PGA Tour Picks: Sentry Tournament of Champions Odds and Betting Predictions
The 2018-19 PGA Tour wraparound season actually began in early October in California wine country with the Safeway Open, but to most golf fans the year annually begins at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. That tees off Thursday at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, a par 73 measuring 7,518 yards.
The Tournament of Champions is exactly as it sounds: Only open to winners from the past calendar year. Tiger Woods is among that group thanks to his memorable victory at the Tour Championship, but he's not playing in Hawaii. He hasn't since 2005. Woods is expected to make his 2019 debut at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines starting Jan. 24. That's where he began 2018 and a course where he has won eight times. Tiger only plans to compete in 15 tournaments or so this year, saying he was rundown by the end of last season.
There are nine players making their debuts at Kapalua. Rory McIlroy also is playing, which is a first for this tournament. He usually plays on the European Tour early in the year and doesn't come across the pond until the Florida Swing gets underway. A total of 37 players were eligible to play here and 34 are doing so. Joining Tiger as holdouts are Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose. Lefty is skipping for the 13th straight time he was eligible and hasn't played the event since 2001.
The current No. 1 in the world is American Brooks Koepka, who was named the PGA Tour Player of the Year for last season thanks to his victories at the U.S. Open and PGA Championship. Koepka was also a runner-up twice last season. He is the +550 favorite at Bovada to win the Money List title this season. He's on top of that right now with $1,826,000 in winnings. Justin Thomas won it last year at $8,694,821. He's +600 at Bovada.
The course record at Kapalua is a 62 by a few guys, while the 72-hole record is a 261 set by Ernie Els in 2003. Barring major winds, it's going to take at least 20 under par to win.
Golf Odds: Sentry Tournament of Champions Favorites
Dustin Johnson is the +550 Bovada favorite to repeat. He won by a whopping eight shots last year, finishing at 24 under. His final-round 65 was the low round of the tournament. That gave DJ a PGA Tour victory in 11 straight seasons, making him one of 10 players to accomplish the streak. He also won in 2013. No one has repeated since Aussie Geoff Ogilvy in 2010.
Spaniard Jon Rahm is +800 after finishing as a runner-up last year in his tournament debut. Rahm won Tiger's Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas in early December at 20 under. He shot a final-round 65. You may remember Rahm also beat Tiger in Sunday singles at the Ryder Cup.
Thomas is +800 with Koepka at +900 and McIlroy at +900. Koepka finished dead last a year ago at 13 over but clearly wasn't healthy as he didn't play on the PGA Tour again until late April due to a left wrist injury. Thomas was the 2017 winner at 22 under, beating out Hideki Matsuyama (not here this year) by three shots. McIlroy is planning on playing more on the PGA Tour this year and less on the European Tour, so that's why he's in Hawaii. McIlroy must play four Euro Tour events other than the majors to retain his Tour membership.
One guy who always plays well here and won in 2016 was Jordan Spieth, but he didn't win a tournament in 2018 and thus not playing. Rickie Fowler also usually plays well here, too, but also didn't qualify.
Golf Odds: Sentry Tournament of Champions Picks
For a Top 10, we like Johnson (-225), Bryson DeChambeau (-120) and Jason Day (-120). Head-to-head, take DeChambeau (-110) over Day (-120), Johnson (-130) over Rahm (even), Thomas (-115) over Koepka (-115), and Patrick Reed (-105) over McIlroy (-125). We think Reed has the best value to win at +1600. He did win in 2015 and also has finished second and sixth at Kapalua.
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