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BlogSony Open in Hawaii Preview and Picks

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:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 29 of the top 100 and 14 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings: The top 50 players are #4 Justin Thomas, #11 Patrick Reed, #12 Webb Simpson, #22 Hideki Matsuyama, #24 Matt Kuchar, #27 Kevin Na, #28 Marc Leishman, #30 Shugo Imahira, #33 Kevin Kisner, #34 Sungjae Im, #36 Chez Reavie, #38 Abraham Ancer, #47 Brandt Snedeker and #49 Andrew Putnam.

Last year 20 of the top-50 played.

The field includes 14 of the Top 25 on the FedEx point standings for this year.  Those players are  #1 Justin Thomas, #2 Brendon Todd, #3 Sebastian Munoz, #4 Lanto Griffin, #5 Joaquin Niemann, #9 Kevin Na, #10 Sungjae Im, #11 Tyler Duncan, #12 Hideki Matsuyama, #14 Carlos Ortiz, #20 Mark Hubbard, #21 Adam Long, #22 Webb Simpson, and #24 Patrick Reed.

The field includes 10 past champions: Matt Kuchar (2019), Patton Kizzire (2018), Justin Thomas (2017), Fabian Gomez (2016), Jimmy Walker (2015 & ’14), Russell Henley (2013), Ryan Palmer (2010), Zach Johnson (2009), Vijay Singh (2005) and Jerry Kelly (2002).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Sony Open in Hawaii field is our performance chart listed by the average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Sony Open in Hawaii in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Sony Open in Hawaii

Player Sentry Tof C Australian PGA RSM Classic DP World, Dubai Mayakoba Classic Turkish Airlines WGC HSBC Champions Bermuda Champ. Zozo Champ. CJ Cup Houston Open Shriners Hospitals Safeway Open
Justin Thomas
(213.67 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T17
(11)
Win
(44)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
Patrick Reed
(152 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP T28
(11)
DNP T10
(13.33)
T8
(16.67)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Brendon Todd
(136.33 pts)
29
(21)
DNP 4
(26.67)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Lanto Griffin
(110 pts)
13
(37)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T76
(0)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
T18
(10.67)
T17
(11)
Corey Conners
(86 pts)
T19
(31)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T20
(10)
DNP T6
(20)
T12
(12.67)
DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
Collin Morikawa
(85 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
T36
(4.67)
DNP T42
(2.67)
T10
(13.33)
Hideki Matsuyama
(84.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(13)
DNP 2
(33.33)
T3
(30)
DNP T16
(11.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Tyler Duncan
(83 pts)
T19
(31)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T56
(0)
Cameron Smith
(82.33 pts)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP T3
(30)
DNP T13
(12.33)
DNP
Joaquin Niemann
(81.67 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
T12
(12.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Cameron Davis
(76.67 pts)
DNP T3
(90)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Adam Long
(75.67 pts)
T23
(27)
DNP T35
(5)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
T46
(1.33)
DNP DNP T23
(9)
Kevin Na
(70 pts)
T32
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T46
(1.33)
T20
(10)
DNP Win
(44)
CUT
(-3.33)
Sebastian Munoz
(69.33 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP 3
(30)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T33
(5.67)
Brian Gay
(68.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T14
(12)
DNP DNP T3
(30)
DNP DNP T42
(2.67)
T7
(18.33)
T23
(9)
Carlos Ortiz
(67.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
T37
(4.33)
T40
(3.33)
J.T. Poston
(67 pts)
T11
(39)
DNP T14
(12)
DNP T41
(3)
DNP T24
(8.67)
DNP T27
(7.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Charles Howell III
(64.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T20
(10)
DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP T8
(16.67)
T20
(10)
DNP T68
(0)
T4
(26.67)
Dylan Frittelli
(63.67 pts)
31
(19)
DNP T35
(5)
DNP T11
(13)
DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
T43
(2.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T7
(18.33)
Ryan Palmer
(63.33 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
T12
(12.67)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP
Brian Stuard
(60 pts)
DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP T23
(9)
DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP T72
(0)
DNP T4
(26.67)
T17
(11)
Xinjun Zhang
(57.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP T38
(4)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
T16
(11.33)
T7
(18.33)
Webb Simpson
(51.67 pts)
DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP
Mark Hubbard
(51.33 pts)
DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP T41
(3)
DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
T42
(2.67)
T13
(12.33)
Vaughn Taylor
(49.67 pts)
DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP T41
(3)
T60
(0)
DNP DNP T60
(0)
Pat Perez
(49.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
T31
(6.33)
DNP 3
(30)
CUT
(-3.33)
Sung Kang
(47.67 pts)
T25
(25)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T17
(11)
T26
(8)
DNP T29
(7)
CUT
(-3.33)
Sungjae Im
(47 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(13)
DNP T3
(30)
T39
(3.67)
DNP DNP T49
(0.33)
Harry Higgs
(46.33 pts)
DNP DNP T35
(5)
DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T23
(9)
Graeme McDowell
(45.67 pts)
T23
(27)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(9)
DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
T16
(11.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Scott Harrington
(44.67 pts)
DNP DNP T43
(2.33)
DNP T72
(0)
DNP DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP T23
(9)
Matt Kuchar
(44.67 pts)
T14
(36)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T14
(12)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Kisner
(40 pts)
T14
(36)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T76
(0)
DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Abraham Ancer
(39.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP T41
(3)
T57
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Zac Blair
(39.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T14
(12)
DNP DNP 57
(0)
DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T4
(26.67)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Sony Open in Hawaii

