2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions Picks, Predictions: Bets for Sam Burns, Seamus Power, More
David Cannon/Getty Images. Pictured: Sam Burns.
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After six weeks without PGA Tour golf, it is great to be back. We caught fire toward the end of last season, so hopefully we can carry some of that momentum into the new year.
There’s no better place to kick off 2023 than Maui. While many of us stateside are stuck shoveling snow from our driveways, this field will get to tee it up in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Hawaii is five hours ahead of Eastern Time, so this is a rare week where we get to watch golf in primetime.
The Plantation Course at Kapalua is a par-73 that measures 7,596 yards. The total yardage is certainly misleading, since elevation changes and undulating fairways lead to some of the longest drives that you will see on the PGA Tour all season. This is an event known for low scoring and we shouldn’t expect that to change this time around. The course’s main defense is the wind and the current forecast calls for rather tame winds (10-15 mph) by Hawaiian standards.
This course features the widest fairways and the largest greens on the PGA Tour. This is a very unique combination and it naturally leads to the field hitting a ton of fairways and a ton of greens. Right off the bat, we can rule out driving accuracy and strokes gained around the green when looking for a winner. The wide fairways will help even the wildest of drivers and if golfers are missing greens consistently, they will have a tough time contending at an event where you likely need to be 25-under par to have a chance.
Whether you like to rely on course statistics or player quotes about courses, they both align when it comes to the Plantation Course. Essentially, golfers will be hitting a lot of drivers, golfers will have a lot of approach shots with their wedges, and golfers will need to make a lot of putts on these bermuda greens. Four bets have caught my eye for the week — two outrights and two placements.
Justin Thomas +1100 (BetMGM)
Handicapping this event is always difficult because we don’t know what type of form most of the golfers are in. However, we have seen JT three different times since the start of December. He finished fifth at the Hero World Challenge, he beat Tiger and Rory in The Match, and then he and his father finished third in the PNC Championship. Those were all exhibition events, but at least we know he’s kept his game sharp.
Thomas clearly loves this week’s event, as he’s finished T-5 or better with two wins in his last six appearances at Kapalua. If his putter cooperates, I like his chances this week.
Sam Burns +2500 (BetMGM)
It’s hard to believe we are getting this big of a number on a golfer that has won three times in the last 15 months.
Burns was all over the map in terms of his form during the swing season, but I love the way this course sets up for him. He is plenty long off the tee but can often get in trouble due to his inaccuracy. The wide fairways should help in that regard.
When it comes to wedge play, there are few better than Burns. Over the last 12 months, he’s in the top nine in this field in proximity from each of the following ranges: 75-100, 100-125, and 125-150 yards.
Did I mention he’s also the best putter in the field on Bermuda greens?
Sentry Tournament of Champions Props
Seamus Power — Top 5 (+750, PointsBet)
Power is one of the streakiest golfers on the PGA Tour. While I’m hesitant to say his finishes in November count as recent form, they’re all we have to work with.
In his last three starts, he won the Bermuda Championship and finished top five at both the World Wide Technology Championship and the RSM Classic. He tends to play his best on easier courses and he can make bunches of birdies with the best of them.
In his Tournament of Champions debut here last season, he finished T15 after a slow opening round.
Mackenzie Hughes — Top 5 (+1600, PointsBet)
Hughes has worked hard to add distance over the last few years. While he’s not a bomber by any means, he’s now close to tour average in driving distance. When you combine this with an elite short game, you can see why he’s been able to contend a lot more often over the last couple of seasons.
Hughes picked up a win at the Sanderson Farms Championship in October and backed it up with two top-25 finishes. Ultimately, we are getting good value for him to post a top-five finish at +1600.
Happy 2023 everyone, let’s start the new year off on a good note.