It was a slightly disappointing end to the week for us at Kapalua with Leishman labouring somewhat on Sunday compared to those around him on the leaderboard.
Not all was lost though as the Aussie still gave us a 2/3rds share of place money meaning we recouped the majority of our stake money for the week at least.
Moving on and 2019 on the PGA Tour continues apace in to the second week of the ‘Hawaii swing’ as we island hop from Maui to Ohau and arrives in Honolulu the capital city of the state.
23 players from the Sentry Tournament of Champions are due to tee it up at the Sony including defending champion Patton Kizzire.
At the time of writing the 2017 champion Justin Thomas is a clear market favourite followed by, Bryson Dechambeau and Gary Woodland, all of whom featured prominently at the Sentry ToC.
These players are followed in the market by Jordan Spieth making his 2019 bow, Marc Leishman and Cameron Champ.
The event has been played since its inception in 1965 at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.
The course was designed by Seth Raynor who also designed the Old White Course used for the Greenbrier.
The course is a Par 70 playing to just over 7000 yards and features Bermuda Greens.
The two par 5s are the 9th and the 18th. Both are great birdie opportunities with the 9th usually playing to the easier stroke average of the two.
8 of the last 11 editions of the event have been won by a player who had played in the Tournament of champions event the week before so it pays to focus on those who teed it up at Kapalua.
Of the 3 winners who were teeing it up for the first time in the year only one of them, Russell Henley was a first time winner on tour. [The other two winners playing for the first time in the year were Ryan Palmer and Mark Wilson].
The highest winning score in the last 10yrs is -13 [KJ Choi] and in 4 of the last 6yrs the winning score has been -20 or lower so this is clearly a low scoring event.
Last years champion Patton kizzire posted a total of -17.
Only 2 the last 11 winners have been non Americans [Fabien Gomez & KJ Choi]. Interestingly of the 9 American winners 4 were natives of Texas. Jimmy Walker [twice], Ryan Palmer & Johnson Wagner, whilst one of two non American winners KJ Choi has made his US base in Texas for many years.
The other 5 winners to hail from the US over the past 10yrs, [Patton Kizzire, Justin Thomas, Russell Henley, Mark Wilson & Zach Johnson] either hail from southern states or had a proven track record in events played in eastern/southern states of the US.
In other words while you can ‘never say never’ this is not historically an event won by players hailing from the West Coast of the US.
Finally while past course form is always useful it doesn’t seem hugely pertinent here. Last years winner Patton kizzire had missed the cut on his only previous visit, whilst the likes of Zach Johnson, Fabien Gomez, Ryan Palmer & Mark Wilson had posted nothing higher than a 20th place between them before they won the event and of course Henley was making his course debut.
We have another week of warm, dry weather on the horizon for us this week in Hawaii with sunshine and temperatures in the 80s the order of the day.
Unlike last week though the wind does not appear to be a factor with nothing much more than 10mph in the forecast.
Conditions therefore should be primed for low scoring.
As I always say though [& as it did last week with the wind!!] this could all change!
It has to be said that a very strong case can be made for the four players at the top of the market who were in contention last week and one would not be surprised at all to see Thomas in particular lifting the trophy for the second time in 3yrs come Sunday.
However at 7-1 and with other strong contenders at the top of the market I am unable to pull the trigger and instead have gone in search of the e/w value.
On that basis I have gone with 5 players this week as follows, three who teed it up in Kapalua last week and two who are making their first start of 2019;
ANDREW PUTNAM – 60-1 - 1pts E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED 2nd
First up for me this week is 29yr old Andrew Putnam.
Putnam’s career has been on a huge upward curve since he earnt his second full stint on the PGA Tour for the 2017/18 season on the back of a successful 2017 Web.com campaign.
The highlight of Andrew’s 2018 was undoubtedly his win at the Barracuda Championship back in August, however in addition to this he posted four further Top 10 finishes in the calendar year.
Putnam performed solidly enough last week at Kapalua to earn a share of 14th place on a course, which you wouldn’t really have thought would play to the strengths of his game, which is his ball striking and iron play.
He did interestingly though rank 2nd for the week in putting, not usually his strength.
Ranking down at 116th in DD last season the far shorter challenge offered by Waialae should be far more to Andrew’s liking and his strong iron play should be a great attribute.
From a point of view of correlating course form it is noteworthy that prior to his win at the Barracuda Putnam’s best showing on tour had come a few weeks earlier at the Fedex St Jude and this ties in nicely with Fabien Gomez who has won both events. In addition of course it shows that Andrew is quite comfortable on Bermuda Greens.
Since his win at the Barracuda Putnam has played some great stuff including notching a top 5 finish in the WGC HSBC Champions last fall.
His solid play at Kapalua gives the impression he is going to start 2019 where he left off in 2018 and I expect a really bold showing this week.
PATTON KIZZIRE – 40-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED 13th
It’s been a pretty lean time for the Alabama native since he landed the second of his PGA Tour titles in Honolulu this time last year, however there were some definite positive signs in Patton’s play last fall, which would lead one to believe he has turned the corner.
This culminated in a victory with his partner Brian Harman in the Shark Shootout in the last event of the year, which whilst of course not an official PGA Tour event must have given the 32yr old a further boost of confidence.
On his second start at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, whilst never really threatening the top of the leaderboard Kizzire played solidly all week to finish 8th. Just the sort of eye catching performance we often see from winners at Waialae the previous week in the Sentry ToC.
