Preview: Sentry Tournament of Champions

It’s not the growing season in Maui but Year 2 of the redesign has been given rave reviews already!

Justin Thomas is back to make it three wins in five years as he defends his title against the biggest field in history, 42 players.

Adam Scott makes his first visit since 2014

Sentry Tournament of Champions

Plantation Course at Kapalua

Lahaina, Maui

Yards (per official scorecard):7,596
Par:73 (36-37)
Greens:TifEagle Bermuda (Year 2)
Stimpmeter:10.5
Rough:Celebration Bermuda (Year 2) at 2.5 inches.
Bunkers/Water Hazards93/0
Architects:Coore and Crenshaw (1999).
Course Record:62; last by Xander Schauffele; Round 4, 2019.
Defending Champion:Justin Thomas (-14).
Fact of the Week:Only one of the last six winners is over 30.
Fact of the Week II:Year 2 after the 2019 redesign.

Notes:

  • Field of 42
  • Not all winners due to COVID-19.
  • Anyone from the 2020 TOUR Championship is also eligible
  • Rory McIlroy, Tyrrell Hatton and Jim Herman qualified but are not on the island.

2020-2021  Season Winners

*- First-time winner

**- First-time winner AND rookie winner

EventWinner
Safeway OpenStewart Cink
120th United States OpenBryson DeChambeau
Corales Punta Cana ChampionshipHudson Swafford
Sanderson Farms ChampionshipSergio Garcia
Shriners Hospitals for ChildrenMartin Laird (playoff)
CJ CUP @ SHADOW CREEKJason Kokrak*
ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIPPatrick Cantlay
Bermuda ChampionshipBrian Gay
Vivint Houston OpenCarlos Oritz*
84th Masters TournamentDustin Johnson
The RSM ClassicRobert Streb
Mayakoba Golf ClassicViktor Hovland

Check out HORSES FOR COURSES for more details and angles for this week.

Previous Winners:

YearWinner Comment
2020Justin Thomas-14Wins 3-man playoff for his second title in four years.
2019Xander Schauffele-23Ties the course record on Sunday with 62 to win by a shot.
2018Dustin Johnson-24Eight shot romp over Jon Rahm.
2017Justin Thomas-22Cruised to a three shot win over Hideki Matsuyama.
2016Jordan Spieth-30Missed tying Ernie Els’ tournament record by a shot. Not entered this week.

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record:261 (-31); Ernie Els, 2003.
Course Record:62; Multiple Players – last Xander Schauffele 2019.
Lowest Rounds – Last Year66; Joaquin Niemann, Round 1. Patrick Reed, Rounds 2 and 4.   67; Justin Thomas, Round 1.
Defending Champion(s) Event:Stuart Appleby (2004-2006); Geoff Ogilvy (2009-2010).
Multiple Winners (entered):Justin Thomas (2020, 2017) and Dustin Johnson (2018, 2013).  
Oldest  Winner:43; Steve Stricker (2012).
Youngest Winner:22; Jordan Spieth (2016).
First Time – TOUR:Impossible as it is USUALLY a winner’s only event.
First Time – EventSergio Garcia (2002) and Daniel Chopra (2008).
Odd Fact:Chopra is the only player to win this event and NOT qualify for The TOUR Championship.

Quick Thoughts

Year 2 of the Coore-Crenshaw redesign should breed familiarity for the 15 guys who played last year.

New pin placements won’t matter to the seven newbies in the field this year.

All the fairways and greens were regrassed and will continue to play firm and fast as they grow in.

Up and down the mountain you go! Uneven lies, elevation changes, gusting winds suggests a bit of course knowledge will go a long way this week.

The only first-timers to do well here recently are, not surprisingly, littered in the top 20 of the OWGR.

The USA has lifted the trophy in the last 10 events.

Largest and BEST field in tournament history. 42 players (usually around 34) with 29 of the top 50 OWGR including eight of the top 10 (no McIlroy, no Hatton).

Chalk – Betting Favorites

Dustin Johnson (+600): 8 straight top 10s and two titles. Last seven events are T6 or better including wins at TNT and last time out at the Masters. Hahahahaha. Oh, and he holed a career best 400 and change feet of putts on brand new greens last year. All time money leader here.

Justin Thomas (+700): Not bad for a guy who hasn’t won in nine starts! T12 or better in his last six but, like DJ, loves it here. Makes birdies for fun at Kapalua (and everywhere else).

Jon Rahm (+750): Solo second on debut has followed with T8 and 10th last year. His new Callaway sticks have already produced a 59 in practice round. One of the few to knock of Johnson and all it took was a 66 foot birdie!

