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Sentry TOC: Tournament Matchups to Consider

Billy Horschel

Billy Horschel

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

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Golf fans, we can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Golf is back baby! After a brief break, the PGA Tour returns with the 2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua Resort. A few years ago, the Tournament of Champions marked the beginning of the PGA Tour season. With the tour schedule adjustment in 2013, the Tournament of Champions now is staged as the first tournament of the calendar year. Either way, I am absolutely stoked to be talking about golf again. The last tournament I covered was the Hero World Challenge where I nailed Viktor Hovland as the winner, Sam Burns top-5 and Justin Rose top-10. This week we will focus on two match ups that I like, odds can be found on PointsBet Sportsbook.

Cameron Smith over Jordan Spieth (-115)

Before I tell you why I like Cam Smith over Spieth, I must tell you that part of me wants to back Cantlay over Hovland (-106). However funny it may be, it’s not because Hovland’s golf clubs haven’t arrived in Hawaii. It’s because in every model I have made I have Cantlay in the top-2 and Hovland around eighth. It’s mainly Hovland’s form that worries me, he isn’t the best putter, but his recent hot streak has made me reconsider fading him this week. No need for me to poke the bear when there are other matchups I like.

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Awhile back I said something about first time fathers having different motivations or different routines which might affect their play in the short term. Whether this is just a coincidence or it’s real, I believe it to be true. Spieth is a great golfer and likely a great father. Whether the cause of his poor play recently is the new baby in the house or just an unfortunate spell of bad play, I am perfectly fine fading him. This week is no different. I am backing Smith over Spieth.

I have Smith ranked third on my overall ranks big board. I like him a lot this week, not only will I have him in matchups and top-5 wagers, I will also bet him outright. The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort is pretty much your typical resort golf course. It has huge fairways that are hard to miss and big greens that just require a solid approach shot. With the large greens, it realistically becomes a putting contest. Two of the heaviest weighted metrics used for my model in this tournament are Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Putting. Smith is rated 12th in SG: APP at +0.5 per round and first in SG: P at +0.7 per round in his last 50 rounds.

Smith’s win at last year’s Sony Open is evidence that he excels while playing resort courses in Hawaii. He has been in fine form throughout 2021 with a handful of top-5 finishes, eight top-10 finishes and 14 top-25 finishes. Like I said before Spieth is a great golfer, but recently he hasn’t been all that great. In his last 16 rounds he is -0.7 SG: APP and only +0.2 SG: P. Even if I move the metrics to his last 24 rounds SG: APP only improves to -0.2 and SG: PP remains flat. I like Smith in this matchup.

Billy Horschel over Cameron Champ (-136)

To be clear, I am not super high on either of these golfers this week. However, I do like Horschel much more than I like Champ. The edge comes in a few facets. This tournament is played on Bermuda grass. Horschel sees an increase while playing on Bermuda. He is second in the field in SG: P and 13th in Strokes Gained: Total.

The next reason is I am simply fading Champ. On Bermuda, Champ is my lowest projected player this week. Outside of being one of the longest hitters in the field, the cards are against him in almost every aspect. He’s 35th in SG: APP at -0.1 strokes per round and 38th in SG: P at -0.6. For his length he is surprisingly just average on Par 5s at +0 strokes gained on par 5s.

It doesn’t take a lengthy dissertation to see why I like Horschel over Champ. There were quite a few names I would’ve backed to finish higher than him. Whichever match ups you decide to bet, just know that you are winning because we get to bet on golf!

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