The PGA Tour heads to Hawaii for the first of two consecutive events held in the 50th state this weekend. The Plantation Course at Kapalua on the island of Maui hosts the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The tournament has been played on the par-73 layout since 1999.
The event has been held since 1953 on different courses and with many tournament sponsors. Its winners list reads like a Hall of Fame listing, with Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson among the past champions.
To make up for the cancellation of 13 tournaments in 2020, the usual qualification requirement of winning a PGA Tour event was expanded. Players that were not otherwise eligible that played in the 2020 Tour Championship were provided entry into the tournament.
The field includes eight of the top nine players in the Official World Golf Rankings and the entire top 10 in the current FedEx Cup standings. Among such a stellar field, it’s difficult to find a true underdog pick, but there are a few that stand out.
Sentry Tournament of Champions Underdog Picks
PGA Tour players tend to have an affinity for certain courses on which they always play well. The Plantation Course tends to meet that trait even more than most. Multiple wins and top 10 finishes are not unusual for players that play the course at a high level.
Even though original designers Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore performed a renovation between the 2019 and 2020 tournaments, the same players still popped up on the leaderboard. This was true for the top odds picks as well as some players farther down the list.
Marc Leishman began the 2020 season strong, rising to seventh in the FedEx Cup standings before the COVID-19 pandemic caused an interruption to the season. He won the Farmers Insurance Open and was second in the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard the week prior to the pause.
He missed the Tour Championship due to COVID-19 concerns but bounced back with a tie for 13th at the Masters. Leishman has a pair of top 10 finishes at Kapalua in 2018 and 2019, making his +9000 odds an attractive flyer for anyone looking for a big payday.
With three recent top 10s at Kapalua, including a second-place finish in 2017, Hideki Matsuyama is due to break through at the Sentry. The five-time PGA Tour winner already has a second-place finish in the 2021 season. He’s coming off a strong 2020, even though he didn’t grab a tournament win.
The 28-year-old is 19th in the world and, at odds of +2000, is worth a look to emerge a winner against a very strong field. His last win was in 2017, when he finished on top three times. With his strong game, he’s long overdue for his sixth Tour win.
At +1800 odds, former Sentry champion Patrick Reed could be a real wagering steal. Since his 2015 victory, Reed has three top 10 finishes at Kapalua, including twice as runner-up.
Last year, he lost out to Justin Thomas in a playoff. He’s seen limited action in the 2020-21 season but finished 2020 in sixth place in the FedEx Cup.