Josh Culp

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Monday, December 31, 2018

It feels like it's been ages but the PGA TOUR is back in action as they head to Hawaii for the Tournament of Champions. 

This is an invite-only event with the invitation being extended to anyone that won an official event over the last 12 months on the PGA TOUR. 

There were 37 golfers that qualified but three are skipping the event (Justin Rose, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson). 

Everyone that accepted the invitation will get four guaranteed rounds of stress-free golf at a Hawaiian resort. Not a bad way to kick off the new year.  

The Course

The Plantation Course at Kapalua will play host for the 21st year in a row. It's a Coore and Crenshaw design that is unusual in that it plays to a par of 73. There are four par 5s and just three par 3s. 

While the par 73 setup is unusual due to the scorecard, it's not what it is known for. Kapalua is known for the constant elevation changes. There are tricky lies wherever you go on this course (uphill, downhill, sidehill). That characteristics often draws the comparison of Augusta National but more about that in the correlated course section. 

Off the tee it is not a course where you need distance but even big hitters will feel comfortable here as the fairways are some of the most generous on TOUR and they allow everyone in the field to use the big stick, early and often. You know it is driver-friendly when a big hitter like Koepka says "it's nice to just get up there and let it rip, knowing you got a hundred yards of fairway." Obviously that is not the case on every tee shot here but overall the fairways are extremely wide and generous. 

Regardless of your length off the tee, this is a course that will yield A LOT of wedge opportunities. Even the shortest of hitters will get a chance from inside 140 yards on at least 1/3 of their holes played. Some years/rounds it is way higher than that so it's no surprise to see names on Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker on the list of past champs at Kapalua. 

Handling the windy, coastal conditions is always a factor here but dealing with the slow, grainy bermuda greens is also a requirement. They have a lot of slope in them. Last year they were dealing with a bit of disease on some of the green surfaces which limited some of their pin position options but otherwise played as normal. They typically play as some of the slower greens on TOUR, ranging from 8.75 feet to 10 feet on the stimp. For comparison's sake, the TOUR average is close to 11.75 feet. 


Course Quotes

Sifting through some past quotes over at the Fantasy Golfanac, let's try to break down the course to see how they will play...
Carl Pettersson: "I think the Australians do well here because they have their season in their off-season. They go back to Australia and play a few events, so they’re sort of — they’re not quite as tournament rusty as the rest of us are."
Jonathan Byrd: "It has plenty of space off the tee, you can make plenty of birdies if you play well and you’re watching whales breech off the coast. It’s an incredible place. I don’t know why I’ve done well there but it suits what I do well. I do well with a wedge and it’s a real wedge-based course. The greens putt like Melbourne greens with big sweeping putts, 30-foot putts that break 12 feet."

Brooks Koepka:
 "You’re not going to find a slopier golf course than this. There’s so many awkward little lies, ball above your feet, below your feet and then downhill and then you’re hitting up the hill. Things like that you just don’t find anywhere besides maybe here and Augusta or at least that I’ve played."

Patrick Reed:
 "Any time I can come out, set up with wide fairways, large greens and be able to just kind of shape the golf ball and do whatever I want with it and be creative, it kind of fits into my wheelhouse."

Brooks Koepka: "The best putters are going to win. They’re so grainy and it kind of like, it reminds me a little bit of Augusta on the greens. You can have six feet and it might break a foot, foot and a half. And it’s all about speed on these greens. That’s kind of what it reminds me of a little bit. Just a little bit slower."

Overview: Carl P brings up a good point about tournament rust. Guys that have played in the Hero World Challenge, QBE Shootout, or any recent international events are coming in with a big of an edge, versus the guys that haven't pegged it competitively since The RSM Classic or even before that. The talk of the town is the undulation on the course (on the fairways and on the greens). 

Correlated Courses

Looking at grass types, geography, course attributes, and past performance, here are a few courses/events that I think could prove to be a good pointer this week: 

Augusta National GC
East Lake GC
Sheshan International
TPC Scottsdale
Colonial CC
Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Firestone CC

The correlation talk of the players is generally about Augusta National here and that shows up in the data, as well. Others that show up are generally courses where you can pound driver or courses that generate lots of wedge and short-iron chances. 


The Weather

Thursday: Mostly sunny with a high near 79 degrees. Winds ENE at 17 MPH with gusts at 20-to-25 MPH. 

Friday: Partly sunny with a high near 79 degrees. Winds ENE at 20 MPH with gusts at 20-to-25 MPH. 

Weekend: Temps remain in the upper 70s with winds around 15 MPH. 

It looks like a WINDY one this week. 

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Josh Culp joined Rotoworld in 2014. The DFS enthusiast from Iowa State can be found on Twitter @futureoffantasy.
Email :Josh Culp

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