Sony Open, Waialae Country Club, Hawaii
The PGA Tour is back to a full field event after a long time to be held in Honolulu, Hawaii this week. The course hosting the event is the Waialae Country Club which was designed by Seth Raynor and first opened to play in 1927. This course has been the venue of the Hawaiian Open since 1965 and has been referred to as the Sony Open since 1999.
Players will encounter a Par-70 of just about 7000 yards in length which is relatively small by PGA Tour standards. This is one of the easier courses on the tour and is a high scoring giving everyone a chance of victory.
The main obstacles that players face on this course are the greens which are bermuda grass and quite fast. They are also relatively small in size and we have seen most of the recent winners here have a really good putting week.
Justin Thomas is the defending champion at this tournament which he won by breaking the course record for 72 holes. The wind is one of the variables that play a large role in the kind of difficulty that golfers can expect. The small greens coupled with the unpredictable winds make for a course that plays well to accurate players who can handle windy conditions and putt well. The format is standard for a full field event with a cut at the end of the two rounds where the top-70 plus ties move on and play the weekend.
Stats That Matter
The Wolf has identified the following stats as the ones to look out for this week:
– Greens in Regulation
– Par 4 Scoring
– Putting Birdie or Better Percentage
This is a high scoring course and that shows up in the winning scores over the last few years. Jimmy Walker won here in 2014 scoring 17 under Par and repeated that success in 2015 with a score of 23 under Par. Fabian Gomez won in 2016 with 20 under Par and Justin Thomas broke the course record with his 27 under Par victory in 2017.
Justin Thomas is not the best putter on course but had an excellent week when he won here a year ago. He was 1st in putts per green in regulation, 12th in greens in regulation and 9th in driving distance.
The Wolf is going to look past the obvious favourites, namely Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas as they represent no betting value whatsoever. They were poor with the short stick last week and that does not bode well for them here.
Instead, The Wolf is going with Marc Leishman at $14.00. Leishman finished T7 last week and was excellent when the wind was up during the first two rounds. He drifted away after the wind slacked off but he was good with the putter all weekend long. Leishman has consistently been among the best short game players in the game over the last five years and has plenty of experience playing at this course as well. Leishman has 3 top-15 finishes at the Sony Open in Hawaii and ranks well across the board in all of the relevant statistical categories.
The Wolf also likes Kevin Kisner at $21.00 at a price. Despite being only 75th in greens in regulation, 119th in putting birdie or better percentage and 42nd in Par 4 scoring, he has an excellent short game. His length of the tee will allow him to attack the shorter holes but he is just as good clubbing down and putting himself in premium position to attack with his iron play. He has a T3 and a T4 in his last two tournaments and seems to be an excellent fit for the course.
For the roughie Wolfy is going jumping on the roller coaster that is Tony Finau at $34.00. Tony has some truly impressive stats and is in terrific form. His last seven tournaments have yielded five top-15 results and a T16. Finau is 16th in putting birdie or better percentage, 17th in greens in regulation, and 6th in Par 4 scoring. He is known to lose his way in terms of accuracy but he has plenty of experience at this course and The Wolf is hoping that will help him keep it on the fairway.
72 Hole Match Bets
Big 6 v Field: Big 6 (J.Spieth, J.Thomas, M.Leishman, B.Harman, D.Berger, K.Kisner) ($2.05)
Spieth vs Thomas: Justin Thomas ($2.15)
Leishman vs Harman: Marc Leishman ($1.80)
Berger vs Kisner: Kevin Kisner ($1.67)