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BlogSony Open in Hawaii Preview and Picks

Sony Open in Hawaii

January 14th – 17th, 2021

Waialae C.C.

Honolulu, HI

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,044

Purse: $6.6 million

with $1,188,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Cameron Smith

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 35 of the top 100 and 20 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings: The top 100 players are #5 Collin Morikawa, #8 Webb Simpson, #13 Daniel Berger, #17 Harris English, #18 Sungjae Im, #21 Hideki Matsuyama, #22 Adam Scott, #24 Abraham Ancer, #25 Ryan Palmer, #27 Jason Kokrak, #28 Kevin Kisner, #29 Cameron Smith, #30 Marc Leishman, #31 Joaquin Niemann, #38 Kevin Na, #40 Matt Kuchar, #41 Billy Horschel, #45 Sergio Garcia, #46 Brendon Todd, #49 Mackenzie Hughes, #52 Erik van Rooyen, #55 Lanto Griffin, #56 Sebastian J Munoz, #58 Russell Henley, #60 Carlos Ortiz, #62 Chez Reavie, #73 J.T. Poston, #83 Talor Gooch, #86 Sunghoon Kang, #91 Ryo Ishikawa, #92 Brian Harman, #95 Brandt Snedeker, #97 Jim Herman, #99 Zach Johnson and #100 Siwoo Kim.

Last year 14 of the top-50 played.

The field includes 18 of the Top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2021.  Those players are #2 Harris English, #7 Stewart Cink, #8 Carlos Ortiz, #10 Jason Kokrak, #11 Sergio Garcia, #13 Joaquin Niemann, #15 Robert Streb, #16 Cameron Smith, #17 Sungjae Im, #18 Hudson Swafford, #19 Brian Gay, #21 Peter Malnati, #22 Hideki Matsuyama and #25 Kevin Kisner.

The field includes 12 past champions: Cameron Smith (2020), Matt Kuchar (2019), Patton Kizzire (2018), Fabian Gomez (2016), Jimmy Walker (2015 & ’14), Russell Henley (2013), Ryan Palmer (2010), Zach Johnson (2009), K.J. Choi (2008), Vijay Singh (2005), Jerry Kelly (2002) and Jim Furyk (1996).

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 Tournament of Champions Mayakoba Golf Classic Vivint Houston Open Sanderson Farms Championship Shriners Hospitals for Children Open The RSM Classic The CJ Cup at Shadow Creek Corales Puntacan Resort Championship Zozo Championship @ Sherwood Bermuda Championship Masters U.S. Open DP World Championship, Dubai
Harris English
(269.33 pts)
Win
(132)
T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T6
(20)
10
(13.33)
DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP DNP 4
(53.33)
DNP
Sungjae Im
(212.67 pts)
T5
(70)
DNP T50
(0.33)
T28
(7.33)
T13
(12.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T45
(1.67)
DNP T41
(3)
DNP T2
(66.67)
22
(18.67)
T14
(36)
Joaquin Niemann
(181.33 pts)
2
(100)
T23
(18)
DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
T44
(2)
6
(20)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP
Cameron Smith
(149 pts)
T24
(26)
DNP DNP DNP T24
(8.67)
DNP 11
(13)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP T2
(66.67)
T38
(8)
DNP
Abraham Ancer
(122 pts)
T17
(33)
T12
(25.33)
DNP DNP 4
(26.67)
DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP T35
(5)
DNP T13
(24.67)
T56
(0)
DNP
Webb Simpson
(120.67 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
T37
(4.33)
DNP DNP T17
(11)
DNP T10
(26.67)
T8
(33.33)
DNP
Ryan Palmer
(116.33 pts)
4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(102.67 pts)
T41
(9)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP T13
(24.67)
T17
(22)
DNP
Collin Morikawa
(102 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP T44
(4)
CUT
(-6.67)
T10
(40)
Billy Horschel
(96 pts)
T24
(26)
T5
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP 69
(0)
DNP T38
(8)
T38
(8)
DNP
Carlos Ortiz
(89.33 pts)
37
(13)
T8
(33.33)
Win
(44)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP T35
(5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Sebastian Munoz
(87.33 pts)
T17
(33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T23
(9)
T27
(7.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
9
(15)
DNP T14
(12)
DNP T19
(20.67)
T59
(0)
DNP
Daniel Berger
(87 pts)
10
(40)
T23
(18)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP DNP T34
(10.67)
DNP
Sergio Garcia
(85 pts)
T11
(39)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Win
(44)
T43
(2.33)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP
Brendon Todd
(83.67 pts)
T13
(37)
T8
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
T52
(0)
DNP T47
(1)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
T23
(18)
DNP
Jason Kokrak
(78.67 pts)
T35
(15)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Win
(44)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T17
(22)
DNP
Tom Hoge
(74.33 pts)
DNP T3
(60)
CUT
(-3.33)
T28
(7.33)
T24
(8.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T38
(4)
DNP T47
(1)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Zach Johnson
(73 pts)
DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
T23
(9)
T19
(10.33)
T6
(20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T51
(0)
T8
(33.33)
DNP
Russell Henley
(71.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T29
(7)
DNP T27
(7.67)
T30
(6.67)
T3
(30)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Emiliano Grillo
(66 pts)
DNP T8
(33.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T35
(5)
T34
(5.33)
T18
(10.67)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Peter Malnati
(63.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 2
(33.33)
T5
(23.33)
T48
(0.67)
DNP T41
(3)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Lanto Griffin
(63 pts)
T13
(37)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T7
(18.33)
DNP T11
(13)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T43
(4.67)
DNP
Robert Streb
(62.33 pts)
T38
(12)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Brian Gay
(61.67 pts)
T29
(21)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP
Erik Van Rooyen
(60.67 pts)
DNP DNP T20
(10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-3.33)
T23
(18)
T14
(36)

