Sony Open in Hawaii Preview – 12th January 2017
Justin Thomas secured an impressive win at the Tournament of Champions to get the PGA Tour action under way for the New Year. One week on and the action remains in Hawaii with the Sony Open, 2017’s first full field event.
Among those teeing it up at Waialae Country club are 21 players who also competed in Maui last week. The likes of Jordan Spieth, Jimmy Walker and Hideki Matsuyama all shook off the cobwebs in the Tournament of Champions and the stats suggest we’ll have to keep an eye on them come the weekend.
12 of the last 18 winners of the Sony Open also pegged it up at the Tournament of Champions the previous week. That’s despite the fact that the two courses ae very different.
The Plantation course is a long, hilly par-73 whereas Waialae is only 7,044 yards, flat and plays to a par of 70 when the PGA Tour comes to town.
Previous winners to have played in both events haven’t even necessarily played that well at the Tournament of Champions. It seems that simply having an opportunity to play at a course which yields plenty of birdies the previous week is enough to kick players into gear for a tilt at the Sony Open title.
Of all those who have stayed in Hawaii, the chances of Hideki Matsuyama look greatest. The Japanese sensation came agonisingly close to chasing down Justin Thomas in Maui but had to settle for second place. That still leaves the 24-year-old with form figures of 2-1-1-2-1.
That is sensational stuff and it could get even better at Waialae. Matsuyama’s quality ball striking and confident putting are just what’s required to go low at this venue. He may be second favourite with the bookies but at odds of 17/2 with Betfair Matsuyama still looks great value.
Russell Knox has never really found his best stuff at Waialae. Could that be about to change this week? The signs are good for the Scotsman.
Knox could only muster 17th place in his debut at the Tournament of Champions but the very fact that he was able to get his year underway while others were stuck hitting balls on the range will stand him in good stead. So will the style of golf demanded by the course at Waialae.
Given that the rough is very short and the birdie opportunities plentiful, this is the sort of course that rewards high quality approach shots into the greens. It’s also a course where scoring is hugely affected by the wind.
The forecast is for benign conditions on the first three days but Sunday is looking tough. If Knox can utilise his ability to keep the ball under the wind he could come through the pack on Sunday to win at odds of 43/1 with 10Bet.
Finally, have a small stakes bet on William McGirt. The 37-year-old finally made his debut at the Tournament of Champions thanks to victory at the Memorial last year. He was a bit hit and miss at the end of 2016 but with more confidence than ever, he looks a very good price at 66/1 with Bet365.
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