Sentry Tournament of Champions Betting Tips - £100 stake
Location: Maui, Hawaii - Kapalua Country Club. Par 73, 7 holes over 500 yards, wide fairways, large greens.
Field: 39 players - it had been for tournament winners only but now also includes Tour Championship qualifiers from the previous season who hadn’t won which makes up 10 of the field.
Purse: This is one of the PGA Tour’s new elevated events with the prize money jumping to $15m (from $8.2m last year).
Horses for courses: Spieth (68.25), Rahm, Morikawa, Thomas, Schauffele, Cantlay, Matsuyama, Finau and Horschel (70.35) top the stroke averages stats at Kapalua in the last 7 years.
Previous Winners: Harris English, Justin Thomas (twice), Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth are the only winners to be playing this week that have won this event in the last 10 years. Jon Rahm has been runner up twice in 2022 and 2018, Joaquin Niemann was runner up in 2021 and Schauffele joint second in 2020.
With such a small field of top players value is hard to find, highlighted by Rahm at 8.2 on the exchange. And after a lengthy break, form starts from scratch so I’m looking at backing a couple of players who love it round Kapalua but I’m having a small stake week.
Top of the betting market:
I’d normally pick from a group of about 20 form players/top players/players who love the event and get that down to 3 or 4. This will be the approach for most of the year and I’ll stake a max of £300 on Majors/WGC events, £200 on big PGA events, with £100 on smaller events or ones that I don’t fancy as much betting wise. I'll always use Betfair Exchange and Win Only markets. (I've never understood each way golf betting - whether it's favourites or outsiders the odds are terrible compared to the win only exchange market and I like to have the chance of some decent returns without staking a fortune).
My goal for the year will be to make a profit (sounds mad to have to write!!). If I average £200 a week stake then over the year I’ll stake around £7,600 in pretend money (including self imposed rules that I can’t just stop if I’m winning and leave out the last few events for the year or have lower stakes for big events like the playoffs). If I end the year in profit I’ll book a holiday to the Maldives with the family. If I end the year with a loss, I’ll pick a charity and make a decent donation. (So pretty much win win unless you lay golf on Betfair!)
In the previous 2-3 years I’ve probably staked £10,000 on golf per year and that’s without putting a cost on endless Sunday hours spent looking at Betfair whilst watching coverage to decide on cash outs! There’s no cashing out my picks for this and whilst I’ve done pretty well betting on events themselves so the money side hasn’t been terrible, if I watch golf I want to enjoy watching players hit shots rather than being glued to my phone screen hoping a player I've backed doesn't put it in the bunker from the 18th tee and cost me the win. If I can achieve this as well as controlling the overall amount of time I spend on the whole subject, at the same time as hopefully putting something out there (which you’re reading) that a few people enjoy it will be worth it. This year the only winner will be me rather than the bookies!!
For the majors I may allow myself a few actual bets and depending on a few factors there may be some short videos where I chat through a few picks for the big tournaments. But let’s start here and see how we get on.
Two players who like the new year events and this course in particular as well as one player who I really fancy this year to have a big one make up my stable.
Firstly, Hideki. He came second here in 2017 behind Spieth and has a 69.10 average from 20 rounds at Kapalua so he consistently plays well and seems to prepare well for a cold start after the Christmas break. He also won the Sony Open last year which follows the Sentry and I’m hoping he has another fast start. He’s won some big time events alongside the 2021 Masters including two WGC’s but the gap from August 2017 to April 2021 is hard to understand with his game. Will 2023 be the year Hideki converts more of that incredible talent into wins? He’s getting £25 at odds of 60 to return £1,500.
Secondly, I needed a banker and Justin Thomas is the man for that. JT won the PGA Championship in 2022 so I’m sure the season gets a green tick overall but the prolific form of the 2019-2020 season (3 wins, 10 top 10’s from 18 events) hasn’t been there for a couple of years. JT is the favourite I fancy most on previous form and he’s decent value at 13.5 - hard to see how he’s 5th in the betting and almost double the odds of Rahm. He’s getting £45 stake to return £607.50.
Finally Tom Kim is getting £30 at odds of 36 to return £1,080. Since June 2022 he’s been within 8 shots of the eventual winner in 6 of 11 PGA Tour events. After winning the Wyndham last year he became the first tour winner born after the year 2000 and his star continued to rise as a he made the cut 10 of 11 starts, with 3 top 10’s. Hopefully he’s used the Christmas break to continue improving and I fancy him to have a big year with a fast start.
The nearly boys.
I had a look at Theegala, Horschel and Conners as each presented a lot of value but I chose shorter odds to get an early win under my belt rather than chance an outsider! Odds of 70, 90 and 95 respectively, in such a small field I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these lifts the trophy and gets off to a flying start for the year. I love Theegala’s passion for the game and for me he’s got bags of talent that will result in strong runs of form, good and bad. Horschel has a classy game and won’t be phased if he finds himself having a great week near the top of the leaderboard - he’s the longest odds of the lowest average round list around Kapalua so does like it round there. And Conners has way more potential than his 1 win in 7 years suggests. 7th at the Players, 8th at the Masters and he’s lead the PGA Championship along with his 7 top 10 finishes in 2021 so he’s got the game if he can grind out the results at the business end of the week.
The tail end of the field for betting:
Hope you enjoyed having a read and I’ll write a post tournament review early next week!