Sentry Tournament of Champions 2022 picks: Why we're betting on Jordan Spieth despite his recent form
Ahhh, can ya smell it? That's the scent of golf season being all the way back, folks. The PGA Tour makes its triumphant return this week at Kapalua for the Sentry Tournament of Champions, the ultimate "wow, I wish I lived in Hawaii" tournament for those of us stuck inside on a dark, 30-degree night in early January.
While it's not a full field, the TOC is also the first real deal tournament to wager some money on since the RSM Classic. No disrespect to the Hero or the PNC, but this is officially go-time, with 39 (now 38 after Cameron Champ withdrew with COVID-19) of last season's tour winners pegging it in Maui.
New year, new us? Hopefully not, because last season, and the early part of the 2021-'22 season, we've continued to pick winners and hopefully we won you some nice cash ahead of Christmas. We plan to stick to that plan in 2022, and the goal is to start off hot this week. A few of our experts are high on a certain three-time major champion who making his first TOC appearance since 2018. We'll let you connect the dots on that one.
If you're new here, our panel consists of some of the industry's most respected golf handicappers: Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network and DraftKings; Brandon Gdula of numberFire and FanDuel; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com and Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports. Plus, we get a tour caddie to give us his picks every week (yes, an actual tour caddie). Then us two jabronis, who also have a podcast (give it a listen this week ... we interviewed Pat Perez, which was incredible).
Scroll down to see who else we like at the 2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
RELATED: Sentry Tournament of Champions 2022: Here are the odds for every player in the field at Kapalua
Sentry Tournament of Champions 2022 picks: Our experts' outright predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Xander Schauffele (14-1, PointsBet) — It’s amazing how low-pressure this week is for these guys—you have to be here to truly grasp that. Xander thrives in these conditions … and on a big course where he can get away with some misses, he’s in a happy place at Kapalua.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Jordan Spieth (22-1, DraftKings) — Nothing in his recent form suggests this is a good bet, but Spieth is a former champion at this course, he knows the greens here well, and if one of the skills this week will be draining long putts, he has to be on the list. Betting elite golfers when their prices drift has been profitable over the years (Cantlay at Memorial, DJ at Travelers)—that is, if Spieth is actually back to being elite, he’s that guy.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Patrick Cantlay (14-1, FanDuel) — Take a look back at the winners of this event. They’re all studs. There’s a little more to it than that, but I want to be starting my card with an anchor such as Cantlay. He does everything, and it is a benefit to have some distance, great irons, bunker play, and putting at Kapalua. Cantlay checks off everything on that list.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Jordan Spieth (22-1, DraftKings) — I’m certainly worried that Spieth struggled with his approach play to close 2021, but this number is simply too long for the 12-time PGA Tour winner. The key to winning on the tour is upside and Spieth is full of it. In 2021, he gained five-plus strokes on the field in 13.4 percent of his rounds, the most of any golfer, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. There’s no better place for Spieth to get right than Kapalua, where he’s earned three top-three finishes in his four career starts.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Patrick Cantlay (14-1, FanDuel) — Even after his insane run to end 2021, Cantlay still has worse odds than Xander? I’m offended for Cantlay. Par-4 scoring is huge at Kapalua with the extra par 4 on this par 73, and Cantlay leads the field in par-4 scoring over the past 50 rounds, per Fantasy National. He’s also second in strokes gained/putting over a longer sample size. We see guys parlay a hot fall into a win at Kapalua, and Cantlay has a great chance to do that.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Jordan Spieth (22-1, DraftKings) — Always nice when you are on the same guy as Rick Gehman and Pat Mayo, who made a similar case for Jordy. Upside, upside, upside. While he didn’t close out the season strong, I’m not sure there was much motivation for him to do so after exerting all that energy at the Open Championship. Now, he gets to start fresh at Kapalua, a course that engages his golfing brain in all the right ways, as evidenced by his strong history there.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Bryson DeChambeau (12-1, DraftKings) — DeChambeau comes into this event ranked fourth in the FanShare Sports’ course-suitability ranking. He also ranks eighth in the field this week for SG/total over the past two years. His recent form is also good, too, ranking second in the field this week for SG/total over the past three months.
Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel had another strong season in 2020-’21, correctly predicting 14 winners in the last 28 events of the year. We’re already off to a hot start in the new season, too, with Rick Gehman hitting Sam Burns (16-1) at the Sanderson Farms Championship and Viktor Hovland (19-1) at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Brandon Gdula also hit on Hovland at Mayakoba, and Stephen Hennessey cashed on Hideki Matsuyama (12-1) at the Zozo Championship.
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," (below) where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
Sentry Tournament of Champions 2022 picks: Sleepers/Dark horses who could win
Caddie: Billy Horschel (70-1, Bet365) — Don’t forget Billy took down an even better field last year at the WGC-Match Play. Then he won the biggest event on the European Tour at the BMW. Get this guy on Bermuda and he can really fill up the cup … this number’s dumb.
Mayo: Patrick Reed (28-1, DraftKings) — Not a true dark horse, but I’m just not going down the board very far in a field like this. Losing in a playoff to Thomas in 2020 and having won in 2015, if Reed’s irons get hot, he can tear this course apart. Good putting, strong irons, and magic around the massive greens here is a winning combination, and he did show some life in the swing season. There’s also the other side where he’s just an abomination. But we wouldn’t be getting such deep odds if he was consistent.
Gdula: Talor Gooch (41-1, FanDuel) — Gooch is like a Cantlay-light type of golfer. There are no red flags in his game, and on a hole-by-hole level, he grades out as a strong option at Kapalua. My win simulation model likes him a tinge more than the 41-1 number.
Gehman: Joel Dahmen (100-1, DraftKings) — Dahmen cashed in a victory at the Corales in March, punching his ticket to this event. Since then, he has gained strokes on approach in nine of his 12 measured events. Dahmen is only 20 rounds into his 2021-’22 season but he’s currently on pace to have the best year of his career in terms of the strokes-gained metrics.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Patrick Reed (28-1, DraftKings) — Borderline not a sleeper number, but in this field, I think we can count it. He’s got the win in 2015 and runners-up in 2020 and 2016; he loves it here. These odds are nearly identical to his Masters odds, which makes absolutely no sense. Per my guy Andy Lack of the Inside Golf podcast, five of Reed’s nine victories have come in the first three months of the year. The game’s coming together … plus, you know this is a business trip for Team Reed.
Powers, Golf Digest: K.H. Lee (150-1, DraftKings) — Given the list of winners in this event since 2013, I don’t think we’re hitting on any longshots this week. But if you had to twist my arm, I’d roll the dice with K.H. Lee, who has posted some very solid tee-to-green numbers in his last nine starts and gained strokes putting in six of those nine outings.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Talor Gooch (41-1, FanDuel) — Gooch is a nice price this week considering he ranks sixth in the field for SG/total over the last three months. His long term form is also good, ranking 13th in the field for SG/total over the last two years. On top of all this he ranks 10th in the FanShare Sports CSR so he should go well here at the Plantation Course at Kapalua.
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Sentry Tournament of Champions 2022 picks: Players we're fading
Caddie: Patrick Reed (28-1, BetMGM) — I can see some experts picking him this week given his track record here and decent finishes in the fall. But he really needs his A-plus game to beat this field, I believe that. Odds are, one of these other elites will outbirdie him.
Mayo: Sam Burns (18-1, DraftKings) — It’s jarring to see his name surrounded by the world’s best on the betting board, but he’s earned it. Won’t be getting my money though. There’s a reason Kapalua produces very few first-time winners, it takes some reps to adjust to the uneven lies and elevation changes.