Player Sentry Tof C Australian PGA RSM Classic DP World, Dubai Mayakoba Classic Turkish Airlines WGC HSBC Champions Bermuda Champ. Zozo Champ. CJ Cup Houston Open Shriners Hospitals Safeway Open
Smylie Kaufman
(-16.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Tom Hoge
(-13.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Bo Van Pelt
(-13.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T62
(0)
Jason Dufner
(-10 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
J.J. Spaun
(-10 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T80
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 73
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Michael Gellerman
(-10 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Mackenzie Hughes
(-10 pts)
DNP DNP T65
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T55
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Ted Potter, Jr.
(-10 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Patrick Rodgers
(-8 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T51
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
T44
(2)
Anirban Lahiri
(-8 pts)
DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Since 1999 when it was slotted behind the Sentry Tournament of Champions, the Sony got an added boost in that most of those at the Sentry T of C made the short flight to Honolulu to play this event.  But that trend seems to be changing.  In 2007 32 of the 34 Hyundai participants stuck around for the Sony while in 2008, 22 of the 31 Sentry T of C participants stayed.  In 2009 the trend of leaving, after the Sentry T of C continued as only 26 of the 33 T of C players showed up at Waialae.  In 2010  20 of the 28 Sentry T of C players made the trip and people started wondering.  In 2011 it was 23 of the 33 from Kapalua, while in 2012 only 20 of the 28 showed up.  In 2013 19 of 30 went, in 2014 just 18 of the 30 went, while in 2015, 24 of the original 34 players made the trip from Maui to Honolulu.  In 2016 only 22 of the 32 players went to Honolulu why last year 23 of the 32 players played at the Sony.  In 2017, only 20 of the 34 showed up as #1 Dustin Johnson, #4 John Rahm, #5 Hideki Matsuyama and #7 Rickie Fowler won’t play.  Last year, 22 of the 33 showed up as #2 Brooks Koepka, #3 Dustin Johnson, #6 Xander Schauffele, #7 John Rahm, #8 Rory McIlory, #9 Francesco Molinari and #11 Jason Day decided not to play.  Still, the good news was that #4 Justin Thomas, #5 Bryson DeChambeau, #15 Patrick Reed and #16 Bubba Watson did play.

For 2020, 23 of the 34 players decided to play at the Sony.  One of them is past champion Justin Thomas, the only top-ten player in the field.  Of the 11 players skipping the Sony Open, six are in the top 25. They are #3 Jon Rham, #5 Dustin Johnson, #6 Patrick Cantlay, #8 Xander Schauffele, #14 Gary Woodland and #21 Rickie Fowler.

