starts out the calendar year hot sets up perfectly.  Reed is also a very good putter and ranked 19th on Tour last year in strokes gained tee to green and ranks 3rd in overall putting average thus far this wraparound season.  Oh yeah did I mention he won the event last year?  Everything seems to line up for Reed and I expect him to contend for back to back championships at the Hyundai.  (GPP and Cash Games)


Rickie Fowler- It is only through two events for Fowler, but he is ranked number one in putting thus far this season.  Very small sample, but we all know Rickie is one of the better putters on Tour (35th in 2015).  He looked great at the Hero Challenge last month finishing 3rd.  He also added a T17 at WGC HSBC and T25 at Shriners this fall.  In his one appearance at Kapalua, Fowler recorded a 6th in 2013.  This is such a great course for Rickie’s game and I would be surprised if he didn’t post a Top 5 finish this week. (Mostly GPP)


Top Value Picks:


Jimmy Walker- Consultations with Butch Harmon are an automatic upgrade for any player receiving them.  We have seen Harmon’s influence on Rickie Fowler the last couple of years.  Walker has been working with Harmon quite a bit lately and making some tweaks to his swing, which is very positive in my book.  Walker is always one of the best putters in the world, but what failed him the second part of last season was his game off of the tee and his results were downright lousy.  Hopefully Butch will have helped his driving accuracy, but if there is a course that does not punish inaccuracy off the tee it is Kapalua.  The combination of accuracy off the tee being unimportant and putting being extremely important sets up for Walker perfectly.  Walker did look a bit improved in the Hero World Challenge last month and ended up 8th.  The best thing about Walker is he absolutely owns Hawaiian golf.  He finished runner up here last year and has won back to back championships at the Sony Open in Honolulu. (GPP and Cash Games)


Kevin Kisner- We at Fantasy Golf Insider have been recommending Kisner heavily for the better part of a year now and have been paid off handsomely for it.  He is coming off of a very solid fall season where he had a T25 at Shriners, T37 at CIMB Classic, runner-up at WGC HSBC, and the win at the RSM Classic.  Kisner ranked 44th in strokes gained putting last year and 14th through the fall season.  We are anticipating even a better season than last for Kisner, which is saying a lot.  He will start the year strong with a big finish this week at Kapalua. (GPP and Cash Games)


Emiliano Grillo- I included Grillo in my “Top 10 Sleepers to Watch for the PGA DFS Fall Season” and he proceeded to win the Open a couple weeks later.  He then had the predictable letdown the week after and missed the cut at Shriners, but then had a T35 at WGC HSBC, T24 at BMW Masters, T11 at Nedbank Challenge and T4 at DP World Tour Championship. . In his three fall events his ownership in the Draftkings $3 GPP was 11%, 15%, and 7% respectively so people are not exactly loading up on him yet. I believe he will be under the radar for this tournament and throughout the first part of the season. He is a middle of the pack putter, but the rest of his game is very strong.  He is very young and very talented and will not be a name that most people will be on this week which is why I think he is a really good GPP option. (Great GPP play and Cash Games)


Brooks Koepka- A guaranteed four rounds of golf was too much of an incentive for me to not mention the biggest DFS point-getter in the game today.  His erratic style costs him some great finishes in tournaments, but that same erratic style is exactly what scores points in DFS.  If you have been with Fantasy Golf Insider for a while, you know how we stress the importance of DFS points rather than place finish.  Brooks Koepka is the poster child for that as he can easily be in the Top 5 in DFS points scored while not placing in the Top 15 in the standings.  Koepka’s fall season was much like the tail end of last season, unimpressive.  A T41 at the and missed cut at the Shriners marked his two PGA Tour appearances.  He did however record a runner up finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on the Euro Tour.  Also, throw in a mediocre 7th place finish at the Hero Challenge.  Although you would not guess it by watching him, he does rank very well in strokes gained putting (17th in 2015). His current form is less than impressive, but he has proven that he can be one of the best players on tour and can rack up the DFS points. (GPP and Cash Games)



Top Sleeper Picks:


Peter Malnati- I really like several things about the graduate this week.  First, I like the fact that he has showed that he can compete on the PGA Tour this fall by making four out of five cuts plus a T10 at OHL Mayakoba and a win at Sanderson Farms.  He is hungry to accumulate points and remain on tour with the big boys.  The main statistic that we are weighting this week is putting, which is perfect because Malnati rolls the ball with the best of them.  Through the fall, he ranked fourth in strokes gained putting.  In addition, he ranked 73rd in greens in regulation and 66th in birdie or better %.  Finally the thing I like most about Malnati this week is his ownership percentage, which will be extremely low.  If you have been with us a while or read Zach’s excellent articles on GPP winners, you know how important identifying low owned players are in GPPs.  The low owned players will not always finish with a great result, but when they do, it will pay off huge for you in GPPs.  (Mostly GPPs)


Chris Kirk-  I really feel that Kirk is going to have a solid season, which is why he was one of my Top 20 players in The Fantasy Golf Insider Crystal Ball 2016 Edition.  He struggled early in 2015, but then found a groove and won the Crowne Plaza Invitational, which punched his ticket to this event. Kirk then broke his hand and wasn’t the same player after the injury.  He has recently shown signs that he is going to return to one of the best players in the world. He made all four cuts this fall with a T18 at the RSM and T10 at the Hero World Challenge most recently.  He actually had three really great rounds at the Hero birdie fest, before posting an even par 4th round to drop in the standings.  I watched Kirk closely and like what I saw.  He is no stranger to Kapalua and this tournament as he has finishes of 14th last year, 16th in 2014, and 7th in 2012. (Mostly GPPs)


 Have you not looked at his current form you dumbass, Pick of the Week:


Brandt Snedeker- For those of you who read Zach’s outstanding articles on winning GPPs he talked about the importance of identifying low-ownership players.  One of the points that he specifically made was that sometimes these low owned guys are very talented players, who fit the course statistically, and have a good tournament history, but their current form is so brutal that most people avoid them like the plague.  Insert Brandt Snedeker in the Hyundai TOC.  Like I have talked about so much in this preview, putting is a key factor this week and there are not many better putters on tour than Snedeker.  His tournament history at Kapalua is 11th in 2014, 3rd in 2013, and 10th in 2008.  Because he has missed the cut in his last three official events, people (including myself) are wondering if there is something off with Snedeker. Thus I expect his ownership levels to be low.   I will say that he did play well at the unofficial and unwatched (except for us few diehards) at the Franklin Templeton Shootout in December in which he won with partner Jason Dufner.  He has had some time off to straighten out his game and this just feels like a great spot to take a stab on him in GPPs.  He could definitely continue his brutal stretch of play, but for GPPs you need to take chances and if it pays off even a few times, it will pay you off big-time.  (GPP only)


As always best of luck, let’s make this season even better than last and always be sure to keep us updated so we can sweat any teams in contention along with you!



Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff January 3, 2016 15:08

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