The PGA Tour stays in Hawaii this week, specifically in Honolulu, for The 2019 Sony Open. This event is held at Waialae Country Club (Par 70, 7,044 yards) and Patton Kizzire is the defending champ, beating James Hahn in a playoff, and finishing the week at -17. Every Sony Open winner since 2013 has shot -17 or better. This course is a very easy 70, meaning there is 12 par fours and only two par fives, putting a big weight on par four scoring. All of the last five winners at Waialae have been T4 or better in par four scoring, with three of these golfers leading the field in this stat.
As a shorter track, just over 7,000 yards in length, a driver isn’t needed on most holes. These fairways are very tough to hit, but the rough isn’t overly penalizing, and you can easily find the green if you miss the short grass. (Kizzire ranked T56 in DA%) Overall, your off the tee game isn’t very important, but you need to be strong with your approaches. Kizzire ranked T23 in GIR, but the four prior winners were all T12 or better in greens hit. As I said above, par four scoring is the priority, but I will also be factoring in par five scoring, with each of these par fives reachable in two shots. This may be obvious, but to win at a course that surrenders low numbers, you need to be a top notch birdie maker, who can get hot with the flat stick, specifically on Bermuda greens, if possible. Following a small no cut tournament last week at The Sentry Tournament of Champions, The Sony Open is a full field (144 players), with a top 70 and ties cut coming on Friday. @Hunta512.
Justin Thomas: (11,400)
Thomas has made three of four cuts at this track since 2015, including a dominating seven stroke win two years ago. (-27) Not only is the lowest score ever posted at The Sony Open, but this is the best 72 hole score in the history of The PGA Tour. This should go without saying, but Thomas loves Waialae Country Club, and it is no surprise he is the heavy favorite this year. (6.5/1 via Bovada)
Last week, at The Sentry TOC, Thomas started The 2019 season with a solo 3rd place finish. He led the field in SGT2G and SG APP, while also ranking T1 in total birdies. Thomas has seven finishes of T7 or better in his last 11 starts and if he can find some rhythm with his putter (-0.8 SGP at The TOC), JT could be looking at his second career Sony Open title.
Matt Kuchar: (8,500)
When you don’t need distance at a course, Kuch is always a nice fit. In 13 career attempts at The Sony Open, Kuchar has seven made cuts, and five top tens. He hasn’t played here the last two years, but in his previous six at Waialae, Kuchar finished T5, T5, T8, T3, and T13. He struggled a little bit last week (T19 at The TOC), but just won The Mayakoba Golf Classic in November.
When we look at all these golfers last 50 rounds, Kuchar has been the second best par four player, only trailing Bryson DeChambeau in SG on par fours. Plus, in his last 24 rounds, Kuchar ranks 8th in SGP on Bermuda greens. I am expecting at least a top 30 and Kuch is a really nice mid-tier target at $8,500.
Patton Kizzire: (7,900)
I don’t like chasing the player who won last season, but Kizzire stands out as a very strong value at $7,900. He has the same odds to win as Emiliano Grillo (40/1 via Bovada), but costs a whopping $1,400 less. There will always be golfers who are mis priced compared to their Vegas odds, but the difference usually isn’t this significant, and Kizzire easily has the best odds to win of all the players priced under $8,900 this week. After a hot start, of picking up his first two PGA Tour wins in a two month span, Kizzire had a rough middle of the season in 2018, but has looked much better over the last few months.
Kizzire hasn’t missed a cut since The PGA Championship in August and finished T8 at The TOC last week, which was his best finish in a PGA event since winning The Sony Open here a year ago. In this quality showing, Kizzire ranked inside the top ten in SG APP, average PPR, and GIR. He was rolling it very well on the Bermuda greens at The Plantation course (4.1 SGP) and he has always been much better on this type of grass. (is gaining 0.34 strokes on Berumda vs .014 on Bentgrass and -0.22 on POA) Kizzire isn’t going to take home the big check for the second year in a row, but he clearly enjoys playing in Hawaii, and is poised for another strong week.
