Sentry Tournament of Champions celebrates its 25th year on Maui when this event with stellar field returns to Kapalua in January 2023. Here are the basics:
The PGA Tour's Sentry Tournament of Champions is one of the most prestigious and awaited regular events on the golfing calendar. Taking place on the beautiful island of Maui in Hawaii, the tournament features most of the world's top golfers (17 of top 20 in WGR) competing for a share of the elevated $15 million prize purse.
The tournament is a limited-field event, meaning that only last years winners and the top 30 ranked players in the last years FedExCup are invited to compete. This year, the field includes some of the best players in the game, such as Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler, and Xander Schauffele.
The tournament has been played annually since 1953, making it one of the oldest events on the PGA Tour. It is also the first official event of the year, as it is held in early January. As such, it serves as a great way to kick off the new season and get golfers back into the swing of things. This is the 25th time that year starts in Hawaii.
The tournament is contested on the Plantation Course at Kapalua Golf Club, which is a par 73 and measures 7,596 yards. Winning scores have been varying a lot because the former pineapple plantation situates at the windy shores of the island and is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. Kapalua even means "arms embracing the sea"
The course was built around the 18th hole that is the longest par 5 in the competitive golf (measuring 677 yards). The finishing hole is one of the most thrilling holes in golf with the views over the Pacific Ocean and drives measuring over 400 yards because it's played in downhill and usually down wind. This is the hole where Tiger hit his longest tracked drive in 2002 - measured 498 yards. One of the best drives in the history was hit here:
Overall the course plays easy and without strong winds the scoring tends to be really low. It has widest fairways and one of the biggest greens in the tour schedule. Because of the renovations and conditions the greens should be faster this year (stimp 11) and harder surfaces should make it more challenging to control the ball.
The betting card & reasoning
Limited field events need special considerations while making the betting card. There's pretty much no game in the top 20 bets and no cut should be considered in the H2H bets.
In addition player trend data is not useful here because of the 6 week layoff and off-season schedules where the best players play only occasionally. This means that the weight of the 3 & 6 month trend is unusually low. Some tweaks could be made based on data how players play after 6+ weeks hiatus, but based on our analysis there's not enough data to make statistically significant alterations to the model.
So we end up using the baseline of 6 & 12 months with some weight on the history. Minor tweaks to the model include "putting on bermuda greens", "birdie or better %" and "3-putt avoidance".
After analysing odds history and the weather forecast our main strategy for the week will be shorting the cumulative top 50% of the winner market on the exchanges. UPDATE 5.1: after Xander Schauffele's doubtful status for the week this short ended up focusing on him. Cantlay was added due to his putting stats. This is a high risk strategy, but was made after thorough scenario analysis. The idea is to sell these positions before round 3. Digging further this strategy has generated +20% yield in previous 3 years and we think it's based on the Plantation course's low scoring (increases variance) and quality in the field (almost everyone can go low for two rounds).
For the whole tournament our betting card (to be updated before round 4) looks like this (scroll right to see the selections, NF means that the bet is not filled):
Looking more closely into this the card, it looks controversial since the main strategy in the exchange is to short the same guys that show value in Winner bets. But we should remember that golf competition lasts for 4 rounds and at this time it seems that first two days are played in good scoring conditions and then Saturday will be the hardest day (gusts of 14m/s) to go low.
Still this controversy means that the betting sizes will be limited to 2 units for these players. Bradley and Power will be bet with one unit. Zalatoris was cut because of the long injury layoff which usually means that players need few competitions to get back "in the game". Horschel and Stallings were cut because of their early season results and suitability for the course.
Added J.J.Spaun with half unit because market offered high value and Spaun has shown a tendency to go low and he's a good Bermuda putter.
Top10 selections were bet with 3 units each. Seeing 2/3 to place in top10 feels intuitively were good and the data backs this. After further analysis, all players in top50% of winner market were add since it has yielded 50% ROI in last 3 years. In addition Cameron Young was added to the card with +EV odds and his strengths that should play well in Kapalua. UPDATE 5.1: Im (3U), Zalatoris (2U), Homa (2U) and Power (1U) were added after market gave +EV odds and all players looked well suited for success this week.
Head to head selections will be added to this card later this week. UPDATE 5.1: no H2H bets for this week. Check the updates in our Twitter account (@GolfBettingM).
Enjoy the week!