The 2020-21 PGA Tour resumes this weekend with the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The par-73 layout has traditionally been a birdie fest, but last year’s winning score of 14-under-par may be signaling a new trend.
Since its inception in 1953, the tournament’s field has been confined to winners from the prior calendar year. The cancellation of 13 events due to the COVID-19 pandemic prompted tournament organizers to also include players that qualified for the 2020 Tour Championship.
With the expansion, 42 players will tee off at Kapalua, the site for the tournament since 1999. Ernie Els owns the tournament record of 31-under-par on his way to an eight-stroke victory in 2003.
The defending champion is Justin Thomas, who defeated Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele in a playoff.
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Between the 2019 and 2020 tournaments, course architects Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore made some renovations to the layout. Generally, players develop a history of good performance at Kapalua. Even with the changes in design, that didn’t seem to make much of a difference.
Thomas won for the second time, Reed recorded his fourth top 10 finish, Schauffele followed up his 2019 win with a tie for second, and Dustin Johnson got his fourth consecutive top 10 finish. The course might be a little harder, but it’s still the same one.
Johnson has odds of +650 to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Given his performance in the last six months, he’s likely going to be the betting favorite every time he tees it up. He’s a two-time winner of the event and tied for seventh in 2020.
His length off the tee shortens the course to a par 70 or 71, and his familiarity puts him in a great position to grab a third win. A win in the Masters is likely to propel Johnson to a monster 2021, and a win at Kapalua would be a great way to start the new year.
Thomas comes in with odds of +800 and has played well in the 2020-21 season. His worst finish is a tie for 12th, and he recorded top 10 results in the U.S. Open and the Masters. He’s the defending champion with another win in 2017 and a third-place finish in 2019.
Thomas qualified with his win in this tournament last year but added a second victory in the 2020 calendar year at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational. He finished second in the 2019-20 FedEx Cup standings and looks poised to continue that success.
Schauffele is fourth on the odds list at +800 behind Jon Rahm, but he beats out the Spaniard because of his recent success at Kapalua. Schauffele lost to Thomas in the playoff last year after winning the tournament in 2019.
The 27-year-old comes into the Sentry ranked eighth in the Official World Golf Rankings, with a season-high second-place finish at The CJ Cup @ Shadow Creek. He also placed fifth in the U.S. Open after an impressive second-place finish at the Tour Championship.