What’s up everyone. Alex here, and I am back with my DraftKings PGA Sleeper Picks for The Sony Open. This tournament takes place at Waialae Country Club in Honlulu, Hawaii. The course is a par 70 that is 7,044 yards long. Fabian Gomez won the event last year shooting -20 and the average winning score over the last four seasons is -21. I am expecting low scores again this week and the winner should shoot somewhere between -20 and -25. Just like last week the most important thing at this course is hitting the greens and sinking birdies. The past four winners have dominated hitting these greens posting a high GIR average of 79.25%. Longer hitters can have an advantage here, but hitting the ball straight down these fairways is more important. Most players club down when teeing off to avoid the rough and trees that surround these fairways.
Players are going to miss these fairways with the last four winners having a low driving accuracy of 55.5%. So I wouldn’t emphasize on driving accuracy because it doesn’t reflect how these players do when they aren’t teeing off with their driver and focusing more on how players are getting to and finishing on these Bermuda greens. So this week the main statistics I will be focusing on are strokes gained tee to green, driving distance (not a must, but definitely a plus), greens in regulation percentage, and birdie or better percentage. This week we are beck to a normal size field of 144 players with a cut of top 70 and ties. This week is a decently strong field and it is a good week to dive back into cash games with a regular cut line in effect. As always if any of these picks help your lineups or if you need any advice let me know on Twitter. @Hunta512.
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Hudson Swafford: (7,000) Swafford is just too cheap when considering how consistent he was last season. Including the four fall events he played in he has now made 17 cuts in a row, 26/34 overall, with seven top 25s, and one top ten. He has also had some great success here at Waialae, finishing 9th last season and 8th in 2014. It is no surprise he has finished in the top ten twice here with his great GIR game and putting. In 2016 he ranked 22nd in GIR percentage at 68.8%, 96th in strokes gained tee to green, 7th in driving distance at 306 yards, 52nd in strokes gained putting, and 36th in birdie or better percentage.
In his two made cuts at this event he also rolled the ball well on these Bermuda greens with a 28.3 average putts per round. He doesn’t have great upside with only one top ten finish in last 34 events, but he is a very good bet to make cut this weekend. He is a steal at $7,000 and is one of the best cash game plays of the week.
Trey Mullinax: (6,200) Mullinax struggled in his last two events back in November, but is the exact type of player that can surprise here at Waialaie. This is going to be his first full time season on The Tour and in the fall, he made 3/5 cuts with one top 25. He is a bomber who can be lights out putting when he gets hot. This season on The Tour he ranks 14th in driving distance at 308.7 yards, 52nd in strokes gained putting, 199th in GIR percentage at 68%, and 47th in birdie or better percentage. His GIR game will be key for him and if he can get it going on these Bermuda greens, he has a great chance to make the cut this weekend.
This is obviously a very big if, after his poor showings at The OHL and RSM Classics, but hopefully,he has taken the last few months to focus on his game. He is a very young player and is a very risky option, but should come with an extremely low ownership, especially after missing the cut here back in 2015. But I am going to ignore this missed cut with that being his first ever PGA Tour event. He is a much better player now and is someone I think is worth taking a shot in GPPs this week at a low salary of $6,200.
Hideto Tanihara: (6,400) Tanihara has been a cut maker here at Walialae, making the cut in his past four tries with an 8th place finish in 2014. He isn’t the most popular name because he mostly plays in Japan, but is currently the 55th ranked golfer in the world. Tanihara isn’t the longest hitter, but is a good irons player who relies on his great putting. Statistically, he isn’t ranked on The Tour, but over the past 75 weeks, he has an adjusted round score of 70.1, a solid GIR percentage of 64,6%, and a great 28.5 average putts per round. In his four made cuts at Sony Opens he has played well on these Bermuda greens averaging 28.7 putts per round. He has also had success on other courses with the same type of greens making 5/6 cuts on courses with Bermuda style greens.
The last time he played on The Tour was back in October where he finished 54th at The HSBC Champions. Since then he has been on fire in Japan, finishing in the top ten in four of his last five events, with a win at The Heiwa PGM Championship. Even though these are much weaker fields than any PGA Tour stop, he is obviously in good form heading into this event. It’s hard to say what his ownership will be, but I’m not expecting it to be very high just because he is not a well know player here in the states. I think he is a rather safe play with the success he has had here and at a cheap $6,400 he is an option that can help you fit in the some high end studs.
Also Consider: Xander Schauffle, Cheng Tsung Pan, Webb Simpson (made his five last cuts here), James Hahn, Cody Gribble, Robert Streb, Welsy Bryan, Rod Pampling, and Ryan Blaum.