Let’s face it: Hawaii and golf make for an ideal way to start the New Year.
Welcome to the PGA Tour’s first event of 2022, this week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua on the island of Maui.
Before we head to the first tee for the tournament, which runs Jan. 6-9 on the Plantation Course, let’s take a minute to enjoy the surroundings.
If you’re fighting to shovel snow every day and battling snow-clogged roads driving to work, we’re sympathetic. The good news is the event will be televised in prime time on the Golf Channel. When you get home from work, grab a drink with an umbrella, and tune in to four days of golf from paradise.
You’ll be glad you did.
And we’re here to help you put a few bucks in your wallet if you’re in the mood to put down a wager or two.
Odds To Win The Tournament Of Champions (FanDuel)
Jon Rahm +700
Justin Thomas +1100
Patrick Cantlay +1100
Bryson DeChambeau +1200
Collin Morikawa +1200
Viktor Hovland +1200
Xander Schauffele +1400
Sam Burns +1400
As always, shop around the betting market for the best odds for your plays.
Get Ready For Two Weeks In Paradise
With this week’s limited field of 39 players teeing it up (Rory McIlroy is the only qualified player who isn’t here), there’s good value up and down the oddsboard.
And remember, we’re going to be staying in Hawaii for two straight weeks with next week’s Sony Open a short flight away on Oahu.
But before we see the full-field event on Oahu, let’s take advantage of this week’s short field and look at who is hot, who is not, and one of the longest of long shots who could play well enough to win.
Perks Of Winning Are Plentiful
There’s no better way to start the PGA Tour calendar year than with a victory. Just ask Harris English, last year’s champion on Maui.
English’s victory was his first since way back in 2014. It sparked quite the year for him, as he also won the Traveler’s Championship in June.
He wasn’t done…not by a longshot.
He also helped Team USA win the Ryder Cup. For the year, English moved up to No. 13 in the World Golf Rankings and has shown no signs of letting up, as he’s coming off a T-3 at the season-ending QBE team event with Matt Kuchar as his partner (the English-Kuchar team was the defending champ in the event.)
But as the golf world comes back to life after the holiday season, a win here at Kapalua gives the champ 500 FedEx Cup points, a $1.34 million payday, and a spot in next year’s Tournament of Champions.
Not bad for a week of fun in the sun.
Can English Go Back-To-Back?
English is not one of the favorites, way down the list at +3000. That’s a great number for a defending champion, and coming off his solid 2021 season, there’s a good chance for a repeat here.
English had to go an extra hole to beat Joaquin Niemann in a playoff for the 2021 title. Niemann finished with a hard-charging 64 to catch English, but a birdie on the first playoff hole, the par-5 18th, got English back into the winner’s circle.
There’s no better feeling for a Tour pro (or any other golfer for that matter) than teeing it up in a place you’ve had recent success.
And after a great 2021, there’s no doubt he will come in with more confidence than he did last year. And he wound up with the victory, so watch out as we hit 2022.
Watch For The Guy Who Is Always Second
Now we come to Xander Schauffele at +1400 odds.
Sure, he’s one of the favorites this week. But he didn’t win on the PGA Tour in 2021, and he earned a spot in the field thanks to his Olympic gold medal in 2020.
And while he didn’t win in 2021, it wasn’t for lack of effort. He was close so many times it’s almost comical.
In fact, he hasn’t won since being crowned champion here in 2019. In that span, he has posted eight second-place finishes, three thirds, and a total of 21 top 10s.
To say he’s anxious to get back into the winner’s circle would be an understatement.
He will be in the picture come Sunday. He’s had great success on the Plantation Course. After his victory, he finished T-2 two years ago and T-5 last year.
Don’t be surprised if he snaps out of this slump (if you can call his stellar performances a slump) this week and gets back in the winner’s circle.
Looking For A Longshot?
There are bettors always on the hunt for the longshot. Whether it’s horse racing, football, or any other sport.
Golf is no different.
Well, this week, we’ve got a long, long shot in Phil Mickelson at +13000. He had one victory in 2021 (the PGA Championship, of course) to qualify to play here, but the rest of his season was so-so, to be generous.
He’s making his first trip to the Tournament of Champions in 21 years. But in this event where there’s no cut, more than a few winners have surprised by winning the title.
Mickelson could fit that storyline.
Some players come here for the golf and relaxation, as everyone is guaranteed a pretty hefty payday.
But for some, like Mickelson, this is one of those weeks he’s more likely to put his nose to the grindstone and focus on the golf shots rather than the scenic views.
After all, he’s got nothing more to prove, except that last year’s win at the PGA Championship at the age of 50 was no fluke.