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Sentry Tournament of Champions Mayakoba Golf Classic Vivint Houston Open Sanderson Farms Championship Shriners Hospitals for Children Open The RSM Classic The CJ Cup at Shadow Creek Corales Puntacan Resort Championship Zozo Championship @ Sherwood Bermuda Championship Masters U.S. Open DP World Championship, Dubai
Bo Van Pelt
(-26.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Michael Kim
(-25 pts)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
WD
(-1.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Matt Every
(-20 pts)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Nick Watney
(-20 pts)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Sam Ryder
(-20 pts)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Aaron Baddeley
(-16.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Tim Wilkinson
(-16.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T61
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Martin Trainer
(-16.67 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Brendan Steele
(-13.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
T65
(0)
DNP T70
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Ted Potter, Jr.
(-13.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Since 1999 when it was slotted behind the Sentry Tournament of Champions, 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.  Over the years, it’s gone up and down, but most of the time, being behind the Sentry has helped Sony’s field.  Of the 42 players that played last week in Kapalua, 30 have made it to the Sony.  The only problem, six of the top-ten in the Official World Golf Rankings (#1 Dustin Johnson, #2 Jon Rahm, #3 Justin Thomas, #4 Xander Schauffele, $6 Bryson DeChambeau, and #9 Patrick Cantlay) decide to bypass Sony, thus robbing the Sony of a really great field.  Still, since the Sentry and Sony were back to back, only Ernie Els (2003) and Justin Thomas (2017) have won both events in the same year.  Good news, last week’s winner Harris English is playing this week and can join Els and Thomas winning the Hawaii Slam.

What a wild finish at Kapalua

Another wild finish took another playoff to settle the Sentry Tournament of Champions as Harris English beat Joaquin Niemann with a birdie on the first extra hole.  Both players did well in Greens in regulation, English hit 62 of 72 greens and was T-3rd while Niemann hit 61.  Both also put well, English was 1st in Strokes Gained Putting, he had no three-putts and was a perfect 50 for 50 in putts five feet and in.  Niemann showed that his putting was why he didn’t win, he was 15th in Strokes Gained Putting as he had two three-putts and was T-26th in putting inside ten feet.  Despite shooting a final round 64, Niemann was unable to birdie the par-5 18th hole, missing from just over seven feet and in the playoff, was unable to get it up and down from just off the green and not keep up with English’s birdie.

