The best bets for the 2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions
Golf is back, baby! A month after Viktor Hovland won the Hero World Challenge, the final individual stroke play tournament of 2021, the PGA Tour returns, and we are at the Plantation Course in Hawaii where all the Tour winners from the last 12 months will line up.
Unsurprisingly then, it’s a ridiculously high-quality field, and we are set for four days of some top tier golf with putting the name of the game. In six of the last seven years the winning score has been 21-under-par or lower, and if you can get the flatstick going, you traditionally have a great chance here.
That’s because the fairways are wide and the greens are nice and big, so this event is usually decided on the dancefloor, with undulating, windswept putting surfaces posing the biggest challenge to the pros.
Here are the best betting props as we welcome the return of the PGA Tour in 2022.
Sentry Tournament of Champions 2022
Mon, January 10 2022, 3:00 AM
Matchbet: Jordan Spieth to beat Daniel Berger (-106)
Going back over the last six years at Kapalua’s Plantation Course, no player in this field has a lower scoring average than Jordan Spieth (68.17). His performances here have been sublime, finishing second on debut in 2014, winning in 2016, third in 2017, and then ninth in 2018. That was the last time he was here, so no doubt Spieth will be delighted to be back at a course that he has said ranks in his top three favorites.
In three of those four tournaments Spieth was in the top four players in the shots gained tee to green and putting average statistic. His ninth place finish in 2018 was a rare occasion where the flatstick let him down.
Finding it with the flatstick. 🕳@JordanSpieth was a TOUR-leading 20.78% from 20-25 feet this past season. pic.twitter.com/pLUMdFhxcm— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 1, 2022
But last year was a comeback year for the 12-time Tour winner. After dropping outside the top 80 players in the world, Spieth surged back into the top 15 last year and won his home event, the Texas Open, which punched his ticket for this event.
Berger has played here three times with his best performance coming last year, when he shot 19-under-par to finish 10th. He’s played 12 rounds around this course and has shot in in the 60s 41.7% of the time. Spieth has played 16 rounds and shot sub-70 in 68.8% of them though, and his love for the course should see him clear Berger in a matchbet.
Top Asian Player: Hideki Matsuyama (+150)
Matsuyama had the best year of his career last year, with the highlight coming at Augusta National. He became the first Japanese male player to win a major and that win, plus another in the Zozo Championship, ensures he lines up here in Hawaii.
The reason I’m most sweet on Matsuyama is because of how many former Green Jacket winners have also won here. Going back through the last decade alone Dustin Johnson (twice), Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, and Jordan Spieth have won this event and the Masters.
"To be able to represent Japan and play in the home country, in a home Olympics, this is probably the first and last time I'll be able to do that."— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) July 27, 2021
Top shots from Hideki Matsuyama's career. pic.twitter.com/5fve6pTHqz
The differences between this course and Augusta are obviously vast, but the subtle similarity appears to be the need for some creativity around the greens.
Matsuyama had two top 10 finishes in Augusta under his belt before winning last year, and here he has finished third, second, and fourth in four attempts. The only blot on his record was finishing 41st in 2020, but I’m happy to overlook that and back him to be the top Asian player this weekend.
Top 5 Finish: Justin Thomas (+163)
JT looks like the man to beat this weekend, and rightfully so. He’s a two-time winner here (2017 and 2020) and he also finished third in 2019 and 2021. Eight of his last nine rounds at this course have been sub-70, and it is clearly set up for him to succeed.
Thomas’ iron game is on another level and that has lifted him to the top of the leaderboard numerous times here, where he has always performed well in strokes gained approaching the green.
Always love starting off my year on the Plantation Course at @GolfatKapalua for @Sentry_TOC. The @Troon team here has the course looking perfect as usual and the staff here (like at all Troon locales) go above and beyond. Looking forward to a great week at Kapalua! #TeamTroon pic.twitter.com/L3Zx0nKSMn— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) January 3, 2022
Last year’s effort was marred by third round controversy after Thomas was picked up by TV microphones muttering a homophobic slur after missing a five-foot putt. This time around he can make headlines for all the right reasons and a top five finish should be locked in.
Top 10 Finish: Xander Schauffele (+100)
Schauffele is another former winner of this event that I fancy to do well this time around, albeit you could say his entry is slightly fortunate since he secured his place thanks to his win in the Tokyo Olympics, which is a non-PGA Tour event.
That aside, his course form is superb. On debut he finished a solid 22nd – a good result at a course where debutants historically struggle – and then won on his second start in 2019. In 2020, he finished second after losing a play-off, and last year he finished fifth after a final round of 66. That finish looks even better when you consider we hadn’t seen Schauffele for seven weeks as he had COVID-19, and on the eve of the tournament admitted he still wasn’t back to 100%. Not ideal given this is one of the longest courses to walk all year.
All that points to a course Schauffele is comfortable with, and over the last three years here he has made 67 birdies-or-better (Justin Thomas at 77 is the only player with more). Coming into this event with far better preparation than last year he is a great bet for a top 10 finish.