Sentry Tournament of Champions
The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort
Island of Maui
The Plantation Course Cheat Sheet
|Yards (per official scorecard):||7,518|
|Greens:||Bermuda; 7,125 sq. ft.|
|Rough:||Bermuda at two inches|
|Architects:||Coore and Crenshaw (1991)|
|Purse:||$6.5 million; $1.3 million, 500 FedExCup points (winner).|
|Defending Champion:||Austin Cook (-24; 268)|
|Notes:||Of the 37 qualified winners, 34 have entered this week.|
|Notes II:||72 holes; no cut.|
We’re back. I’m back. You’re back. The season is back.
Let’s get after it with the softest of soft landings at Kapalua.
The deepest field in history boasts seven of the OWGR top 10 and 10 of the top 15 while nine of the top 10 in the FedExCup are also looking to add and pad to begin the new calendar year.
2018 was pretty cool professionally for me and I hope yours was decent as well. I had a chance to do what I love for the folks at PGATOUR.COM and I’m excited to return writing The Confidence Factor again this year.
For those of you not on Twitter (it’s free and you should join) you missed me and Rob Bolton doing a LIVE show the final five Wednesdays of the 2018 portion of the season. We hope to visit you again on that medium SOMETIME in 2019 so stay tuned for more details.
Thanks to those of you who have asked about the Emergency 9. The TOUR decided it was surplus to requirements because of the quick turnaround time between rounds. I had a blast writing it and, time permitting, will do something similar at mikeglasscott.com throughout out the season.
Finally, I have been grinding on getting up the top 125 finishers (and others) from the TOUR last season plus the 50 Web.com guys. I will post that by the end of the week right here and on social.
As always, the comments are always open as is email, carrier pigeon and signal flags. My New Year’s resolution is to continue to have fun, provide information and keep the discussion going with all who choose to engage. It’s a community that I love being a part of and want to make it even better in 2019. I’m listening, as always, so make your voice heard!
And as always, GOOD LUCK!
Previous Winners (Kapalua only):
|Safeway Open||Kevin Tway**|
|CIMB Classic||Marc Leishman|
|CJ CUP @ NINE BRIDGES||Brooks Koepka|
|Sanderson Farms Championship||Cameron Champ**|
|WGC-HSBC Champions||Xander Schauffele|
|Shriners Hospitals for Children||Bryson DeChambeau|
|Mayakoba Golf Classic||Matt Kuchar|
|The RSM Classic||Charles Howell III|
|Hero World Challenge*||Jon Rahm|
(* unofficial event; **First-time winner)
Qualified – Not Participating
Justin Rose: He’s played once and never returned so this should surprise absolutely nobody. We’ll read more about him later this week in the Top 125.
Phil Mickelson: Loved this event when it was in California in the 90’s but not so much after the move to Hawaii. His last visit was 2001.
Tiger Woods: Too much travel with the Ryder Cup (France), Presidents Cup preview (Australia) and hosting the Hero (Bahamas). No country for old men.
Facts and Figures:
|Tournament Record:||261 (-31); Ernie Els|
|Course Record:||62 (four times); Jason Day is the only player in the field who has done it.|
|Recent Defending Champion(s):||Last: Geoff Ogilvy|
|Multiple Winners (entered)||Dustin Johnson (2013, 2018)|
|First TOUR Win (last):||Winner’s only event|
|First-time (event):||Sergio Garcia 2002, Daniel Chopra 2008.|
|Low Round 2018:||65; Johnson, Round 3.|
|Odd Fact:||Of the last 11 winners, 10 have advanced to the FedExCup TOUR Championship.|
|Odd Fact II:||Only four champions have not won a major title (Appleby, Chopra, Stricker and Byrd).|
The Confidence Factor is the weekly column I write for PGATOUR.COM. I’ve included the link here for you. Please read as I’m not going to write it all out here.
Inside the ropes
It’s the most wonderful time of the year for sitting next to the fire and watching the views from Maui. I have no problem falling asleep to those views as I enjoy the final days of my winter vacation.
As is the case annually, the wind will be a factor. The latest (Wednesday morning) shows the winds will howl the first two days before normalizing on the weekend. There’s a reason this place was designed with massive fairways and large greens! It’s also the reason the greens are a shaggy 10′ on the Stimpmeter.
