FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2018, file photo, Europe’s Jon Rahm celebrates after beating Tiger Woods in a singles match on the final day of the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, outside Paris, France. Rahm says it was the best moment of his golf career.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 30, 2018, file photo, Europe’s Jon Rahm celebrates after beating Tiger Woods in a singles match on the final day of the 42nd Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, outside Paris, France. Rahm says it was the best moment of his golf career.(AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)|(AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)
Golf

Golf: Mike Kern likes Day, Johnson, Rahm at Sentry

2019 PGA season kicks off today in Maui

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

Oops, almost forgot. The real start to the 2018-19 PGA Tour season is
finally upon us. So how is that possible? Anyway, the Sentry Tournament of
Champions
begins today in Maui, at a course I’ve actually played.
Imagine that. It’s the Kapalua Plantation Course, on the windy northwest
shores of the island. And since the event is only open to players who won
last season, the smaller field might give you a better chance to cash a
ticket than most weeks.

I’m in a pool where I have to pick a winner for every week. But I can only
use a player once, and I have to pick now. Which means the guy I take for
the Masters might be playing bad or out or whatever by the time April rolls
around. But it’s all in good fun, and last year I finished second overall.
Of course the year before that I was like next-to-last. But I try.

I usually do well at this tournament, although I don’t think I’ve ever had
the winner. Which bugs me a little. Maybe we can change that this time. The
defending champion is Dustin Johnson, who’s listed at 5-1. People who’ve
played well here before tend to keep playing well. It’s that kind of place.
Jon Rahm, who’s been playing well lately, is 7-1 while Justin Thomas (the 2017 winner) and Brooks Koepka, who’ve won three of the last five majors, are both 8-1. Rory McIlroy is 10, followed by Jason Day (12), Bryson DeChambeau (12) Patrick
Reed
(16).

No, Tiger is not playing. There was a thought he might, but he opted to
skip it the first time he was even eligible in five years. But we’ll see
him back soon I’m sure.

Johnson is probably the safest pick, and 5-1 isn’t bad. In my yearlong pool
I took Rahm, who was the runner-up here 12 months ago. Reed won it in 2015,
so there is that. And guys like McIlroy can always get hot at almost any
time. There seems to be a fair amount of value on the board. Not many of
longer shots really stand out as decent risks, although Francesco Molinari
(20) was the best player on the planet last summer and then continued his
dominant ways in the Ryder Cup. So you never know.

I think Day makes a lot of sense, since he’s been playing much better after
a year or so of not being No. 1 in the world anymore. And Charles Howell
III
, at 60, has also been trending up. But he hasn’t won much, so there is
that.

Can’t wait to start hitting that little white thing around myself, even if
it’s still a couple of months away. Or I could move to Maui, where the
temperature the other day was approaching 90. Paradise indeed.

And oh, by the way, happy New Year to all. May it bring everyone more
winners than ever before

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