Now one of the important items for fantasy golfers to think about, since the Sentry moved to Kapalua in 1999, 13 of the 20 Sony winners participated in Kapalua the week before (last year’s winner Matt Kuchar played the Sentry and finished T-19th).  So common sense says to look for the winner to be a player from Kapalua.  2017 defending champion Justin Thomas also won at Kapalua the week before.

Here is a look at the Sentry T of C winners since 1999 and how they did at the Sony:

  • 2020 Sentry T of C winner Justin Thomas will play at the Sony
  • 2019 Sentry T of C winner Xander Schauffele is not playing the Sony
  • 2018 Sentry T of C winner Dustin Johnson is not playing the Sony
  • 2017 Sentry T of C winner Justin Thomas won the next week at the Sony
  • 2016 Sentry T of C winner Jordan Spieth did not play at the Sony
  • 2014 Sentry T of C winner Zach Johnson finished T8th at the Sony
  • 2013 Sentry T of C winner Dustin Johnson withdrew after the first round at the Sony
  • 2012 Sentry T of C winner Steve Stricker finished T38th at the Sony
  • 2011 Sentry T of C winner Jonathan Byrd finished T34th at the Sony
  • 2010 Sentry T of C winner Geoff Ogilvy didn’t play at the Sony
  • 2009 Sentry T of C winner Geoff Ogilvy finished T32nd at the Sony
  • 2008 Sentry T of C winner Daniel Chopra finished T32nd at the Sony
  • 2007 Sentry T of C winner Vijay Singh finished T34th at the Sony
  • 2006 Sentry T of C winner Stuart Appleby finished T7th at the Sony
  • 2005 Sentry T of C winner Stuart Appleby didn’t play at the Sony
  • 2004 Sentry T of C winner Stuart Appleby missed the cut at the Sony
  • 2003 Sentry T of C winner Ernie Els won the next week at the Sony
  • 2002 Sentry T of C winner Sergio finished T40th at the Sony
  • 2001 Sentry T of C winner Jim Furyk finished 4th at the Sony
  • 2000 Sentry T of C winner Tiger Woods didn’t play at the Sony
  • 1999 Sentry T of C winner David Duval finished 3rd at the Sony

What a wild finish at Kapalua

Have to say it was a roller-coaster type of finish at the Sentry TofC  When Patrick Reed made he birdie putt on the 72nd hole little did we think that an hour later he would be in a playoff.  We all think of professionals as God-like but as we saw at the finish, both Xander Schauffele and especially Justin Thomas didn’t look very God-like.  If there is one element that players don’t like that would be wind and we saw that at the end of Sunday’s play.  Justin Thomas completely fell apart and was lucky just to hold on.  In talking about Thomas it reminded me of what happened to him last year at the Genesis when Thomas had a share of the lead going into the final round, shot 75 to lose by a shot to J.B. Holmes.  His swing came unglued twice during the round, once when he made bogey on 3 of 4 holes on the front nine and then on the back when he went bogey, birdie, par, double, a bogey and found himself out of contention with four holes left.

Thomas is the favorite this week at Waialae but with more wind predicted for all four days of the Sony, I would say that Thomas is not a bright choice.  The big problem with wind, if you get screwed up in a round, it could take weeks to figure it out.  Remember last year Thomas was playing well going into the Genesis, after the final round 75 he finished 9th in Mexico on a course he does well on and then T-30th at the Honda, an event he did injure his wrist at.  The point I am making, yes I know that Thomas’s career scoring average is 66.56 at the Sony, the best of anyone with over ten rounds.  In 18 rounds he has been over par just once and been under par 14 times (12 of his last 12 rounds).  But I am worried at what I saw, Thomas swing looked out of sorts in the playoff at the Sentry he may not be a good pick at the Sony.

So is Patrick Reed a good choice this week?

I would say that Reed could be the best choice at the Sony.  He seemed to hit the ball ok but his putting was supreme.  He had 45 one-putts for the week, the most since the Sentry moved to Maui in 1999.  Reed finished up with 9.31 strokes gained putting which is the second-best total of anyone at the Sentry since the stat was tracked in 2004.  Daniel Chopra gained 9.78 strokes when he won the Sentry in 2008.  One thing about Reed, since he finished T-5th over the summer at the Rocket Mortgage his game has shifted into overdrive.  He not only one the Northern Trust, but in 17 starts since the Rocket Mortgage hasn’t finished worst than T-36th at the Porsche European Open, but more importantly he has ten, top-15 finishes so he is a very hot player right now.

