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The Sentry preview: New TOUR era begins with usual stop in Hawaii

Rankin White / PGA TOUR / Getty

It's still Kapalua at the start of January, but the annual Sentry Tournament of Champions will look a lot different this time around when play starts Thursday.

First, you no longer have to be a TOUR winner to participate in the event. The tournament is now just called The Sentry and will feature a 59-player field instead of the usual number in the 30s. The change is because the tournament gained signature event status, meaning the top 50 on last year's FedEx Cup standings are eligible.

It also marks the beginning of the TOUR's return to a calendar-based schedule instead of the wraparound slate that had been the norm in recent years.

When: Jan. 4-7
Where: Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort, Hawaii

How to watch

Date Time Channel
Jan. 4 6:00 - 10:00 p.m. GOLF
Jan. 5 6:00 - 10:00 p.m. GOLF
Jan. 6 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. NBC
6:00 - 8:00 p.m. GOLF
Jan. 7 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. NBC
6:00 - 8:00 p.m. GOLF

Last year's result

Harry How / Getty Images Sport / Getty

There will be no defending champion on hand as Jon Rahm left the PGA TOUR for the riches of LIV Golf a few weeks ago. That means he won't follow up on his brilliant showing last year when he chased down a sputtering Collin Morikawa to claim the title with a final-round 63. Morikawa entered the last day with a six-shot lead after 54 holes - tying the record for worst collapse in a PGA TOUR event.

Rahm trailed by nine shots at one point during the final round but rattled off nine birdies and an eagle to make his push. That was enough to put the pressure on Morikawa, who made three straight bogeys on the closing nine en route to a final-round 72.

Recent winners

2023: Jon Rahm
2022: Cameron Smith
2021: Harris English
2020: Justin Thomas
2019: Xander Schauffele
2018: Dustin Johnson
2017: Justin Thomas
2016: Jordan Spieth

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Reasons to watch

Hovland's heater

Nobody in golf has been on a tear like Viktor Hovland has in the past five months. The Norweigan star cashed a monster payday with back-to-back wins at the BMW Championship and TOUR Championship to claim the FedEx Cup and followed that up with outstanding play at the Ryder Cup. Hovland's officially a bona fide superstar at this point and should be a threat to make serious noise in the majors this year. It begins in Hawaii, where he's never finished better than 18th.

Morikawa's revenge

Michael Reaves / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Morikawa looked unbeatable for three rounds last year in Kapalua before imploding on the final day with terrible chipping down the stretch. The result was a record-tying loss that'll certainly hang with the two-time major champion as he enters this week. Morikawa should again be in the hunt with a victory in the fall in Japan and a seventh-place showing at December's Hero World Challenge. He also posted a 67 or lower in five of his previous six rounds at this tournament, with last year's final round the only blemish.

Birdie barrage

Kapalua is known for some incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, undulating terrain, and a whole load of birdies that see scoring dip into the 30-under range at times. The average winning score over the past three years has been 28-under, with Smith's 34-under total in 2022 setting the tournament record. While some rain and the usual winds are forecasted this week, it's highly unlikely to bring the course to a level that sternly challenges the world's best. Expect a boatload of birdies and explosive scoring to start the season.

Betting odds

Scottie Scheffler +550
Viktor Hovland +850
Collin Morikawa +1,200
Max Homa +1,400
Ludvig Aberg +1,600
Patrick Cantlay +1,600
Xander Schauffele +1,600
Jordan Spieth +2,200
Tom Kim +2,200
Tony Finau +2,800
Tyrrell Hatton +2,800
Matthew Fitzpatrick +3,300
Rickie Fowler +3,300
Sungjae Im +3,300
Tommy Fleetwood +3,300

Odds via theScore Bet

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