Sony Open - Best Bets
January 9, 2018
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Waialae Country Club, Hawaii
7,044 Yards: Par 70
For the second week in a row the PGA Tour stays out in beautiful Hawaii for the Sony Open. This tournament has a tremendous history at the Waialae Country Club and the pros love to come here for the scenery and low scores.
Four of the last five winners of this tournament have finished with a scorecard of -20 or better, with the most notable being Justin Thomas' -27 and record 253 tally a year ago when he ran away with this event. Thomas shot a 59 on Day 1 a year ago and the victory meant that he swept the two-week Hawaii stretch for the PGA tour. Justin Thomas' victory here could be argued as both the kicks tart and confirmation that was his phenomenal 2017 season and he'd love to repeat here. But as the second favorite (behind Jordan Spieth (+450) at +700, there is little value to backing Thomas right now.
The Waialae Country Club is a scoring haven because poor accuracy off the tee is basically a non factor here (non-existent rough) and the greens are some of the easiest to hit on Tour. And while it's just a Par 70, it's basically a course where guys can grip it and rip it off the tee without fear of repercussions for missing fairways and are left with easy wedge approach shots on nearly every hole. 11 of the 18 holes had an under par average a year ago, and the par-5 9th hole is where guys can cash in with eagles as it gave up the most eagles on Tour two seasons ago and followed that up by giving up 36 through four rounds last year.
So with little to fear on this course and multiple birdies needed daily to have a chance, guys that are strong in the approach games and on the green are ones you'll want to look at here. Also, this is a course that guys tend to need to see at least once so they have a better idea of what to expect and how low they need to go, so let's look at three guys that fit all that criteria and have some decent-sized odds to get the job done this week.
Odds per - Sportsbetting.ag
Golfers to Watch
Marc Leishman (+1400) – The Australian finished T7 last week at the Tournament of Champions, but if it wasn't for a disastrous 76 in Round 3, we could be talking about him going for the Hawaii sweep this week. Three of four solid rounds is nothing to ignore though, especially considering he made 19 birdies for the week, and Waialae Country Club is a place Leishman has had success before.
Leishman finished T20 a year ago with a -12 score and was -11 in 2016 that put him T28. Leishman just was never able to go low enough in any of those rounds here the past two years – there was a round of 65 but the majority were 68's, but he's still one of the better guys in terms of Strokes Gained:Approach in this field and should be able to use that to his advantage. He does have a 5th place finish here back in 2014, and as the third favorite behind Spieth and Thomas, oddsmakers expect the Aussie to be in contention this week and so do I.
Kevin Kisner (+2000) – Kisner is a guy who's made 12 straight cuts on Tour at the moment and led the field in Strokes Gained: Putting last week. That great effort on the green didn't parlay into the finish he was looking for (T17) as his usually solid ball striking let him down a bit. But Kisner is a guy that you expect to bounce back from a performance like that, and having those large greens to aim at doesn't hurt either.
But this is a course Kisner may be destined to win at soon with a T4 and T5 at this event the last two years. In both instances it was one round of shooting even par that spoiled his chances (Round 4 in 2016 and Round 1 in 2017) as he's gone low in the other six rounds here the past two years. If he can put it all together for the four full days, getting 20-1 on your money would be a welcome payout for a guy that could use the Sony Open as a precursor to a truly breakout/remarkable season like we saw Justin Thomas do a year ago.
Russell Henley (+2800) – Henley is a past winner of this tournament as he claimed the title in 2013 with a -24 scorecard. That victory was rare given it was the first time ever Henley played at this course, but his spectacular ball striking proved to be the difference. Nothing much has changed for Henley in terms of his strengths on the course, and he did finish last week strong with a T17 and 20 total birdies made.
Since his 2014 win here there have been some mixed results for Henley – including a MC in 2016, but last year he finished T13 after shooting a 64 on Thursday, and does also have a T17 to his credit from 2015. At 28-1 he's definitely got some value here as a past champion, and with two of the weaker parts basically negated at this venue – driving accuracy and Strokes Gained: Around the green – if Henley can get it rolling with his irons like he often does, another 1st place cheque from Waialae Country Club isn't out of the question.
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