We’re writing this week’s article on the PGA Tour’s Hawaii swing between surf sessions and right from the beach with a cold beer in hand. After all, everyone needs a little R&R even when you’re working.
OK, we’re kidding. But what we aren’t kidding about is the Hawaii swing. Last week’s event was on Maui for the Sentry Tournament of Champions and now the guys stop on Oahu for the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club. Like the old saying goes: It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it.
With the wraparound season now starting to hit its stride, it’s time to welcome some of the big boys back into the fold. The top of the FedEx Cup standings, led by Talor Gooch, resembles more of a Korn Ferry Tour standings list than the PGA Tour. That’s about to change.
With guys like Cameron Smith (the 2020 champ and the winner last week on Maui), Matt Kuchar (2019 champ) and last year’s winner, Kevin Na, all on hand, it’s about to heat up.
A full field of 144 golfers (as opposed to last week’s 38 players at the ToC on Maui) will be fighting it out to make the cut, something that players haven’t had to worry about in awhile. The last few events have been season-ending FedEx Cup events, silly-season weekend rounds and last week’s no-cut tournament. A lot of easy money floating around if you qualified for an event or had a VIP invitation.
Now, it’s back to having to perform well early in the week or head home after just two days. Or, to the beach if you’ve booked for your holiday in Hawaii through the weekend. But when you do this for a living, you’re certainly planning to play the weekend. With all of that in mind, which player can overcome the other 143 in the field as well as concentrate on golf shots and battle the breeze rather than taking in the ocean and beach views? Here are a few possible answers.
Odds To Win The Sony Open (DraftKings)
Cameron Smith +800
Webb Simpson +1200
Sung Jae Im +1600
Mark Leishman +1600
Corey Conners +1800
Hideki Matsuyama +1800
Abraham Ancer +2200
Russell Henley +2200
As always, shop around the betting market for the best odds for your plays.
Success Breeds Success
It’s one of the givens in golf: If you’ve had success at an event, you’re ahead of most of the field.
Na, last year’s winner here, surprisingly isn’t one of the favorites this year at +2500. He birdied his final hole last year to secure the one-stroke victory. For Na, it’s been a whirlwind year. Before and after his win, the fifth in his PGA Tour career, he put together an up-and-down season.
Coming into last year’s Sony Open, Na struggled on Maui and was T-38. Then, after his victory on Oahu, his year took off slowly. He stayed middle of the pack until an impressive run in the FedEx Cup playoffs as his game turned red-hot. He was top-five in four of his last six events of the year including a T-2 at the Tour Championship.
Overall at the Sony Open, it’s been a strange trip to last year’s title. Na was T-36 here in 2017 and then missed the cut the following year. He then skipped this event the next two years
before last year’s victory. All of those numbers leave us with one question: What happened to get Na in the winner’s circle?
Before teeing it up in last week’s Tournament of Champions, Na was coming off a win in the QBE Shootout (along with teammate Jason Kokrak) and then was T-13 last week on Maui so his game and his spirits should be high. As the defending champ, we certainly can’t bet against him.
Looking For That Statement Victory
With a full field event, it makes picking that week’s winner that much tougher. Add in the fact that we’re always on the hunt for a longshot to pay the big bucks, and it’s quite the challenge.
So this week we’re not going that far down the list, but it’s still a good payout. We like Billy Horschel at +4600 (FanDuel). The reason? We just like the fact Horschel is playing well and has had decent success at this event in the past.
Granted, he hasn’t won here but there’s a first time for everything. He’s coming off a T-23 at the Tournament of Champions last week, and we’re thinking this is a great spot for him. He was T-7 here last year despite not having played in the event since 2017, so his long layoff from this event didn’t hurt his finish in 2021. Horschel is also coming off a short jaunt after playing last week in Maui. He should be fresh and ready to go.
Horschel’s game is one of those that tends to run hot and cold. We’re hoping two warm weather weeks in Hawaii is a great sign for him. Is he a longshot? Yes. Can he make it happen? Absolutely. Will it happen? Well, that’s why they call it gambling.