His short game in particular looked good and he finished the week 5th for SGP and 2nd in Scrambling.
As we have seen over the years the scoring does tend to go low at Waialae and a hot putter is important so it is encouraging that the flat stick is working for Kizzire at the moment.
It is always a risky business backing a defending champion to follow up the next year however I was encouraged on this front by Patton’s performance when defending at the Mayakoba last fall.
As we know he had been struggling for form leading in however with the pressure of defending his first PGA Tour title on his shoulders he still managed to open up with rounds of 65 & 66 to sit right in the mix halfway.
Granted Patton then faded over the weekend however with the better form he has shown since I am confident he will be far more solid over the weekend when next in the hunt.
We have seen one back to back winner in Honolulu over recent years in the form of Jimmy Walker and on the prices available I am happy to go with Patton this week to be another.
OLLIE SCHNEIDERJANS – 150-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 7 FINISHED MC
Those of you who have read my ‘six to follow’ for 2019 will know that I included Ollie Schneiderjans in that line up and highlighted this weeks event as one in which he could flourish, and on that basis I would obviously be a bit foolish to leave him out of our team!
My logic in picking Ollie in that column was that I felt that the combination of two full years of experience on the PGA Tour under his belt, coupled with the addition of experienced bag man Damon Green to his team [Zach Johnson’s former caddy], could well see Ollie make the next step up this year to land his first PGA Tour title.
When [not if] Ollie does make that leap, based on his form on the tour to date, it is quite likely to come at a shorter and/or coastal track as he has shown a liking for this type of course with strong performances at the RBC Heritage, The Wyndham Championship, The Farmers and even at the British Open when finishing 14th as an amateur.
In addition of course he was 7th here last year.
We have seen many an example of a change in caddy bringing immediate results and there is arguably no better man to have on your bag in Hawaii than Damon Green, as he has numerous years of experience at Waialae with Zach, including winning here in 2009.
Finally I mentioned earlier that for whatever reason Texas born or based players have a strong record here so as a native of Dallas Ollie fits that criteria.
I am therefore confident that with the boost of Green on his bag and returning to a course which suits his game there is a big week ahead for Ollie.
DANNY LEE – 80-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED 71st
Next up this week is South Korean native Danny Lee.
Apart from a standout performance at TPC Lee struggled for the bulk of 2018, however from July onwards he found some steadier form to finish the 17/18 season, before starting his 18/19 campaign in fine style with two top 10s in four starts, including a 2nd place finish in his final start of the year at the Mayakoba.
It’s over 3 1/2 yrs now since Lee notched his sole PGA Tour victory to date and interestingly enough that came on another Seth Raynor designed course, The Old White, used for the Greenbrier.
Lee has never produced too much at Waialae over the years of note however he did finish 13th here way back in 2013 before he had his full PGA Tour card so he clearly knows his way around the track. In any case as mentioned earlier previous course form is something which has been distinctly lacking from past winners of this event over the years.
It is a positive though that Lee has performed well at Mayakoba over the years including when 2nd there in his last start as this correlates nicely with Kizzire’s other win.
Finally Lee is based in Irving, Texas so he again ticks the box for the ‘Texas connection’.
A second win is now long overdue for this hugely talented player and with confidence hopefully high from a positive fall finish I can see him going close to notching that this week.
TROY MERRITT – 125-1 - 1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8 FINISHED MC
The third player to make my team this week who featured in Maui and our last pick for the week is 33yr old Troy Merritt.
Merritt added his second PGA Tour title to his trophy cupboard at the Barbasol Championship last July however 10 days later he found himself having emergency surgery for a blood clot in his arm.
With the effects of this still being felt and the possibility of further treatment being required one would have understood if this would have potentially lead to a downturn in his game, however the start of the 18/19 season has actually seen Troy find a solid run of form with no missed cuts and a 4th place to his name at the Safeway Championship.
Troy has played well at Hilton Head and Pebble Beach over the years so he is clearly comfortable on a short coastal track. In addition he has a good record at TPC Southwind, the home of the Fedex St Jude, which as noted earlier is a good reference to here.
Merrit has always been a tough player to catch right and has a habit of popping up with a big finish out of nowhere, however there is no doubt that when he’s ‘on’ he’s capable of producing a big result in strong company.
On that basis, and with a solid week under his belt at Kapalua, I am happy to roll the dice on Troy as our final pick this week.
UPDATED 9th JANUARY
TRADER - JAMIE LOVEMARK FINISHED MC - LOWEST PRICE TRADED 160
For our first trader of the new year I have decided to run with Californian Jamie Lovemark.
For a player who initially hails from the West Coast Lovemark has performed impressively over the years on Bermuda greens as well as on shorter coastal courses.
These strong performances have included two top 10 finishes at the RSM as well as back to back top 10s in this event in 2016 & 2017.
The reason for this could well be that although hailing from California Jamie now makes his home in the golfing mecca of Jupiter, Florida, meaning he will be very used to the coastal conditions and Bermuda greens.
Still winless on the PGA Tour you have to believe that a maiden win will come sooner rather than later for this hugely talented player, and in a week where there are unknowns around how the vast majority of the field will perform in their first start of the year I am happy to take a chance that Lovemark can continue his love affair with Hawaii and perform strongly.
Unfortunately Jamie's price has dipped a fraction under the 200 mark i look for as a minimum price in my weekly trader pick, however I do believe he still represents good value at around 190 & hopefully his price will drift again to over 200 prior to the off tomorrow.
CURRENTLY TRADING @ 190+