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Tournament of Champions: Preview, Odds & Best Bets

Sportsnaut
Aug 23, 2021; Jersey City, New Jersey, USA; Jon Rahm watches his tee shot on the ninth hole during the final round of The Northern Trust golf tournament at the Liberty National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 23, 2021; Jersey City, New Jersey, USA; Jon Rahm watches his tee shot on the ninth hole during the final round of The Northern Trust golf tournament at the Liberty National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Tour returns from a six-week break with the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which begins Thursday at the Plantation Course at Kapalua in Maui.

The field includes 38 winners from 2021, returning to its traditional format after the event was expanded to include all players who qualified for the Tour Championship during the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season.

Field Level Media’s golf experts provide key notes and best bets for the year-opening event.

TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS
Kapalua, Maui, HI, Jan. 6-9
Course: Plantation Course at Kapalua (Par 73, 7,596 yards)
Purse: $8.2M (Winner: $1.476M)
Defending Champion: Harris English
FedEx Cup Leader: Gooch

HOW TO WATCH
TV: TV: Thursday-Friday, 6-10 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday, 6-10 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Sunday, 4-6 p.m. ET (NBC), 6-8 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)
PGA Tour Live: Thursday-Saturday, 2:15-6 p.m. (Featured Groups), 6-10 p.m. (Featured Holes); Sunday, 1:30-4 p.m. (Featured Groups), 4-8 p.m. (Featured Holes).
PGA Tour Live: Thursday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. (Featured Groups)

NOTES
–Cameron Champ was forced to withdraw on Tuesday following a positive COVID-19 test. He won his third career PGA Tour event at last year’s 3M Open. The only 2021 winner not in the field is Rory McIlroy.
–Collin Morikawa has a chance to overtake Jon Rahm for the No. 1 world ranking this week.
–Xander Schauffele did not win a PGA Tour event last year but qualified with his gold medal at the Olympics.
–Phil Mickelson will tee it up at Kapalua for the first time in 21 years.
–English is seeking to become the first player to successfully defend his title at the event since Geoff Ogilvy in 2009-10.
–Players making their event debuts this week are Gooch, Cameron Davis, Joel Dahmen, Lucas Herbert, Garrick Higgo, K.H. Lee, Seamus Power and Erik van Rooyen. Gooch already has 852 FedEx Cup points, more than he has earned in any of his first four seasons on tour.
–The Planation Course is the only one on tour that plays to a par 73. In the 13 previous times the event was held at the course, the winning score has been 20-under par or better 10 times. Last year, the par-5 fifth hole had the lowest average score relative to par (4.095) on tour since 2005. The tour had 22 par-4s play harder during the fall swing. Gooch already has 852 FedEx Cup points, more than he has earned in any of his first four seasons on tour.

BEST BETS
–Rahm (+750 at DraftKings) has four top-10s in four previous event starts, including a runner-up in 2018.
–Justin Thomas (+800) is a two-time winner (2017, ’20). He is being backed by 7 percent of the bets and 8 percent of the handle wagered at the sportsbook.
–Morikawa (+1000) has two top-10s in two starts this season along with a T5 at the Hero World Challenge.
–Viktor Hovland (+1200) is coming off a win at the Hero World Challenge and has won each of his past two starts (Mayakoba).
–Schauffele (+1200) hasn’t won a stroke-play event on tour since this event two years ago. His odds have also shortened from +1400 to +1200 at BetMGM, where he is second with 7.3 percent of the ticket count.
–Reigning FedEx Cup champion Patrick Cantlay (+1400) will make his 2021-22 season debut after winning four times last season.
–Sam Burns (+1800) is in the top 10 for the first time this week and has five consecutive top-15 finishes.
–Jordan Spieth (+2200) qualified for the first time in three years. He won in 2016 and leads with 8 percent of the bets and 11 percent of the handle backing him at DraftKings.
–Brooks Koepka (+3000) offers longshot odds as he comes off a T9 in the Bahamas after beating Bryson DeChambeau (+1200) handily in The Match V.
–Patrick Reed is being offered at +2800 by BetMGM, where the 2015 champion’s odds have been driven down from +3300 as he leads the field with 9.5 percent of the ticket count. Reed also leads with 12.1 percent of the handle, making him the sportsbook’s biggest liability ahead of Tony Finau (+2800) and Mickelson (+10000).
–The lowest ticket count in the field belongs to Lucas Glover, who has attracted only 0.3 percent of the bets despite his +15000 odds tying for the longest in the field.

–Field Level Media