Joaquin Niemann

He had an impressive week at the Sentry finishing T-5th.  He led after an opening round of 66 but fell back with rounds of 72-74.  But what impressed upon me was his final round 70.  He was in complete control in the final round hitting 14 of 18 greens as he made five birdies and only two bogeys.  He may not have been as impressive as Patrick Reed was on the greens, but Niemann didn’t have a three-putt and had 26 one-putts as he finished up gaining 4.49 strokes gained putting.  Niemann is a rookie this week at the Sony and that brings up a serious question, who was the last rookie winner of the Sony, Russell Hunley in 2013.

Waialae Course information:

The course was designed by Seth Raynor and Charles Banks and opened in 1925. It has gone through a series of changes, first by Bob Baldock in 1966, then Arthur Jack Snyder in 1969, then Robert Nelson and Rodney Wright in 1984, then by Arnold Palmer & Ed Seay in 1991 and finally by Desmond Muirhead in 1992.  To make things even tougher, Waialae hired Rick Smith in the late ’90s to develop some more renovations for the future.  Smith came in to return the course to the original design that Seth Raynor first produced.

One of the significant changes made, which didn’t affect the course but did affect the tournament, came in 1999.  That’s when championship and PGA Tour officials moved up the tees on the 1st and 13th holes and changed them from par 5s to 4s. It didn’t make the course easier or tougher. It was a perception that the course was harder with scores going up, even though that wasn’t the case.

The average green size at Waialae is 7,500 square feet, and the course has 79 bunkers.  Nine of the holes have water on them, but for the touring pros, only three of those holes are affected.  For tournament week the nines are reversed so that the par3 8th hole, which runs along the Pacific, becomes the 17th and is shown on television. One rarity that you don’t see on many courses, four of the closing five holes (14, 15, 16 & 18) are sharp dogleg left’s so those that hook the ball have an advantage.

One other thing about Waialae: It’s been the only home of the Sony Open since 1965.  The only other courses with a better track record on the PGA Tour are Augusta National, which has been the home of the Masters since 1934, Pebble Beach, which has been the home of the AT&T since 1947 and Colonial, which has been the home of the Charles Schwab Challenge since 1948.

Let’s take a look at key stats that are important for those playing on the Waialae:

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.

Here is a link to all of the 117 players in the field at the Sony Open

DraftKings tips

Looking for some good picks at the Sony?

Before we look at some of the DraftKings picks, over the break we have been working on some new ideas that we are going to roll out in the coming months that pertain to Draftkings picks.  We know that information is based on more what people feel that fact, we try to give more facts, charts, and stats on Golfstats and we are working on more of them for the coming months.

One of the biggest ideas I thought about is starting a database on Draftkings points, on the surface this seems easy but the first obstacle is there isn’t a database on it.  So starting at Sentry we are now compiling all of the Draftkings numbers to know how much players earn under DraftKings point total, hopefully, by the Masters it will have enough data to help us make some smart choices.  Now the second thought I had is based on each week’s Draftkings cost.  We have that information going back to the start of the 2019 season so we can see who are good bets that are historically low-cost players.

Below is a chart of the top-20 players that are in the field for this week’s Sony that has made the most cuts and have the lowest average cost on Draftkings.  We will be tweaking this over the coming weeks:

 

Cuts to starts          Player                           Average Draftking cost     DraftKings cost this week

