Sentry Tournament of Champions outrights and matchups betting preview

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We are back. Fortunately, the “off-season” of the PGA Tour is pretty short but it still feels like a long time since we have been able to break down a golf tournament.

Welcome to golf in the year of 2021. If this is your first time checking out the article, happy to have you here. Each week, I’ll give a brief breakdown of the course and field and then dive into the value that I see in the outrights market. Finally, we’ll identify some full tournament matchups that I’ll be looking to target in a given week.

If you’re new to golf betting, I’d recommend checking out the article “how to bet on golf futures” first. But enough with the small talk. Let’s dive into the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

In a typical year, this tournament is reserved for any golfer that won a tournament in the previous calendar year. With Covid cutting last year’s season short, this will be the first time that it is opened up to anyone that made it to last year’s Tour Championship. The 42 golfer field will be the most that the tournament has hosted. As with all years, this will be a no cut event allowing all golfers to play the full four rounds. It is played at the Plantation Course at Kapalua. This Maui golf course is a traditional coastal track that borders the ocean and often sees gusting winds. A fairly easy course, Kapalua frequently has a winning score lower than 20-under par. In 2016, Jordan Spieth posted a 30-under par score that bettered the next golf by eight shots. 

The field

As mentioned prior, this year’s field of 42 golfers consists of all winners on the PGA Tour in 2020 as well as anyone who qualified for the end of year Tour Championship. Only two names received the invite but opted out of playing; Rory McIlroy and Tyrell Hatton. The favorites coming into the event are no surprise with the likes of Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm leading the way. Justin Thomas is also near the top of the betting board. He has had remarkable course history at this tournament, hoisting the trophy twice. 

Notable names that did not claim a title last year but got in due to finishing in the top-30 on tour are Tony Finau, Hideki Matsuyama, and Harris English, to name a few. With this new qualifying rule, a large amount of the field will be competing here for the first time. This will make course history difficult to measure so we will rely mostly on relevant long term stats. Similar names have appeared on the leaderboard throughout the last few years so this should give us a pretty good idea of the type of golfer to target. 

Previous winners

YearGolferWinning Score
2020Justin Thomas-14
2019Xander Schauffele-23
2018Dustin Johnson-24
2017Justin Thomas-22
2016Jordan Spieth-30
2015Patrick Reed-21
Previous winners

Some details not shown on the above chart are the names that have finished near the top multiple times. Patrick Reed has three other top-6 finishes to go along with his win. Dustin Johnson has finished 10th or better in the past five years. Jon Rahm has never finished outside the top-8. Hideki Matsuyama finished 2nd and 4th in his two trips here. Young golfers, Joaquin Niemann and Collin Morikawa both finished inside the top-7 last year in their first trip. 

The cream certainly rises to the top in Kapalua but with the expanded field, we may see first time contenders making some noise throughout the week. 

The course

The Plantation Course at Kapalua is a par-73 that stretches to just under 7,600 yards. The length on the scoreboard is more daunting that it actually plays. This course offers plenty of elevation changes which allows drives to carry further than at a normal event. The signature shot at last year’s tournament was Dustin Johnson driving the par-4 12th hole which reads 450 yards. DJ left his tee shot about three inches short of the hole and had an easy tap in eagle. 

The golfers will face three par-3s and four par-5s. The par-3s play as some of the more challenging holes with the par-5s rankings as the four easiest throughout last year’s event. Surviving the par-3s and scoring on the par-4s and 5s will be the key to success throughout the week. Other than the 18th hole, all par-5s should be pretty reachable in two, especially the short 5th hole which had an eagle rate of almost 4% in 2020. 

The par-4s are where the real meat of the course lives. The 11 holes range from 300 – 550 yards but even the lengthy holes don’t play nearly that long. Big downhill tee shots and high elevation leads to these still being a mid – long iron approach. For it being an ocean course, there is not much water in play. The biggest challenge tends to be when the wind picks up which makes it difficult to gage yardage and accuracy. 

The Bermuda greens are much larger than on a normal course which takes scrambling pretty much out of consideration. If a golfer is missing greens, they won’t find themselves near the top of the leaderboard. The fairways are also extremely wide which makes driving accuracy pretty irrelevant. Golfers will be able to swing away with driver and leave themselves with short wedges into most of the holes. Accuracy from 100-125 yards tends to be a crucial stat around the Plantation Course. 

Sentry TOC Betting Preview

Notable stats

  • Strokes gained: Approach
  • Putting (Bermuda)
  • Driving Distance
  • Proximity 100-125 yards
  • Par-4 Scoring

For more info on types of golf bets available each week, be sure to check out more info here. Each way bets refer to bets that include a bet to win and a bet to place (usually to at least top-5 but sometimes are available up to top-8 or more).


The favorites

Four golfers enter the event with odds less than 10/1. I typically stay away from discussing golfers in this range as “value” but with these names all competing, we simply can’t ignore them.

Dustin Johnson +600

DJ just put together one of the best stretches of golf in recent memory. He capped it off by claiming his first Green Jacket at Augusta. Simply put, he was dominant over the past 90 days. It is impossible for us to know how his game will look with taking the last couple months off but whenever he is in the field we need to take note. Feel free to just bet him at 6/1 and enjoy watching the event, but that’s not my style.