Gary Woodland: (10,800)
Woodland missed his first two cuts at this venue (2009 and 2011), but he has made his last four, including three top tens. Woodland was playing outstanding golf last week at The TOC (2nd) and would be looking at win, if Xander Schauffele didn’t close the tournament out with an incredible 62 on Sunday. Woodland has made 16 consecutive cuts and has finished inside the top 12 six times in his last seven starts. Over his last 24 rounds, no player has been better statistically than Woodland. He ranks 6th in SGT2G, 3rd in SG APP, 2nd in BS, 5th in GIR, 2nd in TSG, 4th in SG on P4s, 4th in SG on P5s, and 2nd in BOB%. He is gaining 7.2 strokes in his last five events and Woodland is one of the best bets for a top ten at this year’s Sony Open.
Cameron Champ: (9,900)
Champ has been the best birdie maker, par four player, and par five player in this field over his last 24 rounds. (1st in BOB%, SG on P4s, and SG on P5s) Since The Safeway Open in October, he has finished T25th, 1st (Sanderson Farms Championship), T28th, T10th, and T11th. The 23 year old has never played here before, but we can’t let that be a concern with Champ in this current form. No player is gaining more strokes than him in his last six starts and Champ should shine on this short par 70. (25/1 via Bovada)
Paul Casey: (9,100)
Casey is 1/2 at Waialae, but has produced no finishes worse than a T18 in his last five events. He can always rely on his irons (2.4 SG APP in L10) and should end the week in the top 30. (33/1 via Bovada)
Adam Scott: (8,300)
Scott has only one MC in his last 13 PGA starts and is 3/4 in Sony Opens, with a T2 in 2009, and a T8 in 2014. He ranks 3rd in BOB%, 10th in SG APP, 7th in GIR, and in 2nd in SG on P5s in his last 24 rounds. For an elite ball striker like Scott, he just seems very underpriced at $8,300.
SI Woo Kim: (8,000)
Per usual, Kim is one of my preferred GPP options. He hasn’t missed a cut here in two tries (T4 in 2016) and he looked awesome in the fall. (T10, T23, T15, and T26) Kim has successfully made ten of his last 12 cuts and is 5th in BOB% in his last 24 rounds.
Ian Poulter: (7,800)
Poulter has never played in this event, but feels like a very nice fit for Waialae. He ranked T1 in GIR at The TOC and putts at his best on Bermuda greens. Over the last year, Poulter has been one of the best cut makers in the business (18 for his last 20), and I don’t think he will slow down on this easy track.
Chez Reavie: (7,600)
Reavie has made eight of his last nine cuts and is 6/8 in Honolulu. He has been a great tee to green player (3rd in SGT2G and 7th in SG APP in last 24 rounds) and even though Reavie usually has a tough time on the greens, Bermuda is the only surface he has a positive split. (0.013 SGP) He lacks upside, but Reavie is a solid option, that should be make the cut.
Stewart Cink: (7,300)
Cink has made the cut at this course the past five years and is 10/15 for his career in Honolulu. He only has a single MC in his last ten events and is exceptional on par 70s. (2nd in T2G in his 24 rounds on par 70s)
Sam Ryder: (7,200)
Ryder should do much better in his second crack at Waialae. (T58 last season) He has made 11 of his last 12 cuts and has two top fives in his past four. He ranks 2nd in SGT2G, 4th in SG APP, and 5th in BS over his last 24 rounds of golf.
Keith Mitchell: (6,900)
In his lone start at a Sony Open, Mitchell was impressive, with a T25 a year ago. He has missed only two cuts in his last 13 tournaments and is 10th in SGT2G in his last 24 rounds. Mitchell is my favorite target sub $7,000 this week.
*Please note that most of these rankings are from Fantasynational.com