Golf is back following its festive break and we begin with our traditional curtain raiser for the New Year. The Tournament of Champions invites every PGA Tour winner from 2018 and that ensures a tight and impressive field which is set to tee off in Kapalua, Hawaii on Thursday.
At the top of the market is the defending champion and former World Number One Dustin Johnson, but can DJ make it two in a row or should we be looking down the list for our first winner of 2019?
Dustin Johnson (+550 with Bovada) is aiming for his third win in this event and despite a quiet year by his own high standards, the 34-year-old heads the Tournament of Champions outright winner betting lines by some margin. Twelve months ago, DJ won by a massive eight shots over Jon Rahm to follow up on his 2013 Tournament of Champions victory.
Johnson has six straight top 10 finishes coming into Thursday so while the tournament wins were absent last year, consistency hints at a successful title defense in Hawaii.
There’s been some interest in Rory McIlroy (+1200 or 12/1) who is in a tight chasing pack but the stats don’t back up the Northern Irishman. There were glimpses of his best form in 2018 and he’s here on the back of victory in the Arnold Palmer Invitational but Rory is a distant 13th in the Power rankings and that’s a fair assessment of his chances.
A better option could be Jon Rahm (+800) who is the second favorite with the American sports gambling websites and was runner up in this tournament in 2018. The Spaniard also closed out the year in style with victory in the Hero World Challenge, so form is on his side.
Elsewhere, Marc Leishman (+2500) heads the Power Rankings and has a good record in this event. Bryson Dechambeau (+1200) was one of the standout performers across the whole season. Brooks Koepka (+1100), Jason Day (+1400) and 2017 Champion Justin Thomas (+900) are among those attracting interest from bettors ahead of Thursday’s first tee time.
The exclusive nature of this event ensures top quality throughout the field but there are some longshots at the bottom of the market. Ted Potter Jr (+25000 or 250/1), Satoshi Kodaira (+25000) and Michael Kim (+25000) carry the longest odds this week but there are some more likely names in the outside bunch.
Webb Simpson (+2200) has two third placed finishes in this event and is fifth in the Power Rankings yet looks a value price with the sportsbooks. 2015 winner and current Masters Champion Patrick Reed (+1600) is marginally shorter, while we can also make cases for Bubba Watson (+2800), Paul Casey (+4000) and 2018 Open Champion Francesco Molinari (+3300).
It’s quality over quantity in Hawaii this week but what will it take to win the Tournament of Champions?
Our Betting Preview’s Tournament of Champions Picks & Predictions Verdict with Course Trends
The Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort in Hawaii offers a rare Par 73 at a lengthy 7,452 yards so this is one tournament where the distance hitters may hold an advantage. There are wide fairways too, so a lack of accuracy off the tee isn’t always punished as players look to approach big Bermuda greens that generally register a modest 10 on the Stimp.
Wind can be a factor but low scoring is very common with Jordan Spieth registering -30 when he won here in 2016.
In 66 years of this event we’ve seen a number of multiple winners with Dustin Johnson our most recent while the great Jack Nicklaus holds the overall record with five victories. American golfers tend to dominate with eight straight US winners coming into 2019 and this Sentry Tournament of Champions preview does not expect that situation to change this year.
It’s a tough call at the start of a brand new year: Everyone should be nicely rested and as we’ve seen with Rickie Fowler at the beginning of 2018, form isn’t necessarily going to be carried over after the festive break. It’s a high class field too but the name that really stands out for us is that of Bryson Dechambeau. The 25-year-old claimed no fewer than four Tour wins last year including two in the FedEx playoffs that underline his ability to compete with the world’s best.
He has the perfect game for Kapalua so, coming to our Tournament of Champions predictions, Bryson for the win is the betting pick. While the top 10 finish odds are a little short in a small field, there is some value in backing Paul Casey and Marc Leishman for single digit finishes.
In summary, these are the predictions and picks:
- Bryson Dechambeau to win at +1200 with Bovada or Intertops.
- Marc Leishman at +150 (Bovada) and Paul Casey at +175 (Bovada or Intertops) for top 10 finishes.
Matt Harris is a golf and soccer expert for USA Betting. His other area of specialist knowledge is cricket. He is well known in sports journalism and contributes articles to a plethora of big-name websites and media outlets. Titles that he writes or has written for include: Betfair, BetVictor, Unibet & Just Bookies.