It’s hard to believe, but the PGA Tour’s off-season is officially over as the not-for-profit money machine tees it up this week in Hawaii for the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Contested at picturesque Kapalua on the island of Maui, the Tournament of Champions features a small, but superbly-talented, field of 34 golfers – all of whom were victorious in at least one Tour event during the 2019 calendar year.
The star-studded field in Hawaii includes defending champion Xander Schauffele, alongside Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson, the 2017 and 2018 winners, respectively.
Other big names teeing it up this week in Hawaii include Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler, and Patrick Reed.
Tournament: Sentry Tournament of Champions
Dates: Jan. 2-5, 2020
Course: Plantation Course at Kapalua
Where: Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii
Distance: 7452 yards, Par 73
Architect: Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore
Field/Format: 34 players; 72-hole stroke play with no cut
TV Network: GOLF CHANNEL
TV Times: Th-Fr-Su 6-10 pm, Sa 3-7 pm
Purse/Win Share: $6,500,000/$1,300,000
FedExCup/OWGR Points: 500/50-60 (TBD)
Defending Champion: Xander Schauffele
Other Marquee Players: Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed, Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Gary Woodland, Paul Casey, Cam Champ, Matt Kuchar, Kevin Kisner, Collin Morikawa
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Wikipedia
The Sentry Tournament of Champions is annually held during the first week of January, and, since 1999, has been played at the Kapalua’s Plantation Course on the island of Maui.
The inaugural winner was Al Besselink who shot a 280 to edge Chandler Harper by a single stroke in 1953. For his second career PGA Tour victory, Besselink – then a swashbuckling 31-year old from New Jersey, was awarded a wheelbarrow of silver dollars worth $10,000. Known for his propensity to gamble, the University of Miami product, however, banked another $12,500 by placing a $500 bet on himself at 25-1.
For its first 16 editions, the limited-field tournament was contested in Las Vegas, Nevada – first at the Desert Inn Country Club from 1953-66, then for two years at the Stardust Country Club (1967-68).
In 1969 the tournament moved further west to Carlsbad, California, with La Costa Resort and Spa playing host until 1999 when it was moved to Maui.
There have been six title sponsors over the years with MONY (75-90), Infiniti (91-93), and Mercedes (94-09) holding the rights for the first 35 years. The title sponsor has been far less stable in recent years, however, with Hyundai (11-16), SBS (10, 17), and Sentry (18-19) sharing the marquee for the past 10 editions.
Past tournament winners include legends such as Sam Snead, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson, Johnny Miller, and Tiger Woods.
HISTORY: RECENT WINNERS
2019: Xander Schauffele*
2018: Dustin Johnson*
2017: Justin Thomas*
2016: Jordan Spieth
2015: Patrick Reed*
2014: Zach Johnson
2013: Dustin Johnson*
*In 2019 field
Wins: 5, Jack Nicklaus (1963-64, 71, 73, 75)
Consecutive Wins: 3, Stuart Appleby (2004-06)
72-Hole Scoring: 261 (-31), Ernie Els (2003)
18-Hole Scoring: 62 (-11), K.J. Choi (3rd round, 2003), Graeme McDowell (4th, 2011), Jason Day (4th, 2015), Chris Kirk (4th, 2015)
The Plantation Course at Kapalua is located on the island of Maui, and measures 7,452 yards from the championship tees.
Designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, the Plantation track is a traditional links-style course offering dramatic elevation changes with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and ocean.
In addition to being the Tour’s only par 73, it’s also the only course on the schedule with seven holes measuring over 500 yards – two of those being the 549-yard par-4 17th and the 663-yard par-5 18th.
Notably, both closing holes play downhill, allowing most of the pros to reach in two despite the lengthy yardage.
Xander Schauffele started his final round at Kapalua’s Plantation Course bogey-par, and found himself down to 54-hole leader Gary Woodland by six shots.
The 25-year old San Diego native, though, went on a 16-hole scoring binge, producing eight birdies and two eagles – including a hole-out eagle-2 on the par-4 12th hole, en route to a record-tying round of 62 and a come-from-behind win at the 2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions.
It was Schauffele’s second PGA Tour victory of the 2018-19 season, and fourth of his young career.
FINAL TOP 5
Pos-Player-To Par (Today)
1 Xander Schauffele –23 (-11)
2 Gary Woodland –22 (-5)
3 Justin Thomas –18 (-8)
4 Marc Leishman –15 (-2)
4 Dustin Johnson –15 (-6)
4 Rory McIlroy –15 (-1)
The field in Maui this week features 34 winners of PGA Tour events in 2018, including four former champions in Xander Schauffele (2019), Dustin Johnson (2018, 2013), Justin Thomas (2017), and Patrick Reed (2015).