For English, the writing was on the wall.  After lots of success in his first five years on tour, English got a bad case of listening to too many people about what was weak with his game.  He went from teacher to teacher looking for that magical cure, and the dirty secret on the PGA Tour was what many said about English: “You know that list of American’s top 100 instructors?  English has worked with all of them.”  After three poor years on the PGA Tour, including losing his card after the 2019 season, he returned to the Korn Ferry Playoffs and barely got privileges in the 126 to 150 category.  At the same time, he met teaching pro Justin Parsons on a course in St. Simons Island, Georgia, where English lived.  What Parsons did for English was convince him to return to the same swing, and game English had when he came on tour in 2012.  Things started to work, in his first event of 2019/20, he finished T-3rd at Greenbrier and then the next week T-6th at Sanderson Farms.  After a T-33rd at the Safeway Open, he was T-4th at Houston and 5th at Mayakoba, he was back.  After that, English played consistently, in his next 12 starts, he was in the top-25 eight times and was off and running in the FedExCup playoffs when he finished 2nd at the Northern Trust.  He made it to the Tour Championship for only the 2nd time in his career and had his best year ever with a T-12th at the Tour Championship.  He kept the momentum going with a 4th place finish in the U.S. Open and added three more top-ten finishes at the CJ Cup, RSM Classic, and Mayakoba.  Honestly, we all should have seen this happening, and many, including myself, never gave English the respect he should have gotten playing in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

English is now well established, going into Greenbrier last year, he was 369th in the official world golf rankings.  In 11 events before the break for COVID-19, English raised to 158th in the rankings.  After the Wyndham Championships before the FedExCup, he was 113th and, after finishing well at the Tour Championship, was 45th in the rankings, his best ranking ever.  Because of the way The Masters did qualifying, he wasn’t able to play in the Masters and was probably the best player at the time not to play.  Still, English didn’t make it affect his game, he is in the Masters in 2021, and he just has made a better name for himself with the win in Kapalua.  The big question in the future, he has all the momentum and confidence, and we wonder if he takes advantage of all this and becomes a mega player, winning more and contending in the majors.  He has the game, and if he stays healthy, I can see English continue to play even better in the future.

We talked about some new items on GolfStats that you all have to try.  First is our Competitor Handbook, which gives you all the information on everyone in the field.  You want information on any player in the field, you will find it here.  Check it out for the Sony Open in Hawaii

Another new feature for GolfStats is our Daily Fantasy Edge.  This is your own personal pick your pro feature in which you can find your favorite players and get information on how they play in certain months, on certain grasses, and under different circumstances.  It also has a historical look at how that player does in DraftKings and a look at the strengths and weaknesses.  We will also make flash notes on important things for each player, like club changes, swing changes, injuries, and such.

So please check us out at Daily Fantasy Edge

Also, look at our Twitter page at

@GOLFstats

and at my personal page

@GOLFstatsSal

 

Here are a few notes that we put up on these pages you may find interesting:

Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson, who signed a new extension to play TaylorMade clubs, played the first round with a new SIM2 driver in the bag.  He shot a two-under-par 71, but on a day when the scoring average was a low 69.62, he found himself six shots back of the lead.  Johnson has played with TaylorMade clubs since turning pro in 2007.

Justin Thomas

First-round co-leader and defending champion Justin Thomas shot an 8 under par 65 while using a new driver.  Thomas used the new Titleist TSi3 driver with a Fujikura Ventus Red shaft as he found an increased ball speed of 4 MPH.  At Mayakoba, Thomas switched to the new ProV1x ball.

Harris English after his 1st round 65

Harris English, who I pegged in my preview shot a first-round 65 (8 under) and shares the lead with Justin Thomas.  English lowest 1st rd is 64 (shot 4 times), but his 8 under total is his lowest opening round in relation to par.  This is the 4th time he has led/co-led in the first round, he did win the 2013 FedEx St. Jude while he co-led after a 1st rd 66.

Webb Simpson and COVID

For all you Webb Simpson fans, it seems that the day after Christmas, he started feeling ill, found out he did have COVID-19, so he isolated and was able to pass his test, flew to Maui, and his first golf will be in the 1st Round.

