Christmas has come and gone and the bells of New Year have been chimed, the end of the festivities can only mean one thing and that is the start of the 2022 PGA Tour Season.
As per tradition, the Sentry Tournament of Champions, the Tour’s annual curtain-raiser will take place on the Plantation Course in Maui Hawaii. It’s a special tournament and a fantastic way to start the season as only those who won on Tour in 2021 are eligible to play. This year the tournament will see a stellar lineup of 39 players which includes seven of the world’s top eight trying to battle it out for the $1.34 million first-place prize. Although this is only the first week of the 2022 season, the world number one ranking is also on the line, as a win for Collin Morikawa would see him depose Jon Rahm at the top of the rankings.
Before we dive into our selections let’s run the rule over what has quickly become one of the PGA Tour’s most iconic courses.
The Plantation Course is a 7,596 yard Par 73 Parkland course and is one of the most picturesque courses on the entire PGA Tour. Situated on the shores of the Pacific, nature and sports blend effortlessly with the combination of the world finest golfers meeting some of the world’s greatest wildlife.
The Plantation course is a bombers paradise with its runway like fairways and massive vast greens. It’s a course comprised of four par fives, 11 par fours and just three par 3s. The defence of the course relies greatly on the weather, being situated so close to the shores of the Pacific, the wind has historically caused havoc making scoring difficult, however, if conditions are favourable as they were in 2021, the Plantation course can become one of the most generous on Tour as defending Champion Harris English’s winning score of -25 can attest too.
Another line of defence for the course is it’s Bermuda rough, it presents a challenge to the players who commit errors off either the tee or through their approach play. Despite there not being any water hazards on the course there are 93 bunkers dotted around the course which will provide a further challenge to golfers who stray off course.
In order to start our 2022 picks with a bang we will need to pick golfers who can drive it a fair distance but also have the ability to save pars and make birdies through efficient scrambling, therefore players who have brute power as well as finesse are who we want to be backing this week.
2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions Betting Predictions
MAIN BET: Xander Schauffele +1200
There is arguably no better player on the Plantation course than Xander Schauffele. Schauffele has played this tournament four times and despite finishing 22nd in his first appearance, his next three appearances read 1st, 2nd and 5th.
It isn’t a surprise to see that Schauffele has performed so well on a course such as Plantation as he is one of the most rounded golfers on the Tour. In the 2020/2021 season Schauffele finished 6th in total putting, 2nd in sand saves, 14th in overall driving average, 7th in scoring average and 14th in strokes gained through approach. With everyone of these stats lending themselves incredibly well to the way that Plantation will be set up, Schauffele is a really safe way to play. He enters this weekend a little under the radar and is currently only the 5th favourite for the tournament, providing a little bit of added value for our main pick bet.
DARK HORSE BET: Tony Finau +2500
There was arguably no more popular winner in 2021 than Tony Finau’s Northern Trust victory. Finau one of golfs most popular players finally got over the hump, winning only his second PGA Tour title, a victory that came five years after his first success. As a reward for his success, Finau will be teeing it up at Plantation for only the third time (he was allowed to play in 2021 due to a one year rule change that allowed all 30 of the PGA Tour finalists a spot in the tournament) and we feel with the confidence of his latest victory behind him, Finau has an outside chance of another Tour success.
Finau in the 2020/2021 season achieved some fine statistics, finishing 9th in strokes gained from tee to green, 3rd in hole proximity when scrambling from the sand, 28th in strokes gained through approach and 23rd in overall scoring. He also averaged 23rd in birdie average and 24th for total birdies.
On a course that is long, we just think that Finau has the game to do really well here and he arrives at this tournament as a completely different beast to his previous 9th and 31st place finishes. Finau knows that he can now compete with the very best in the world and beat them. Finau easily has the game to win some of the games biggest prizes and we think it could start here. For those looking to play the place market, Finau can be backed at +400 for a top 5 finish and +170 for a top 10 finish.
LONG SHOT BET: Kevin Na +6000
In a field as high quality as this one, a long shot bet is a difficult pick as each player in the field has the capacity to win this week. One player we are drawn too at the prices is Kevin Na.
Na is a golfer who is vastly underrated and is one of the Tour’s most solid players. Now ranked at 29 in the world, Na is playing this week thanks to his victory in the 2021 Shriners Championship.
Na is playing at Plantation for the fourth time and has recorded reasonable efforts finishing 12th, 32nd and 38th. Where Na clearly excels and where he is one of the strongest players in the field is in his scrambling. In the 2020/2021 season Na ranked first for strokes gained around the green, 12th in sand save percentage and 4th in scrambling. Na also ranks 7th for overall one putts and 36th in birdie average.
If Na can keep his ball clean around the greens, Na has the ability to compete really well this week and at a price of +6000 he could be the value option of the week. For those backing places, Na is priced at +700 for a top 5 finish and +265 for a top 10 finish.