The Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua kicks off the 2021 portion of the PGA Tour schedule. This year’s field has been expanded to include all who qualified for the 2020 Tour Championship and will see 42 golfers compete in the first of back-to-back tournaments in Hawaii. Below, we’ll shop the golf odds at DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook and make our betting picks and predictions to win the 2021 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
This week’s event will be followed by next week’s Sony Open (Jan. 14-17) before the PGA Tour returns to the mainland for The American Express (Jan. 21-24). Rory McIlroy and Tyrrell Hatton opted to skip the TOC while Jim Herman was forced to withdraw following a positive test for COVID-19. Dustin Johnson, the 2020 Masters champion and No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking, fronts those trying to dethrone reigning champ Justin Thomas. Johnson’s trying for a third career win at the Tournament of Champions.
The course: Plantation Course at Kapalua
The Plantation Course measures 7,596 yards and plays to a rare par of 73. The course features Bermuda fairways and greens. Strong winds add to the difficult elevation changes and troublesome sidehill lies. There are no water hazards on the course but plenty of sand bunkers spread throughout the fairways and around the large putting surfaces.
Thomas won in a playoff over Patrick Reed and 2019 champion Xander Schauffele at minus-14 last year. It was the highest winning score since Vijay Singh won at the same number in 2007. Schauffele won by one stroke at minus-23 and Johnson won by eight at minus-24 in 2018.
Despite the frequent low scores, only eight holes played below par last year. The easiest was the 526-yard, par-5 5th at a scoring average of 4.309. The most difficult was the 550-yard, par-4 17th with a scoring average of 4.25. It saw just one eagle and 14 birdies against 33 bogeys, four doubles, and three others.
The most famous hole on the course is the 677-yard, par-4 18th. Though one of the longest holes on the PGA Tour circuit, it too played below par last year at an average of 4.794 strokes. There was one eagle carded, along with 46 birdies against 12 bogeys, one double, and two others.
Key stats to consider for your 2021 Sentry Tournament of Champions betting picks
Twenty-eight members of the field qualified with a PGA Tour victory in 2020. Seventeen members were extended invitations after qualifying for and competing in the 2020 Tour Championship. McIlroy, Hatton, and Herman weren’t replaced after withdrawing. Four of the last five champions, including two-time winner Thomas, are in attendance.
The exclusive field makes the list of past champions even more prestigious. The last four winners all went on to finish in the top five of the FedEx Cup standings later that year. There are only five first-timers participating in this year’s expanded field.
Though the Plantation Course is one of the longest tests in golf, the emphasis remains on Strokes Gained: Putting and SG: Around-the-Green. SG: Approach and Driving Distance should be in your second tier of research. Schauffele led last year’s field in SG: Around-the-Green, SG: Off-the-Tee, and SG: Tee-to-Green. Reed led with 2.33 SG: Putting to earn his T-2 finish. Thomas was second in the field in both SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Approach.
2021 Sentry Tournament of Champions betting picks: Sleepers and value bets
Mackenzie Hughes +15000
Hughes is playing this event for the first time since a 25th-place finish in his 2017 debut at Kapalua. He lost 0.51 strokes per round on the field in that tournament following his first career win at the RSM Classic. He broke 70 only with his final round of 5-under, 68.
In a 2020 season that saw him qualify for the Tour Championship and ring up seven top-10 results in 22 events on the calendar year, Hughes relied heavily on an excellent putter and strong play around the greens. He averaged 0.76 SG: Putting and 0.27 SG: Around-the-Green per round over his first 15 measured rounds of the 2020-21 PGA Tour season.
Lean on his putter and short game with the length of the course helping to neutralize the advantages of others off the tee.
Get the best MacKenzie Hughes odds at DraftKings Sports
Marc Leishman +9000
Leishman grabbed his fifth career PGA Tour win at last year’s Farmers Insurance Open in late January. He returns to this event with a seventh-place finish in 2018 and a fourth-place showing in 2019. The Australian missed the cut at both the PGA Championship and US Open but used a T-13 finish at the Masters to finish 2020 at No. 28 in the OWGR.
His putter was a weakness last year, but he gained 0.82 strokes per round with the flat stick en route to his T-4 finish in 2019. His iron play and approach game remained his usual strengths, as he looks to improve on past success at the Plantation Course.
He’s just +6500 to win the tournament at FanDuel, so he represents good value at DraftKings.
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Cameron Smith +4500
Smith is playing here for the first time since a 17th-place finish in 2018. Another Australian selection, he won the 2020 Sony Open in Hawaii, at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. He had a rough stretch of play on the mainland leading up to the midseason suspension of play and coming out of it, but he finished the year with an 11th-place finish at The CJ Cup, a T-4 at the Zozo Championship, and a T-2 at the Masters.
Smith ranks sixth on Tour and in this field with 2.24 strokes gained per round on the average Tour pro over his last 20 rounds played. Of course, there are few “average” pros in this exclusive field, but Smith still ranks above many of those with superior odds to win this event.
Many Australian golfers have had past success in tournaments where wind was prevalent, due largely to their familiarity with the conditions. Smith will try to use it to his advantage while looking to go back-to-back in Hawaii.
Get the best Cameron Smith odds at DraftKings Sportsbook
2021 Sentry Tournament of Champions betting picks: Our winner
Patrick Cantlay +2000
Cantlay missed just one cut in 16 events last year and picked up his third career PGA Tour victory at the Zozo Championship in late October. He finished alone in fourth in just his second career appearance at the TOC last year.
He has gained 1.90 strokes per round on the field over eight rounds played at the Plantation Course, according to Data Golf. His strong finish last year came despite losing 1.15 strokes per round off the tee. His putter isn’t typically a huge strength, but he had success on these greens in 2020. He gained 1.19 strokes per round with the putter and led the field with 1.64 SG: Approach per round.
Get the best Patrick Cantlay odds at FanDuel Sportsbook
This article was originally published on Monday, Jan. 4. Odds subject to change.