Ryan Palmer

For those looking for an off the wall pick next week at the Sony Open, you may have gotten a preview with Ryan Palmer’s first round 67.  Palmer has a terrific record at Waialae C.C. has in 14 starts, he has three top-tens, including a T-4th last year.  But his big mark was in 2010 when he won the Sony Open by one shot.  Yes, he won the team Zurich event in 2019, but Palmer’s last individual win was the Sony Open, so think about Palmer next week.

Stewart Cink

One person to watch next week at the Sony Open in Hawaii could be Stewart Cink.  Unfortunately, he shot 74 in the final round to finish T-31st, I still have to love his consistency in playing Waialae, in his last ten starts has only missed one cut in 2013.  Cink thanks his renewed good play, including his Safeway win in October, to the fact that his younger son Reagan has been on the bag since Safeway and will continue the job until Reagan gets married in July.  Cink may not win next week, but his consistency in making it to 72 holes could make him a great pick. His best Sony finish was T-5th in 2005.

Why Daniel Berger has no club deal anymore

Wonder why Daniel Berger has no club deal?  It’s of his own, seems in high school, he started to play with TaylorMade MC Irons, which were released in 2011.  When Berger turned pro, TaylorMade made him the clubs, but a couple of years ago, TaylorMade stopped making them, which gave Berger problems.  So when he decided not to stay with TaylorMade, he was buying up 2011 MC irons from eBay and playing with the decades old club.  So Berger is proving the point that sometimes something old is treasured today.

Why Patrick Reed isn’t playing at the Sony Open

Patrick Reed withdrew from the Sony Open and is something to watch the next time he plays.  After play on Friday, Reed was T-6th, 3 shots back with rounds of 67-68.  On the hilly Kapalua course, it seems that Reed had to deal with shin splints and a blister, which got worst over the weekend as he shot 72-70 to finish T-21st.  So he withdrew from the Sony Open and had a couple of weeks to get better, he isn’t playing till the first week in February at the Saudi International.

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 by Desmond Muirhead in 1992.  Waialae hired Rick Smith in the late ’90s to develop some more renovations for the future to make things even tougher.  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 only three of those holes are affected for the touring pros.  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 lefts, 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 2021 stats.
The scoring average of the field at Waialae last year was 70.26, making it play a quarter shot over par and was the T-9th hardest course on Tour. It was the first time the average was over par since it played to a 70.06 average in 2010 and the hardest it had played since 2007 when it played to a 70.27 average. The course made several changes before the 1999 event with the most significant change was par of the course, going from a par of 72 to 70. With the change, the course played over par in every tournament but two (2004 & ’03) between 1999 and 2010. Since then, the course played under par every year until last year. The reason for this is the wind, and last year they had gusts up to 40 mph on Thursday and Friday, 15 to 25 mph on Saturday and Sunday. This year, it’s going to be a different story, with warm skies but light winds between 6 to 11 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 perfect for the players, like it was in Kapalua. That brings in a different realm of players, those with explosive offensive will go low at Waialae. Yes, it’s a gem of a course but still a layup for the world’s best players with the lack of wind. Even with just two par fives, there is not only a chance for a sub-60 round, but you never know someone could get hot and shot 58.

In looking at the stats for Waialae over the years, driving accuracy hits you. But last year, with the lack of rough, the field was more accurately as 65.53% of the fairways were hit, and it ranked 32nd. The previous year with rough, the fairways were hit 56.27% of the time, making it a more challenging course as it ranked 13th. In 2018 and 2017, it ranked 14th, so hitting fairways is essential. Last year’s winner Cameron Smith was T-41st in Driving Accuracy, which wasn’t but the year before, it was important and one of the keys to why Matt Kuchar won in 2019 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. Now last year’s winner Smith wasn’t that great as he was 30th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green and 53rd in Strokes Gained Approach-the-Green. We are going to give Smith the benefit of the doubt since the winds were so high.
So 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 great 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 19 were in the top-12 while seven of the 19 were in the top-three. Last year Cameron Smith let us down as he ranked 20th in Greens’ hit. But the previous year, 2019, 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 1998 & Jimmy Walker 2015). So our second category is Greens in Regulation, last year the course was the 14th hardest on tour.
Next is Par Breakers since Waialae had the 23rd most birdies on the PGA Tour last year with 1,269 and the 24th highest in Eagles with 34. Now the high winds brought these totals down, in 2019, the number of birdies made was 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.
Last is par 5 scoring average. Typically a course with just two par-5s wouldn’t be on our list. But last year, the par 5 18th hole was the 6th easiest on the PGA Tour with a 4.334 average, while the other par 5, 9th, was the 33rd easiest hole on tour with a 4.511 average. In total, the two par 5s accounted for 471 birdies and 32 eagles. Another way of looking at it, there were 10 par 4s on tour in 2020 that had a higher average than Waialae’s 18th hole. Last year in the four rounds, Cameron Smith was 6 under on the par 5 while Matt Kuchar was 8 under in 2019.

