Nestled in one of Hawaii’s largest nature preserves, the Kapalua Resort features a necklace of stunning white sandy beaches, two marine sanctuaries, and the world-class Plantation Golf Course all located on the beautiful island of Maui. It was also the home of the PGA Tour’s 2024 season opener: The Sentry tournament.
The field was comprised of tournament winners from the 2022-2023 season, as well as the top 50 players in last season’s FedEx Cup standings. The Sentry was the first of eight scheduled Signature Events that will feature a no-cut format. The $20 million Sentry purse awards $3.6 million to the winner. The runner-up pockets $2.16 million, while third takes home $1.36 million.
The PGA Tour has reverted to a calendar-year season, abandoning a ten-year run with a “wraparound” schedule that began in the fall and ran through the summer of the following year, making the Sentry the first tournament of the new 2024 season.
Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore get credit for designing the Plantation Course. Its raw beauty and majestic views of the Pacific Ocean, the mountainous West Maui Forest Reserve, and the island of Moloka’i across the Lahaina Roads Bay provided a rich, diverse, and near-perfect canvas on which to construct this course.
The Plantation Course offers a dramatic ocean view from virtually every hole. Its lengthy 7,411-yard par-73 layout was a challenge but it’s wide fairways and generous greens make it user friendly. The slope/course rating from most tees, along with smooth and fast fairways, added distance to most tee balls and approach shots, resulting in numerous birdie opportunities.
Sahith Theegala sits atop of the leaderboard after opening with a 9-under 74. One off the pace was a five-player logjam which includes Collin Morikawa, Camilo Villegas, Sungjae Im, Jason Day and Viktor Hovland.
Hovland, the reigning FedEx Cup champion, heated up down the stretch, finishing with five birdies on his final seven holes. The Norwegian star called his round “pretty scrappy from a swing standpoint, but I’m very happy with the score. Managed to make some putts and kept it relatively stress-free.”
This might be something you’ve heard a few times before, Scottie Scheffler is once again leading a PGA Tour event. The 2022-23 PGA Tour Player of The Year shot a 64 on Friday to get to 16 under at The Sentry. All 59 players broke par today with the average score on the Plantation course rounding out to 67.
Tyrrell Hatton eagled his final hole in spectacular fashion to polish off an 11-under 62 to grab a share of the lead heading into the weekend. The Englishman sits at 15-under 131, alongside Brendon Todd and South Korea’s Im. All three trail Scheffler by a single stroke (130).
Split tees starting times were used for both the third and fourth rounds. This was done due to the larger than normal field of 59 golfers and to accommodate television coverage amidst a busy weekend sports schedule.
After enjoying warm breezes and dominance over the unpredictable Plantation course during the opening two rounds, the Pacific Tradewinds decided to shake things up today, bringing windy conditions, driving up scores and creating constant movement on the leaderboard.
Chris Kirk’s 7-under 66, was good enough to grab sole possession of the 54-hole lead at 21-under 198.
“A little bit of a slow start, for sure,” Kirk said. “You certainly can’t protect anything out here. We’ve had relatively calm winds, then pretty breezy today.”
World number one Scheffler, who held a one-shot overnight lead, carded 2-under 71 and was three off the pace at 201.
Heading into the final round the leaderboard was as follows: 1. Chris Kirk -21, 2. Akshay Bhatia -20, T3. Xander Schauffele -19, Jordan Spieth -19, An Byeong-hun -19. T6. Harris English -18, Jason Day -18, Sahith Theegala -18, Scottie Scheffler -18.
Amid bright sunshine and pristine course conditions, a low scoring affair seemed to be in the cards, but the front nine, which played the toughest all week, held the leaderboard somewhat steady with only a couple of exceptions.
The Hawaiian god of the oceans and long-distance is Kanaloa. It’s said he would grant sailors a smooth passage and a helpful breeze if they offered gifts. It looks like the Kapalua Resorts found the perfect gifts this week. Aside from a strong breeze during yesterday’s round, the weather at the Plantation Course was definitely smooth sailing.
As the final twosome made the turn to the 10th tee, the leaderboard was looking crowded and up for grabs: 1. Kirk -26, 2. Spieth -24, T3. Im -23, Theegala -23, T5. Scheffler-22, Schauffele -22, Eric Cole -22, T8. Tyrell Hatton -21, Adam Hadwin -21, Brian Harman -21.
The top 3 places held pretty solid during the final nine holes. Only Spieth and Theegala changed places. The Plantation Course here at the Kapalua Resort certainly lived up to its reputation when it came to low scores and birdies galore.
This year’s winner of the 2024 Sentry Tournament was Kirk who finished with a 29-under par score. He earned himself a check for $3.6 million and his name on the Sentry Trophy. This was his sixth career victory, bringing his career earnings to $29,693,406. Runner-up went to Theegala (-28) who picked up $2.16 million, while Spieth (-27) rounded out the third podium finisher.
The NBC Sports’ reporter asked Chris Kirk, “Congratulations, it got tight down the stretch, and you had a wonderful shot on 17 that ultimately was the difference mentally and emotionally. What were you able to do so well to get this job done.”
Kirk responded, “I just kind of kept reminding myself of no matter how I felt, no matter how nervous I was, there was nothing really stopping me from getting great shots, hitting great spots, and you know, I was able to kind of remind myself of that before every shot. Yeah, that one on the 17, I’ll remember for a long time it was a great shot.”
The reporter continued. “Where do you want to go in 2024 with your game?”
Kirk replied, “Wherever it takes me. You know, I’m just enjoying competing. I’m enjoying the work. You know, I love playing. I didn’t have that for a while and to be back to loving what I do. I love the process of working to be the best player that I can.
“I’m working on being as good of a father and husband as I can when I’m off the golf course. So, it’s a constant process and i’m just loving every minute.”