While my three picks at last week’s Tournament of Champions from Maui didn’t win, each of them did perform fairly well.
My sleeper, Cameron Champ, was in the top 5 in the second round and ended up with a very respectable tie for 11th with some of the best golfers in the world ahead of him.
A couple of those best golfers were my other two picks, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, who both finished tied for 4th with Aussie Marc Leishman.
Justin Thomas seemed to miss a putt or opportunity almost every time the camera switched over to him during the broadcast. It appeared that he was struggling but still managed to finish 3rd to a couple guys who were each playing out of their respective minds in Gary Woodland and Xander Schauffele.
This time around, Rory, Dustin, and Xander will be taking the week off.
The course will play well to the scramblers and more accurate ball-strikers than last week’s Autobahn of fairways at Kapalua.
Was the TOC just a tune-up for JT?
Will Gary Woodland continue his stellar play from last week?
Can defending champ Patton Kizzire become the second man to repeat as winner of the Sony Open?
Rookie Cameron Champ has a chip on his shoulder and will be looking to prove his versatility this weekend.
Is Brian Harman a valuable sleeper this week (+6000)?
He led this tourney last year through 2 rounds and still only finished 2 strokes off the winner, Kizzire.
Yak yak yak, you don’t have time for any more talk.
Top Pick to Win the Sony Open
I know he’s the favorite with the lowest payout. Let’s discuss his value, though.
He owns the course record and single round record of 59! That hasn’t happened very often in golf, ever.
Only last week’s winner, Schauffele, shot a better final round (63) in Maui than Justin Thomas’s (65). JT was just getting tuned up. He can play the finesse game better than many of his peers, and this week in Honolulu will be his chance to put his name back in the discussion for the best player in the world.
Thomas ranks in the top ten in greens in regulation, 2nd in shots gained-approach to the green as well as 2nd in shots gained tee to green. He had a hard time putting last week and still finished 3rd.
His last round was his best on Sunday, so I think he has dialed it in.
Second Favorite to Win the Sony Open
I have been on the fence about this pick. Part of me wants to pick Gary Woodland because of how well he is playing. He is 34, though, and has already played in 5 tournaments this season including a muggy battle over this past weekend in Maui.
Bryson, statistically, is a better putter and younger as well!
That’s the part that surprised me the most. Gary has a bit of a babyface and doesn’t really look stressed at 34 years old.
Dechambeau, on the other hand, had me fooled with his hat.
When he took it off, I was expecting a bald spot and/or retreating hairline, but no.
The Californian is only 25! He just has a sophisticated style.
Bryson is 23rd on the PGA Tour in putting and 5th overall in shots gained total.
I think he makes up the difference on the greens and has a good chance for a celebratory Sunday sip.
Underdog Pick to Win the Sony Open
Brian is 31st in putting and in the top ten in shots gained around the green not to mention his last tournament, the QBE Shootout, was a 1st place finish alongside defending Sony Open champion, Patton Kizzire.
Brian led the PGA or was up at the top close to Dustin Johnson in top 10 finishes for the entire first half of the year. Harman loves to get the season off to a quick start. He shot a 59 and 61 in two of the three rounds he played at the QBE and is now set to smoke the competition in Honolulu, I hope.
I mentioned a bit earlier in the introduction that Harman finished two strokes off the lead last year.
Jump on Brian this weekend for maximum value!
This year’s Sony Open from Hawaii is looking to be even more interesting than last year. Jordan Spieth is making his season debut and could make some noise by the end of Sunday.
Gary Woodland is playing as well as anyone right now, but has also been busy and stressed over the passing of his grandmother.
While it appeared that he used that to drive him last week in Maui, he may find that a few days off in between could break his rhythm and muddy his mind.
Was right behind Gary all of this past weekend and with putting taking over significance from driving, he could definitely outperform the Kansas-native Woodland.
Is the best player in the field and isn’t as likely to get work down from the muggy weather as he, along with sleeper Brian Harman, aren’t big guys as each man comes in at less than 160 pounds.
This is the time of year that endurance could play a role. Hawaii is temperate and it’s going to be around a high of 80 with 65% humidity. That isn’t the death-like conditions of Florida or Atlanta in late-summer, but keep in mind many players on the Tour are still regaining said endurance.
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Remember, there are top 5, 10, and top 20 odds available if you want to minimize your risk.
Dechambeau, JT, and Brian Harman to the house!