As part of our expanded golf coverage for the 2024 season, Jamie Worsley has a first round leader and specials preview to get stuck into for The Sentry in Hawaii.
With just one day to go before the new season gets underway I’ve had a look at some of the extra markets on offer and found a trio of selections to give us some added interest in Hawaii.
I begin with a typically fast-starting Korean, who I’m taking to be sat atop the leaderboard at the end of the opening round, Sungjae Im.
1.5 pts Sungjae Im each way (1/4, 5 places) First Round Leader - 30/1
With no real weather bias on show for the opening round there was no need for tee-time constraints on FRL selections this week. Instead I focussed on players who have demonstrated that they can go low here and Sungjae very much ticks this box.
A round of 67 or better has been needed to lead at the end of the first round in the last ten renewals of this event and in just twelve career rounds at Kapalua, Im has shot seven 67s or better, which includes two 65s and a 66. Three of them have come in each opening round he’s played here, seeing him sit inside the top 5 after the first round in every start in the Sentry.
That ability to start quickly is not just reserved for this event, as he ranked 16th in round-one scoring on the PGA Tour last season.
Im was in fine form at the end of last season, recording six straight top 25s to sign off the year, with all areas of his game looking in good shape and I expect him to make his usual strong start to the year tomorrow.
0.75 pts Mackenzie Hughes each way(1/4, 5 places) First Round Leader - 66/1
Mackenzie Hughes’ overall form figures in this event don’t make for great reading but in his best effort to date last year, where he finished 21st, he bookended the week with rounds of 66 and 65.
Looking in fine form over the final couple of events last year – going seriously low with a 10-under 60 in the third round of the RSM Classic – I’m hoping he can pick up where he left off and rack up the birdies in this week’s opening round.
In that 2023 renewal, the Canadian’s first-round score of 66 was enough to see him sit 5th after round one and he then responded to more underwhelming efforts in the middle rounds with a closing 65 – the fourth-best round of the day.
Hughes was firing low rounds for fun over the final couple of weeks of last year. Aside from his 60 in the RSM Classic, he also closed that event with a round of 63 and in his previous start in the World Wide Technology Championship he shot a 9-under 63 and a 7-under 65.
If in that same kind of form and with the promise he showed in those two rounds here last year, he can hit the top at the close of play on Thursday.
2 pts Erik Van Rooyen Top 20 - 10/3
Away from the FRL market and I fancy Erik Van Rooyen to have a good start to the year at Kapalua.
The South African was in excellent form at the close of 2023, recording six consecutive finishes of 30th or better across starts on the PGA and DP World tours. Culminating in his second PGA Tour victory in the World Wide Technology Championship at El Cardonal in November – a course that with its wide fairways and huge greens should act as a good comp for the Plantation Course.
His irons looked in good shape over that period, ranking 8th in this field over the last twenty rounds played and he was also looking solid on the greens.
With a solid 25th on debut here in 2022 to boot, Van Rooyen was the most appealing of those at three figures in the outright market and I wouldn’t put anyone off having a nibble at prices as big as 150/1 there. Though with the quality of field he faces this week the place bet made more sense for me and he looks good value for a top 20 finish in this limited field at 10/3.
You can find Jamie's main preview and all his Golf Betting Tips at our Betfred Insights golf page.