Staying in Hawaii, after the Sentry Tournament of Champions comes the Sony Open in Hawaii, won last year by Kevin Na, who returns to defend his crown. Waialae Country Club, which has long served as the host course, will once again be the setting for the story this week.
Sony Open in Hawaii General Information:
- Date: January 13 – January 16, 2021
- TV-Time: Golf Channel, 4:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: Waialae Country Club
- Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
- Prize Money: $6,600,000 ($1,188,000 1st Place)
- Winner last year: Kevin Na
Tournament, Conditions & Course Info
A fixture on the PGA Tour for many years, the Sony Open in Hawaii is a tournament favoured by many golfers. The course at Waialae Country Club, situated in the capital island of Hawaii, is stylish and offers picturesque views of both the surrounding area and the Pacific Ocean.
Last week’s winner Cameron Smith goes in search of a quick fire double in Hawaii, and it’s no surprise to see that he’s the early favourite to claim the top spot. The field is perhaps less demanding than last week, as there are fewer of the biggest names in golf involved, with only two of the current top ten (according to the OWGR) are set to feature. Then again, there will be a lot more players teeing it up this week, so the margin for error remains as slim as ever. One thing that’s for sure is that with so many big-name players missing, this rates as an opportunity for a less likely winner to emerge victorious. Among the big-name players involved are Bryson DeChambeau and Hideki Matsuyama.
The scoring in Honolulu is likely to be slightly lower than it was in Maui last week, as both the fairways and greens at Waialae Country Club are smaller, demanding more in terms of accuracy.
Expert Pick #1 – Marc Leisham Top Five Finish @+450
One Australian may have stolen the headlines in Maui last week, but there was another who performed with real promise. Marc Leishman showed that Hawaii is a golfing destination that suits his game, finishing in a tie for 10th, and he’s now heading to a venue that he really knows how to handle.
Leishman has never missed the cut at Waialae, while he’s hit the top ten on four separate occasions, achieving three top-five finishes, including a third in 2019 and fourth last season. Such form bodes well. The recent form is there too, with the Aussie finishing inside the top ten in three of his last four events, making him the joint-most top-ten maker on the PGA Tour this season.
Finally, we’re talking about a player with very pleasing strokes gained numbers on this track. The six-time PGA Tour winner ranks inside the top ten for both strokes gained: tee-to-green at this venue over the last five seasons and strokes gained: putting. He’s also the number seven player in terms of strokes gained: total, so don’t be surprised if you see the 38-year-old challenging at the top of the leaderboard this week.
Fedex Cup Rank: 17 | Fedex Cup Points: 396 | OWGR: 33
Expert Pick #2 – Kevin Na Top Ten Finish @+300
Another player who knows how to impress at this venue is Kevin Na, who once again showed his quality in Maui last week, finishing narrowly outside of a hugely competitive top ten. In this easier field, the man who now ranks 27th in the world is expected to tear it up.
The winner of this event 12 months ago, Na is absolutely one of the players to beat this season, and it’s not as if that performance was a one off, as the five-time PGA Tour winner has three other top-ten finishes to his name at this venue, while his strokes gained data stands out.
We know that approach play is critical at Waialae, and that won’t bother Na, who currently ranks as the second-best in the field for strokes gained: approach on this track in the last five seasons. He also ranks inside the top ten for strokes gained: tee-to-green. Another big performance is expected.
Fedex Cup Rank: 123 | Fedex Cup Points: 67 | OWGR: 27
Expert Pick #3 – Brendan Steele Top 20 Finish @+300
If you’re looking for a real value top 20 play this week, then look no further than Brendan Steele, who has shown a clear liking for this place in the past. Never a winner at Waialae, the man who is currently ranked 102 in the world has finished inside the top five in three out four appearances at the Sony Open, finishing second in 2020 and fourth in 2021.
In terms of recent form, there’s not much to speak of with the California man not being seen since November, but we shouldn’t worry about that, as he knows how to get down to business in Honolulu, as his strokes gained data suggests. Across the last five seasons, Brendan Steele ranks number one in this field for both strokes gained: putting and strokes gained: total. On this basis, he really ought to be more favoured in the betting and thus bettors are advised to take a generous price.
Fedex Cup Rank: 23 | Fedex Cup Points: 310 | OWGR: 102
2022 Sony Open in Hawaii Odds
*Odds as of [Wednesday] at [6:00 a.m. ET]
2022 Sony Open in Hawaii Additional Picks
One player to finish top-five.
Cameron Smith (+250)
Let’s face it, Cameron Smith is highly fancied here for a reason. He won in Maui last week, and he looked every inch a player who is about to go from strength to strength. Moreover, he won at this venue back in 2022, his second win in the Sony Open. At the end of the day, the Aussie has his game in fine shape and is undoubtedly one of the best players in the field. If it’s a highly likely top-five finisher that you’re after then Smith fits the bill.
One player to finish top-10.
Harris English (+350)
Another of the big players in the event, Harris English will surely view this as an opportunity to go close at the very least. Off the back of his recent third-place finish, the world number 14 returns to the venue where he’s already got three top-tens to his name. It would be anything but a surprise to see the four-time PGA Tour winner feature highly.
One player to finish top-20.
Chris Kirk (+300)
A name not likely to be at the tip of every golf fan’s tongue, Chris Kirk likes it at Waialae, where he’s finished inside the top ten on four occasions, including last season, when he went very close, finishing second. A repeat of some of his previous form should see him lay down a serious top 20 challenge and at odds of +300, he rates a viable alternative.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Webb Simpson (+2800)
Few players start as fast in this event as Webb Simpson, who may have only held the first round lead on one previous occasion, but don’t be discouraged by that as he’s often hovering around the top of the leaderboard after round one. In fact, he’s been inside the top five after day one on five occasions in total. No player in this field can match that, so if you’re looking for a realistic first round leader, then Webb’s a solid play.
The Big Hero
Underdog with chances to win.
Charles Howell III (+5000)
Far from the most likely winner, Charles Howell III could easily outplay his rather hefty odds this week. The 42-year-old has lots of form in the book at this venue, including six top-five finishes since 2002.
Howell’s six top-five finishes include a couple of seconds, while he finished eighth as recently as 2019, so it’s fair to say that the veteran can compete on this track. Winning may be a stretch too far but stranger things have happened, and at the current odds, those looking for an outsider could do far worse.
With Waialae Country Club serving as a regular venue on the PGA Tour, there’s plenty of previous form to delve into, and it’s likely to pay to follow those who know how to get down to business on this track, of which there are plenty. Scoring is likely to be less aggressive than last week, with the focus more on accuracy and precision play, none of which should bother the likes of Marc Leishman and Kevin Na, both of whom have plenty of experience in terms of scoring well on this track.