The Tournament of Champions marks the return of the PGA TOUR and the first official event of 2024. The newly revamped Tournament of Champions field is an event that features all tournament winners from 2023 (including any side or alternate events). It also includes any players who didn’t win but still finished inside the top 50 players from the prior year’s FedExCup Playoffs.
The field will be comprised of 59 players with Rory McIlroy being the only eligible PGA player not in attendance. Over the past decade, this event has often seen elite players dominate with 10 of the past 11 winners having won either a major championship or Olympic gold medal.
For DFS purposes, this is a no-cut event, so every player you roster will get in four rounds (unless they withdraw or are DQ’d). This event has been decided in a playoff in two of the last four years but it’s also a complete birdie-fest (the winning score was 34-under par in 2022). While it will no doubt be a fun, semi-laid-back week, there’s a ton at stake here (money, FedExCup points, a birth in the TOC for next year), so expect a competitive tournament and another tight finish.
The Plantation Course—Kapalua, Maui (Hawaii)
Par 73, 7,596 yards; Greens: TifEagle bermudagrass
Before we go any further — no, that is not a misprint — this course is a par 73, as there are just four par 5s on The Plantation Course but only three par 3s, which accounts for the odd par total. While this track is certainly what you would call “wind-exposed,” that hasn’t stopped players from absolutely blitzing it almost every season. In 2019 it played as the sixth-easiest venue on the PGA TOUR, but in 2020, some changes to the course and some tougher weather saw it play slightly harder, with the winner reaching just 14-under par. In 2022, calm conditions saw the players blitz the course again and set a new course record in the process.
New greens, bunkering, and fairway grass were installed at The Plantation Course before 2021, and it seemed to work well from a competition standpoint. The Plantation Course is also still a long, undulating test, with big fairways and greens, so fatigue in the heat can also be a factor — and it should come as no shock that seven of the last nine winners have been in their 20s.
Regarding setup, The Plantation Course offers a wide variety of hole layouts, with wide fairways and larger-than-normal greens being a mainstay of the venue. Three of the four par 5s are very reachable in two for the entire field, but the 18th is a behemoth at 675 yards and can play as one of the more difficult holes if the wind is up. Likewise, the course features six par 4s that come in under 400 yards (including a drivable 305-yard hole) but also features three that are over 500 yards in length. Players will have to score in a variety of situations this week, but there will be opportunities for birdies on almost every hole if the wind stays down (see below for an early forecast).
From a setup standpoint, Kapalua’s openness and big greens make it unique and encourage aggressive iron play. Players tend to hit the greens at close to an 80% clip, so while the green structures can be tricky, scrambling isn’t a part of the game that tends to get stressed a ton. With players hitting a ton of greens in regulation, the birdie putts will also be plentiful and two of the last three winners have now gained over 6.0 strokes putting for the week. Three-putting at Kapalua is higher due to the larger greens and so players with a solid make percentage in the 5 to 10-foot range have often excelled. Cameron Smith (the 2022 winner) ranked first on the PGA TOUR in three-putt percentage last year.
2024 Weather Update: The wind at Kapalua is often calm around this time of year. For 2024, it doesn’t look like anything will be much different. The first two days have winds approaching the 10-15 mph range in the afternoon which is pretty normal on such an exposed island like Maui. The temperatures will be somewhat cooler than normal as the highs for Thursday and Friday will only be in the 75-77 F range. Saturday is the one day where scoring could suffer as the winds may get up a little in the A.M. — and there is some potential for rain. Other than that, this event doesn’t look like it will have a ton of weather issues to keep track of, and with the reduced field, stacking for DFS purposes isn’t advantageous.
Last 5 winners
2023—Jon Rahm -27 (over Collin Morikawa -25)
2022—Cameron Smith -34 (over Jon Rahm -33)
2021—Harris English -25 (in playoff over Joaquin Niemann)
2020—Justin Thomas -14 (in playoff over Xander Schauffele and Patrick Reed)
2019—Xander Schauffele -23 (over Gary Woodland -22)
- The last 12 winners of this event had all played here in a prior season at least once before their respective victory.
