Sentry Tournament of Champions Recap

The Plantation Course at Kapalua always yields low scores as the debut PGA Tour event in a new calendar year, but winner Cameron Smith set a new standard with his 34 under par 258 total that was good enough for hard-fought, a one-stroke victory over world number one Jon Rahm.


In what appeared to be a two-man competition between Smith and Rahm heading into the final round, somehow Matt Jones, who began the day six-shot behind the leading pair after shooting a 62 on Saturday, found a way to close to within a shot of Rahm by firing a closing 11 under par 61.


The event that is restricted to PGA Tour winners over the prior twelve months ended up with 38 participants, with Rory McIlroy declining to enter and Cameron Champ withdrawing due to Covid concerns. The course has seen a lot of rain over the past weeks, and the field was able to play under lift, clean, and place rules in the first two rounds, further affording the opportunity for low scores on the only par 73 layout on Tour.


Since Ernie Els finished the tournament at 31 under par 261 in 2003, the Sentry Tournament of Champions has held the record for the lowest 72 hole score to par of any PGA Tour event. The top three finishers on Sunday all bested Els’ mark, primarily due to the soft course early in the week coupled with a lack of wind that produced ideal scoring conditions throughout the tournament.


In addition to Smith’s record-shattering performance, Justin Thomas, Rahm, and Jones all bettered the old single-round scoring record of 62 by posting 12 under par scores of 61, with Thomas and Rahm doing so on Saturday. No player shot higher than 74 in a single round, with one of those scores posted by Thomas on Thursday before he rebounded to finish in a tie for fifth at 25 under par 267.


Smith, who began the tournament with odds as high as +2200, collected $1.476 million for the victory along with 500 FedEx Cup points which lifted him to third in the standings, as well as becoming the first player to qualify for next year’s Sentry Tournament of Champions. The Australian also gained entry into the 2022 Masters Tournament and PGA Championship while securing a two-year exemption on the PGA Tour.


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Rahm was the favorite at +600, but just like last season was forced to settle for a high finish instead of a victory, his 16th top-five start in his last 23 events. At +850 was Thomas, with two-time major winner Collin Morikawa at +1000, who closed with a 62 to also tie for fifth place.


Of the trio of Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, and Victor Hovland, who had odds of +1200, only Schauffele was able to finish inside the top 24, finishing 12th at 22 under par 270. FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay, who was at +1400, secured a strong fourth-place showing with a pair of 66’s and two 67’s to finish at 26 under par 266.


Phil Mickelson, who had long odds of +15000 before making his first appearance in the Sentry Tournament of Champions in 21 years, struggled all week to go low and completed his week in a tie for 30th at 14 under par 278.

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