Waialae Key Fantasy Stats

Sony Open in Hawaii

January 9th – 12th, 2020

Waialae C.C.

Honolulu, HI

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,044

Purse: $6.6 million

with $1,118,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Matt Kuchar

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:

This is based on the most important stats for Waialae, based on data from last year’s Sony Open in Hawaii, and using data from all the players in the field averaging the rank from 2020 stats.
The scoring average of the field at Waialae last year was 68.92 making it play just a notch over a shot under par per round and the 32nd hardest course for the year This is a notch above the average for the last couple of years, scoring at Waialae is dictated mostly by wind and last year it was good, each day it blew between 7 and 12 mph. This year could be a different story, not only will it rain each day with the heaviest coming on Saturday, but the winds will blow between 20 to 25 mph each day. Of course, as we saw at Kapalua last week, weather prediction for Hawaii is haphazard at best but by the look of the forecast, it looks like rain is in the forecast for about a week starting on Wednesday. With that brings in a different realm of player, one that not only has to play well in rain but one that has to play well in wind. The reason players don’t like playing in wind is not the elements themselves, but what it does down the road to their games. They may not realize it at the time but their swings do change in order to control the ball either hitting it low into the wind or hitting it high to let the ball ride the wind. We saw some of the Ugliness of what the wind can do on Sunday at Kapalua with some of the shots Justin Thomas hit, his swing seem to get out of rhythm making it very hard for him to win. So this week wind will be the number one problem for all 144 players in the field.

In looking at the stats for Waialae last year, driving accuracy hits you. Last year it was 13th, in 2018 and in 2017, Waialae had the 14th hardest fairways to hit on the PGA Tour. Last year with the lack of rain the usual high rough it was one of the keys to why Matt Kuchar won as he ranked T-4th in driving accuracy. Kuchar was also great in strokes gained tee-to-green he was 3rd along with being 7th in strokes gained approach-the-green. After a major storm hit on Christmas day bringing close to an inch of rain, it’s been pretty dry with the except of a tenth of an inch last Saturday. So the course has been dry and should be that way up till the rains hit on Thursday, so I don’t expect low scores like previous Sony Opens have had. Now over the last couple of years driving accuracy hasn’t been a real factor because of the dried out rough. But wet rough is a different story and will create more trouble so for this year with wind and rain, driving it straight will be very important.
Our first stat is Strokes gained Tee-to-Green since even though accuracy hasn’t been a key the last couple of years, you may see that change this year with the poor weather.
In looking at the winners at Waialae, greens hit seem to be something that all the winners have in common. Since 2002, 15 of the 18 were in the top-12 while seven of the 18 were in the top three. Last year Matt Kuchar showed the importance of this stat hitting 60 of the 72 greens to lead the field and becoming the third winner since 1997 to lead that stat (John Austin in 998 & Jimmy Walker in 2015). So our second category is Greens in Regulation, last year the course was the 31st hardest on tour.
Next is Par Breakers since Waialae had the 11th most birdies on the PGA Tour in 2019 with 1,643 and the 4th most eagles on tour with 56. So with the lack of wind and dry fairways you can see you better make a lot of birdies and eagles, that stays the same in high winds and lots of rain.
Last is par 5 scoring average. Typically a course with just two par-5s wouldn’t be on our list. But since the 9th hole is a par 5 and in 2019 was the 5th easiest of the 882 holes last year with a 4.280 average and the par 5, 18th hole is the 36th easiest par 5 last year on the PGA Tour with a 4.486 average. Think of it this way; there were 20 par 4s on Tour in 2019 that had a higher average than Waialae’s 9th hole. Last year in the four rounds, Matt Kuchar was 8 under par, with six birdies, an eagle and one par.

So here are our four choices for the most critical stats from players to do well at Waialae:

*Strokes Gained tee-to-green: You need to hit it long and straight along with hitting lots of greens. So this is important to find a player that will do this

*Greens in Regulation: This is a stat that shows who it’s the most greens in regulation. Last year Waialae ranked 31st in greens hit

*ParBreakers: Combination of birdies and eagles made

*Par 5 scoring average: Shows which course has the easiest par 5s to score on.

127 of the 144 players from this year’s field with stats from this year:

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

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