2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions First Round Leader Picks: Aaron Wise Off to a Hot Start?

Golf is back, and the PGA Tour starts in Maui at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. It’s a limited 39-man field, so there are not a ton of players to choose from for first-round leader purposes but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some potential opportunity out there. This event has tended to favor players who were active in the fall season and even into December, so it would not be shocking if one of those names gets off to a hot start this week.

The Plantation Course in Maui offers players the chance to get extremely aggressive right from the get-go. Massive fairways mean aggressive driving on almost every hole, and it is not necessary to be the biggest hitter on tour to get the ball out 300 yards and in good position on this course. The landing areas are big and so are the greens which will produce 70% to 80% green in regulation percentages for many of the players.

Below are the best values and potential upside plays for the first-round leader market, using OddsShopper golf betting tools.

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2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions First Round Leader

Viktor Hovland First Round Leader +2200 | DraftKings

Hovland ended last year with a win at the Hero World Challenge, another off-mainland event played at an easier setup (Albany Golf Club) in the Bahamas. He has admittedly never had much success at this venue or event but with how similar the scoring and setup is to places like Albany Golf Club or El Chameleon it won’t be shocking if he eventually breaks through at Kapalua either. Hovland’s approach game dipped a little in the fall, but it was likely due to his attention to his short game and putting which both really improved the last couple months. Not including his win in the Bahamas, Hovland has now gained strokes putting in six straight PGA Tour starts and gained 3.0 strokes around the green at the CJ Cup.

He also ranks first in eagles gained over the last 24 rounds and should be able to provide some early eagle looks on the four par 5’s. At over 20-1 in the odds, he’s got a far more bettable number than many of the favorites whom he beat just a month ago on a similar course.

Aaron Wise First Round Leader +3300 | BetMGM

Wise is a perennial fast starter who is a good play in this market if the number is right. This week, with a lot of the big names in the field the 33-1 looks more than fine, especially considering how well he played to end 2022. Wise ended last year ranked 5th in first round scoring average and already ranks 10th in that start in 2022-23. He’s also got solid Bermuda putting splits and ranks first in strokes gained putting over the last 24 rounds on Bermuda greens — with a near +4.0 stroke differential over his regular strokes gained putting stats.

In short, Wise is more than capable of getting hot for a round with that club and reeling off a low one. He ended last year with three top-25 finishes and looks primed for a big week in Maui to start things off.

If looking to make a wager on BetMGM this week, then Aaron Wise is a first-round leader target to consider at that sportsbook. He has solid 33-1 odds there (bigger odds than other places), and new BetMGM users get a bet up to $1,000!


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Longshots

With another weaker field, the play is to take shots with a basket of players who have longer odds. You can always use Oddsshopper to check out and compare odds across the major sites.

Tom Hoge First Round Leader +4500 | DraftKings

Hoge looks like a really solid play in the first-round leader market at 45-1 this week. He ran out of steam with missed cuts in Houston and the RSM Classic to end his year but, overall, collected four top-15 finishes in the fall swing and also was a part of the winning team at the QBE Shootout — an exhibition event played in December where piling up the birdies is a necessity. This will be Hoge’s first trip around Kapalua for the Tournament of Champions but that’s likely somewhat baked into his line as well.

Hoge’s a great iron player who improved his putting in 2022 and has a penchant for coastal venues as evidenced by his win at Pebble Beach. He’s top 25 in first round scoring in 2022-23 and ranks a solid 6th in opportunities gained over the last 50 rounds. It’s a great price for a player who has form and looks like a nice fit for this more laid-back setup and format.

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Geoff Ulrich
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