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 stat 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: This shows which course has the easiest par 5s to score on.

128 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.

For stats of all the 128 players in the Sony field, check this out.

DraftKings tips

Of the 144 in the field, 130 have played at least once at Waialae in the Sony Open in Hawaii since 2015.  

*Here are the players with the most under par totals at the Sony since 2015:

  • Charles Howell III is 67 under in 24 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Webb Simpson is 61 under in 20 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Chez Reavie is 59 under in 22 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Marc Leishman is 58 under in 24 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Scott Piercy is 52 under in 24 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Kevin Kisner is 51 under in 23 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Russell Knox is 50 under in 22 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Zach Johnson is 49 under in 22 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Hudson Swafford is 48 under in 22 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Brian Harman is 48 under in 22 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Stewart Cink is 46 under in 20 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Matt Kuchar is 45 under in 14 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Cameron Smith is 44 under in 20 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Jimmy Walker is 44 under in 20 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Rory Sabbatini is 44 under in 22 rounds, playing 6 years
  • James Hahn is 43 under in 20 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Daniel Berger is 43 under in 20 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Kyle Stanley is 43 under in 18 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Jerry Kelly is 41 under in 20 rounds, playing 6 years
  • Brandt Snedeker is 39 under in 14 rounds, playing 4 years
  • Brian Stuard is 39 under in 18 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Harris English is 36 under in 18 rounds, playing 5 years
  • Ryan Palmer is 35 under in 18 rounds, playing 5 years

*Here are the ones with the best under par totals averaging it per years played (2 or more starts)

  • Webb Simpson is 61 under, playing 5 years (-12.2)
  • Matt Kuchar is 45 under, playing 4 years (-11.3)
  • Charles Howell III is 67 under, playing 6 years (-11.2)
  • Chez Reavie is 59 under, playing 6 years (-9.8)
  • Brandt Snedeker is 39 under, playing 4 years (-9.8)
  • Marc Leishman is 58 under, playing 6 years (-9.7)
  • Y.E. Yang is 19 under, playing 2 years (-9.5)
  • Stewart Cink is 46 under, playing 5 years (-9.2)
  • Cameron Smith is 44 under, playing 5 years (-8.8)
  • Scott Piercy is 52 under, playing 6 years (-8.7)
  • Daniel Berger is 43 under, playing 5 years (-8.6)
  • Kyle Stanley is 43 under, playing 5 years (-8.6)
  • Kevin Kisner is 51 under, playing 6 years (-8.5)
  • Sungjae Im is 17 under, playing 2 years (-8.5)
  • Jason Kokrak is 17 under, playing 2 years (-8.5)
  • Russell Knox is 50 under, playing 6 years (-8.3)
  • Zach Johnson is 49 under, playing 6 years (-8.2)
  • Hudson Swafford is 48 under, playing 6 years (-8.0)
  • Brian Harman is 48 under, playing 6 years (-8.0)
  • Emiliano Grillo is 32 under, playing 4 years (-8.0)
  • Brian Stuard is 39 under, playing 5 years (-7.8)
  • Jimmy Walker is 44 under, playing 6 years (-7.3)
  • Rory Sabbatini is 44 under, playing 6 years (-7.3)
  • Si Woo Kim is 22 under, playing 3 years (-7.3)
  • James Hahn is 43 under, playing 6 years (-7.2)
  • Harris English is 36 under, playing 5 years (-7.2)
  • Ryan Palmer is 35 under, playing 5 years (-7.0)

Historical ParBreakers

Here is a look at those playing this week and who has made the most eagles and birdies:

