The PGA Tour’s 2021-22 season started way back in September but it kicks into high gear this week with the annual Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua’s Plantation course.
The qualifications for this exclusive event are pretty simple: win a tournament during the 2021 calendar year, stretching across two seasons (January to December).
Of the year’s 39 champions, only Rory McIlroy opted out of the event. The field will still include 39 golfers, though, as Xander Schauffele received a special invite for winning gold at the Tokyo Summer Olympics.
Here are the 15 players we like most in the field this week in Maui.
15. Talor Gooch
At the RSM Classic, Gooch secured his maiden PGA Tour title by bookending a pair of 64s. The win was a culmination of a red-hot streak in the fall, where he finished T11 or better in five of his six starts… He enters Maui ranked No. 32 in the Official World Golf Rankings – a career best – while holding down the top spot in the FedEx Cup standings.
Last Six: 1, 60, 11, 5, 11, 4
Best 3 at Kapalua: Debut
14. Abraham Ancer
This will be Ancer’s second appearance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Last year he opened 70-71 but heated up on the weekend with scores of 69 and 66 to finish T17… The Mexican qualified by winning his maiden title at the WGC-FedEx St Jude event in Memphis… In three PGA Tour starts to the 2022 season, Ancer has posted one top 10 (T7, Mayakoba)… We think he grabs a second top-10 finish this week in Hawaii.
Last Six: 14, 27, 7, 14, MC, 11
Best 3 at Kapalua: 17 (2021)
13. Brooks Koepka
Koepka’s 2020-21 season was once again a tale of two types of events: he finished T7, T2, T4, and T6 in the four majors he entered. Yet had more missed-cuts (6) than top-10s (4) in his 15 regular tour starts… The four-time major winner entered four official PGA Tour events in the fall portion of the new season and struggled badly – missing two cuts while finishing T38 and T67 in the other two… Still, he’s Brooks Koepka. And if healthy (physically and mentally), he is easily one of the best in the field.
Last Six: 9, MC, MC, 38, 67, WD
Best 3 at Kapalua: 3 (2016), 24 (2019), 34 (2018)
12. Patrick Reed
After nearly dying from the COVID jab, Reed has struggled to find his form. In five official starts to the 2022 season, Reed owns just one top 10 (T2, Bermuda). He did, however, post a T3 at the unofficial Hero World Challenge against a super stout field… The enigmatic star ended the 2021 year at No. 25 in the world rankings, his worst position since becoming a full time PGA Tour member… The good news? Reed won this event in 2015, and finished second in both 2016 and 2020.
Last Six: 3, 32, 61, 56, 2, 68
Best 3 at Kapalua: 1 (2015), 2 (2020, 2016)
11. Daniel Berger
Berger qualified for the Tournament of Champions by winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, his fourth career title. As he did in 2020, he enjoyed a solid, albeit unspectacular, 2021 campaign… The Florida native took the entire fall portion of the 2021-22 season off, and will make his first official start this week at Kapalua… Berger enters Maui ranked No. 19 in the world rankings, and, with no starts on the season, dead last in the FedEx Cup. His play at Kapalua has been similar to his career: solid and consistent (T10, T11 and T14).
Last Six: 7, 8, 26, 56, 5, 8
Best 3 at Kapalua: 10 (2021), 11 (2018), 14 (2017)
10. Hideki Matsuyama
In four wrap-around starts to the 2021-22 season, the reigning Masters champion owns a win (ZOZO Championship) and an additional top-10… The Japanese star sits fourth in the FedEx Cup standings, and No. 18 in the world rankings… Matsuyama struggled here in 2021 (last place), but finished T4 (2018), runner-up (2017), and T3 in his three previous career starts.
Last Six: 1, 59, 67, 6, 26, 46
Best 3 at Kapalua: 2 (2017), 3 (2015), 4 (2018)
9. Bryson DeChambeau
DeChambeau is also be making his season debut this week… For the second consecutive year, the big bomber finished ranked No. 5 in the Official World Golf Rankings… In his two most recent starts at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, the California native owns a pair of seventh-place finishes, shooting under-par in each of those eight rounds, scoring an average of 68.75 (4.25-under par).
