Primetime golf was back and as good as ever. The weather was as expected, and scores were even lower than expected heading into the final round. The 2020 edition of the tournament ended in a playoff. Would 2021 follow suit?
After the first round, 2020 champion Justin Thomas was eight-under par and tied for the lead, looking to become a back-to-back champion. Thomas finds himself within striking distance at five strokes behind heading into Sunday.
Masters runner-up Sungjae Im found himself tied with Thomas at 17-under par heading into Sunday’s final round. 2020 PGA Champion Colin Morikawa was one behind the leaders and with a good chance to capture the first win of 2021.
After strong Saturday rounds, Ryan Palmer and Harris English have a one stroke lead heading in to the final round. They are tied at 21-under par. English is looking for his first win since the 2013 Mayakoba Golf Classic and Palmer’s first since the 2019 Zurich Classic.
Note: Due to less tournaments in 2020, players who finished in the top 30 of the FedEx Cup standings qualified for the tournament this week.
Sunday at the Sentry Tournament of Champions
NBC starts its coverage with Ryan Palmer looking to save par on the first and Morikawa on the second, both missing and dropping a shot. Early in the day, Harris English takes a one stroke lead.
A bogey at the fourth for English, paired with Joaquin Niemann starting five-under thru eight holes, gave Niemann a one stroke lead at 21-under par. Dustin Johnson’s five-under front nine puts him just two behind Niemann with plenty of holes to play.
An eagle at the fifth for Ryan Palmer gets him in the lead by one stroke at 22-under par, while a birdie for English at the par-five fifth gets him to 21-under par.
Justin Thomas jumps into the mix with a birdie at the seventh, getting to 20-under par, while Niemann finishes the front nine with a birdie, tying Palmer at 22-under par.
A bogey at the seventh by Palmer makes Niemann the solo leader once again.
Thomas finishes his front nine with a birdie to reach 21-under par and two behind with nine to play.
While Palmer was making his bogey at the seventh, Niemann put one close off the tee at the par-three 11th and knocks in the putt to get to 23-under par.
Dustin Johnson lost his ball in the tall grass at the 12th after a wayward tee shot and finishes the hole with a double-bogey, taking himself out of contention.
A birdie at the 12th gets Thomas to 22-under par and one behind Niemann. Niemann responds with a birdie at the 14th to extend to another two stroke lead.
A birdie at the par-three 11th brings English within two, while a bogey at the 11th for Palmer drops him to five strokes behind, lowering his chances to win. A long birdie at the 12th puts English just one stroke back of the lead.
Another birdie at the 14th for Thomas puts him within one stroke and tied with English… until English birdied the 13th and tied Niemann for the lead at 24-under par. Niemann would retake the lead at the 16th with anther birdie and a one stroke lead with two to play.
With another birdie at the 15th, Thomas inches closer and joins English at 24-under par and one behind.
Niemann would miss a short birdie putt at the 18th to finish his tournament at 25-under par and leading English by one, who remains on the course. A bogey at the 17th for Thomas drops him back to two behind, needing an eagle on the par-five 18th to tie Niemann in the clubhouse. Thomas would miss his eagle attempt, giving English the only opportunity to tie the lead with a birdie and win with an eagle.
English would knock it within a few feet. He misses the eagle putt but taps in for birdie to tie the lead.
Joaquin Niemann would start the playoff with a drive to the middle of the fairway on the par-five 18th. English followed up with a shot to the middle of the fairway as well.
With his second shot of the playoff, English would miss to the right of the green, with a long shot at eagle. Nieman misses the green as well, setting himself up for a difficult chip at the 18th.
English’s third rolls past the hole and leaves him a few feet for a birdie. Nieman’s chip barely gets out of the rough and onto the fringe, leaving a longer putt for birdie. He has a chance to put pressure on English on the first hole of the playoff.
Nieman’s putt misses short. English… for the win… nails it!
Harris English is the 2021 Sentry Tournament of Champions winner!
Final leaderboard @Sentry_TOC:— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) January 11, 2021
1. @Harris_English -25* 🏆
2. @JoacoNiemann -25
3. @JustinThomas34 -24
4. @RyanPalmerPGA -23
T5. @XSchauffele -21
T5. Sungjae Im
T7. @B_DeChambeau -20
Shots of the Week
Bryson Didn’t Skip the Gym Over the Holiday
Just in case you thought Bryson DeChambeau lost power over the holidays, he proved you wrong this drive during the second round.
Just a Tap-in
2019 Champion Xander Schauffele found himself with a chance to finish at 11-under par thru two rounds with this eagle putt at the 18th.
Ryan Palmer found himself tied for the lead while Morikawa started the final round one behind the leaders. These shots at the 18th on Saturday helped set up them up for a chance to win.
Harris English had a chance to win the tournament in regulation at the 18th with an eagle. He had a good opportunity after his approach.
English would miss the putt but win the tournament on the first playoff hole.
Thomas Stays Hot
After seven consecutive top 25 finishes in the fall of 2020, Thomas looked to keep that up this week. He did just that, having a share of the lead after the first round and staying in contention until late on Sunday. Thomas would go on to finish top five in the tournament and continue his stellar play into 2021.
Bryson DeChambeau Still Has the Power
One of the questions I had entering the tournament revolved around Bryson DeChambeau’s strong fall performances and whether his power and accuracy were still there. The answer is yes. After a solid first three rounds, DeChambeau had a strong seven-under final round and finished at 20-under par. As if there wasn’t enough reasons to watch him, his improved game is another.
The game of golf is in good hands. Of the players finishing in the top ten, only two are older than 30-years-old. One of those two is 31-years-old Harris English who was battling with 22-year-old Joaquin Niemann down the stretch, including the playoff.