 

So it makes sense that the top players on this list are guys that will make lot’s of points this week

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

DraftKings tips

  • Webb Simpson – $11,100
  • Harris English – $10,800
  • Collin Morikawa – $10,600
  • Joaquin Niemann – $10,400
  • Hideki Matsuyama  – $10,200
  • Daniel Berger – $10,000
  • Sungjae Im – $9,800
  • Cameron Smith – $9,600
  • Abraham Ancer – $9,400
  • Ryan Palmer – $9,200
  • Adam Scott – $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 necessary, with excellent conditions and no wind, it will create a big onslaught onto Waialae. Now we know that predicting weather is very dicey in Hawaii, even the TV stations in Hawaii are vague on long-term predictions because they know that it could switch at a moment’s notice. But in all of the time I have spent in Hawaii, yes, it’s a rarity to see four straight days of hardly any wind. Still have to consider that and make sure to pick someone with a lot of firepower.

The first person to consider is Webb Simpson, at $11,100. In one sense, Simpson’s record in this event is excellent, he has never missed a cut, and he has found a way to content in the final round in his last five starts. Last year he was 3rd a shot back of the playoff in 2018 was T-4th. So he plays the course well, which makes sense since he is good from tee to green. The only question mark for him is offensive, yes he has firepower, but it isn’t the best, so he will have to make many putts. No matter, he is worth the price because he will contend. Harris English at $10,800 should have another great week. He, too, is excellent from tee to green and ranks 6th in Par Breakers, so you know he will make many birdies. So the top-two are perfect picks. Collin Morikawa at $10,600. The course is suitable for his game, he finished T-7th at Sentry and has the same type of game as Webb Simpson. The same with Morikawa ranked 52nd in Par Breakers, so between that and he is a weak putter makes me say no for him. Joaquin Niemann at $10,400 is worth the price, played great at Kapalua, and is suitable from tee to green. But like the fact that he ranks 5th in Par Breakers, so he has a lot of firepower and could content again. Hideki Matsuyama at $10,200 is a big no. He was a favorite of mine last week, but not only did he finish dead last at the Sentry, but his putting was the worst. He was dead last in Strokes Gained Putting and in putting inside ten feet in which he made 70 putts of the 85 attempts he had. So pass on him. Daniel Berger, at $10,000, is an exciting player. He has made all the cuts in his five starts, and despite his only best finish being T-13th, I have to think he is ready this year. He does make many birdies but isn’t the best off the tee and is average in shots to the green. But still have to like him and wonder if he could be the next Harris English. Sungjae Im at $9,800 is another person you have to enjoy this week. He was T-5th last week in Kapalua and did make a fair amount of birdies and is above average from tee to green. Have to say no to defending champion Cameron Smith at $9,600. Yes, he has a lot of offensive, yes, a good record at the Sony Open, but don’t think he can play great a second year in a row. Abraham Ancer at $9,400 I have to say no to him, sorry, but he isn’t playing well right now, but we can’t forget he finished 69-66 at Kapalua to finish T-17th. Just think there are better players for Waialae. One of those players is Ryan Palmer at $9,200. His game has been impressive of late, he was 4th at Sentry and T-4th last year at the Sony. He is a past champion of this event, winning it way back in 2010. I also like that he is 24th in Strokes Gained Tee to Green and leads Par Breakers. So have to say he is at a good point right now with a hot game. As for Adam Scott at $9,000, yes, he was T-2nd at Waialae in 2009 but hasn’t shown much since. He didn’t play that great in Kapalua, and I don’t think he will contend this year.

Something new – One of the most critical items in picking your six pros are making the cut. Here is a look, going back to the 2010 Sony Open on who has made the most cuts at the Sony since. Of course, for those that make a lot of cuts and is priced low, that is very helpful (most of them made three Sony starts):