Last Six: 14, 11, 2, 31, 8, 33
Best 3 at Kapalua: 7 (2021, 2019), 26 (2018)
8. Sam Burns
Burns qualified off two wins in 2021 (Valspar, Sanderson Farms)… Following a breakout year, the rising American star is now ranked No. 10 in the world and sits 2nd in the FedEx Cup standings… The LSU product makes his debut at Kapalua’s Plantation course off four top-10s in his last five starts, including three in a row.
Last Six: 3, 7, 5, 14, 1, 17
Best 3 at Kapalua: 31 (2021)
7. Viktor Hovland
The Norwegian star enters in red-hot form, off two straight wins (Mayakoba and Albany)… In his debut at Kapalua last year, Hovland opened with rounds of 69, 68 and 68 to sit inside the top 10 after 54 holes. A final-round 76, though, sent the 24-year-old tumbling to a T31 finish… Hovland enters Maui ranked No. 7 in the world and 5th in the FedEx Cup standings.
Last Six: 1, 1, 18, 44, 49, 4
Best 3 at Kapalua: 31 (2021)
6. Patrick Cantlay
The reigning FedEx Cup champ, and PGA Tour MVP, will make his first start of the 2021-22 season… The California native starts the 2022 year ranked No. 4 in the world… Cantlay has finished inside the top 15 in three career starts at the Plantation Course.
Last Six: 4, 1, 11, 23, MC, 13
Best 3 at Kapalua: 4 (2020), 13 (2021), 15 (2018)
5. Jordan Spieth
Spieth makes his return to Maui after a three-edition absence… Punching a ticket with a win in San Antonio, the three-time major winner is a true horse for the Plantation course, owning a trio of top-3 finishes, highlighted by a win in 2016… The 28-year-old Texan made just one start in the fall portion of the new season, finishing T18 at the CJ Cup… He enters Kapalua with a world ranking of No. 14.
Last Six: 20, 18, 24, 34, 73, 12
Best 3 at Kapalua: 1 (2016), 2 (2014) 3 (2017)
4. Jon Rahm
The world No. 1 has not teed it up since a two-start set on the European Tour in mid-October and should enter 2022 fully rested… The 27-year-old Spaniard comes off a year in which he elevated an already world-class game to another level, winning his first major title at the U.S. Open… In four appearances at Kapalua, Rahm owns four top-10 finishes with a runner-up in 2018 his best showing.
Last Six: MC, 17, MC, 1, 9, 3
Best 3 at Kapalua: 7 (2021), 8 (2019), 2 (2018)
3. Collin Morikawa
The reigning “Champion Golfer of the Year” enters off a blown five-shot lead at Tiger’s event in Albany… Overall, though, Morikawa appears to be in great form – coming off four straight top-7 finishes, including a win at the European Tour’s Dubai finale… The 24-year-old Cal-Berkeley product enjoyed another stellar campaign in 2021, winning three worldwide events, highlighted by a victory at The Open Championship – his second career major title.
Last Six: 5, 1, 7, 2, 28, 63
Best 3 at Kapalua: 7 (2021), 7 (2020)
2. Xander Schauffele
Qualified for Maui with a gold medal victory at the Tokyo Olympics… The world No. 6 is another thoroughbred at the Plantation course, owning a win and a pair of top-5 finishes. His scoring average in those 12 rounds is a sizzling 68.17 (nearly 5-under par per round)… Schauffele has made just two official 2021-22 starts, posting a T28 and T18.
Last Six: 12, 28, 18, 3, 49, 16
Best 3 at Kapalua: 1 (2019), 2 (2020), 5 (2021)
1. Justin Thomas
JT finished the 2021 calendar year ranked No. 7 in the world. It marked the fifth consecutive year positioned inside the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 10 – the second longest current streak, behind only Dustin Johnson… Thomas is truly a horse for the course at the Plantation, winning twice while finishing third two other times… Following a somewhat down year, the 28-year-old Kentucky native enters off four top-5 finishes in his six most recent starts, including two straight.
Last Six: 5, 3, 18, 4, 22, 4
Best 3 at Kapalua: 1 (2020, 2017), 3 (2021, 2019)