Forelinx DFS Tournament Preview ⏤ The Sentry Tournament of Champions

Fantasy Golf


The PGA TOUR begins its Aloha Swing this week at Kapalua Resort's esteemed Plantation Course for the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The no-cut, 72-hole limited-field event on the Hawaiian island of Maui is usually a well-deserved reward for those who won on the previous year's PGA TOUR schedule. However, due to a number of events being cancelled by COVID-19, the PGA TOUR opted this year to expand the field to include anyone who finished in the top 30 on last year's Fedex Cup Points List.

The Sentry Tournament of Champions has been contested on this Crenshaw/Coore design regularly (under a number of different title sponsors) since 1999. That year, David Duval routed the field with a four-day total of 266 (26-under par) that left him nine shots clear of Billy Mayfair and Mark O' Meara. Since then, winners at this golf course have included Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Dustin Johnson, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele and Justin Thomas. The last three past winners on that list all shot a four-day total of 14-under 278 at this event last year, with Thomas prevailing over Schauffele and Reed after a birdie on the third playoff hole.

The Field and the Favorites

The adjustment in qualification criteria this year has resulted in one of the strongest fields in a while at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Predictably, Dustin Johnson is considered the favorite in the wake of his statement win at the Masters Tournament to close out a historic post-COVID run. He's already won twice at this golf course and his stretch of golf over the course of the closing half of 2020 was downright Tiger-esque. In his last seven events, he's posted three wins (including a major championship at Augusta) to go along with three runner-up finishes (including at the PGA Championship) and a sixth-place finish at the U.S. Open. He should be a formidable favorite this week and we expect him to be part of the conversation come Sunday.

Bryson Dechambeau and Justin Thomas both make strong cases as second-favorites, but we'd have to give a slight edge to Dechambeau. They both had impressive 2020 campaigns, but lingering doubts about Thomas' performances on Sunday persisted throughout most of the second half of the year. Conversely, Dechambeau established himself as a major champion with a convincing Sunday performance to win the U.S. Open at Winged Foot. That, on top of another convincing win earlier in the summer at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and it's starting to look like Dechambeau has a permanent place among the week-in, week-out tournament favorites.

DJ and Dechambeau may lead the way this week, but the defending champion Justin Thomas is just one of a number of strong contenders running close behind. Jon Rahm and Xander Schauffele are probably the two heaviest bats remaining, but the exotic host venue has brought out a pretty dynamic domestic and international contingent of players. Webb Simpson, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau, Collin Morikawa and Patrick Reed stand out among the remaining top-tier American challengers while Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott are the best international threats to Thomas' title defense.

The Golf Course

The Plantation Course at Kapalua was the maiden voyage for the design careers of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw. While they've produced a number of better works since the course opened in 1991, it's difficult to argue that their first creation wasn't a sign of successful things to come. The layout is carved beautifully out of the steep hillside overlooking the ocean and the backdrop of the Pacific is featured on nearly the majority of the holes. As is customary among many Coore/Crenshaw courses, the Plantation Course features a ton of width off most of the tees while yielding a better approach angle to the player who places the ball on the correct side of the fairway. Moreover, thanks to a recent 2019 renovation, some of the original risk/reward shot values have been restored and length has been added to keep up with the evolution in club/ball technology.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Plantation Course is that it is the only par-73 track the players will face all season. This unusual configuration does not come from an extra par-five, but rather from a set of just three par threes. No other course on the PGA TOUR has so few, but what they lack in number they make up for in challenge. Two of them play downhill from one exposed bluff to another and the birdies earned on the par-fives can easily be given away to misjudgment on the one-shot holes. All three played over par in last year's holding of the event.

In the right conditions, all four of the five-par holes are reachable and the winner will have to find his fair share of birdies on those holes to keep pace with the field. Most notable among them is the closer, which stretches to 677 yards but plays straight downhill and downwind and seems to frequently serve as the setting for the deciding moments of close tournaments. Few can forget Tiger and Ernie trading birdies and eagles here on Sunday in 2000 and last year's playoff between Thomas, Schauffele and Reed was decided by three trips up and down the hill at the home hole.

Wind cannot be ignored as a factor and is expected to blow at least 10 mph with gusts up to 20 mph for the better part of the week. This should wreck havoc on some of the high-ball hitters and will give a leg up to any player who generally feels comfortable flighting the golf ball. This is especially true on the scoring holes where short irons and wedges get harder to dial in when you can't knock them under the prevailing off-shore winds.

Click here for our post our Pick Em' and Parlays selections for the Sentry Tournament of Champions.