  • 14 of 14               Collin Morikawa                    8,542                           $10,300
  • 22 of 23              Webb Simpson                       9,227                           $11,100
  • 22 of 24               Justin Thomas                     10,958                          $12.000
  • 27 of 30              Brandt Snedeker                    7,693                           $8,600
  • 26 of 29              Hideki Matsuyama                 8,725                           $10,500
  • 8 of 9                  Lanto Griffin                            7,614                           $7,500
  • 25 of 38              Patrick Reed                           8,570                           $10,800
  • 21 of 24              Graeme McDowell                7,209                           $6,800
  • 22 of 25              Matt Kuchar                          9,060                           $9,900
  • 26 of 30              Scott Piercy                            6,929                           $7,100
  • 26 of 30              Kevin Kisner                          7,824                           $8,700
  • 26 of 31              Rory Sabbatini                       7,290                           $7,600
  • 24 of 29             Emiliano Grillo                     6,789                           $7,600
  • 23 of 28             Russell Knox                          7,680                           $7,800
  • 22 of 27             Andrew Putnam                     6,792                           $8,000
  • 28 of 35             Chez Reavie                            7,070                           $8,400
  • 16 of 20             Alex Noren                             7,863                           $8,800
  • 20 of 25             Marc Leishman                      8,172                           $9,200
  • 27 of 34             Charles Howell III                 8,118                           $9,100
  • 32 of 41              Sungjae Im                             7,828                           $9,600
  • Hopefully, this list will be able to help you fill out your DraftKings teams

*Here are the guys that are very costly this week at the Sony:

  • Justin Thomas – $12,000
  • Webb Simpson – $11,100
  • Patrick Reed – $10,800
  • Hideki Matsuyama  – $10,500
  • Collin Morikawa – $10,300
  • Matt Kuchar – $9,900
  • Sungjae Im – $9,600
  • Joaquin Niemann – $9,400
  • Marc Leishman – $9,200
  • Charles Howell III – $9,100
  • Abraham Ancer – $9,000

In past Sony’s because of the weather conditions with lack of wind and perfect conditions, we have looked for players that produce the most offensive power, meaning lots of birdies and eagles this week.  This week will be a bit different, with rain and high winds it will be survival of the fittest player.  Look for players from Texas, Florida, and Australia that are used to playing in high winds and won’t be bothered with it.  Also, be leary of players that have come over from Maui who could be finding themselves a bit screwed up with dealing with the winds over the four days of the Sentry T of C.  In most events, you may get wind one, maybe two days but this week they are predicting winds and rain all four day so some of the players won’t be able to handle the different conditions.

The first person to consider is Justin Thomas at $12,000.  Normally after a victory and coming to a course in which he has a career 66.56 scoring average on, a course in which Thomas has shot 59 on that he would be a slam down dunk, bet the house on him.  Many will bet on him and be terribly disappointed because I saw how exhausted and how his swing got out of whack at the end of the Sentry Tournament of Champions.  Yes, he was able to pull himself together to make a birdie on the third playoff hole.   He looked great for 16 holes and then hit a brick wall, so we will see how he puts everything together this week, but I am not touching him at all.  Webb Simpson is at $11,100 and he is fresh, hasn’t played since the Presidents Cup.  He plays well under hard conditions but his wins at the 2018 Players and 2014 Shriners, both notorious for being in windy spots were very calm when he won so we haven’t seen him tested in poor conditions  I am going to take a pass on him mostly because his price is too high.  As for Patrick Reed at $10,800 I think he will be perfect for this week, he has won a lot of tournaments in windy conditions.  Coming to mind is the 2014 WGC-Cadillac at Doral, on Saturday they had gusts up the 36 mph.  Reed grew up in Texas and knows how to play in the wind, he won the Humana in 2014 in windy conditions, the 2015 Sentry T of C in windy conditions.  He is also playing well right now so he is a good pick.  Hideki Matsuyama is $10,500 and normally I would say no to him, but under these conditions, I say yes.  He is playing well right now, had a good Presidents Cup and is well-rested, think he will have a good week. Collin Morikawa is $10,500 which I term a joke and despite him playing well last week won’t touch, too much to risk on a rookie with just 14 events under his belt.  Matt Kuchar at $9,900 is high, he hasn’t shown us much since his last good finish at the Canadian Open back in June.  Hard to image that he hasn’t cracked the top-ten since then but one thing of thought last year he finished T-19th at the Sentry and rolled in Sony and won it, so you never really know.  Sungjae Im is at $9,600 which isn’t the highest price he has been on DraftKings but still is high.  He had a great Presidents Cup and after taking some time off I think he is ready to play and we will see if he is the real thing in 2020.  The same with Joaquin Niemann at $9,400, he may not have played well at the Presidents Cup but played well last week at the Sentry.  Think his swing will be Ok for the bad weather this week, he is one that I think will play great in 2020.  I also like Marc Leishman at $9,200, he is a very good pick to go along with Patrick Reed, think Leishman could win this week.  Has the game and knows how to play in windy conditions.  Charles Howell III at $9,100 is another person to think about.  Normally I say yes but with the good picks of Niemann, Leishman, and Ancer around him they are better picks than him.  I already hinted what I think of Abraham Ancer at $9,000, remember this.  He was born in South Texas and went to school in Odessa, Texas and then the University of Oklahoma.  He won the Australian Open in 2018 played in windy conditions so he will be a great pick.