Justin Thomas +700

My favorite golfer in the field is Justin Thomas. He hasn’t finished outside the top-12 in his past five starts. He placed 4th in the Masters and 8th in the US Open. He is the epitome of consistency and I am expecting a huge year from him. Over the past 50 rounds, he leads the field in Approach and is 2nd to only DJ in par-4 scoring. Not to mention he has incredible course history here. Again, difficult to bet at 7/1 but an elite golfer who warrants the low odds. 

Jon Rahm +800

Much like the previous two, Rahm ended 2020 on an absolute tear. Other than WGC-St Jude, he hasn’t finished worse than 23rd since July. That stretch included two wins, a 2nd, and a 4th at the Tour Championship. He ended his year with a 7th at Augusta to cap it off. Oftentimes overshadowed by Dustin Johnson, Rahm is a world class golfer with a strong all-around game. Three top-10s in his three starts at this course prove just that. 


Xander
Jun 26, 2020; Cromwell, Connecticut, USA; Xander Schauffele tees off on the 6th during the second round of the Travelers Championship golf tournament at TPC River Highlands. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Outright value

Xander Schauffele +1000

Player NameSG: APPSG: PDr DistSG: Par 4Prox: 100-125SG: OTT
Xander Schauffele205127408
Schauffele strokes gained

Success this week will be found by driving the ball far, hitting all the greens, and getting putts to drop. Almost no one in the world has the consistency with their all around game more than Xander Schauffele. Over the past 50 rounds, Xander is 5th in Bermuda putting, 7th in Par 4 scoring, and 12th in driving distance. His ability to combine distance off-the-tee and approach to the greens is a combination that very few golfers possess. 

Schauffele has a knack for showing up in big events. He claimed this title back in 2019, won the Tour Championship in 2017, and finished 17th or better in all three majors last year. His three trips to Maui for this tournament have resulted in finishes of 2nd / 1st / 22nd. He clearly has an eye for this course and the result this week should be no different. June was the last time Xander was outside the top-25 of an event and I expect his name to be near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.

Hideki Matsuyama +1600

Player NameSG: APPSG: PDr DistSG: Par 4Prox: 100-125SG: OTT
Hideki Matsuyama5361891820
Matsuyama strokes gained

One of the golfers who got into this field because of the qualifying changes is Hideki. The difference is that he has played here three times in the past and never finished outside the top 4. Matsuyama is a golfer who barely missed out on multiple wins last year but that didn’t stop him from being in contention often. He ended the year with a 13th at the Masters and a 2nd in Houston. 

He enters this week 5th in the field in Approach and 9th in par-4 scoring. His putting is always the story and is what keeps him from finding the winner’s circle more often but this should be a course that Hideki can attack and if he gets the ball rolling he will be right there on Sunday. The course history and solid stats are enough for me to back him at odds of 16/1.

Joaquin Niemann +3500

Player NameSG: APPSG: PDr DistSG: Par 4Prox: 100-125SG: OTT
Joaquin Niemann63151379
Niemann strokes gained

Another golfer who I am looking at to have a big year is the young Chilean, Joaquin Niemann. He showed some sparks of greatness last year most notably with a 3rd at the BMW and a 6th at the competitive CJ Cup. Much like Xander Schauffele, he fits the formula of solid approach and long drives. It’s a rare combination that few golfers have but Niemann enters the week 6th in approach and 5th in distance. That should be a formula for success at Kapalua. Keep this name on your radar as we make our way through 2021, and hopefully that success starts this week in Maui.


Tournament matchups

Justin Thomas -136 vs Bryson DeChambeau +110

This seems like a good spot to start the matchups for this week. I’ve already discussed how much I like Justin Thomas. I won’t be betting him outright at 7/1 but he is my favorite golfer in the field and for good reason. I already touched on his stats and course history above so no need to go into those details again. The summary: he’s good at golf.

It may seem odd to bet against the beast of a human that is Bryson but I’ll be doing just that. Obviously, he leads the field in driving distance, which should be helpful around Kapalua. My concern is with his ability to control his wedges. We saw that greatly affect him at Augusta when he entered as one of the favorites. He may very well have some weeks this year where he dominates the fields and overpowers a course but I’ll side with the all-around game of JT over the driving ability of DeChambeau here. 

The pick: Justin Thomas -136


Viktor Hovland -125 vs Collin Morikawa +105

It’s challenging to translate recent form from the fall and utilize it now but there are certain factors too hard to ignore. Ever since his breakthrough at the PGA Championship, Morikawa has only finished inside the top-10 once and has missed three cuts in his last seven starts. His putting as of late has been pretty awful. Over his last five starts he has lost 2.5 strokes putting. To cap it off, Bermuda is historically his worst surface as well.

Viktor Hovland ended his 2020 year with a 15th in Houston, a 13th at the US Open and a 12th at the CJ Cup. His last five starts saw 4.6 strokes gained tee-to-green. Again, I don’t want to only focus on recent form (because it’s not that recent) but the struggles that Morikawa was having are too much to overlook. Hovland is a consistent ball striker who should thrive in his first trip to the Plantation Course.

Viktor Hovland -125


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