The first full field event of 2019 is The Sony Open in Hawaii. The Waialae Country Club in Honolulu hosts as usual, and at only just over 7,000 yards, it’s no real test for the calibre of player in this field.
In fact in recent years it’s become a very low scoring event. Johnson Wagner won in 2012 with a score of 13-under, and since then the winning totals have been -24, -17, -23, -20, -27, -17. There’s a chance of light showers late on Friday, but other than that it’s ideal scoring conditions, so we need to once again look for players comfortable shooting birdie after birdie as opposed to grinding out pars.
Download Excel Odds Sheet: GolfOdds.Info – Sony Open in Hawaii 2019
This week also sees last year’s Web.com graduates start to mix it with the top players on the PGA Tour. The secondary tour is renowned for playing very easy resort style courses, with winning scores regularly 20-under and lower. As a consequence I wouldn’t be surprised to see a 2018 Web.com player making a top-10 position. I’ve looked at a few players who can go very low, but they’ve either been out of form or are finding the step up in grade too much.
Gary Woodland has got to count himself unlucky after finishing one shot shy of a play-off on Sunday. His 22-under total shows he’s not afraid to keep churning out the birdies – back in October he shot 20-under to finish T5 at the CIMB Classic. He was a bit of value in my book last week, but his switch to new equipment (Wilson) was enough for me to sit it out. This week he’s just too short.
One of our picks last week, Marc Leishman, was in with a small chance come Sunday, but he never really got his putter going. He did pick up small place returns, and he’s still one of the form players teeing it up this week. He’s also got some solid course form – in his previous 9 starts/36 rounds here he’s averaged 67.67, with just 5 rounds over par (the worst being a 73). I’m happy to side with him again this week.
Another Aussie in top form is Cameron Smith. This is his first start since retaining the Australian PGA Championship just over 5 weeks ago, which was the culmination of a great run of form the previous few weeks. He’s got good enough course form as well with T27 (2017) and T18 (2018).
Another pick from last week, Scott Piercy, has talked often about his love of this course. Last week his putting was poor the first two days, but improved massively over the weekend. That bodes well for him and I can’t leave him out when he again offers very good value.
One of the lesser known Europeans playing this week is German Stephan Jaeger. To date his professional career can best be described as very inconsistent. He’s capable of going very low one week, followed by weeks of missed cuts, to then finish top-10 from nowhere.
He’s gradually getting better, with four Web.com wins the last 3 years, including a mind boggling 30-under par when winning the Ellie Mae Classic (58-65-64-63) in 2016. The Tennessee resident had a PGA Tour card last season, but had to go back to the Web.com play-offs to regain his status. His 5 starts at the tail end of last year resulted in MC-14-MC-16-MC. Still inconsistent, but his game is capable of competing at this level. Some firms are as low as 250/1, so certainly worth support at 500/1.
One final ‘outsider’ I’ll go for is the 2018 leading money winner on the Japanese Tour, Shugo Imahira. I say outsider as he’s currently ranked 53rd in the world and has just received a special invitation to play at Augusta National in April.
He’s definitely one of the form players in the field, most recently finishing 12th at the Indonesian Masters last month. A total of 14 top-10 finishes last year show his OWGR is no fluke, and with a previous sighting of this course last year when T54, he knows what to expect. Of course the downside is how well Japanese players translate their form to destinations out with their home country, but I can’t ignore the highly impressive consistency.
Marc Leishman 2pt win @ 22 (Betfair)
Cameron Smith 1.5pts ew @ 31 (SkyBet 1/5 1st 7)
Scott Piercy 1pt ew @ 51 (SkyBet 1/5 1st 7)
Shugo Imahira 1pt ew @ 201 (SkyBet 1/5 1st 7)
Stephan Jaeger 0.5pt ew @ 501 (888Sport, Unibet 1/5 1st 6)