The 2022 calendar year begins with the traditional Hawaii swing, beginning with the Sentry Tournament of Champions (TOC), which is restricted to Tour winners from the prior year.
Of the 39 event winners, 38 are in the field, with only Rory McIlroy declining to play while Olympic Gold medalist and 2019 champion Xander Schauffele, despite failing to record a tournament victory, is in the field as a reward for what he did in Tokyo.
A hefty $8.2 million purse is up for grabs in a limited-field event with no 36-hole cut, so every player is guaranteed to collect a nice payday regardless of where they finish.
The defending champion is Harris English, who defeated Joaquin Niemann in a sudden-death playoff after both players completed 72 holes at 25 under par.
The Sentry TOC is played on the par 73 Plantation Course at Kapalua on the island of Maui, with dramatic elevation changes and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The layout yields low scores, with Ernie Els carding a record 31 under par score of 261 in 2003 while five players have shot 11 under par rounds of 62.
The 7,596-yard course is the only one on Tour that plays to a par over 72, giving the players plenty of scoring opportunities on the par five holes, particularly the 18th that provides a great chance at eagle. With fairways that are among the widest of any of the courses used in regular Tour stops, it gives the big hitters a virtual green light to let it rip on almost every hole.
Jon Rahm, the top-ranked player in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), is the betting favorite at odds of +600, a very low figure for a player who has six career wins, including just one in 2021, the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. At +850 is two-time TOC winner Justin Thomas, with Collin Morikawa, the second-ranked player in the OWGR just behind at +1000.
Phil Mickelson, making his first appearance in the event in 21 years, was a two-time winner when the tournament was held in California, but he is near the bottom of the odds list at +15000 after qualifying with his historic win at age 50 in the PGA Championship. Always interesting Bryson DeChambeau is at +1200, and the defending champion English has odds of +3500.
Favorite Betting Choices
In his past five appearances at the Sentry TOC, Justin Thomas has two wins and three finishes in third place, which should make him a big favorite heading into the tournament. Thomas, after facing backlash from an inappropriate comment early in 2021, rebounded with a win in The Players Championship and was the emotional leader of the United States team in their big win over Europe in the Ryder Cup.
Viktor Hovland already has a victory in the 2021-2022 season in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba and followed that up with a win in the unofficial yet highly competitive Hero World Challenge. At odds of +1200, Hovland is definitely worth including in a three or four-player group on which to place wagers.
With a chance of overtaking Jon Rahm for the top spot in the OWGR, Collin Morikawa will come into the Sentry TOC focused and motivated in his first official event since a seventh-place finish in the ZOZO Championship in October that followed a runner up spot in his only other start of the new season a week earlier at the CJ Cup @ Summit.
The stronger the field, the better Morikawa seems to perform, and almost all the big names in the game will be on hand at Kapalua.