Quick look at the Sentry Tournament of Champions
January 01, 2020
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- A scenic view of the first hole at the Plantation Course at Kapalua. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
Happy New Year! Welcome to 2020 and the earliest start we can remember for the PGA TOUR in terms of coming back after the holiday period. Of course, the 2019-20 FedExCup has been in full swing since September, but we start the new calendar year in Maui at the winners-only Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua. As you wind down from festivities and try to keep your resolutions at front of mind, most of you get prime-time golf on TV… with the odd whale thrown in!
THREE PLAYERS TO PONDER
The 203-yard par-3 8th hole is a visual splendor as players have to carry a ravine from an elevated tee with the wondrous ocean and island of Molokai as a backdrop. But it can be feast or famine for the players. Last season, it was the toughest hole all week playing to a 3.136 stroke average. And this despite the fact Patton Kizzire made an ace on the hole. There were just 13 birdies to go with eagle over four rounds with 20 bogeys, five double bogeys and one triple bogey.
The par-5 18th is listed at 663 yards on the scorecard, but played between 653 and 681 yards last season. It’s the longest hole on the PGA TOUR, but that doesn’t mean it is hard. It drops severely in elevation from tee to green and with the right tee shot that finds the speed slots, we can see the ball travel over 400 yards… although last year 399 was the max out (The 400 yard barrier was beaten on the 17th hole). The 18th played at 4.598 last season with two eagles and 57 birdies. Players shot par or better on the hole all but seven times over four rounds. Here’s a look at where all tee shots landed last year.
From PGA TOUR meteorologist Wade Stettner: Partly cloudy skies are forecast on Wednesday and Thursday with lighter winds and just a slight chance of isolated showers. A frontal boundary will push through Maui by Thursday evening and the trade winds will increase behind this front. Windy conditions are forecast on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with peak wind gusts to 35mph. Shower chances will also increase this weekend as the gusty trade winds push them over the West Maui Mountains.
For the latest weather news from Kapalua, Hawaii, check out PGATOUR.COM’s Weather Hub.
SOUND CHECKThis is always the best place to start the year. It means you won the previous year but also it’s a small field and it’s a fun, relaxed week on a great golf course.
BY THE NUMBERS
3 – Number of top-6 finishes for Rickie Fowler at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, tied with Hideki Matsuyama for the most without a victory since 2013.
5 – The final-round deficit Xander Schauffele came back from last year. It was the largest final round come-from-behind victory at the Plantation Course at Kapalua since 1999 (previous was four strokes). His 61 included two eagles, eight birdies and one bogey.
15 – Number of first-time winners in the 2019 calendar year are in the field this week at the 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions. They are Adam Long, Martin Trainer, Keith Mitchell, Corey Conners, Max Homa, Sung Kang, Nate Lashley, Matthew Wolff, Dylan Frittelli, Collin Morikawa, J.T. Poston, Joaquin Niemann, Sebastián Muñoz, Lanto Griffin and Tyler Duncan.
196 – Number of holes Adam Long has played without a three-putt, tied with Russell Knox for the current longest streak on the PGA TOUR.
575 – Number of drives 400 yards or longer on PGA TOUR in the ShotLink era (since 2003). More than half of those (55.5%) have come on the Plantation Course at Kapalua (319 of 575). Dustin Johnson leads all players with 29 of them.
1,561 – The number of FedExCup points earned by Dustin Johnson at the Sentry Tournament Of Champions. The most of any player since 2009.
What a difference a year makes. A year ago, Brendon Todd was considering buying into a pizza franchise after missing 39 cuts in 45 starts, he now leads the FedExCup; Matthew Wolff and Collin Morikawa were knee-deep in textbooks and collegiate golf; Corey Conners had conditional TOUR status after finishing 130th in the 2018 FedExCup standings; and Lanto Griffin was set to embark on his second stint on the Korn Ferry Tour.
Plantation Course refined for 2020: The Plantation Course at Kapalua underwent a nine-month refinement project. The work was done by original Plantation Course architects Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw along with Troon’s design, development and agronomy team. During the refinement project, all 107 acres of fairways, tees and roughs were replanted with Celebration Bermuda grass and all greens were rebuilt and grassed with TifEagle Bermuda grass.
Dustin Johnson returns. After taking time off to rehab a knee issue, Johnson returned to help the U.S. win the recent Presidents Cup in Australia. But this marks his first start in the 2019-20 PGA TOUR season. The winner at Kapalua in 2013 and 2018 has seven consecutive top-10s at the event.