Bryson DeChambeau (+900): A course that has the widest fairways and hosts the most 400+ drives annually? Does this shit work in gusty conditions?

Xander Schauffele (+1000): Just recovering from COVID in time to make the field. A quick browse of social media and press conference outtakes suggests he’s nowhere near 100%. So, is it “BEWARE THE INJURED/SICK GOLFER” or leave him alone until he’s back to full strength? The absence of a cut helps this week but the field is too deep for my money. Pass, ESPECIALLY at this price.

Patrick Reed (+1600): Quick, who set the highest % of one putts on TOUR in two years here last year on BRAND NEW greens? Yep. Nothing outside of T14 in his last six worldwide including T3 in Dubai last time out. Giddy.

Hideki Matsuyama (+1800): Nothing worse than T4 in three tries here so it’s obvious it fits his eye. 12 rounds have produced for of 66 and six in the 60s. Greens just might be his speed, eh?

Patrick Cantlay (+1800): Best finish of 2020 was 4th here last year before he won on Bentgrass at Sherwood (ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP) three weeks before Augusta. Led the field in proximity and was third in Putts/GIR.

Webb Simpson (+2000): Another who is more than comfortable here, his short game, like Reed’s, is the angle here. Makes birdie in bunches and his best round, 65, was Sunday of his last visit in 2019 (T8). All 15 rounds in the red career.

Tony Finau (+2000): Solo ninth on debut and since he’s only won one time on TOUR he has only made one visit.

Viktor Hovland (+2200): Did what Finau and every other Puerto Rico Open winner has not done: Win again (somewhere else) on TOUR. Looking to make it two from his last two after picking up win No. 2 in Mayakoba. He SHOULD be the best debutant this year. Stick him in for a top 10.

Collin Morikawa (+2800): My buddy swore we’d never see a price this deep on him again. I’d suggest a nibble but I’m not sold on his putting on Bermuda.

Daniel Berger (+2800): Nothing inside of T17 since the new season began doesn’t inspire. Only two rounds of eight in the 60s with T11 and T14 to show for it.

Harris English (+3000): Of his last nine starts five have collected top 10 checks so stick him in there. He hasn’t won since 2013 so it’s been a while since he’s seen the layout. Will comfortably, again, fly under the radar in a top heavy field.

Rest of the Bunch

Cameron Smith (+3500): Rolled into Hawaii last year after T10 at the Aussie PGA and won the Sony in a playoff. This year he rolls in after T2 at the Masters and T4 at ZOZO in his last two. Fits the 20-something profile as well. Invest.

Scottie Scheffler (+3500): One of the seven first-timers in the field, he’s rattled off six events without a top 10 after finishing second at East Lake. Pass easily at this number as winning this event for No. 1 on TOUR has too much history going the wrong direction.

Joaquin Niemann (+4000): Last year was the second year running that a debutant was FRL. He didn’t break 70 the final 3 rounds but held on for T5. It was his co-best of 2020 (T5 RBC Heritage). Not enough putts for me.

Sungjae Im (+4000): Birdie blaster in his first attempt should definitely catch the eye! His only top 10 in his last 12 starts was T2 at Augusta because of course it was. He’ll be the least bothered of anyone “absorbing” another new course. He also isn’t bothered by the field.

Abraham Ancer (+5000): Like Scheffler, he’s never won on TOUR, so he’s an easy fade. Didn’t fire at Mayakoba like many (see: ME) thought he would.

Adam Scott (+5500): First visit since T6 in 2014 but has plenty of class to get it around in the breeze.  Victory at Riviera early last year suggests he’s not on the wrong side yet. Only one club this week will hold him back…

Cameron Champ (+5500): If I’m going to stick out on a limb, I’ll start here in the dark horse department. Learning curve wasn’t steep for him because he can overpower the place. T14 and T11 the last two years suggests this could be in his wheelhouse.

Marc Leishman (+8000): Love it. Led after 36 in 2018 before he blew a tire on Saturday. Returned in 2019 for T4. 28-under with a 76 thrown in there. His recent form is why he’s 80s but everyone needs a calculated long shot.

Mackenzie Hughes (+12500): Too many hot ones in 2020 to pass up a top 10 this week. Figured it out with 68 in his final round  in 2017. Island golf with a bit of breeze doesn’t seem to bother him either. Neither does holing tons of feet of putts.

Martin Laird (+25000): One final one. Should be happy returns for his fourth visit at Kapalua. Solo second, T4 and $1 million plus career earnings here. Form is dire after his playoff win in Las Vegas but he knows what he’s doing in Maui.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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