Gdula: Hideki Matsuyama (20-1, FanDuel) — Hideki has had some close calls here while rarely putting well (including a dismal showing here in 2021). However, the large greens do mitigate one of his biggest advantages, and that’s enough for me to look elsewhere.
Gehman: Abraham Ancer (30-1, DraftKings) — Ancer is a phenomenal player, who is often undervalued by the wagering industry. Kapalua is seemingly the worst course on tour for Ancer who separates himself from his peers with driving accuracy and excellent approach play. With massive fairways and enormous greens at the Plantation Course, Ancer’s advantage shrinks. He’ll be worth investing in plenty this year, but right now is not the time.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Justin Thomas (+800, FanDuel) — Probably a bold take considering his stellar record here. But there are too many bricked putts in my memory bank for JT for me to back him at a birdie-fest at the moment. Even at the PNC … he was missing putts on the easy Ritz-Carlton greens. I’ll be on the sidelines and cheering on a JT win without any money on it if it happens.
Powers, Golf Digest: Jon Rahm (+750, DraftKings) — Best player in the field? Yes. Top-5 finish? Most likely. Just not betting this number on him to win.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Collin Morikawa (10-1, DraftKings) — This is purely a putting fade this week for Morikawa. He ranks fourth-worst in the field for SG/putting on Bermuda greens over the last two years. He also ranks just 36th out of the 39-man field for SG/total over the last two months.
Sentry Tournament of Champions 2022 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Sungjae Im (-112) over Hideki Matsuyama (FanDuel) — Yes, Hideki looked great at times last year with the putter. But in the first event of the year, I’d expect him to regress back to the old, suspect putting Hideki. Sungjae’s such a good Bermuda putter, I’d give the slight edge to him.
Mayo: Collin Morikawa (+125) over Justin Thomas (DraftKings) — Morikawa and Thomas have the same profile – elite irons, and when they putt, they win. Morikawa is the best iron player in the world right now, and he tends to have spike putting weeks more often than JT.
Gdula: Marc Leishman (-102) over Patrick Reed (FanDuel) — Reed has had success at Kapalua, sure, but so has Leishman. They’ve been about the same level over the past year, yet over the past six months, Leishman has separated.
Gehman: Jason Kokrak (-105) over Patrick Reed (DraftKings) — Kokrak has evolved into literally one of the best putters on tour. In the last 100 rounds, he’s gained 0.71 strokes per round with his putter. That’s the best mark in this field and second to only Ian Poulter of all golfers on tour. Combine that with his length off the tee and you have a golfer who should be able to make plenty of noise at Kapalua.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Xander Schauffele (-143) over Sam Burns (PointsBet) — I’m looking for a quick, easy win to start the new year. Xander owns Kapalua, and Burns is making his first appearance. Let’s roll.
Powers, Golf Digest: Jordan Spieth (-120) over Abraham Ancer (DraftKings) — Obviously, I’m pretty high on Spieth this week. His record at Kapalua speaks for itself and I fully expect him to kick off 2022 with a strong start after a lackluster finish to 2021. Ancer, meanwhile, is making his first appearance at the Sentry, already putting him at a disadvantage in terms of course knowledge in this matchup.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Bryson DeChambeau (-105) over Collin Morikawa (Betway) — As you can see above, DeChambeau is my favorite to win this week while Morikawa is my fade. There is a 0.8 shot difference per round just on the greens historically. So a three-shot headstart over the four rounds at an underdog price sounds good to me.
Matchup Results from the Hero World Challenge: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Schauffele (+100) over Spieth); Powers: 1 for 1 (Thomas (-110) over McIlroy); Mayo: PUSH (Ancer (-105) over DeChambeau); Caddie: 0 for 1; Gdula: 0 for 1; Gehman: 0 for 1; Alldrick: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 8-1-1 (up 6.34 units); Powers: 7-2-1 (up 4.69 units); Caddie: 5-5-0 (down 0.34 units); Gehman: 3-6-1 (down 3.49 units); Alldrick: 3-6-1 (down 3.5 units); Hennessey: 4-6-0 (down 4.2 units); Gdula: 3-7-0 (down 4.25 units)
Sentry Tournament of Champions 2022 picks: Top 10s
Caddie: Bryson DeChambeau (-110, FanDuel) — Distance is not a prerequisite here but it damn sure doesn’t hurt. If those little half-wedges are on for Bryson, this is a good bet at even money.