*Players in the $7,500 to $8,900 range:

Kevin Kisner at $8,700 is a good pick, he was T-14th at the Sentry but like that he was T=4th at the Sony in 2017 and T-5th in 2016.  Have to stay true to the Pick your Pro pick for 2020 and that is Chez Reavie at $8,400.  He shows a lot, makes cuts and was T-3rd last year at the Sony.  Normally I would not pick Andrew Putnam but he is just $8,000, does make a lot of cuts and I like that he was runner-up last year.  The same with Russell Knox at $7,800, can’t beat the price for a guy that makes a lot of cuts and you want a guy that will make the cut this week.  Ryan Palmer at $7,500 is also a very good chose considering that he has won at Sony, plays well in wind and has been Ok of late.  Also hard to believe that Lanto Griffin could be priced at $7,500, time to jump all over that one.

What are the “Bargains” out there?

First up is Keegan Bradley at $7,200, who does make a fair share of birdies.  A really good pick is Scott Piercy at $7,100.  Like him because in 11 starts at Sony has missed just three cuts.  But of late has played well including a 2nd in 2015.  Kyle Stanley at $7,000 is a solid pick considering that he has made seven cuts in seven starts at the Sony and was T-10th in 2028.  Patton Kizzire at $6,900 is a gamble because he has missed a lot of cuts over the last year, but he won at the Sony in just 2018 and was T-13th last year.  Look for him to be good this week.  Also, a good low-cost guy is Luke List at $6,600.  His stats for the year are good and he did play well at the Sony in 2017.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Sony Open in Hawaii

The key stat for the winner:

The PGA Tour is still in Hawaii for the Sony Open.  Played at Waialae C.C. it’s a fun course for the pros especially if the wind doesn’t blow.  The wind is the only true protection Waialae gets.  If it blows scores are reasonable, but without winds, scores go low, and just as Justin Thomas showed us in 2017 by shooting 59.  But there won’t be any 59s this week, a matter of fact according to the weatherman at Weather.com.  the weather is going to be so bad that scores under par will be really good this week.

Here are some more key stats to look for this week:

The first thing to realize is that Waialae is the complete opposite of the Plantation Course which held the Sentry T of C last week.  Driving accuracy meant nothing as the Plantation course has the easiest fairways to hit on the PGA Tour.  But this week is a different story; each year Waialae is one of the hardest driving courses on tour.  So it helps to drive the ball straight so look at the driving accuracy charts and in the top-20 you may find your winner.  Looking at the driving accuracy list’s the last couple of years, funny how past champions in the last decade like Matt Kuchar, Russell Henley, Mark Wilson, Zach Johnson, Paul Goydos, David Toms and Jerry Kelly have ranked high.

Another important stat to look at is total driving which combines distance with accuracy, look for the leaders in this stat that is playing at the Sony to do well.

Hitting greens is essential, on a scale of 1 to 10, with ten being the most critical give hitting greens a 7.  Still, you can’t dismiss this stat since 1997, 13 of the last 18 champions have been in the top-ten in this stat, and none of them were worst than 15th.  Last year Matt Kuchar led the stat hitting 60 of 72 greens, he joins Jimmy Walker in 2015 and John Huston in 2008 has the three champions to lead the greens hit category since 1997.

