Sobel’s Sentry Tournament of Champions Matchup & Outright Bets: Dustin Johnson Is Lurking in Round 2
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Dustin Johnson in Kapalua, Hawaii.
For some people, the PGA Tour season starts exactly when the execs in those Ponte Vedra Beach corner offices say it does — back in September, right on the heels of the previous season ending.
For others, it doesn’t really start until the azaleas are in full bloom at Augusta National, as if nothing matters until the year’s first major championship.
Me? I’ll split the difference.
In my mind, the golf season begins on the first tee at Kapalua, not only the most scenic setting for such festivities, but the most appropriate, as hope springs eternal in the dawn of a new calendar year.
One round into this start, Joaquin Niemann holds the Sentry TOC lead, the result of a brilliant bogey-free 7-under 66 opener. But that, of course, was just the appetizer. The main course promises to be a little tougher to swallow.
With strong winds expected to be gusting to 35-40 mph during the next three rounds, the leaderboard is going to change a lot. Here are a few bets I like for Round 2 and beyond:
Odds as of Thursday evening and via William Hill, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get $10 free and up to a $150 deposit match.
Live Outright to Watch
Dustin Johnson (+1600)
One year ago, Xander Schauffele seemed like a non-factor after the first round of this event, trailing the leader by a half-dozen strokes. Three days later, he posted a final-round 62 to win.
Well, DJ is exactly six back right now, having moved from the fourth-lowest odds on the board pre-tournament to eighth entering Friday. I usually prefer to live bet players who are striking the ball well, but aren’t scoring (i.e. putting) yet. Johnson is the opposite.
My pre-tourney pick to win, he ranks second-to-last — behind only Kevin Na — in strokes gained off the tee. I just have a hard time believing he won’t turn that around soon. With tougher conditions coming, there’s still value in his current number.
Round 2 Matchup
Corey Conners (+100) over Cameron Champ (-125)
On more than one occasion during the opening round, Champ’s ball was mired “in the unknown,” as ShotLink likes to call it. Conners’ ball-striking was much crisper and I expect that to continue in stronger winds on Friday.
The Canadian plays well in tougher conditions, his accuracy is a major advantage over his playing partner. While I liked each of these players entering the week, I think Conners is the play for this round.