Mayo: Joel Dahmen (+400, DraftKings) — Wedge play, coastal success, deeper odds than most of the field: I’ll take it.
Gdula: Jason Kokrak (+240, FanDuel) — Kokrak has the distance to compete here—he possesses the scoring ability, and still a little surprising given it’s Jason Kokrak, the putting skills.
Gehman: Cameron Davis (+450, DraftKings) — The generous fairways at the Plantation Course should be a beautiful sight for Davis, who ranked 19th in driving distance but 166th in driving accuracy last season. Since he’ll be playing out of the fairway more often this week, he’ll be able to tap into his birdie-making prowess. Davis ranked 14th on tour last season in birdie or better percentage, showing he has the upside to outscore anyone. As long as he can avoid the crooked number on the scorecard, he’s live to contend this week.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Xander Schauffele (-105, FanDuel) — This feels like stealing … I like this a little too much.
Powers, Golf Digest: Sam Burns (+125, DraftKings) — Bermuda Burns on a Bermuda course is one of the scariest golfers on the planet. I’ll be stunned if he’s not hanging around the top 10 for what feels like the millionth week in a row on Sunday night.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Seamus Power (+275, DraftKings) — Power comes into this event ranked 12th in the field for SG/total over the last two years and also 11th for SG/total over the past three months. He should enjoy this Plantation Course, too, as we have him ranked 21st in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking.
Top-10 results from the Hero World Challenge: Caddie: 1 for 1 (Hovland -220); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Hovland -220); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Koepka -130); Powers: 1 for 1 (Rose +125); Everybody else: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Powers: 4 for 10 (up 15.75 units); Mayo: 2 for 10 (up 6.45 units); Hennessey: 3 for 10 (up 1.47 units); Alldrick: 1 for 10 (up 1 units); Gehman: 2 for 10 (down 1.3 units); Caddie: 3 for 10 (down 3.35 units); Gdula: 0 for 10 (down 10 units)
Sentry Tournament of Champions 2022 picks: One and Done
Gehman: Sungjae Im — With only 39 golfers in a no-cut event, it’s difficult to burn a top-tier golfer. I’m prepared to use Im who is not only one of the best putters in the field on Bermudagrass, but is proving to be an elite ball-striker on the circuit. He’s only earned the honor to play this event once, finishing T-5 last year.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Kevin Na; Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Louis Oosthuizen. Zozo Championship: Hideki Matsuyama. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Abraham Ancer. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Scottie Scheffler
Hennessey: Xander Schauffele — You might hesitate to use an elite player like Xander here … I totally get holding onto him for a major. But Xander boasts such a good career record here, and no other course really screams “Xander.” This is a good week to roll with the X.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo; Sanderson Farms Championship: Carlos Ortiz. Shriners: Abraham Ancer. CJ Cup: Collin Morikawa. Zozo Championship: Takumi Kanaya. Bermuda Championship: Seamus Power. Mayakoba: Aaron Wise. Houston Open: Sam Burns. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd.
Powers: Daniel Berger — Berger has finished top 15 in all three trips to Sentry and has three top-11s in his last five starts.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Brendan Steele. Sanderson Farms Championship: Mito Pereira. Shriners: Aaron Wise. CJ Cup: Talor Gooch. Zozo Championship: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda Championship: Patrick Rodgers. Mayakoba: Jhonattan Vegas. Houston Open: Marc Leishman. RSM Classic: Corey Conners.
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About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.