5 Power Picks: Sentry Tournament of Champions

Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy
Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy walk during the final round of the 2018 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone CC in Akron, Ohio. Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Sentry Tournament of Champions, which kicks off the 2019 portion of the new PGA Tour season, is limited to winners from the 2018 calendar year.

Sentry Tournament of Champions
A rainbow appears in front of the first hole during the final round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua on Jan 7, 2018 in Lahaina, Hawaii. Photo by Stan Badz/Getty Images via PGA TOUR

This year’s edition will have 34 players teeing it up, including seven of the world’s top-10 ranked players.

It will also be a Ryder Cup reunion of sorts with seven members of the U.S. team in the field, along with four who teed it up for the winning European team.

The players in Maui will all be vying for a big payday worth $1.35 million, along with 500 FedExCup points and 50 (or so) world-ranking points.

Here are the five power picks for this week’s Tournament of Champions at Kapalua’s Plantation Course.

1. Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson tees off on the 8th hole during the final round of the Dell Technologies Championship on Sep. 4, 2017 at TPC Boston in Norton, Mass. Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The world No. 3’s game is pretty good on any track, but at Kapalua it’s been even better. In his last six starts in Maui, DJ owns a pair of wins and four additional top 10s (9th-1st-6th-10th-6th-1st). He blew away the field last year by eight shots. While a win would not necessarily vault him back into the No. 1 position, it would inch him that much closer to the top spot heading into the California events at Pebble and Riviera.

World Rank: 3
Field Rank: 2
Book Rank: 1
Odds To Win: 5-1
Event History: 6 recent starts: 1, 6, 10, 6, 1, 9
Last Six: 7, 30, 3, 24, 7, 11

2. Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas Sentry Tournament of Champions 2018
Justin Thomas plays a shot during the second round of the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Plantation Course at Kapalua on Jan 5, 2018 in Lahaina, Hawaii. Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

A winner here in 2017, the Alabama product wrapped up a second-consecutive season as the PGA Tour’s money winner. One of the lone bright spots for the losing U.S. Ryder Cup team in France, JT made two starts in the wrap-around season, highlighted by a T5 at the CIMB Classic. Currently ranked No. 4 in the world, JT and DJ are the only two players to start and finish (and never leave) the 2018 year in the world top 5 – pretty much defining elite consistency.

World Rank: 4
Field Rank: 3
Book Rank: 2
Odds To Win: 7-1
Event History: 3 career starts: 22, 1, 25
Last Six: 12, 36, 5, 7, 12, 24

3. Brooks Koepka

Brooks Koepka Wins the 2018 CJ Cup
Brooks Koepka during the final round of the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in Jeju Island, South Korea on October 21, 2018. Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images

The reigning U.S. Open and PGA champion enters off a win in Korea at the CJ Cup, which moved him back to No. 1 in the world. Koepka is seeking redemption of sorts for a last-place finish here in 2018. A long hitter with a soft touch, the Florida State alum can go low on any course, but should be especially dangerous at a bomber’s paradise like Kapalua with its seven 500-plus yard holes.

World Rank: 1
Field Rank: 1
Book Rank: 3
Odds To Win: 8-1
Event History: 2 career starts: 34, 3
Last Six: 12, 16, 1, 7, 26, 19

4. Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on the 7th green during day two of the BMW Championship at Aronimink GC on Sep. 7, 2018 in Newtown Square, PA. Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

The Northern Irishman enters the 2019 year having captured just a single trophy (Bay Hill) over the past 24 months, while closing in on five years since his last major title. Not surprisingly, McIlroy recently proclaimed his intent to play exclusively on the U.S. PGA Tour this year (see storylines) – through the playoffs, as he seeks to avoid the wear and tear of international travel. Will this renewed focus on one tour, with less travel and more time at home, get the soon-to-be 30-year old back to his once prodigious winning ways? It all starts this week in Hawaii.

World Rank: 8
Field Rank: 7
Book Rank: 3
Odds To Win: 8-1
Event History: No career starts
Last Six: 20, 21, 54, 7, 5, 12

5. Jason Day

Jason Day Farmers Insurance Open
Jason Day during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines GC on Jan 28, 2018. Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 31-year old Aussie seemed back to his old self in the early going of 2018 with a pair of wins (Farmers, Wells Fargo) and two top 5s (T2 Pebble, T5 PLAYERS) in his first seven starts to the new year. But the former world No. 1 flat-lined the rest of the way, posting six solid top 20s, yet just a single top 10 (T10 Bridgestone) among them. In his two official starts in the 2019’s wrap-around season, Day finished T5 at the CJ Cup and T11 in China.

World Rank: 14
Field Rank: 9
Book Rank: 6
Odds To Win: 12-1
Event History: 4 career starts: 12, 10, 3, 9
Last Six: 16, 11, 5, 18, 24, MC


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