- Seven of the last eight winners had all either:
- won a FedExCup playoff event in the previous year
- finished runner-up in a FedEx Cup Playoff event,
- won a fall series event or won on the DP World Tour in the fall of the previous year
- exception: Harris English 2021
Winners Stats and Course Highlights
Jon Rahm (2023 winner, 27-under par)
Previous last five starts coming into 2023 (T8-win-T4-win-T2)
SG: OTT — +4.4
SG: APP — -2.6
SG: TTG — +4.7
SG: ATG — +2.9
SG: PUTT — +6.0
- From a course standpoint, the fairways and greens are very easy to hit. Players typically hit over 70% of fairways and some will approach or exceed 80% green in regulation stats.
- Being dialed in with the ball striking is still important, though, as the bigger greens are tougher to scramble around than the average PGA TOUR stop. The field at Kapalua generally averages under the PGA TOUR average for scrambling.
- Like many past winners, Rahm dominated on the greens, to the point where he could even afford to lose strokes on approach for the week. Rahm also dominated off the tee and we have seen some superior drivers of the ball go extremely low at Kapulua — when they are also dialed in with their putters.
- In a lot of ways, this is likely a good week to bypass the strokes gained off the tee metric and just look at driving distance — while also emphasizing players who were trending highly in birdie rate, approach, and putting stats from last fall.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful to not put too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
- Xander Schauffele +1400 and $10,000
- Patrick Cantlay +1400 and $9,900
- Max Homa +1200 and $9,700
- Jordan Spieth +2200 and $8,800
- Tom Kim +2200 and $8,900
- Tommy Fleetwood +3000 and $9,000
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Xander Schauffele ($10,000; best finishes: win-2018, T2-2019): Schauffele missed a four-foot birdie putt on the final hole of this event in 2020 or else he would have become the first back-to-back winner of this event since Geoff Ogilvy in 2010. He’s dominated no-cut events throughout his career (four wins if you include the Olympics) and only finished outside the top 10 at this event once in four starts since 2019.
2. Collin Morikawa ($9,100; best finishes: T5-2022, second-2023): Morikawa has played well at this event, landing top-10 finishes in each of the past four seasons. He had a massive lead down the stretch last week but self-destructed down the stretch to finish second. Coming off a fall win, he’s another elite player with real title hopes this week.
3. Sungjae Im ($8,100; best finishes: T8-2022, T5-2021): Im has had strong results in his three appearances at this event. The South Korean finished 5th on his debut at this event in 2021 and hasn’t posted a finish worse than T12 in three career starts. He played some solid golf in the FedEx Cup playoffs and is another name to consider for outright and top 10 bets.
4. Jordan Spieth ($8,800; best finishes: win-2016, second-2014): This course may have appealed more to the younger version of Jordan Spieth than the older one, who is prone to missing more 5-foot putts than his former self. Spieth’s history at Kapulua should still be respected, though, as he finished second at this event in 2014 and won it at 30-under par in 2016. He rebounded with a more respectable T13 showing in 2023.
5. Rickie Fowler ($8,600; best finishes: 2020-T5, 2018-T4): While he hasn’t played this event since 2020, Fowler does have a Kapulua record that should be respected. In his four previous appearances, he’s never finished worse than T6 at this venue. In 2016 he got to 20-under par (T5). While he didn’t play much over the fall, it wouldn’t be shocking for Fowler to post a good opening week at the Sentry.
1. Ludvig Aberg ($8,700; Recent finishes: win, T10): Aberg grabbed his first PGA win in the last official event of the season at the RSM. He won twice in the last two months of 2023 and made his first-ever Ryder Cup team. Still the hottest payer in the world.
2. Eric Cole ($7,400; Recent finishes: T3-T2-T3): Cole put together an insane run of top-five finishes over the fall. He finished T3-T2-T3 at the RSM, Zozo, and Shriners in consecutive starts.
3. Max Homa ($9,700; Recent finishes: T13-win): Homa played in the DP World Tour playoffs and grabbed himself a win at the Nedbank Challenge. His one PGA fall start netted a T7 finish at the Fortinet.