Here are the keys this week:
Don’t get left behind. Take par and move on as there will be plenty of scoring chances. Littering doubles and triples will add unneeded pressure.
Survive and advance the first two days. There are plenty of studs in the field this week who will embrace the conditions knowing they can cause separation. If you’re backing guys who aren’t in that group, good luck.
Quality trumps just about everything. Of the last four winners, three have won in their second event here. They also have all won major championships since their victories. As quirky as Kapalua can play there is no substitute for class and there is PLENTY of it on display this week.
Trend or Not a Trend?
2018: 14 first-time players; Rahm (second) and Si Woo Kim (10th) were the best of the bunch; top 14 players were double digits under par.
2017: 11 first-time players; only two hit the top 10 (Tony Finau and William McGirt, T9); top 20 players were all double digits under par.
2016: 14 first-time players; five hit the top 10 (Brooks Koepka, T3; Padraig Harrington, Peter Malnati and Fabian Gomez, T6; Kevin Kisner, ninth); top 23 players were double digits under par.
2015: 11 first-time players; three hit the top 10 (Hideki Matsuyama, T3; Robert Streb and Brendon Todd, T8); top 24 players were double digits under par.
Dustin Johnson: The only multiple winner won’t be bothered by any weather conditions here or anywhere else. He’s won no less than three weather-shortened events (Pebble Beach, Barclays and TOC off the top of my head) and blasted the field by eight shots in the breeze last year. Oh, and there’s this:
Marc Leishman: Wind player? Check. In form? Check. He led after 36 holes last year before losing his way on Saturday with 76. His win last October at the CIMB Classic qualified him for this week. Solo second at the Australian PGA Championship suggests he’s still in good nick.
Jon Rahm: For the sixth time in his last 50 events the Spaniard lifted the trophy to wrap up 2018 at the Hero Challenge. The windy conditions here last year didn’t bother him as he threw up 24 birdies to wrestle second place away from Brian Harman in his maiden voyage. The weather will be very similar this year and so will his form as he won the DP World Tour Championship before Maui last year.
Brooks Koepka: On his maiden voyage in 2016 he was 20-under after 54 holes including a tournament-best 63 in Round 3. Last season we saw his wrist issue come to a head here as he didn’t break par in any of his four chances and finished last. He took the next 17 weeks off and the rest is history. With a win under his belt in already in the new season I can’t see how he doesn’t factor again this week.
Patrick Reed: Playing Kapalua isn’t the issue as his career-stroke average is 68.75 and he’s 68-under over four events. There’s no doubt he’s comfortable knowing these fairways and greens will catch less-than-perfectly struck shots. As usual, he’s played all over the globe the last few weeks but that shouldn’t concern gamers as he’s always on the move.
Justin Thomas: After closing 2018 on fumes, Thomas spent 20 consecutive nights in his own bed, a new record for him. The 2017 champ has been all-or-nothing (T21, WIN and T22 last year) in his last three trips. The metrics suggest if rested and not rusty he should be in the mix come Sunday.
Bryson DeChambeau: The learning curve has been navigated and it’s all systems go. Make all the jokes you’d like but this dude gets the ball in the hole, compass or no compass. With three wins in his last six worldwide, I’m assuming he’s licking his chops to get back on a track that humbled him last year. He tied Rahm for the most birdies by a newcomer with 24 but he also added 16 bogeys and finished 26th out of 34 players.
Webb Simpson: From 2012 through 2014 he cashed T3, T11 and T3 combined at 40-under-par. He’ll have plenty of cash to haul the family over as he hit the top 10 three times in his final four events of 2018. Putting on Bermuda should also put a smile on his face!
Xander Schauffele: I don’t think there is a player who more violently swings from awesome to WTF more frequently than this dude. I wouldn’t be the LEAST BIT SURPRISED if he wins this week or if he finishes T30. It appears the fields with the biggest names get his best shot so I’m on board this week.
Jason Day: His 69.13 scoring average over four events here makes him an easy addition to most lineups this week. He’s never finished worse than T12 and never posted a score over par. It’s no secret he can be a bit, ahem, crooked off the tee but it’s also not a secret he can get up-and-down out of a trash can. His putter will be a weapon this week.
Rory McIlroy: There’ a first time for everything, right? I have no idea why he’s playing other than to knock out one of those pesky “must add a new tournament” deals each year. Similar to Reed, he should be smiling about massive fairways and large greens but I’m not sure if his putter can keep up. He didn’t inspire after the Ryder Cup either.
