Pamela Maldonado breaks down her top picks for the Sentry Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, Hawaii.
PAMELA MALDONADO: With football winding down that means shifting the focus to the PGA. Pamela Maldonado here to give you a betting preview into the first event of the new year kicking off in Hawaii at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. This is a no-cut event featuring all of last year's winners in one field.
Justin Thomas is the betting favorite to win this tournament at the Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort. Three players that I'm looking at to not just contend but possibly come out with the outright win-- Cam Smith at 20 to 1 odds. He leads the field in strokes gained putting on Bermuda grass greens, gaining strokes putting in eight of his last 10 events on this surface.
He's not particularly known for his off-the-tee stats. However, as I mentioned, I'm not looking at off-the-tee and instead am focusing on iron shots and putting. And he has gained strokes with his irons in 3 straight events and in six of his last eight.
The only caveat is that Smith hasn't played since November. Maybe that could come into play. But instead, he does have four top-20 finishes, including a T4 at the RSM to close out the year. He is the top three putter in the field. He's the best putter on this surface. I'm locking him in to possibly win it all.
Player number two-- Daniel Berger at 20 to 1 odds. He is a top-12 player in the field for putting on these types of greens. He is a top four iron shot player. Pretty much, Berger is just a great ball striker, which is exactly what I'm looking for this type of tournament. Berger is also top five in strokes gained total.
With him you get consistency. He did finish also the year strong at T7 at the Hero World Challenge in December. And looking at his last six events on these types of greens, Berger has six top-20 finishes, three of which were top-10s. Player three-- Sam Burns at 16 to 1. I have a feeling I'll be firing on Burns a lot this season, because from him, you get a complete game.
Burns did finish the 2021 year strong and gaining strokes, ball striking in seven of his last eight events. In his last nine events he played, Burns has nine top-20 finishes, six of which were top-10s, including a T5, T7 and T3 ending with the Hero World Challenge.
What you see from Burns is improvements. He did flip the script from consistently being a red around the green player to consistently green, while also improving his putting tenfold. Burns has gained strokes putting in four of his last five events on Bermuda grass greens, two of which were outright wins at the Valspar and Sanderson Farms.
Those are three players that I like to contend for the Sentry Tournament of Champions-- Cam Smith, Daniel Berger, and Sam Burns. You could consider betting each to finish in the top 10, and perhaps sprinkling on each to finish outright. You can find these odds and more at the Yahoo Sportsbook.