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Sam Eaton brings us his predictions for First Round Leader at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Sam Eaton is back on OddsChecker in 2021. All of Sam's tips are based on statistics and models built on the course requirements and he's picked out three selections for the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Historically this has been a pretty easy event on the PGA Tour, highlighted by Jordan Spieth shooting -30 to win back in 2016. Recent changes have made 7,596-yard (par 73) course a little harder to play, however, scoring is normally dictated by the wind, which doesn’t look an issue this week. 

Even with such a long yardage, the large fairways and greens make off the tee performance slightly irrelevant. Ball striking, par 4 scoring and around the green are just some of the key stats to focus on this week. A lot will also depend on putting, but trying to predict who will have a hot putter is a thankless task.

Tony Finau @ +2200

Tony Finau was finding some form before the Christmas break, he had five top 20 finishes in his previous seven events. He’s started to find consistency in his game which lacked over the summer months. Finau’s win equity is really quite poor for his ability, but he’s no stranger in the first round leader market. He was in the top five on four occasions after the opening round in 2020, which also includes topping the field at The Memorial Tournament.

Finau's 9th in this field for SG Ball Striking in the last six months, and was T14th on the PGA Tour for scoring average on par 4's last season. Those rankings improve even further when you single out the opening rounds.

The only concern with Finau is this isn't his preferred putting surface, however, he can occasionally get hot with the putter.

Sebastian Munoz @ +6600

Sebastian Munoz had a couple of missed cuts before the QBE shootout. Before those missed cuts, he was on a good run which included three top 20s in a row. He’s had four top ten first round finishes in his last 11 events, which includes two first places.

Munoz has been pretty handy around the green of late, he’s 11th in this field for shots gained in that category in the last six months. Filtering out first round only, he’s up there with Justin Thomas and Patrick Cantlay for SG Around the Green. 

Munoz isn’t someone you would normally go to when you think about a putter getting hot. However, Bermuda grass is his best surface. At 66/1 in a smaller field he’s well worth chancing.

Justin Thomas @ +1200

I’d normally ignore anyone under 20/1 in the opening round, however, with a smaller field and all the stats pointing at him, it’s impossible to fade Justin Thomas.

There’s no point banging on about Thomas’ form, but it’s worth pointing out he’s had four top four first round finishes in his last six events.

He topped this field in terms of SG Ball Striking in the last 12 months, and was in the top three for average score on par 4s last season.


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