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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s The Sentry betting preview: Spieth primed for fast start to 2024

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The PGA Tour makes it return this week as we head to the Kapalua Plantation Course in Maui to play the Sentry. The course is a unique par 73 measuring 7,515 yards.

The Tournament of Champions is a no-cut event and usually plays pretty easy. Six of the past seven winners have finished with a score of -22 or better, and the 2022 champion, Cameron Smith, set the tournament record by finishing at -34. Jon Rahm went low in 2023 as well, finishing at -27. Wide fairways and soft greens make the event scoreable, but coastal wind and elevation changes can occasionally make some shots difficult.

The field will feature 59 of the world’s top golfers including Viktor Hovland, Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, Tony Finau and Jordan Spieth. The new qualification rules allow for anyone in the top 50 in the final FedEx Cup points last season to take part in the event as well as winners from last season. 

Past Winners at The Sentry

  • 2023: Jon Rahm (-27)
  • 2022: Cameron Smith (-34)
  • 2021: Harris English (-25)
  • 2020: Justin Thomas (-14)
  • 2019: Xander Schauffele (-23)
  • 2018: Dustin Johnson (-24)
  • 2017: Justin Thomas (-22)
  • 2016: Jordan Spieth (-30)
  • 2015: Patrick Reed (-21)

Let’s take a look at several metrics for Kapalua’s Plantation Course to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.

Strokes Gained: Approach

With Greens in Regulation (GIR) percentages extremely high at Kapalua (78.9%), just getting on the putting surface won’t cut it. In a very low-scoring event, golfers will need to have their irons and wedges dialed in to provide scoring opportunities.

Total Strokes Gained: Approach in past 24 rounds:

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+32.3
  2. Lucas Glover (+29.5) 
  3. Hideki Matsuyama (+23.2) 
  4. J.T. Poston (+22.8) 
  5. Xander Schauffele (+21.9)

Strokes Gained: Off the Tee

With fairways being wide and easy to hit, bombers should be able to let it rip off the tee this week. Golfers with a strong off-the-tee game should end up with a wedge in their hand for their approach shot which will give them an advantage on the shorter hitters. 

Total Strokes Gained: Off the Tee in past 24 rounds:

  1. Ludvig Aberg (+24.7)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+24.2)
  3. Viktor Hovland (+21.6)
  4. Byeong Hun An (+18.8)
  5. Corey Conners (+17.8)

Proximity 100-125 Yards

With a good deal of short par 4s on the course and easy-to-hit fairways, golfers will have wedges in their hands looking to attack pins. Historically, wedge play has been a major factor in determining a winner in Maui, and I expect that to continue in the 2024 edition.

Proximity 100-125 in past 24 rounds:

  1. Hideki Matsuyama (+13.0)
  2. Camilo Villegas (+12.4) 
  3. Brendon Todd (+10.7)
  4. Lucas Glover (+7.8)
  5. Russell Henley (+7.7)

Strokes Gained: Par 5

Taking advantage of all of the par 5s will be crucial this week. Historically, par-5 scoring has been more indicative of the winner at this tournament than par-3 or par-4 scoring. The player who posts the lowest cumulative score on the par-5 holes will put themselves in a good position to win come Sunday.

Total Strokes Gained: Par 5 in Past 24 rounds

  1. Cameron Young (+13.6)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+11.8)
  3. Erik Van Rooyen (+11.1)
  4. Lee Hodges (+11.0)
  5. Matt Fitzpatrick (+10.3) 

Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass) (Velcro)

The Bermudagrass greens at Kapalua are notoriously slow. In a low-scoring event, golfers will need to make a lot of putts to win, and those who prefer putting on slow Bermuda should have the advantage. There have been a good deal of elite putters (Smith, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth) who have had great success at Kapalua in the past.

Total strokes gained in category in past 24 rounds:

  1. Andrew Putnam (+1.5)
  2. Jordan Spieth (+0.8)
  3. Patrick Cantlay (+0.6)
  4. Xander Schauffele (+0.5)
  5. J.T.  Poston (+0.4)

Statistical Model

Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.

These rankings are comprised of SG: App (25%) SG: OTT (20%); SG: Par 5 (20%); Prox 100-125 (15%); and SG: Putting (Bermudagrass) (Velcro) (15%)

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+1400)
  2. Collin Morikawa (+2800)
  3. Xander Schauffele (+1800)
  4. Patrick Cantlay (+1400)
  5. Russell Henley (+2000)
  6. Viktor Hovland (+1200)
  7. Lucas Glover (+2000)
  8. Adam Svensson (+6000)
  9. Tom Kim (+2000)
  10. J.T. Poston (+1200)

2024 Sentry Tournament of Champions Picks

Jordan Spieth +2800 (BetRivers):

Jordan Spieth was winless in 2023 but continued to play solid golf, finishing 27th in the FedEx Cup standings. The three-time major champion played in Tiger Woods’ Hero World Challenge and showed that he’s been working on his game in the off-season. Spieth finished 6th in the event and shot four rounds under par.

Jordan has had success at Kapalua, winning the tournament in 2016 and also has a 2nd (2014), 3rd (2017) and 9th (2018). In his past 24 rounds at the course, Spieth ranks 2nd in Strokes Gained: Total amongst those playing in the event.

The PGA Tour could certainly benefit from a star player like Jordan Spieth starting off 2024 hot, and I believe he has a chance to get an early win at The Sentry.

Rickie Fowler +3500 (DraftKings):

Rickie Fowler is coming off his best season in a long while and his work with Butch Harmon has clearly paid dividends. The 35-year-old broke through for a victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and had a few additional close calls, including a fantastic performance at the U.S. Open where he finished runner-up to Wyndham Clark.