Putting is another important stat, but like hitting greens, I give it a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10.  What I found interesting in this stat was making putts over ten feet, look for those types to do well.  In diving into Shotlink stats on PGA Tour.Com in 2020 Patrick Reed who I like the most leads that stat.  Others in the top-ten that are playing this week are Andrew Putnam, Cameron Smith, Kevin Na, Sungjae Im, Pat Perez and Kristoffer Ventura.  Last year’s champion Matt Kuchar was T-11th,   2018 champion Patton Kizzire was 4th in this stat. 2017 champion Justin Thomas was 11th, 2016 champion Fabian Gomez was T-32nd, in 2015 Jimmy Walker was T-6th in putts made from 10 to 15 feet while 2013 champion Russell Henley was 2nd in putts made between 10 and 15 feet and was 6th in putts made between 15 and 20 feet.

More stats that are important this week is picking a person who is high on the par breaker list. Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas, Cameron Smith, Daniel Berger and Hideki Matsuyama who rank in the top-ten.

Last but not least the par 4s at Waialae are U.S. Open-caliber, they are tough and rank on top of the tour as the toughest in golf.  Again in looking at the winners going back to 2000 when changes were made to reduce par from 72 to 70, every champion was between 2 under and 10 under. Last year Matt Kuchar was 11 under, in 2018 Patton Kizzire was 8 under, 2017 winner Justin Thomas was 15 under while Fabian Gomez was 12 under the year before. In 2015 Jimmy Walker was 16 under, the previous year he was 10 under.  In 2013 Russell Henley had the tournament best in this stat playing the par 4s in an incredible 17 under.  In looking at those playing the par 4s the best on tour in 2020 these players are in the top-ten playing Sony; Harry Higgs, Brian Gay, Sungjae Im, Adam Long, Carlos Ortiz, Cameron Percy, and Lanto Griffin.

 

Who to watch for at the Sony Open in Hawaii

Best Bets:

Patrick Reed

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T13 CUT

He was a big surprise at the Sentry and look for that to pass over to this week. What makes Reed so tough is his putting, if the winds are as big as they say putting will be a key.

Marc Leishman

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
                   T3           T47         T20           T28           T27           5              T9                            T27         T20            T12

Played well last year at the Sony, he is great on tough courses and in tough conditions.

Abraham Ancer

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T29 CUT

He won the Australian Open in 2018 under tough windy conditions

Best of the rest:

Webb Simpson

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T4 T13 T13 T13 T20 T38 T46 T77 T9

Is a good player in tough conditions, has won on tough courses like the U.S. Open and Players Championship.

Hideki Matsuyama

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T51 T27 T78 CUT CUT CUT

Has played good of late and can handle the tough conditions the week could bring.

Sungjae Im

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T16

We are going to see how really good he can be in his sophomore year on the PGA Tour.

Joaquin Niemann

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

He grew up under these conditions in west Texas, showed a lot at the Sentry seems like he can win again soon.

Aaron Wise

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
CUT

Hits a lot of greens and putts very well.

Solid contenders

Matt Kuchar

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
Win T13 T3 T8 T5 T5 CUT CUT 65

Another of those that play well under tough conditions, hard to defend.

Collin Morikawa

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Could be the star of the future, playing for the first time at the Sony.

Alex Noren

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
First time playing in this event

Guy looking to make a comeback after a disappointing 2019, could be good this week.

Ryan Palmer

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T58 CUT T13 T17 T8 66 CUT 52 Win

Won at Waialae under tough conditions, his game has been shaping up of late.

Zach Johnson

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
CUT T14 T6 T9 T64 T8 CUT T54 T57 T12 Win T32

Can forget about him he knows how to win in tough conditions.

Long shots that could come through:

Cameron Smith

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T22 T18 T27 T81

Another Aussie that makes a lot of birdies and plays well in windy conditions.

Luke List

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
CUT T13 CUT CUT

Finished T-13th at the Sony in 2017, his putting has improved this year.

Lanto Griffin

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T58

Has had a dream year in 2020, returning to the Sony looking for a better finish than he had in 2018

Sorry I could be dead wrong, but just don’t think this will be his week:

Justin Thomas

2020 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08
T16 T14 Win CUT T6

I just feel the way he finished in the wind at the Sentry could be a preview of what we see this week. Swings get screwed up under windy conditions and I just have to wonder if possibly Thomas got off his timing due to the conditions last week. So I think this will carry over to this week if the wind are high at the Sony.

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