Champions on guard at the Sentry!

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Happy New Year to you all and I hope you have recovered from Christmas and possibly saved a little money, as the golf returns this week and I am eager and enthusiastic once again (hopefully that shows)?

With 2022 starting a clean slate as far as I am concerned, and although last year saw us miss out on some big priced winners by the narrowest of margins, we did pick up plenty of places along the way and had a laugh at the same time – that is what sports betting is about these days, with the bookmakers strangling the prices as best as they can as they laughingly balance the safer gambling mantra with doing everything within their powers to stop or restrict profitable punters from continuing to bet on the sport (or sports), that they love.

Anyway, political rant over and on to the golf, and this week the players will be lining up at the grandly named Sentry Tournament Of Champions in Maui, Hawaii – nice work if you can get it, eh. With Rory McIlroy the only absent qualifier this is a tough heat with just the 39 players and poor each way terms, but if you like watching golf of the highest standard this is a tournament not to be missed.

To the best of my knowledge this is the only par 73 course (7,596 yards) on the PGA Tour, but be warned, all is not as it seems at first glance. It looks designed for the big hitters, but it is a low scoring course and a red-hot putter will be in the hands of the winner here as much as a booming driver, though past stats may well tell lies as they underwent a $12 million refurb in 2020 which will make this a whole lot tougher, especially if the winds start to blow. 

Selections with reasoning:

***NOTE*** Different bookmakers are offering different each way terms so do shop around – and make sure you only partake non-runner no bet – covid has seen last minute withdrawals all season and we don’t want to be throwing money away. DO shop around for best odds and best place terms and any special offers with the bookmakers to steal the most value, and DO check the exchanges for bigger prices – I can’t put them on here accurately as they differ by the minute. Betfair prices quoted are as indicators only and were correct at the time of writing.

1pt each way Marc Leishman 33/1 most bookmakers, top 6 places (48.0 Betfair)

I am pretty keen on the place chances of our Aussie friend here as the bookmakers seem to have happily ignored his form at the end of 2021. With two third and a fourth form his last five starts he gets an A* for consistency in my book, and a fourth and seventh from his two outings at this course suggests to me we can expect a bold effort. His putting has returned to something close to his best which will be even more relevant here than many courses, and as he sits high up in the recent stats (fifth for strokes gained putting, for example), and if the winds pick up he handles conditions far better than many siting at shorter prices in the early betting. He ticks more boxes than he doesn’t for me, and looks worthy of a small bet if nothing else.

1pt Each Way Collin Morikawa 11/1 William Hill and Betfred,  top 6 places (14.0 Betfair)

You would think that if I were to abandon one golfer Collin would be your man after he threw away a five shot lead after I tipped him last time out, but you cannot deny his talent and although I am unconvinced by the price, if he wins I doubt I will be arguing that minor point. In case you have forgotten, he is only 24 years old (frightening, isn’t it), yet he already has already own two majors, 5 PGA tour events, and the race to Dubai, so anyone doubting his bottle or ability must be insane. He has finished seventh on both starts here (one spot out of the places on current terms), but I am hoping he will be itching to put his recent mishaps (and the negative publicity that went with them) firmly in to his past, and what better way than with a win here? 

1pt each way Patrick Reed 25/1 most bookmakers top 6 places (34.0 Betfair) Believe it or not, third pick was the one I spent the most time pondering over. Do we go for the glaringly obvious Justin Thomas or is 8/1 too skinny (it isn’t if he wins, of course), or do we look for someone at a bigger price, though bookmakers aren’t stupid – the bigger prices at the bottom of the market are there for a reason.  Phil Mickelson plays here for the first time in forever and is 150/1 , and we all know he can surprise a few, but in the end I came down on the side of Mr Reed at a “middle of the road” price. His form at this course warrants plenty of respect with a win in 2015, second in 2016, sixth in 2017, and second in 2020 (from a total of seven visits) so our each way bet would have paid out more often than not, and he is clearly in good heart having made the cut on his last five starts of 2021. He loves the Bermudagrass greens (he has also won at Liberty National and Torrey Pines on the PGA tour), and deserves his place on our list for that reason alone.

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