Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. However, finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they select a champion.
Below, we will cover the best bets for the Sentry Tournament of Champions based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their golf odds.
Welcome to 2023! After what was undeniably the most controversial, strange, and impactful year in the history of professional golf, we arrive at the familiar confines of the Hawaiian Islands for the opening event of the New Year. Formerly just for the prior season's winners, the PGA Tour has generously expanded the pool to include any golfer who finished in the top 30 in last season's FedEx Cup Standings, and they have also nearly doubled the prize pool.
The new structure raises the stakes significantly for the select few who qualify -- winning the TOC is effectively equivalent, from a financial standpoint, to winning last year's Masters. Such is life in a post-LIV golf world, and what was already a top-heavy tournament becomes even more so with the dollars at stake. It's difficult to imagine someone outside the top 10 in the odds winning an event like this. With wide-open fairways and elevation, everyone in the field will be uncorking it off the tee. Our selections come down to approach play and birdie-making.
For more info on Plantation Course at Kapalua, along with this week's key stats, check out Brandon Gdula's primer.
At The Top
Justin Thomas (+1000) - Thomas is primed for a huge season, and there are few courses in the world where he'd rather start his campaign. He's won here twice -- in 2017 and 2020 -- and besides those wins, he has three other finishes inside the top five. He's also played some golf recently (unlike many in the field), participating in the The Match and PNC Championship dog-and-pony shows over the break. JT's iron play is among the best in the world year in and year out, and while the putter is occasionally wonky, he is always excellent around the greens. Huge surfaces like the ones at Kapalua play to his creative short game. Thomas has been -- and will continue to be-- a fixture in this space at the top of the board.
Patrick Cantlay (+1000) - For those inclined to go all-in and top-load your card with two big dogs, Cantlay makes a perfect pairing with JT. His 2021-22 season was a fitting follow-up to his FedEx Cup crown the year before, but Cantlay likely feels like he left some hardware on the table. He won the team event in New Orleans with Xander Schauffele (also +1000) as well as the BMW Championship, but he also had three second-place finishes and four more finishes of third or fourth, one of which came here. Cantlay picked up right where he left off in the new season, with yet another runner-up at the Shriners Children's Open in his lone start this fall.
Collin Morikawa (+1800) - Three trips to Kapalua and finishes of T7, T7, and T5 bode well for Morikawa, who had a strangely unproductive season a year ago given his trajectory heading into it. The short game was often the culprit, and that disease has not been cured as of the fall swing. He had just one measured event in the fall but ranks 222nd of 224 golfers after losing 6.1 strokes with the flat stick at THE CJ CUP in South Carolina. We can deduce finishes of T45 and T15 at his unmeasured events were the result of poor putting, as well, given the fact that he is fourth in greens in regulation percentage on the season. All of that noise leads us to Morikawa at a juicy 18/1 at a course where he's actually gained with the putter in all three trips. Some confidence on the greens could make all the difference, and we can expect his usual excellent approach play.
Joohyung Kim (+2700) - Have we mentioned that Tom Kim might just be the best golfer in the world right now? Kim has won each of his last two full-field PGA starts, and over an eight-event stretch that includes the no-cut events -- including the Playoffs and Fall Swing -- he has finished T13 or better six times. While this is his first trip to the Plantation Course, the 20-year-old's name seems to appear near the top of the leaderboard at some point every weekend, and he won't be wowed and awed by the star power in this field. Kim is the real deal, and it's only a matter of time before he's winning big-ticket events on Tour. If he stays on his current trajectory, it will be a long, long time before we see him at 27/1 again -- even in a full field.
Will Zalatoris (+3100) - A back injury has sidelined Zalatoris since his first career PGA Tour win at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. He was on the precipice of true greatness last season, with his second consecutive top 10 at The Masters serving as a prelude to runner-up finishes at both the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. He was also in the mix with top-five finishes at Torrey Pines and Muirfield Village. If a few balls roll differently, Zalatoris could've had one of the signature non-Tiger Woods seasons in PGA Tour history. Rust and injury are concerns, but that's fairly priced in at this 31/1 price. His ball-striking and approach play make him dangerous at any course and against any field. We'll grab this number while we can.