Par 70, 7,044 yards
Its good to be back. After watching DJ romp to victory last week it looks like we could have another entertaining year ahead!
The PGA Tour stays in Hawaii and travels to Waialae Country Club, which is located east of Honolulu for the 2018 Sony Open. Last year Justin Thomas dominated this event winning by an impressive seven shots from his nearest challenger Justin Rose. He shot a record 59 in round one and followed that with an impressive second round 64. He finished with a couple of 65’s to post 27 under par in total.
Waialae is a par 70 measuring 7,044 yards and sits on Maunalua Bay, which can be prone to windy conditions. It has 12 par 4’s, four par 3’s and just two par 5’s which measure 499 and 521 yards and should be reachable in two by most of the field. This course is different from Kapalua with Waialae being a lot tighter and flatter with smaller trickier greens. The fairways are narrow and tree lined which will favour the more accurate players. The greens here are much smaller compared to the generously sized greens last week at the Plantation Course.
Although these fairways are a tighter, there are also a lot of fairway bunkers to contend with so driving accuracy will be important this week. The tiny greens are Bermuda grass and are guarded by hazards so look out for good GIR stats, good scramblers and good Bermuda putters with an emphasis on strokes gained tee to green.
The steady and accurate Brian Harman looks to be in the form of his life with four top 10’s in his last four starts. He had a great start to the season finishing T5 at the CJ Cup and followed that with an impressive solo eighth at the WGC-HSBC Champions, which included a 68 and 69 in the first two rounds.
Harman then travelled to Sea Island for the RSM Classic where he shot four rounds in the 60’s to finish on T4 on 14 under par in total. He started 2018 off in style with another solid performance last week in Kapalua shooting three rounds in the 60’s on his way to a solo third, where he led the GIR stats last week. In his last eight competitive rounds Harman has shot a 69 or better seven times so he is showing a lot of consistency.
He has played well around Waialae in the past finishing 20,13,13 in his last three starts. Harman looks to be a good fit for this course ranking 11th in driving accuracy, fourth in GIR, 22nd in SGTTG and 11th in SG Putting. With a decent record here and excellent current form Harman looks worth backing here this week.
There seems to be a lot of players teeing it up this week that have a chance to win and I think Kevin Kisner is certainly one of them. He has been on top of his game lately and hasn’t been outside the top 20 in his last four competitive starts. The American finished the 2016/2017 season off in style with an impressive T3 at the Tour Championship in East Lake which included two opening 68’s and a 64 in round three. Kisner followed that with a T4 at the RSM Classic, T12 at the Hero World Challenge and a respectable T17 last week at The Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua.
He is another player with a decent record here over the last few years finishing T4 last year which included a third round 60, and a T5 in 2016 which included an opening round 63. Kisner tends to play well on seaside setup’s and putts well on Bermuda greens. He led the SGP stats last week at the Plantation Course which is a big plus coming to Waialae this week.
Zach is showing some good early season form and hasn’t finished worse that T23 in his last three starts. He played well at the Safeway Open finishing a respectable T13 and followed that with a T23 at the OHL Classic. Johnson then travelled to Sea Island for the RSM Classic where he shot 64,67 over the weekend to finish T8 on 13 under par for the tournament so his current form looks decent.
Zach has a great record here and really seems to have the game to fit this course. He won here back in 2009 and followed that with a T12 in 2010. Most recently he has three top 10’s in his last four appearances finishing T6 last year, T9 in 2016 and T8 in 2014. He is no stranger to windy seaside courses winning at venues such as St Andrews in 2015, Hyundai TOC in Kapalua in 2014 and the RBC Heritage in Harbour Town in 2012.
Top 20 double – Charles Howell (Sony)/Jason Scrivener (SA Open) @10/1
Charles Howell has a ridiculously good record here in Waialae with eight top 20’s (including seven top 10’s) in his last 12 appearances here. He has three top 20’s in his last four starts so far this season and looks to be in decent form and well worth backing.
Aussie Jason Scrivener has a good record at Glendower finishing T12 in 2016 and T11 in 2015. He won the NSW Open back in November by six strokes and top 20’d in both the Aussie PGA and Australian Open before Christmas. Looks to be playing well and looks a good bet in the outright market at 50/1 too.
Final Selections –
Brian Harman 1pt EW 20/1
Kevin Kisner 1pt EW 22/1
Zach Johnson 1pt EW 33/1
Top 20 Double 1pt 10/1
Total staked = 7 pts
Paddypower paying 7 places.
Good luck and enjoy the golf and Happy New Year!