The golfing year starts in style this Thursday with the Sentry Tournament of Champions 2020. Winners on tour from 2019 are all invited to take part so the very nature of the event guarantees a strong field.
As you would expect, that field is dominated by American golfers but it is a European who leads the way at the top of the outright betting.
We closed out 2019 with a run of winning tips and it was Jon Rahm who kicked off that streak by claiming the DP World Tour Championship back in November. That was one of four tournament successes for the Spaniard on either side of the Atlantic and he starts ahead of the field at +550 (11/2) with Bovada Sportsbook, whose odds we will quote in this preview.
Rahm was a distant runner-up behind Dustin Johnson in 2018 and he is widely tipped to go one better in this year’s Tournament of Champions. Following that second place two years ago, the 25-year-old tied for eighth last year.
Just behind the market leader is Justin Thomas (+550) who won this event in 2017. JT is the second favorite this week but heads the official PGA Power Rankings after a return to form in the latter half of 2019. Injury issues had dogged the 26-year-old to that point but he is a live threat this week.
Next come the defending champion Xander Schauffele (+800) who claimed his maiden Tournament of Champions by one stroke over Gary Woodland. It wasn’t quite the catalyst for a stellar year but Schauffele followed that up with a number of second-placed finishes and is in reasonable touch.
Dustin Johnson (also 8/1) continues his own injury comeback following a long layoff and there may be some value with his betting odds. He has won this event twice and leads the list of money earners on this Kapalua course.
Next up is Patrick Cantlay (11/1) and Patrick Reed while Gary Woodland (both 14/1) will be anxious to prove that his US Open win wasn’t a one-off. Woodland was the narrow runner-up to Schauffele in 2019 and with three top 10 finishes and a top 20 in his last four outings, he is one to watch.
A reduced field leaves less room for value among the outside bunch but there are some long prices that are worth considering. Collin Morikawa (25/1) took out the Barracuda Championship in July and while the rest of the year was quieter than expected, the 22-year-old could be set for more consistency in 2020.
Elsewhere, there is a lot of interest in Matthew Wolff (50/1) who sneaks into those official Power Rankings at number 15. The winner of the 3M Open has good form but this is his first visit to Kapalua and we don’t share that general optimism.
Others to consider include Kevin Na (66/1) and the consistent Paul Casey (25/1) who successfully defended the Valspar Championship in March. In a shorter field, the odds for the top 10 finishers are also reduced but both Na and Casey can deliver a reasonable return on Sunday evening.
Look out too for Matt Kuchar (40/1) who showed early consistency in 2019 and is one of the stronger outside bets as we head into Thursday’s first tee time.
2020 Tournament of Champions Predictions & Picks Verdict with Course & Betting Trends
The Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort in Maui has been the host since 1999 and it’s one of the few par 73s that we get to see on Tour. Overall distance creeps above 7500 yards so there is some benefit to the power hitters with seven of the 18 holes exceeding 500 yards.
Fairways are generous so accuracy isn’t necessarily everything but the fast and undulating greens will usually require a hot streak with the flatstick.
There have been four multiple winners this century, one of whom was Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy and he was also the last non-American to win the event in 2010. Jon Rahm is tipped to end that dominance but do we agree with the leading USA odds setters’ assessment?
Recent winners suggest that power hitting isn’t everything and one name that stands out here is that of Gary Woodland. Unlike a number of golfers, Woodland avoided a slump following his first Major win and his form and stats stack up.
So the Tournament of Champions predictions for this golf preview are Woodland for the win, along with a couple of top 10 tips that are intended to get 2020 off to a profitable start.