After an extremely long offseason, the PGA Tour resumes this week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions—well, “Champions.” This year’s event has a different kind of field. Because Covid-19 shortened the 2019-20 season, the Tour handed out TOC invitations to any non-winners who advanced to last year’s Tour Championship. This means that 45 players qualified for the event and 42 will tee it up at Kapalua Resort’s Plantation Course.
On this par-73 layout, expect the winning score to be around -28. The Plantation Course has wide fairways and offers an abundance of birdie opportunities on its reachable par 5s and its eight par 4s under 425 yards.
Here are a few players who could thrive at this venue:
Tony Finau $8,900
Finau hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, so it would be pretty funny if he did well at the Tournament of Champions. It also wouldn’t be surprising. He finished ninth in his only appearance here, and he is first in the field in long irons, fifth in wedges, 10th in birdies, and 11th off the tee. Finau makes for a good cash and big-field tournament play as he has consistency and upside.
Daniel Berger $8,600
Berger is the best overall value on the board this week; he should be priced $1,000 higher. The fifth-ranked golfer overall in my model, he is third in putting, fourth in approach, and fifth in birdies. Having finished in the top 40 in 22 of his past 24 events, Berger is a model of consistency. If he brings that kind of form this week, we should get at least a top-15 finish, which would more than pay off his $8,600 salary.
Yes, it’s early in the year to burn Justin Thomas. But the course fit is perfect, and he may actually be a contrarian play this week since people are afraid to use top players in January. No one in the field has a game as well suited to Kapalua as JT’s, and he has won here two of the past four years. He is first in approach, first in wedges, second around the greens, third in birdies, and fourth in long irons.
Reed is a horse for a course a handful of times a year, and this is one of them. He has finished sixth or better in four of his past five appearances at the Tournament of Champions. An elite wedge player with one of the best short games on the PGA Tour, Reed is a great option if you’re reluctant to burn JT.