Fowler has been incredibly consistent over the course of his career at Kapalua. He’s played the event four times since 2013, and boasts finishes of 6th (2013), 5th (2016), 4th (2018) and 5th (2020). It appears that when Rickie is playing well, he finishes near the top of the Sentry.

Rickie certainly has the type of game that should thrive at Kapalua. He is solid with his wedges (20th in the field) and putts well on slow Bermudagrass greens (9th in the field). The PGA Tour season could get off to a flying start with one of the most popular players on Tour winning the first signature event of the season.

Jason Day +5000 (BetRivers):

Jason Day had a resurgent 2023, winning for the first time in five years at the AT&T Byron Nelson.  and if his fall has been any indication, he has no plans on slowing down in 2024. He missed a few cuts after the win, but still managed a runner-up finish at the Open Championship.

Day’s strong season continued into the fall. The Australian and his partner Lydia Ko won the Grant Thornton Invitational, which was closely contested and likely tested his nerves a bit down the stretch. Day then finished 11th at the Hero World Challenge but was in contention going into Sunday prior to a disappointing 74 in the final round.

Day hasn’t played at Kapalua since 2019, but prior to that, he had some encouraging results at the course. He finished 3rd in 2015 and 10th in 2016. Additionally, Australians have won six times in the past.

I don’t typically love backing Day in events where the winner needs to go extremely low, but the 36-year-old managed to reach -23 in his win in Texas last season. A Jason Day who’s shown signs of solid recent form at 50-1 in a 59-man field is too much value to pass up to start the season.

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19th Hole

3-time PGA Tour winner calls for LIV to buy Champions Tour to fix ‘joke’ purses

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While speaking on the Subpar Podcast, former PGA Tour winner and PGA Tour Champions player, Chris DiMarco, said he hopes LIV buys the Champions Tour.

“We’re kind of hoping that LIV buys the Champions Tour,” he said.

“Let’s play for a little real money out here. I mean this is kind of a joke when we’re getting $2million. There were like seven guys last week from TPC (Sawgrass, at the $25million PLAYERS Championship) that made more money than our purses.”

In 2024, the Champions Tour had a total of $67 million in prize money over the course of 24 events.

DiMarco also defended LIV players for taking the money and said he would take it also.

“They wanted to play for a lot of money, and they deserve it. They have had some great careers, why not go and get some money?”

“I saw Graeme McDowell at the Old Memorial Pro Member, and he goes, ‘Listen, I went up to Jay Monahan and said I love the tour but I am struggling to keep my card and these guys are offering me all this money and less golf. I’m sorry, I’m going.’ And I do not blame him one bit, and I said I would have too.”

DiMarco was ranked as high as 6th in the world in 2006.

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19th Hole

‘It won’t win you golf tournaments’ – Golf analyst rips Charley Hull’s course management

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Charley Hull, who came just short of her third LPGA Tour victory over the weekend at the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship when she played her last 2 holes at +3 to slip all the way to 10th on the leaderboard.

After the round, Hull was blasted by Sky Sports commentator and former LPGA Tour player, Trish Johnson for her lack of golf course management.

While speaking on the Sky Sports Golf podcast, Johnson spoke harshly of Hull.

“I’m probably her harshest critic, because I know how good she is. She doesn’t win anywhere near enough for her talent, and she doesn’t get involved enough, in all honestly.”

“The thing with Charley is that you’re never going to change her. I read something the other day that said how much she loves the game and it’s her love of the game [that costs her]. She’s never going to change and she’s just going to go for every pin.”

“In theory that’s great, but it won’t win you golf tournaments, it just won’t because she’s not that much better than anybody else. If you put Charley against Nelly Korda, then I’m picking Nelly every single day of the week.”

Johnson also made a fascinating comparison between Hull and a famous male golfer, John Daly.

“Golf-wise that’s the way she plays the game and it’s a little bit like watching John Daly I suppose.”

“There’s something that John Daly had that made him a major winner and a winner, but Charley is kind of lacking that. Her talent is not in question, but maybe her application is. Maybe it’s just the case of her never changing and that will cost her golf tournaments, there’s no two ways about it. You cannot go for every pin because that’s the way you play and it being fun, as other players are better than that and you have to have course management.”

Hull is still only 27, and therefore has plenty of time to work on her flaws to achieve the success her talent should allow.

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19th Hole

Former agent lifts lid on being fired by ‘zombie’ Tiger Woods

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Discussing his new book “Rainmaker” with the Daily Mail, Tiger Woods former agent, Hughes Norton, recounted the events leading up to and after his split with the 15-time major champion.

Norton was abruptly fired by Woods in 1998 after his 1997 Masters win and monster deal with Nike.

In the book, Norton talks about the way Tiger views his relationships, calling him a “zombie”.

The solace I can take, which doesn’t provide much, is this: He was an equal opportunity zombie with relationships, his swing coaches, his lawyer, the guy negotiated the IMG representation deal, with caddies, When it’s over, it’s over.”

Norton added

“It is the way he terminates relationships with everyone. Whether it’s girlfriends, whether it’s his former golf coaches. It’s ironic, really. In a way he’s so good at confrontation on the golf course. If he’s playing you, he will beat your brains out every single time.

But when it comes to confronting things like me and other people that are in his life, he has no social skills whatsoever. It’s maddening, actually.”

After he was fired by Woods, Norton was let go by IMG, which he believes was due to Woods’ influence.

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