As I sit here and write this post it feels like 7 degrees outside with temperatures tonight feeling like they will be close to the double-digit negatives. I am so sick of winter. Literally every day I wake up, I am counting down the days until we are down in Orlando at the PGA Show. Some days I look at my clubs and it feels like it has been forever since I was able to tee it up outside. But, I digress…back to this week tournament.
Thankfully, while we are all cooped up inside this weekend waiting out the “bomb cyclone,” the PGA Tour returns for the first tournament of 2018. The Sentry Tournament of Champions is the perfect way to kick off 2018…stacked field and a great course.
34 winners from last year join the field. One of the youngest fields to tee it up together in a very very long time. A relatively small field compared to most weeks on the tour. But it’s a simple equation on how the field is compiled…win in 2017 and punch your ticket to Maui. There isn’t much more to say about the field that hasn’t already been said. Every single player in the field has proven they have what it takes to win. There isn’t a player that doesn’t have a chance to put together a year similar to Justin Thomas’ 2017. The Sentry Tournament of Champions was just a first of many wins for Justin last year. A win here is a great way to kick start your season.
Check out our picks below.
If you haven’t heard of the Plantation Course at Kapalua, then you have been living under a rock. The Plantation Course is a course that should be on every golf guys bucket list.
The Plantation Course is long and wide open. Those two things mean only one thing. Grip and Rip! We cannot wait for DJ, Spieth, Thomas and crew to bomb away. While the water adds to the majestic views, there isn’t any that will be in play. The biggest challenge on the course is going to be more mental than physical. Driver will be in play on most holes but wind is going to be a huge factor. In addition, the hilly nature of the fairways is going to really challenge the field to utilize every shot in their bag. Even a great drive in the middle of the fairway wont always mean you will have an easy second shot.
Coming off of a “long” break in the yearlong wrap around schedule – some golfers in the field will need to knock off the rust and the Plantation Course is a great track to do it. A couple holes that stand out to me that are worth highlighting:
A long 521-yard par 5 that generally plays into the wind means reaching the green in two will be a challenge for even the longest players in the field. A valley is in play after your second shot and will truly reward players who are able to carry the valley setting up for an easier approach shot.
A drivable 305 yard – par 4 means a scoring hole. The bunkers well placed around the small green will scare some of the field to keep driver in the bag…i.e. the no fun crew. I would love to see someone jar one here.
The 663 yard par 5 finishing hole has it all. Long…a large fairway that really plays to the mentally challenge nature of the Plantation Course. Hole 18 similar to many of the holes highlight Maui’s beautiful landscapes and views. Even though the fairway is large and hard to miss, the fairway is defiantly not flat. A good drive in the right place in the fairway will allow for you to reach the green in two.
Check out a hole by hole description here.
Photo Cred: https://www.pgatour.com/tournaments/sentry-tournament-of-champions/info-pages/pages/2018-fan-guide.html
Last Couple of Thoughts:
I recently went back and listened to a number of interviews of players in this year’s field as well as a number of guys who played in prior tournaments at the Plantation Course and a couple things kept coming up in interview after interview:
The players love this course – many mentioned that each hole is more challenging then the last. The course plays and feels different than many of the courses the tour players play week in and week out. The way the course has been designed to highlight the beauty and natural features of Maui will force the field to use every shot they have.
All in all we are excited to have golf back in our lives and are excited to see how last year’s champions attack this course.
As always comment your picks below and follow along on twitter for real time takes.
David (twitter @rdf43212)
- Rickie Fowler
- Kevin Kisner
Graham (twitter @GCampbellGS)
- Justin Thomas
- Jason Dufner