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Well, after what felt like a decade long break since the fall, the PGA Tour is back. The Sentry Tournament of Champions will host the best players in the world (17 of the Top 20) in Maui at the Plantation Course at Kapalua. The field consists of all PGA Tour event winners from 2022 (with World no. 1 Rory McIlroy absent), and fills out the rest of the 39 man field with players competing in last years TOUR Championship. 2022 Champion Cam Smith is not in the field for obvious reasons. However, last years runner-up, Jon Rahm, is back in the field and the favorite to win the event at +600. Other top contenders by listed odds are Scottie Scheffler (+900), Justin Thomas (+1000), Patrick Cantlay (+1000) and Xander Schauffele (+1000).
Tony Finau (+1400) – I’ve made a lot of money on Tony over the last few months, dating back to his hot end to last season as well as his victory in Houston in the fall. So, there may be a loyalty factor here, but I do think he is one of the 5 best players in the world right now. In a star-studded field, Finau has the best value at the top of the board. It’s too early in the season with not nearly enough measured rounds to abide by statistics, but I don’t see a scenario in which Tony doesn’t have a chance this Sunday.
Tom Kim (+2700) – I’m not sure of the price on this one. 27-1? I guess bookmakers are assuming the 20 year old isn’t quite ready for exclusive and limited field events. That’s a crazy assumption. Tom Kim is legit, and although he currently sits at 15 on the OWGR, there aren’t many players who’ve had a more successful past 6 months than he has. With two victories and an all-time President’s Cup performance, it’s fair to say the young star has already had his “breakout”. I’m not sure that’s true – and I think this season he has a legit chance to make a charge at being atop the OWGR.
Max Homa (+3300) – I’ve discussed the consistency of Homa in past write ups for tournaments, but it can’t go without saying. There might not be a more consistent player on Tour. This is definitely a value pick.. with Rahm and Scheffler being less than 10-1 odds to win, there are a lot of middle of the pack guys who are priced to high. Homa is one of them. With 5 PGA Tour victories, he has the experience to finish if he finds himself in the hunt on Sunday. (I don’t recommend first round leader bets, but if I did, I’d recommend Homa)
Hideki Matsuyama (+4200) – So, if I told you that a Major winner and 8 time PGA Tour winner had better odds this year in Maui than in 2022 and 2021 COMBINED, what would you say? Hideki was 18-1 in 2021 and 22-1 last year. There’s reasons for this, as he’s been on a cold streak while dealing with a wrist injury and being at the center of LIV rumors a few months ago. With some time off, I’m hoping Hideki has been able to recover and find some rhythm. 42-1 is an insanely good price for Matsuyama.
Top 5 Finishes
Jon Rahm (+130) – In a duel with Cam Smith in 2022, Rahm and Cam both broke the PGA Tour under-par scoring records. Smith finished -34 and Rahm finished -33. The highlight video actually looks fake, as it was a birdie fest for both. Rahm began to find his rhythm with the putter in the fall, both in the states and Europe. He’s 6-1 outright for a reason, and I’ve been on record saying he’s still the best player in the world since Scheffler dethroned him last year. Rahm should have no issues finishing inside the Top 5.
Sahith Theegala (+850) – Well, you knew it was coming. I’ll have a Sahith outright ticket strictly because I’m in too deep at this point, but I’m not recommending it. Although, Theegs certainly plays his best golf in stronger fields and rises to the occasion before double bogeying on a Sunday. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him come out to a hot start on Thursday and be staring down a victory a few days later. Especially at this price in a 39 man field, it’s certainly worth a bet.
Top 10 Finishes
Patrick Cantlay (-135) – This may be the first time I’ve ever given a non-plus money golf bet. Cantlay has only played in one event this year, in which he had the blow up on 18 to lose to Tom Kim at Shriners and finish T2. He finished 4th at Kapalua last year behind Matt Jones (?) and obviously Rahm and Smith. In an event which will offer a lot of scoring opportunities, Cantlay should fair well as one of the best putters on Tour. Even if he doesn’t have his best stuff, Top 10 should be easy. If he DOES have his best stuff, I’ll be regretting only taking him here.
Sepp Straka (+650) – Straka was a given to have great value in a tournament like this for a few reasons. His only win came at a weak Honda Classic field – which got him into the field in Maui. Often lost on bettors is his performance at St. Jude to kick off the post season in 2022. He finished runner-up to Will Zalatoris after putting his tee shot into the water during a playoff hole. The field doesn’t get much stronger than St. Jude. Straka can play. Great value here.