It's Week Two in Hawaii for the PGA Tour this week, as the Sony Open takes center stage after Harris English took down the Tournament of Champions last week.
This week's event is back as a “normal” tournament with a 36-hole cut and all of that, and most of the biggest names on Tour that teed it up a week ago are probably spending this week lounging at home or in the Hawaii sun.
That being said, this Sony Open event is known for the winner coming from that Tournament of Champions field, as six of the last seven winners of the Sony Open have fit that profile.
It was six in a row before Cameron Smith snapped that streak winning this tournament a year ago, and the defending champion from Australia comes in with a +3000 price tag to defend his Sony Open crown.
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In fact, from a pre-tournament perspective, it's probably best to narrow the field down to those guys and then read and react as the rounds go on according to your various positions already in pocket.
From an odds standpoint, six of the past seven winners here have closed at +7000 or better, so diving into too many long shots here might not be the wisest move for your bankroll.
Remember, not only are the guys from the Tournament of Champions field winners from a season ago (so they've played quality golf for at least one week in the past 12 months), but they are also the ones who've played themselves back into some sort of competitive rhythm after the extended break the Tour goes on over the holidays.
That's something that can't be ignored, and it's another part of why past winners of the Sony Open do come from that TOC group.
This year's Tournament of Champions winner – Harris English – will tee it up as the 2nd favorite for the event at +1300, with only Webb Simpson (+1100) having better odds.
Beyond that, we've got guys such as Daniel Berger (+1500), Collin Morikawa (+1500), and Sungjae Im (+1850) rounding out the list of names that's priced lower than +2000.
Hideki Matsuyama (+2200), Abraham Ancer (+2500), and Joaquin Niemann (+2800) round out the group below +3000.
However, even with all those talented names in that group, and the winner historically for this event being a relatively low odds guy, the past three winners all closed at +4000 or higher. So while none of those guys in that sub-+3000 range would surprise me at all if they won, it's names outside of that +3000 range where this week's selections start.
Palmer won this event back in 2010, and there can't be any complaints about current form after he held the 54-hole lead at the TOC last week. A final round 71 wasn't near enough to keep and finish atop the leaderboard last week, as only Collin Morikawa (73) and Daniel Berger (72) had worse Sunday scores than Palmer did of anyone that finished in the Top 10 last week.
All three of those names are in the field this week, and knowing how the TOC finished for all of them, bouncing back with a complete four-round effort has to be on the forefront of all their minds. It's Palmer with the best price of those three though, and that did factor into this selection slightly.
More importantly though, it was Palmer's +1.51 Strokes Gained: Approach – good for 4th best in the tournament last week - that is easy to rely upon this week with Palmer.
Furthermore, last week's event saw only Palmer, Joaquin Niemann, and Xander Schauffele not have a negative number in any one of the Strokes Gained categories (putting, around-the-green, approach, off-the-tee, and tee-to-green) in that event, and with Schauffele not playing, and Niemann priced higher and being in the tough spot of trying to rebound off a playoff loss, backing Palmer this week is something that comes with quite a bit of comfort.
Finally, course history for Palmer here outside of his victory in 2010 is rather solid as well. Since that win he's teed it up nine different times, finishing in the Top 20 in four of those starts, the best being a 4th place finish last season. There aren't many more boxes that need to be checked off no matter how you look at it with Palmer this week.
Horschel could use a few more checks in those same boxes this week, although when a lack of course history here – only two starts since 2013 and never finished better than 54th – is arguably the biggest negative, it's something that's not as hard to downgrade slightly in terms of weight.
Like Palmer, Horschel did not have the best Sunday at the TOC, shooting a 75 (+2) to see any sort of thoughts of jumping into contention washed away pretty early. But a pair of 66's (-7) in Rounds 2 and 3 did leave plenty of room for optimism, and even though his overall Strokes Gained numbers weren't great last week, Horschel's long been known for his ball striking as it is.
He's still had three Top-40 finishes in his last three starts – three starts that came over a nine-week span – so cutting him some slack for a good but not great performance last week, like we saw from Palmer, isn't all that hard to do.
Horschel's always going to have the putter to bail him out as putting has long been one of his strengths, and on large, slow greens, putting deficiencies might be negated slightly for bad putters, but it also works as even more of a benefit to good putters. Stick a few more iron shots closer this week, and Horschel's name among the leaders on the weekend should be the end result.
Ortiz did not have the greatest showing at the TOC last week, but we've also got to remember that this trend of TOC starters winning the Sony Open isn't dependent on guys playing well at the TOC, they've just got to be there. The 29-year-old has started to come into his own these past few months on Tour, as he's never finished worse than 48th since the CJ Cup back in mid-October, and that run includes a win (Houston Open) and an 8th place finish as well.
A rough weekend (75,74) at the TOC took all the wind out of his sails last week after he was sitting -10 through the first 36 holes, so it's not like the caliber of play can't be there for Ortiz. Don't blame him for possibly mailing it on Sunday after he had a tough Saturday, but a fresh start this week at a venue he did finish 29th at back in 2019 (53rd last year) could be just what Ortiz needs to find his way back into contention.
He doesn't have nearly as many big names at the top to make his way through in this field, and another hot start in the opening two rounds this week could give the rest of the field a bit of that discouraging feeling I'm sure Ortiz felt on the weekend last week knowing all those Major winners he'd have to outplay.
He's valued much better than this +9000 price tag in my books given this field and his form over the past few months, and while long shots in this price range don't typically come out on top at the Sony Open, Fabian Gomez connected at +10000 here back in 2016, and Johnson Wagner did it at the +15000 range four years earlier in 2012.
Ortiz would love to add his name to that list of long shot winners every four or five years at the Sony Open, and I'm willing to take a piece of him to do just that.
Had I adhered to the word “mid-range” based on price with the outright picks, Kokrak would have been the name I would have landed on at +6600, and if you are looking for another name to add to the portfolio this week, him and Adam Scott (+3500) were the final two names on my chopping block for the week.
Statistically, Kokrak couldn't really have had a worse week last week, posting negative averages in every single Strokes Gained category, and that's ultimately what kept him off the outright board. But in a head-to-head coin flip matchup with Munoz, a guy who's missed the cut in his last two starts with a cut, and missed the cut here a season ago after playing in that TOC as well, I just don't see how you can be that confident in Munoz bringing out his best stuff for two consecutive weeks.
Even with Kokrak being a guy that's had to sweat out way more Friday cut lines than he probably should have needed too these past few years, I've got more confidence in him getting his entire game to bounce back this week then I do Munoz maintaining what we saw from him at the TOC where he finished T17.
All it will take is one bad round for Munoz, like his opening round of 75 last week, to put him too far back in a head-to-head matchup against a player with relatively the same skill level like Kokrak. The latter has far more experience specifically at Waialae - 47th in 2018, 17th and 20th in 2015 and 2014 respectively – and that level of comfort at a course off a rougher week is what I believe sets him apart from Munoz.
This is just not a price I fully understand here, and while that can be concerning at times, Snedeker was the runner-up at the Sony Open back in 2016 when he lost to Fabian Gomez in a playoff, missed the cut the following year, and then has finishes of 16th and 16th here in 2019 and 2020 respectively.
And now he's getting +150 to come in the Top 40?
Even if Snedeker ends up crapping the bed, it's prices like this that I feel almost have to be taken on principle with certain guys, especially one that can putt like he can and has minimal concerns here regarding his lack of length.
Snedeker should be able to pick up enough strokes on and around the green to make the difference in a play like this, and at that kind of plus-money price, it's an easy bite to take. Even if I end up biting air.
Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.
Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.
Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.
If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.