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2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions Picks & Predictions: Scottie Scheffler Has Value Entering Friday

2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions Picks & Predictions: Scottie Scheffler Has Value Entering Friday article feature image
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Ben Jared/PGA TOUR via Getty Images. Pictured: Scottie Scheffler.

It was a mad dash out of the gates during round one at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, as two-under par was only good enough for a share of second-to-last place.

That didn’t come as a tremendous surprise since we are talking about a venue that yielded 36 of 40 players firing a 10-under or better total last year by the end of the event, but the ease of the property wasn’t able to translate over to me when it came to my betting card — evidenced by Adam Scott failing to eclipse K.H. Lee on Thursday.

The brunt of what we talked about Wednesday held to form after Lee lost 1.03 shots with his ball striking, but his exemplary short game bailed him out repeatedly. I believe this is one of those situations where the South Korean will continue to remain a top fade candidate on the board this week, and we see some of that already, with the 31-year-old placing fifth-worst in rank compared to the field.

It is vital to remember that your process can be correct when you back a play, but you still end up on the wrong end of the equation because of a few bad breaks, so let’s brush off the slow first day at Kapalua and see if we can’t uncover some of my favorite targets to consider on Friday throughout the space.

If you aren’t doing so already, you can find me on Twitter @TeeOffSports. There I will provide a link to my pre-tournament model, a powerful and interactive data spreadsheet that allows user inputs to create custom rankings for golf. That sheet is released every Monday, so be sure to check it out and construct your own numbers from my database of information.

Scottie Scheffler Provides Outright Value

Is there a world where we can be encouraged and discouraged by Scottie Scheffler’s opening round? The American continued his ball-striking mastery, gaining 3.92 shots to the field — good for the best total of the day, but the flat stick resumed its massive trajectory downswing by losing another 1.69 strokes to his opponents.

We have seen this become a massive headache throughout most of the former No. 1 golfer’s last 10 trackable starts on TOUR, but I am not giving up quite yet. Of the 11 players to lose over a shot on the greens, Scheffler was the only option to place inside the top 15 of the leaderboard, and the 7.5/1 outright total at PointsBet for him in the outright market feels marginally shallow when we consider that he gained win equity in my model from his tournament-leading projection pre-event.

If you listened to any of my advice this week and grabbed him early, I don’t believe there is a necessity to clump more money down onto a candidate who creates an increased rate of exposure, but there is an opening to consider him if your card is relatively clean.

Sungjae Im Worth a Matchup Play

We saw Sungjae Im push from 14/1 to 12/1 at most shops before this article could get released, but there will always be ways to gain exposure in the space.

Im is about 30 points lower than the rest of the market against Aaron Wise at BetMGM when we look at his -130 price tag, and while he will be extremely popular on DFS sites, there are routes to get unique if you do decide to use him on Friday.

The upward shift for the South Korean is noteworthy since he managed to jump past Jon Rahm in my model and into second place (behind only Scottie Scheffler) when you look at my head-to-head power rankings. Additionally, his past course history is an encouraging outlook for us to try and take advantage of in some capacity.

Max Homa Due for Regression to the Mean

One of the specialties of my model is that I can run every player in the field against their expected performance to try and locate which golfers experienced what I would classify as “bad luck.” Outside of Cameron Young grading marginally close on that list, there wasn’t a golfer exceptionally comparable to the flawed outcome that Homa experienced on Thursday.

We saw the American massively land below his baseline projections in all facets of his short-game metrics, and a round that should have been a surefire top-10 showing quickly turned into a measly share of 26th at three-under par.

While it is challenging to expect Homa to generate two consecutive rounds of high-end production with his critical ball-striking returns, the market felt antiquated when FanDuel opened him at 180/1 to win this event on Thursday night. I don’t necessarily believe he jumps everyone in front of him to get the job done, but the price is reasonable, and the DFS salary is much too low.

Buy Low on Corey Conners and Adam Scott

My model projects most of the playable equity starts to shrink around Aaron Wise on the DraftKings slate, but we are going to need to locate sleeper quality options down beneath if we want to fully utilize our strength we can build at the top, especially if we’re going to use options like Sungjae Im that will be popular.

Conners and Scott fit that bill as well as I could hope, garnering top 20 projections on the day at price tags that place them outside the first 20 names of the slate. The fact that each entered the week sub-15 percent in my ownership projections should mean that we see another lower level output in popularity after neither man climbed many models on Thursday.

Other Notable Players I Would Consider For DFS: Tony Finau, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Keegan Bradley, Trey Mullinax

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