Hot Picks for PGA Tour Sentry Tournament of Champions

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The short wait is over, as the 2021 PGA Tour season kicks off on Thursday morning for the Tournament of Champions at The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort in Hawaii.. This tournament traditionally features only golfers who won a tournament in the previous PGA season. With the condensed schedule, however, this season the field also will include those inside of the top 30 in last season’s FedEx Cup standings. With Rory Mcllroy and Tyrell Hatton turning down spots in the field, the tournament will feature just 42 golfers. All odds are from the online sportsbook

Course Breakdown and Weather

The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort is one of the few par-73 courses on tour. The course is known for some of the tour’s widest fairways, meaning that long hitters off the tee who have a tendency to stray with their accuracy will not be penalized as much and appear to have an advantage heading into the weekend.

Golfers who land their drives consistently in the fairways and have their irons working will have little difficulty racking up birdies. Weather could play a huge factor, too, as last year windy conditions turned this course from a birdie-fest early on into a three-way playoff at just 14-under. According to early weather reports, winds could be gusting up to 25 mph by the final round on Sunday.

The Favorites

The field features eight of the top 10 golfers in the world. FedEx Cup champion and Masters winner Dustin Johnson leads the pack at +550 on MyBookie. Last year’s winner of this event, Justin Thomas, sits at +600. Johnson and Thomas have combined to win three of the last four Tournament of Champions and the odds reflect that recent success. Rounding out the top-five favorites are familiar faces with Jon Rahm (+750), Bryson DeChambeau (+900), and Xander Schauffle (+1000).

The Picks:
Justin Thomas
Bryson DeChambeau

Best Value Plays – The Patricks

The first name to consider for your betting card is Patrick Reed, who sits at +1600. Reed lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas last year in this event, and has won at Kapalua in the past so he clearly likes the course layout. Reed struggled off the tee in 2020, ranking 156th in Driving Accuracy. So Reed should benefit from the wider fairways as much as any golfer in the entire field. He finished 11th on tour in birdies made despite his driving difficulties, a testament both to his scrambling ability, his iron play and simply the fact that he plays in nearly every tournament he can. Like everyone else, he should be fresh for this tournament.

There is another Patrick who should be near the top of the leaderboard all weekend long and he also sits at +1600. Patrick Cantlay came in fourth here last year and he finally broke through and got a win at the Zozo championship last October. Cantlay has the ability to get dialed in with his irons and he will have plenty of approach opportunities from the fairways this week.

Two other young guns who merit some consideration are 2020 PGA Championship winner Colin Morikawa (+2200) and Viktor Hovland (+2000). Both are long hitters and more than capable enough with their irons. If either of them gets hot with the putter, they undoubtedly will be in contention.

The Picks:
Patrick Reed
Patrick Cantlay

Top-10 Plays

A golfer with odds higher than +2500 odds has not won this tournament since 2011. The tournament has featured just two winners above +2000 in the past decade. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t betting value to be had in what can best be described as the middle tier of golfers on the board. For golfers in this range, be looking to take them as top-5 or top-10 finishers rather than as true potential winners.

The first name to look at in this range is Daniel Berger. He’s +2500 to win the tournament, but the play here is for him to finish in the top 10 (+170). Berger is looking to build off a career year in 2020, which not only saw him record his third career win, but a total of seven top-10 finishes in the 17 events he played. Berger ranked sixth in scoring average last season, meaning Berger will be more than capable of competing in a potential birdie-fest. However, in a field as loaded as this, take Berger at +170 to finish inside the top 10.

Tony Finau is another golfer in this middle tier to take at +170 to finish inside the top 10. Finau finished 13th in Driving Distance last season, but he ranked 184th in Driving Accuracy. With this course being forgiving off the tee, Finau will have an opportunity to gain strokes off the tee box. Although Finau was unable to pick up his second career win in 2020, the season was not a failure. Finau finished inside the top 10 in seven of the 20 tournaments he played in last season, and with only 42 golfers in this field, Finau to finish in the top 10 is a safe bet.

Top 10
Daniel Berger
Tony Finau

The Longshots and Other Plays

In a field this loaded, it is unlikely to see a longshot winner. There are a few tempting ones, including Marc Leishman (+6600), Billy Horschel (+6600) and Jason Kokrak (+7000). Leishman and Kokrak are heavy hitters who will benefit from the wide fairways. Horschel is not, but he ended 2020 playing well and could be a real darkhorse on a course that to the naked eye may not seem to favor him.

Leishman had a win early in 2020, but he was not the same once the tour returned from the pandemic that caused a mid-season delay. Leishman remains one of the best approach players in the world, but he ranked 183rd in Driving Accuracy in the 2020 season. Considering that is the biggest flaw in his game, it’s obvious that the wide fairways will be his friends. He was inconsistent last year. But in this range it is hard to find someone more capable of possibly winning a tournament against such a high-caliber field. Leishman has a high ceiling and an extremely low floor. Take a small flyer on Leishman at +6600 to win the entire tournament.

With this group, however, it is smarter to look for some top-10 flyers and matchup plays rather than a longshot winner. Leishman may have only had three top 10s last season, but those included a win, a second-place finish and a third. Another name to look at this far down the list is Kokrak. The big hitter ranked seventh in Driving Distance and 138th in Driving Accuracy last season. Kapalua is forgiving in everything that Kokrak does poorly and fits into what he does well. Kokrak to beat Carlos Ortiz by 2 or more shots this week is +104 on Kokrak also has a chance to finish inside the top 10, but the safe bet is for Kokrak to handle Ortiz with ease in their head-to-head matchup.

The Picks:
Small Play on Marc Leishman
Jason Kokrak -1.5 vs Carlos Ortiz
Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.