While not the official start of the new season, this week in Kapalua signifies the flipping of the calendar and the start of what is ultimately the meat of the PGA Tour schedule.
With the likes of Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm atop the Sentry Tournament of Champions odds board, we're surely in for a birdie-filled week and a stacked Sunday afternoon leaderboard.
Who will be near the top with a chance to win? Read my golf picks and predictions for the Sentry TOC below to find out.
Sentry Tournament of Champions picks
Picks made on 1/3/2023 at 12:30 a.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Sentry Tournament of Champions matchup predictions
Justin Thomas over Scottie Scheffler (+100 at bet365)
As great as Scheffler has been over the last 12 months, the wrong guy is favored here.
Justin Thomas contends here at Kapalua with his eyes closed; he has two victories (2017, 2020), two third-place finishes, and a T5 in his last six tries and as you'd expect, his iron play has done the heavy lifting. He's gained an average of 1.4 strokes on approach in those six starts, with highs of +2.99 and +2.21 in 2019 and 2021, respectively (true strokes gained via DataGolf).
Meanwhile, Scheffler has made just one career start here — a T13 finish in 2021 — but is listed as a heavy -138 favorite in this matchup. He has the better results of late, but I'm putting more stock in JT's course history as it's been more than a month since these guys last played at the Hero World Challenge.
Sentry Tournament of Champions top finisher predictions
Xander Schauffele Top 5 (+190)
Wins aside, few golfers are as consistent as Xander. He's finished outside of the Top 20 just once (!) in his last 13 starts dating back to the Zurich Classic in April — a stretch of golf that includes three majors, three victories, and four other Top-5 finishes. To start the new season? T9 at the ZOZO and solo-fourth at the Hero World.
His track record here at Kapalua is just as inspiring; he used a final-round 62 to close out a win in 2019, which he followed up with a runner-up in 2020 and a T5 in 2021. The runner-up finish in 2020 came despite a below-average putting week, but his strokes gained numbers in Maui are otherwise stellar across the board.
His 12th-place finish here a year ago is his worst since his debut in 2018 but came as part of a relatively slow start to the 2021-22 season. The rest of the profile has me all in on him this week.
Sungjae Im Top 10 (+130)
What's one thing we know about this event? It so often becomes a birdie-fest... look no further than last year's 34-under winning score... and few are better at racking up birdies than Sungjae Im.
He leads the field in birdies or better per round at the Sentry since 2015 (6.25) and has a 67.77 scoring average in 22 career rounds played in Hawaii (the best mark of any golfer since 1999), per Justin Ray.
Furthermore, he's gone T5 and T8 in his two career Kapalua starts with an even lower scoring average of 67.38. Back him to be in the mix again this week.