4. Matthew Fitzpatrick ($9,500; Recent finishes: T4-T27-win): Fitzpatrick also grabbed a win at the Alfred Dunhill Links event. The Englishman also landed a 4th at the Hero World Challenge and a 3rd at the Omega Masters in the fall.
5. Scottie Scheffler ($11,000; Recent finishes: win-T21-T2): Scheffler won his last time out at the Hero World Challenge and looks to have found a new putting stroke that could lead to better early season results in 2024.
Cash Games: Aberg and Scheffler a dynamic pairing
It’s hard not to love the chances of event favorite Scottie Scheffler ($11,000). His best finish in two seasons at this event is only T7 but he may be bringing some better confidence with the putter this season and will certainly have a bone to pick with himself after he left a lot of wins on the table in the second half of last season. Using Scheffler is costly but the fact you can pair him with an $8,700 Ludvig Avberg almost seems unfair. Aberg may be playing this event for the first time but the expansive layout and four par 5s make it perfect for a player with such massive driving prowess, who has already proven he can tear up an easy course like Kapulua. Other potential cash game targets include Collin Morikawa ($9,100), Sungjae Im ($8,100) and Eric Cole ($7,400)
Tournaments: Fitzpatrick a solid pivot
Matthew Fitzpatrick ($9,500) stands out as a potential pivot option in the 9k range this week and one we can target in big GPPs. While he’s certainly deserving of the salary, he’s also grouped with well-known names that will likely make him lower-owned than his peers this week. Fitzpatrick finished a solid T4 at this event last season and has the kind of putting-and-around-the-green prowess that plays extremely well on Kapulua’s expansive green structures. After Fitzpatrick, names like Sahith Theegala ($7,600) and Denny McCarthy ($7,300) both stand out as names that could prosper at this event as well. Theegala grabbed his first win over the fall while McCarthy finished T5 in his last start. Other GPP targets in the lower range include Byeong Hun An ($6,800 - see below), Vincent Norrman ($6,500), and Akshay Bhatia ($6,200).
My Pick: Max Homa ($9,700)
As mentioned above, the recent winners of this event have tended to be elite players (multiple PGA wins or majors) and names who were coming in with good fall form. While Homa has yet to snag a major, there is little doubt at this point that he’s one of the best players in the world. He’s up to number 7 in the OWGR after he won again over the fall in Europe (at the Nedbank Challenge — which is part of the DP World Tour’s playoff format).
Homa also now has six PGA wins to his credit and is certainly someone who will be looking to add a major to his credit this year. From a setup perspective, I also like this big, expansive course for him. He’s excellent off the tee (19th in off-the-tee stats over the last 50 rounds) and has turned into one of the more elite putters on the PGA (9th in strokes gained putting).
This will be Homa’s fourth time playing the TOC and he’s managed finishes of T15 and T3 now in his last two tries, shooting rounds of 63 and 66 at this event last season on the weekend. With his form burgeoning and some solid course experience under his belt, I love his chances to book another win. At under 10k, he’s a great core target for DFS and still makes for a solid outright target at +1400 or better on the DraftKings Sportsbook.
My Sleeper: Byeong Hun An ($6,800)
Do I think Byeong Hun An can win this week? Likely not. But for DFS, do I think he can challenge for a top 10 spot or better — and pay off this sub-7k salary? Absolutely.
The South Korean will be making his debut at this event after he finished the 2023 season ranked inside the top 50 of the FedEx Cup. And, despite not securing his first PGA win, it was still a very solid year for An. He finished inside the top five in two of his final five PGA starts on the season and also posted a strong T12 in Hawaii last year at the Sony Open.
An’s typically done his best work at lower-scoring events (he’s finished top five at the Wyndham twice) and has a great short game (5th in SG: ATG, last 50 rounds) that should play extremely well around Kapulua. While he’s never played this venue before, his blend of strong driving and penchant for easier courses makes him a solid target for DFS. With a lot of options in the 6k range this week, I don’t suspect he’ll be highly owned for DFS either, and he also makes for a worthy target in the top 20 market at +210 on the DraftKings Sportsbook.
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