  • Charles Howell III made 11 cuts in 11 starts for a 100.0%. His DraftKings cost is 8,000.
  • Rory Sabbatini made 9 cuts in 11 starts for a 81.8%. His DraftKings cost is 7,400.
  • Zach Johnson made 9 cuts in 11 starts for a 81.8%. His DraftKings cost is 8,500.
  • Marc Leishman made 10 cuts in 10 starts for a 100.0%. His DraftKings cost is 7,900.
  • Pat Perez made 9 cuts in 10 starts for a 90.0%. His DraftKings cost is 6,800.
  • Brian Gay made 8 cuts in 10 starts for a 80.0%. His DraftKings cost is 6,700.
  • Scott Piercy made 8 cuts in 10 starts for a 80.0%. His DraftKings cost is 7,300.
  • Ryan Palmer made 8 cuts in 10 starts for a 80.0%. His DraftKings cost is 9,200.
  • Webb Simpson made 9 cuts in 9 starts for a 100.0%. His DraftKings cost is 11,100.
  • Stewart Cink made 8 cuts in 9 starts for a 88.9%. His DraftKings cost is 7,200.
  • Brian Stuard made 7 cuts in 8 starts for a 87.5%. His DraftKings cost is 6,900.
  • Harris English made 7 cuts in 8 starts for a 87.5%. His DraftKings cost is 10,800.
  • Kyle Stanley made 7 cuts in 8 starts for a 87.5%. His DraftKings cost is 7,200.
  • William McGirt made 6 cuts in 7 starts for a 85.7%. His DraftKings cost is 6,100.
  • Hudson Swafford made 6 cuts in 7 starts for a 85.7%. His DraftKings cost is 6,800.
  • Y.E. Yang made 5 cuts in 5 starts for a 100.0%. His DraftKings cost is 6,000.
  • Jason Kokrak made 5 cuts in 5 starts for a 100.0%. His DraftKings cost is 7,700.
  • Cameron Smith made 5 cuts in 5 starts for a 100.0%. His DraftKings cost is 9,600.
  • Daniel Berger made 5 cuts in 5 starts for a 100.0%. His DraftKings cost is 10,000.
  • Brendon Todd made 4 cuts in 5 starts for a 80.0%. His DraftKings cost is 8,200.
  • Emiliano Grillo made 4 cuts in 4 starts for a 100.0%. His DraftKings cost is 7,900.
  • Jhonattan Vegas made 3 cuts in 3 starts for a 100.0%. His DraftKings cost is 7,000.
The ones in bold are what I think is a great bargain.

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

This is a hard category, not many players that I think can go on to win. At $8,800, Kevin Kisner has a good record at Waialae, he was T-4th last year and in 2017. He was 2nd at RSM Classic last month and had average stats, so he could content if he plays well and better than average. After that, we can say that Zach Johnson has a good record at Waialae, but at $8,500, the price is too high, but still, he is a toss-up. He doesn’t have the firepower, but remember this he was T-6th at the RSM Classic, so that he may do ok. The same with Charles Howell III at $8,000. He doesn’t have the firepower of others, he ranks 172nd in Par Breakers. But the reason you think about him, he has never missed a cut in 19 starts at the Sony, been in the top-ten ten times, and was T-12th last year. Emilio Grillo at $7,900 is ok, his record at Sony is steady, hits many greens, and has average offensive. At $7,900, Marc Leishman isn’t a person I would take other than he has played great at Waialae and was T-3rd in 2019. He has very little offensive, ranks 221 in Par Breakers, but you know he will make the cut and get you points over 72 holes.

What are the “Bargains” out there?

First of all, you have to like Rory Sabbatini at $7,400. He is 66th in Par Breakers, but his record at Waialae is vital, in his last 16 starts has made the cut 14 times and does make some birdie, so good player for the price. Scott Piercy at $7300 is another good pick, he has made 8 cuts in the last ten starts and has average offensive. Stewart Cink at $7,200 is good, he is 25th in Par Breakers, but like that, he has made 8 cuts in his last 9 Sony starts. Pat Perez is $6,800 and has a good record at Waialae, he is 91st in Par Breakers and has a good shot at giving you 72 holes. Now you want a sure thing, take Brian Gay at $6,700. Good record at Waialae, he is 11th in Par Breakers and won in Bermuda just two months ago. Last on our list is William McGirt, at $6,100. He has made the cut in his previous six Sony starts and can get you some points.

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. So with no winds this week, we could see a lot of low scoring. 

