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2024 The Sentry PrizePicks Thursday Xander Schauffele, Matt Fitzpatrick Among First-Round Plays
Updated:2024-04-26 22:00    Views:113

The PGA Tour returns to a calendar-based season for 2024 with The Sentry at The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort kicking off the campaign. Kapalua Resort is a par-73, 7,596 yard track designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw that features Bermudagrass greens and rewards strong putters.

Below, I give out my 2024 The Sentry PrizePicks for Thursday, when the first round begins at Kapalua.

Phone With the Action App OpenThe must-have app for golf bettorsThe best golf betting scoreboardFree picks from proven prosLive win probabilities for your betsDOWNLOAD NOW2024 The Sentry PrizePicks Thursday PlaysXander Schauffele: Round 1 Less Than 68 Strokes

This is one of the lowest numbers on the board, and for good reason. Schauffele won this event in 2019 but has always fared well here, even in the years he hasn't won.

Over his past five appearances at Kapalua, he boasts three top-five finishes. Putting is key at Kapalua, which benefits Schauffele as the flatstick is often his best club in the bag.

He finished fifth on Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting last year, which is the second-best ranking in this field behind Denny McCarthy. While McCarthy pretty much relies solely on that aspect of his game, Schauffele is a more complete player who does not have a weakness, which gives him one of the highest floors in the field.

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For example, outside of one withdrawal last season when he was dealing with a back injury, Schauffele made every single cut. While he didn't close out any tournaments, he collected 12 top-10 finishes. It's even more remarkable that he gained True Strokes Putting in each of his past 20 tournaments.

Finally, Schauffele has shot a 68 or lower here in three of his past four rounds.

Matt Fitzpatrick: Round 1 Less Than 68.5 Strokes

I'm also targeting Matt Fitzpatrick, who has shot a 68 or lower here in two of his four career rounds at Kapalua. Last year was his first appearance here, and he thrived as he went -21 en route to a seventh-place finish.

It was a pretty remarkable performance for someone making his debut at a course that typically rewards those with experience playing on this Coore/Crenshaw design. Now that he has the lay of the land, I only expect an even stronger performance this time around.

Like Schauffele, Fitzpatrick is one of the best putters on Tour as he finished last season ranked 11th in Strokes Gained: Putting. Also like Schauffele, Fitzpatrick is well rounded and can complement that putting genius with consistent ball striking.

But the putter is what separates Fitzpatrick, and this week should be no different. The flatstick has been hot for him as he has gained True Strokes Putting in five of his past six tournaments.

His track record over that span? Four top-10 finishes.

Tommy Fleetwood: Round 1 Less Than 69 Strokes

I gave out two picks for first-round leader in my other article for this week, and if I think Tommy Fleetwood has a shot to lead after Thursday, then it is safe to say that I like him to go "Less Than" in his PrizePicks entry.

It's always better to tee off earlier in the day when the greens are softer and more receptive, especially on Thursday as the wind is scheduled to pick up throughout the otherwise perfect day in Hawaii. Fleetwood tees off in the ninth of the 20 scheduled groupings in the first round.

He is also capable of putting together a terrific start to a tournament, like we saw when he ended as the first-round leader at last season's Wells Fargo Championship. It will be especially beneficial that Fleetwood's putter has been on fire, gaining True Strokes Putting in 12 of his past 13 Tour events.

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Therefore, you won't be shocked to read that he ranked 14th on Tour last season in Strokes Gained: Putting. He specifically has fared well on Bermudagrass, which is the putting surface this week.

His past two tournaments contested on Bermudagrass greens were the TOUR Championship and FedEx St. Jude Championship. He gained True Strokes Putting in each of those events en route to respective T6 and T3 finishes.

Sepp Straka: Round 1 Less Than 69.5 Strokes

The final golfer to target in the first round is my other FRL bet: Sepp Straka. Like Fleetwood, Straka will head off early as he is in the fifth grouping.

Also like Fleetwood, Straka is a strong putter who has been riding the high from his win at last year's John Deere Classic, an event in which he gained a massive 1.54 true strokes putting and flirted with a 59 in the final round. If you include the two DP World Tour events and this winter's Hero World Challenge, Straka has gained True Strokes Putting in eight of his past nine tournaments.

He boasts three top-two finishes over that span. I expect him to stay hot on Thursday, especially considering that Straka has shot a 68 or lower in each of his past two rounds at Kapalua Resort.

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