Quick look at the Sentry Tournament of Champions
January 02, 2019
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Inside the PGA TOUR
2019 Sentry Tournament of Champions Preview
The calendar now reads 2019 – and that means the current PGA TOUR season ends its six-week hibernation and cranks up again. As customary, the locale is Maui at the winners-only Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua. For most fans, that means prime-time golf on TV …. and yes, you’ll spend the next four days wishing you lived in Hawaii.
The final three holes at the Plantation Course stretch out to nearly 1,600 yards and can be both challenging and fun. The 365-yard par-4 16th is not drivable due to the crossing trade wins, so most tee shots will finish short of the fairway bunker that guards the green. The 549-yard 17th is the longest par 4 on the PGA TOUR, and yet ranked just 271st among the 551 par 4s in stroke average. The 663-yard 18th is the longest par 5 on the TOUR and yet, just like the 17th, is not difficult; it ranked 97th out of the 163 par 5s in stroke average last season.
The Plantation Course at Kapalua - The Finishing Stretch
The par-4 14th is listed at 305 yards on the scorecard, and yet played less than 300 yards in each of the four rounds last year. Nearly half of all tee shots tried to drive the green, and yet just two of those 67 attempts were successful. One of those was by Dustin Johnson in the final round en route to victory (the other was by Jhonattan Vegas).
Here’s a look at where all tee shots landed last year.
From PGA TOUR meteorologist Joe Halvorson: “Gusty east-northeasterly trade winds are expected for much of the week, peaking on Friday before beginning to slacken on Saturday. Passing showers will be possible mainly during the overnight and morning hours Wednesday through Friday, with rainfall totals expected to be rather light. Passing shower chances will persist through the day on Saturday, though rainfall is forecast to remain light. Sunday will see showers become isolated in coverage as easterly trade winds weaken substantially, perhaps weak enough for winds to becoming variable in direction.”
For the latest weather news from Kapalua, Hawaii, check out PGATOUR.COM’s Weather Hub.
SOUND CHECKIt doesn't get any better than being in Hawaii. … it's a small field, a chance to get a lot of FedExCup points and get a good jump start to the year if you've either been behind or haven't played yet.
BY THE NUMBERS
155 – Combined career PGA TOUR victories by the 34 players in the Sentry Tournament of Champions field.
24,815 – Combined days between victories for 11 players who last season ended victory droughts of at least 1,600 days – Charles Howell III, Paul Casey, Kevin Na, Keegan Bradley, Ted Potter Jr., Ian Poulter, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson and Gary Woodland. All but Woods and Mickelson are in the field this week.
11 – Consecutive seasons since the start of his PGA TOUR career in which Dustin Johnson has won at least one TOUR event. Only Arnold Palmer (17 seasons), Jack Nicklaus (17 seasons) and Tiger Woods (14 seasons) have longer streaks to start their TOUR careers.
532 – Drives of 400 yards or more on the PGA TOUR in the ShotLink Era (since 2003). Of those 532 drives, 301 (56.6 percent) have been recorded at the Plantation Course. And of those 301 drives, 96 have been at the 18th hole.
The par-4 fourth has a new teeing area and is now at 424 yards after previously playing at 382 yards. What once had been a wedge for most players on their approach shots will now be a mid-iron – depending on the wind conditions, of course. “I usually have somewhere between 110 to 120, 125 every time I play that hole and I had 188 yesterday,” Justin Thomas said after his practice round Tuesday. “I hit 5-iron in. That green's tough with a wedge let alone with a 5-iron.” A year ago, the fourth was the ninth toughest hole on the Plantation Course, playing at a stroke average of 4.037.
When it comes to the FedExCup Playoffs, winning the Sentry Tournament of Champions (the second smallest field of the season) has become a vital element in reaching the TOUR Championship (the smallest field of the season). Each of the last 10 Sentry winners have advanced to the 30-man TOUR Championship; only the Valspar Championship and the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship can match that streak among regular-season events.
All eight winners from the fall portion of the 2018-19 season are in the field, including one rookie (Cameron Champ). Not surprising, all eight of those players are in the top 10 of the FedExCup standings, including current leader Charles Howell III.
The Plantation Course has ranked inside the top 5 among easiest courses on TOUR in 10 of the last 11 seasons. It had the lowest field stroke average in relation to par five times. Last year, the field averaged 1.779 strokes under par, fifth lowest among all courses.