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The Plantation Course has hosted this calendar season opener since 1999
Aussie Cam Smith won with a record score of 34-under last year
Last year’s runner-up Jon Rahm is the betting favorite
The odds for this tournament are provided by Caesars Sportsbook. Click on the odds below to head to Caesars Sportsbook and place a bet.
Jon Rahm ended 2022 with two wins in four starts and is twice a runner-up here. Back the Englishman to take victory at +650 with Caesars Sportsbook.
Seamus Power is No.1 in the FedEx Cup standings after a superb Fall. He can beat Corey Conners in a 72-hole match bet at -110 with DraftKings Sportsbook.
K.H. Lee likes Bermuda greens and can shoot the lights out. The South Korean finished well here in 2022 and can land a Top 10 at +330 with DraftKings Sportsbook.
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The opening act of the calendar year takes us back to a familiar and very beautiful spot - the island of Maui.
The Plantation Course has played this role since 1999, the visuals at the coastal Kapalua Resort providing a soothing yet exciting introduction to another busy season ahead.
Punching a ticket used to be an added reward for winning a PGA Tour event. It wouldn’t be long into a press conference before the new champion would be celebrating the fact that he was looking forward to starting the year in Maui.
However, this previous ‘winners only’ event did just loosen its entry requirements in 2021 and this time anyone who made it through to the season-ending 30-man Tour Championship is also guaranteed a spot.
That scoops up non-winners Cameron Young and Sahith Theegala, who complete a field of just 39 in this four-round no-cut event.
The front of the betting is dominated by the cream of PGA Tour golf with the notable exception of Rory McIlroy who almost always leaves this event off his schedule.
Florida to Hawaii is over 12 hours so not everyone wants to make that trip so early in the year, even if the setting is idyllic.
The Plantation Course was given a revamp by Bill Coore and double Masters winner Ben Crenshaw in 2019 and is famous for its super-wide fairways, rolling terrain, and huge, slow-running bermuda greens that make three-putts a common occurrence.
Unusually, it’s a par 73, the card arriving at that number courtesy of the usual four par 5s but just three par 3s.
Wind can often be a factor although it wasn’t last year when Cameron Smith (not defending after moving to LIV) shot an incredible 34-under to edge out Jon Rahm by a shot.
There’s nothing too gusty in this week’s forecast so expect the birdies to fly in once more.
A big key is a performance on the greens and the last five winners - Smith, Harris English, Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, and Dustin Johnson - all ranked first or second in Putting Average.
Smith’s victory last year ended a run of 11 straight wins for Americans although Aussies won five of the seven editions from 2004-2010.
It’s easy to think that magic reset buttons are in play when the calendar turns from one year to the next.
But history shows us that if a player was performing well in November and December, there’s a strong chance they’ll come out of the gates fast here.
So that’s why Jon Rahm has every chance of justifying his status as a tournament favorite this week.
Let’s deal with the current form first. The Spaniard ended 2022 with two wins in four starts, those victories coming in his home Open de Espana and November’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Rahm felt a little peeved that they didn’t carry greater world ranking points so has plenty of incentive going into 2023 as he bids to move from his current position of 5th and return to World No.1.
The Plantation Course is clearly a venue that Rahm relishes and it must still baffle him how he shot 33-under last year and didn’t win!
That was his second runners-up finish in five visits and included a course-record 12-under 61 in round three.
Rahm has never been out of the top 10 here since he debuted in 2018 and there’s a very strong case that he’ll bully the course into submission this week.
With his putter heating up markedly at the back end of 2022, he looks the one to beat so take the +650 at Caesars Sportsbook.
With the stats highlighting putting as a key weapon this week, I’m going to back Seamus Power to take down Corey Conners over 72 holes.
The Irishman ended 2022 in stunning fashion and goes into this event as the surprise leader in the FedEx Cup rankings.
He got there via a win in the Bermuda Championship followed by a third at the World Wide Technology Championship and a fifth in the RSM Classic.
All three were coastal events and he ranked 3rd and 10th for Putting Average in two of them.
Power shot 65-69-67 over the final 54 holes on his course debut last year when tied for 15th and also took third place a week later in the Sony Open, the second leg of the Hawaiian Swing.
Conners is playing solidly enough but his credentials aren’t as strong.
The Canadian was 19th here on his only appearance, hasn’t had a top 10 since August, and continues to perform modestly with the flat stick.
Power is the bet in this -110 pick ‘em with DraftKings Sportsbook.
K.H. Lee booked his place in the field via a successful defense of the AT&T Byron Nelson in May.
He’s won those back-to-back events with scores of -25 and -26 so clearly loves to pour in the birdies.
The South Korean has since flashed his talents further with fifth at the BMW Championship and third in November’s CJ Cup in South Carolina.
He putts well on Bermuda greens and was getting the hang of this course on debut last year, going lower each day: 72, 71, 69, 67.
Interviewed about his chances this week, he said specifically: “I wish to be in the top 10.”
Remembering this is just a 39-man field, let’s take Lee to back up his words and land that top 10 at +330 with DraftKings Sportsbook.
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Sentry Tournament of Champions Information
Tournament - Sentry Tournament of Champions
Location - Plantation Course, Kapalua, Maui, HI
Time - Thursday, January 5 - Sunday, January 8
How to Watch - Thursday-Friday 6 pm-10 pm ET (Golf Channel), Saturday-Sunday 4 pm-6 pm (NBC), 6 pm-8 pm (Golf Channel). All 4 days on Sky Sports
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Dave Tindall is former golf editor at SkySports.com and Golf365.com and has been writing betting previews for the PGA Tour and European Tour since 1997. He has also written for a range of betting companies, including William Hill and Betfair, as well as being a regular columnist for Rotoworld, The Guardian, Sporting Life and Planet Sport. His other area of speciality is football while he's also covered cricket and tennis.
Email: [email protected]More info on Dave Tindall
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