Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM

Sony Open - Best Bets

Sony Open – Best Bets

Although it was far from a full field event, it was nice to start off the 2020 calendar year with a win last week, as Justin Thomas gave things away on the final hole of regulation, but regrouped enough in the playoff to emerge victorious. The 5/1 payout was a nice boost to the golf bankroll for the year, as was hitting on the Fowler over DJ matchup at a +100 price tag as well.

This week the Tour stays in Hawaii for the Sony Open as the first full field event of the calendar year, and it should be an interesting one to say the least.

Venue: Waialae Country Club
Par-Yardage: 70, 7,044 yards

Waialae Country Club is a track where guys better be prepared to go low, as each of the past six winners have finished with scores of -17 or better, with four of the six hitting -20 or better. It's not a hard track by any means, as it's a shorter course and if the wind is non-existent, guys should light this place up. It's one where, the approach game should be weighed more then driving distance and accuracy, as you've got to be able to stick approach shots tight and make your putts. Should it see a heavy wind day or two, that will change, but if that ends up happening you can always adjust as the days go on.

Speaking of the past six winners, the trend that will be beaten to death this week for this tournament is that all six of those winners did play in the Tournament of Champions the week before. Given how small that TOC field always is, you'll see many recommendations for guys who played last week.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, as there is something to be said for having some competitive rounds fresh under your belt this time of year, but if you are eliminating top level talent simply because they didn't play last week, you are probably too reliant on that trend. It's always going to be an interesting note, and in this case it does hold some weight given the lack of rust, but to me, it should be treated more like those trends you see with say, basketball teams who are on a 7-0 ATS run on Wednesday's or something like that. Nice to make note of, but very easy to disregard as random variance. It's also not something that will continue to hold true forever, even if it does hit again this week.

Betting Odds

It's because of that trend – remember, the oddsmakers are fully aware of it too – that you've got a few guys who are probably a little overvalued in this field. That's not necessarily the case with the favorites, but more so in the mid-range and beyond, simply because they played last week. And conversely, guys (including some favorites) are probably a bit undervalued because they didn't play on Tour a week ago.

This week it's Justin Thomas leading the way at 5/1 odds, followed by Webb Simpson (12/1), Patrick Reed (12/1), Hideki Matsuyama (18/1) Collin Morikawa (18/1), Matt Kuchar (20/1) and Sungjae Im (20/1) all listed at 20/1 or better. Of those names, Simpson, Matsuyama and Im all weren't apart of last week's event, which again speaks to the relative absurdity of bypassing names like that simply because they didn't play a week ago. I wouldn't want to overlook any of those guys, as all three of them were involved in the highly competitive President's Cup a few weeks back, so the lack of current form with them simply because they didn't play a week ago should easily be forgotten about.

Top 10 Betting Choices

  • Justin Thomas 5/1
  • Webb Simpson 12/1
  • Patrick Reed 12/1
  • Hideki Matsuyama 18/1
  • Collin Morikawa 18/1
  • Matt Kuchar 20/1
  • Sungjae Im 20/1
  • Joaquin Niemann 30/1
  • Charles Howell III 30/1
  • Marc Leishman 40/1
  • More...

It is one of those three names that starts off this week's selections, as it's going to be the same format as last week all the way through this season. So let's get right to the selections:

Golfers to Watch

Favorite: Webb Simpson (12/1)

Webb is a guy that's long been known as one of the better ball strikers on Tour, and at a ball-striking course like this one, he fits the bill for success quite nicely here. Historically he's loved Waialae Country Club as in the four years he teed it up here from 2015-2018 he never finished worse then 13th (4th, 13th, 13th, 13th). Even going back further to his start here in 2010, he's never missed a cut in eight tries, and should be able to extend that run to nine rather easily this week.

As it always is with Webb, his chances of winning are going to heavily depend on what he does with the putter during the week. But given his specific course history here, and the fact that shorter, easier courses like this one are ones that Simpson historically does well at. At 12/1, Simpson does seem a bit undevalued in my view, and for a guy who's really found a high level of consistency in his play over the past 18-24 months or so, he's one to back this week.

Mid-Range: Emiliano Grillo (80/1)

Grillo is always going to be a name I'm at least curious about on shorter tracks, as his ball striking from the approach game in is where he makes his hay on Tour. He's not the longest guy off the tee – doesn't hurt him here – which can be a knock on him in other events, but all this guy does it hit greens in regulation, and when you do that here, you are going to get some very good looks at birdie.

Last year, Grillo finished 3rd on Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach, 15th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, and 20th off the tee. His GIR percentage clocked in at 68.73% and in limited action during this year's wraparound season he's continued on that same trajectory. Those numbers are well above what a normal 80/1 shot would have, but Grillo's in this range for his short game.

Around the green is a weakness for Grillo, but his biggest weakness is with the putter. He lost so many strokes to the field on the greens seemingly on a weekly basis last year (185th in Strokes Gained: Putting (-.633)) and it's been even worse this year in his limited action.

However, he has teed it up at Waialae in three of the past four years, and with finishes of 22nd (last year) 47th, and 33rd, there is an argument to be made that this is a track where he's at least got some level of comfort on the greens. At this kind of price, his talent is well beyond this range, you've just got to hope he finds a way to knock down putts.

Long Shot: Sung Kang (125/1)

For those that do prefer to stick with the past winners trend this week, I'd take a look at Sung Kang. He's a longer shot that is one where a Top 20 finish is definitely the better betting option then the outright win, but one that fits the bill for those that are beholden to that past winner trend, and someone who finally figured out how to score well at this track a year ago.

After years of missing the cut here, Kang seemingly figured out how to play Waialae last year as he came across the finish line with a 10th place finish under his belt. Weekend rounds of 65 and 64 had him shooting up the leaderboard, and what's positive about that for this week is that we do know he's got the ability to go low here.

Statistically he's not got the greatest profile to success here – but no 125/1 shot ever does - and if he can tap into what he did over the weekend here last year for the full tournament, there is plenty of reason to expect him to have a shot on Sunday. His 25th place finish last week doesn't exactly spark excitement, but if you do want to heavily stick to the idea that you've got to back guys who played last week, it's important to note that three of those six winners finished 15th or worse at the Tournament of Champions prior to winning here. Kang checks both of those boxes, and at this long shot price he should be considered.

72 Hole Matchup to Take: Webb Simpson (-110) over Patrick Reed

Might as well stick to what worked in this section a week ago, as backing a guy I like to win the event at a pick'em price makes plenty of sense. I've already touched on the virtues of Webb Simpson this week, so no need to go into that again.

But going against Reed after his runner-up finish last week may be tough to swallow for some, but given the past two months or so that this guy has had with all the controversy he's stirred up, there is going to be a time where he mentally and emotionally runs out of gas. It might not be this week completely, but with how he missed a few winning opportunities a week ago, this is a situation where I do believe we could see him falter a bit.

Even if both guys were well rested and in top form, Webb's got enough tools to beat Reed over the course of four days, and at this price I've got to grab him to make that a reality this week.



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