Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: PGA Tour 2020/21: Sentry Tournament of Champions

PGA Tour 2020/21: Sentry Tournament of Champions

This event was first staged way back in 1953. The Sentry Tournament of Champions event has been the traditional year opener since 1986. It was also the season opener until the Tour decided to switch to their wraparound format in 2013. Now it falls at roughly the quarter-way mark in the calendar. 

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

US PGA Tour 2020/2021
Sentry Tournament of Champions
Plantation Course at Kapalua, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii
Thursday 7 January - Sunday 10 January

Here’s hoping that 2021 can return a modicum of normality to day-to-day life. It’s still going to be some time until the ‘carefree abandon’ phase, but perhaps the return of the US PGA Tour can at least lift the spirits of golfing enthusiasts. It’s been over a month since Viktor Hovland lifted the Mayakoba title in Mexico. The Sentry Tournament of Champions event is always a star-studded limited-field affair, with champions from the previous season generally the only competitors. This year has seen a change in the wake of a Covid-riddled season. All those who qualified for the season-ending Tour Championship are also in contention this week.  

The Plantation Course at Kapalua continues to be the regular stop for this event. This is quite a monster at 7,596 yards. That clearly is enticing for the bigger hitters.  What makes it more enticing is the size of these fairways. These are some of the widest fairways on tour, which only invites the monster hitters to spray away. This is clearly evident in the list of recent winners: Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele can murder the ball off the tee. With dramatic undulations throughout the layout, history seems to suggest that experience is critical in navigating this terrain. If the wind is down you can expect a birdie-fest of note, with bigger hitters encouraged to attack reachable par 4’s and 5’s. This year should be fascinating, with eight of the world’s top ten in attendance.  

Both World Number One Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas was aiming to make it a three-peat at Kapalua this week. Johnson is riding a high off a commanding performance at Augusta last month. Jon Rahm was wonderfully poised at the halfway stage at Augusta before a 3rd round implosion. The Spaniard was probably the most consistent threat to Johnson’s dominance last year. Former champion Xander Schauffele is always a threat while the likes of DeChambeau and Reed exemplify the power of this week’s line-up. Of the potential 45-man field, only Rory McIlroy, Tyrell Hatton, and Jim Herman have chosen to skip this week.  

Past Winners
2020: Justin Thomas (-14)
2019: Xander Schauffele (-23)
2018: Dustin Johnson (-24)
2017: Justin Thomas (-22)
2016: Jordan Spieth (-30)

Outright Betting (To Win)
Dustin Johnson (6/1)
Justin Thomas (7/1)
Jon Rahm (15/2)
Bryson Dechambeau (9/1)
Xander Schauffele (10/1)

Value Bets

Cameron Smith
To Win (35/1), To Place (7/1)
Succees at this course often correlates with success at Augusta. They are both long courses with larger than average, undulating greens. Despite not being the longest off the tee by any means, Smith has a wonderful Augusta pedigree. He finished in a superb runner-up spot a few months back and also possesses a 5th place back in 2018. He is also defending his Sony Open title next week: many players have won these two seemingly, disparate events. He has only played this event once, finishing mid-table in 2019.  But he is yet to play the faster and firmer layout. This should suit Smith, as evidenced by his Augusta form.  

Mark Leishman
To Win (80/1), To Place (16/1)
It’s become tougher to realistically back longshots in this limited-field event. Kapalua is just open to devastation by the world’s best players. But if you are looking for a more cerebral choice, you could do much worse than Aussie Mark Leishman (my 2nd Aussie this week). A class act, Leishman just hasn’t been able to find consistency since winning at Torrey Pines last year. But a 13th place at the Masters was encouraging. This once again hints at a strong correlation between Augusta form and success here: Leishman finished in a tie for 4th at Augusta in 2013. Leishman also has decent course form, finishing 4th and 7th in his last two appearances at Kapalua.  

The Man to Beat

Xander Schauffele
To Win (10/1), To Place (2/1)
This event has recently only attracted premium winners, so it would have been foolish to waft over the first five names. But perhaps the man who represents the best value is the picture of consistency: Xander Schauffele. Schauffele won this event in only his 2nd appearance in 2019. He then lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas last year. He leads the entire field with an average of 2.59 strokes gained per round at Kapalua. Schauffle is just made for this course. The combination of huge driving and accurate iron-play makes him great value this week.

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