Of the five biggest tournament winners in 2019, only Gary Woodland (U.S. Open) will be on hand as Rory McIlroy (PLAYERS), Shane Lowry (British Open), Tiger Woods (Masters), and Brooks Koepka (PGA) have all opted out of the Hawaiian Swing for one reason or another.
Cameron Champ, who debuted last year after winning the Sanderson Farms Championship, makes his second straight appearance in Maui thanks to a win (again) during the wrap-around season (Safeway Open).
Champ will be joined by fellow young gunners Collin Morikawa (Barracuda), Joaquin Niemann (Greenbrier), and Matthew Wolff (3M).
Jon Rahm (Zurich) returns to the island for the third consecutive year after a successful third season on Tour, while Chez Reavie, the Travelers Championship winner, returns to Kapalua for the first time since 2009.
Other marquee names in the field include Memorial winner Patrick Cantlay, Rickie Fowler (Phoenix), Paul Casey (Valspar), and Matt Kuchar (Sony).
5 POWER PICKS
1. Justin Thomas – A winner here in 2017, the Alabama product wrapped up a third-consecutive season as a multiple winner on the PGA Tour. JT made four starts in the wrap-around season, highlighted by win at the CJ Cup, along with a pair of top-5s (Safeway and Hero). Currently ranked No. 4 in the world, JT and DJ are the only two players to start and finish (and never leave) the 2019 calendar year in the world top 5 – pretty much defining elite consistency.
World Rank: 4
Field Rank: 2
Book Rank: 2
Odds To Win: 6-1
Event History: 3 career starts: 3, 22, 1, 25
Last Six: 5, 17, 1, 4, 9, 1
2. Dustin Johnson – The world No. 5 makes his debut since ending his injury-hampered 2019 season at the Tour Championship. DJ will be looking for his first top-10 finish since a second-place finish at the PGA. In his last seven starts in Maui, DJ owns a pair of wins and five additional top 10s (9th-1st-6th-10th-6th-1st-4th). He blew away the field in 2018 by eight shots.
World Rank: 5
Field Rank: 3
Book Rank: 3
Odds To Win: 8-1
Event History: 4, 1, 6, 10, 6, 1, 9
Last Six: 30, 57, 24, 20, 51, MC
3. Jon Rahm – Rahm has most of his success on the European Tour in 2019, winning three times (Ireland, Spain, Dubai), but qualified for this event by the way of taking home the Zurich title alongside Ryan Palmer. A long hitter with a soft touch, the ultra-talented Spaniard can go low on any course, and should be especially dangerous at a bomber’s paradise like Kapalua with its seven 500-plus yard holes.
World Rank: 3
Field Rank: 1
Book Rank: 1
Odds To Win: 5-1
Event History: 2 career starts: 8, 2
Last Six: 2, 1, 1, MC, 2, 13
4. Rickie Fowler – The American star enters the 2019 year having captured just a single trophy (Phoenix) over the past 24 months, and has fallen to No. 23 in the world rankings – his lowest ranking since way back in 2014.
World Rank: 23
Field Rank: 9
Book Rank: 5
Odds To Win: 12-1
Event History: 4, 5, 6
Last Six: 9, 19, 11, MC, 6, MC
5. Xander Schauffele – The defending champion makes his return to Maui after a record setting performance in 2019. Schauffele, a two-time winner during the 2018-19 season, once again played his best on the biggest stages, finishing runner-up at both the Masters and Tour Championship, along with a T3 at the US Open. The current world No. 9 is considered one of America’s elite players.
World Rank: 9
Field Rank: 5
Book Rank: 4
Odds To Win: 9-1
Event History: 1, 22
Last Six: 10, 2, 10, 46, 2, 19
5. Patrick Cantlay – The 27-year old Cantlay, now considered one of the world’s elite, will make his second Kapalua start in three years. A winner at the Memorial last season, Cantlay enters off two runner-ups in his five most recent starts. The former all-world amateur, and current world No. 7, posted a T15 in his lone start in Maui.
World Rank: 7
Field Rank: 4
Book Rank: 5
Odds To Win: 12-1
Event History: 15
Last Six: 17, 2, 40, 28, 2, 12
FULL FIELD: RANK AND ODDS
Sentry Tournament of Champions | The Plantation Course | Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii | Jan 2-5, 2020
Joel Cook contributed to this report.