Sentry Tournament of Champions: Can Jon Rahm survive loaded field to grab first win of the year?

Jon Rahm is the betting favorite this week at Kapalua to kick off the year

The PGA Tour is back this week after its holiday hiatus, with a pair of stops in Hawaii.

First up to kick off 2023 is the 39-man field in Kapalua.

Here’s everything you need to know about the 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Sentry Tournament of Champions basics

Jan. 5-8

Plantation Course | Kapalua, Hawaii

Par 73 | 7,596 yards

Purse: $15 million/$2.7 million

FedExCup points for winner: 550

Betting favorite, via BetMGM: Jon Rahm (+650)

Last time out: Cam Smith wins in historic fashion

Cam Smith kicked off an incredible season last year with a win at Kapalua, one of three he picked up on Tour — which included the British Open — before he defected to LIV Golf.

Smith beat Jon Rahm by a single shot by going 34-under on the week, which set a 72-hole scoring record on Tour. The win was the fourth of his career and made him just the fourth player in history to win on both the Tour’s Hawaii stops. He posted a final-round 65 and sealed the victory with a 3-foot birdie on the 18th green.

While the win would normally qualify Smith for a return trip to Kapalua, he won’t be there this week to defend his title. Smith, who holds the No. 3 spot in the Official World Golf Rankings, is still suspended by the Tour.

Jon Rahm leads a loaded field this week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.
Jon Rahm leads a loaded field this week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler lead loaded field

While the event is no longer only for past winners and the top-ranked golfer in the world is taking the week off, the field at Kapalua is loaded with some of the biggest names on Tour.

Eight of the top 10 golfers and 17 of the top 20 in the Official World Golf Rankings will tee it up in Hawaii. The only exceptions are Rory McIlroy, who is taking the week off, and Smith, who is suspended for his involvement with LIV Golf. Outside of that, Jordan Spieth, Cameron Young, Tom Kim, Tony Finau, Collin Morikawa and Hidkei Matsuyama are all in the field,. Shane Lowry is the only other golfer ranked in the top 20 who isn't playing.

Rahm, who finished in second at last year’s event and won once last season on Tour, is the betting favorite to start the week, and it’s easy to see why. He has been playing fantastic lately, ending 2022 with a pair of wins on the DP World Tour — first at the Acciona Open de España and then at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, though McIlroy still claimed the season-long title.

“It seems like in the fall things got going a little bit better,” Rahm said Tuesday. “I felt like, for the most part, I was playing better than scores were showing. Maybe once the PGA Tour season was over, I took some time off and reset, and that's why I played well in the fall.”

Rahm played incredibly well last season at Kapalua, too. He went 33-under on the week and never shot worse than a 66.

“It's the lowest I've ever shot without winning a tournament, that's for sure,” Rahm said. “I think last year was unique because we didn't have as much wind as we usually have here, which is the defense of this golf course, and then it was softer than in the past, so you had to be that aggressive … It doesn't happen when you go that low and not win.”

Scheffler can retake the No. 1 ranking in the world this week with a solo third place finish or better.

While he's coming off a breakout season in which he had four wins, it won't be an easy task this week, considering the field he's up against — and he's excited about that.

“I think having so many guys that are playing well, and they're top of the world rankings, and it's fun to have everybody here together,” Scheffler said Wednesday. “It definitely makes things more exciting when it's a good field. Being here, it's a lot of fun. Like I said, it's a great place to start the year.”