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 most demanding 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 last couple of years’ driving accuracy list, funny how past champions in the previous decade like Matt Kuchar, Russell Henley, Mark Wilson, Zach Johnson, Paul Goydos, David Toms, and Jerry Kelly have ranked high.

Another critical stat to look at is total driving which combines distance with accuracy and looks for the leaders in this stat playing at the Sony to do well.  On a scale of 1 to 10, hitting greens is essential, with ten being the most critical, give hitting greens a 7. Still, you can’t dismiss this stat since 1997, 13 of the last 19 champions have been in the top-ten in this stat, and none of them were worst than 20th. Last year Cameron Smith hit 51 greens and ranked T-20th. In the previous year, 2019, Matt Kuchar led the stat hitting 60 of 72 greens, he joined 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 2021

Brendon Todd is the only top-ten player in the field this week. Others in the top-ten playing this week are Andrew Putnam, Cameron Smith, Kevin Na, Sungjae Im, Pat Perez, and Kristoffer Ventura. Last year’s champion Cameron Smith was 10th, in 2019 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 are picking a high on the par breaker list. Ryan Palmer, Joaquin Niemann, and Harris English are in the top-ten.

Finally, the par 4s at Waialae is 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 Cameron Smith was 4 under when he won 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 2021 these players are in the top-ten playing Sony; Joaquin Niemann, Russell Henley, Peter Malnati, Emiliano Grillo, Ryan Palmer, Harris English, Austin Cook, Anirban Lahiri, and Matthew NeSmith.

 

Who to watch for at the Sony Open in Hawaii

Best Bets:

Ryan Palmer

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T4 T58 CUT T13 T17 T8 66 CUT 52 Win

Has played great of late, his game is perfect for the Sony a place he won before.

Webb Simpson

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
3 T4 T13 T13 T13 T20 T38 T46 T77 T9

Seems to have gotten over his bout with COVID-19, his record at Waialae is very good and he is playing very well right now.

Joaquin Niemann

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T57

Knocked on the door last week and didn’t get it done, he can do it on this course.

Best of the rest:

Harris English

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T22 64 CUT T56 T3 4 T9 T67

Hard to win back to back but has the talent to do that. Makes a lot of birdies and the course suits him.

Daniel Berger

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T38 T14 T45 T42 T13

An exciting player. He has made all the cuts in his five Sony starts, and despite his only best finish being T-13th, I have to think he is ready this year. He does make a lot of birdies.

Sungjae Im

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T21 T16

He was T-5th last week in Kapalua and did make a fair amount of birdies and is above average from tee to green.

Kevin Kisner

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T4 T69 T25 T4 T5 84 CUT CUT CUT

has a good record at Waialae, he was T-4th last year and in 2017. He was 2nd at RSM Classic last month and had average stats, so he could content if he plays well and better than average.

Solid contenders

Emiliano Grillo

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
                    T21             T22             T47                   T33

His record at Sony is steady, hits many greens, and has average offensive.

Russell Henley

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT 66 CUT T13 CUT T17 T51 Win

Past champion who hits it straight and can make a few birdies.

Collin Morikawa

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T21

Still waiting for him to again play to his potential, was T-7th at Kapalua and could find Waialae to his liking.

Stewart Cink

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T20 T32 T36 T42 T37 T20 CUT T29 T52 T32

This is his type of course, look for a great week from him.

Charles Howell III

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T12 T8 T32 T8 T13 T26 T8 T3 T2 T68 T5 4

This old workhorse will not win, but he will make the cut and get you a top-25 finish. Hard to believe in 19 Sony starts he has played 72 holes all 19 times.

Long shots that could come through:

Matthew NeSmith

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T32

Leads in Greens hit and hits it straight off the tee. He is 33rd in Par Breakers and could surprise us as he did in Las Vegas.

James Hahn

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
CUT CUT 2 T36 T28 T26 T46 T67

Has played solid in 2021 with three top-tens, many forget that Hahn was runner-up at the Sony in 2018.

Brian Stuard

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T53 T8 T4 T45 CUT 6 T5 T25

Seems to find a way to play well at Waialae

Worst Bets:

Hideki Matsuyama

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T12 T51 T27 T78 CUT CUT CUT

Showed how poorly his game was at Kapalua last week. His putting is terrible which is dragging him down.

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