Charles Howell III: Sure, let’s add ANOTHER tournament to HIS season! He’ll be looking to pick up back-to-back TOUR wins after not having one since 2007. Every gamer knows he’s money at the Sony Open next week but he was T8 last time he visited Kapalua in 2008.
Back for More
Brandt Snedeker: 19 rounds all in the red with his worst payday T14. Pop that putter, son!
Gary Woodland: Big finish in 2018 and picked right back up where he left off to begin the new season. Of his last seven worldwide, six have cashed for T12 or better including T8 at Hero. The downside is seven of eight rounds here have been in the 70’s.
Paul Casey: The Englishman jumped right back into TOUR life after a successful Ryder Cup as he cashed T13, T16 and T18 during the Asian Swing to conclude his 2018. I’d expect something similar again this week!
Scott Piercy: Began the new season with MC but followed with T27, T5, T10 and T6 in his last four. This will be his fourth trip to Maui and his 11 previous rounds are all par or better. Great sleeper.
Francesco Molinari: After his three-win summer and Ryder Cup master class it’s easy to see why he was sputtering to close 2018. Nobody plays that well for that long! His form and this field isn’t the optimum combination for me this week. The only other time he played was 2011 where he tied 15th on 12-under.
Billy Horschel: His best finish was his first (T4) but 10 of 12 rounds here are in the 70’s. The blazing finish to the FedExCup playoffs (T3, WD, T3 and second) didn’t carry over to the new season but he’s hardly chopping it around.
Bubba Watson: It’s always fun to watch him work the golf ball here but he’s only been double digits under par twice in six tries. He only posted one top-10 check in 10 events worldwide after his third and final win at Travelers in June.
Keegan Bradley: Similar to Simpson and Casey, Bradley earned his way back to Maui after a long hiatus. His tee-to-green proficiency will come in handy but I’m never rushing him to the front of the line on Bermuda greens. Been there, done that.
Matt Kuchar: Back in the early 2010’s he was an automatic selection here as he racked up top-10’s for fun. The fun is back for the first time since 2015 but this field is a bit deeper than the one he vanquished at Mayakoba. He’ll enjoy flying underneath the radar and makes a fantastic contrarian pick.
Ian Poulter: Proper grinder that gets the ball in the hole will have course historians backing him this week. He’s played twice and never finished outside T9. His last finish INSIDE the top 10 was two weeks before the U.S. Open.
Kevin Na: An excellent finish to the 2018 regular season didn’t carry over to 2019’s beginning. He’s posted 64 here in one trip along with 71, 72 and 73. I’ll let him enjoy the scenery.
Troy Merritt: Played his final 54 holes 14-under in his only other visit in 2016. Don’t look up the first round!
Patton Kizzire: His only top 10 in 2018 was his win at the Sony Open.
Ted Potter, Jr.: H defeated a sturdy field at Pebble Beach but this is different quirky. In 2013 he didn’t break par during tough weather conditions.
Fresh Meat (first-timers)
Aaron Wise: It wouldn’t surprise me if he was the top first-time finisher not named McIlroy. Every course he played last year was essentially his first time so this won’t bother him. He racked up a big total to win at Trinity Forest and hold off Leishman so I’m not going to be surprised if he sneaks in the top 10 again this week.
Cameron Champ: With nothing worse than T28 in his first five events as a TOUR pro, it’s hardly a wonder why everyone is watching. His win at SFC came in his second start was followed with a pair of top-10’s to close the season. This is a major step up in class and I’m excited to see how he reacts.
Andrew Putnam: Flashed class late in 2018 as he cashed T4 in his first WGC event (Shanghai) and followed up with T17 at Dunlop Phoenix. Checks a few boxes for me this week.
Kevin Tway: It’s never easy to keep fulfilling the appetite of gamers after the first win. Enjoy 72 holes and we’ll follow up next week.
Satoshi Kodaira: He won his last time out in Japan to claim his first top-10 since defeating Si Woo Kim in a playoff at Harbour Town.
Andrew Landry: After his win at Valero he’s cashed just once inside the top 25.
Brice Garnett: Best results come from resort settings as he won in the Dominican Republic and was fifth at Mayakoba.
Michael Kim: After winning the John Deere Classic he MC in five of nine with nothing better than T35 at Carnoustie the following week.