Waialae Country Club, Honalulu, Hawaii
Par 70, 7,044 yards
After a great week at The Hyundai Tournament of Champions, which saw Patrick Reed beat Jimmy Walker in a playoff, the PGA Tour stays in Hawaii and travels to Waialae Country Club, which is located east of Honolulu.
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 small 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.
Jimmy Walker 16/1
After the disappointment of losing dramatically to Patrick Reed at The Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Jimmy Walker didn’t really put a foot wrong and played solid all week. I really thought he putted very well making a lot of putts when it mattered. He has been playing well so far this season with three top 15’s in his last five starts, including a T9 at The Franklin Templeton Shootout with partner Ryan Palmer.
Walker finished T4 at The Shriners Open, 15th at The Hero World Challenge just before Christmas and second last week at The Hyundai. He has played well at Waialae, winning this tournament last year and finishing solo fourth in 2011. Walker ranks 27th in strokes gained tee to green, 14th in GIR from 200+ yards, 17th in approaches from 100-125 yards and 10th in approaches from 125-150. With good previous form on this course and good GIR stats, Jimmy Walker looks a solid bet after coming so close last week.
Chris Kirk 20/1
After a course record equalling 62 in Kapalua on Monday, Chris Kirk is showing some good form coming back to a course where he has played so well on in the past. He has two top 10’s here in the last two years finishing solo second last year and T5 in 2013. He hasn’t finished no worse than 16th in his last four starts showing a lot of consistency. He started the season well with a T4 at The McGladrey and followed that with a respectable T14 at The WGC HSBC Champions.
Just before Christmas, he finished solo 16th at The Hero World Challenge and then put together rounds of 68,76,73,62 in Kapalua, finishing T14 on thirteen under for the week. Kirk ranks 27th in strokes gained putting, first in approaches from 100-125, fourth in approaches from 50-75 and 19th in approaches from 250-275. He also has good putting stats, ranking fourth in putts from 10-15 feet, which should be a big plus on these small Bermuda greens.
Tim Clark 33/1
Tim Clark has been playing well over the last couple of months finishing second at The WGC HSBC in Shanghai back in November and T7 at The Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa the week before Christmas. Other than a disappointing second round 75, Tim was quite solid last week at The Hyundai shooting a 70 in round one and following that with 67,71 in round three and four finishing T25.
He has a good record here finishing solo second in 2013 and T2 in 2011. He was forced to withdraw from this event last year but seems to be injury free after competing last week. Clark ranks 27th in driving accuracy, 21st in approaches from 100-125 and 16th in approaches from 150-175, which are good stats for approaching some of the 12 par 4’s here. With this course being short, tight and tricky with small greens, this course seems to suit Clark’s game.
Russell Henley 28/1
With an opening round 65 last week in Kapalua, Russell Henley recorded his second top five in his last three events finishing T3 at The Hyundai TOC on Monday, shooting an impressive final round 67. He started his season at The McGladrey Classic back at the end of October, where he shot rounds of 68,63,68,69 to finish twelve under par and T4 for the tournament. He also played well at the end of last season posting a T2 at The Deutsche Bank and a solo 12th at The Tour Championship.
Henley won this event back in 2013 shooting three 63’s and a third round 67 to finish on 24 under par, three strokes better than his closest challenger Tim Clark. Statswise, Russell is hitting 73% of greens and ranks fifth in strokes gained putting and 11th in birdie average. He also ranks second in par 4 performance, 15th in putts from 10-15 feet and 12th in putts from 20-25 feet, which is a big plus on these small, tricky Bermuda greens.
First Round Leader –
Jimmy Walker 25/1
Walker hasn’t shot worse than a 69 in his last eight rounds in Waialae and could start strongly. He opened with a 66 last year, 69 in 2013 and a 68 in 2011. He also shot a 67 or better in five of his last eight rounds here, one of which was a 63 in the final round last year. He carded a 69 or better in three of his last four competitive rounds and given his performance in Kapalua, he could start well and go very low again here in round one.
Chris Kirk 28/1
Chris Kirk is another player that has gone very low around this course carding a 69 or better in his last eight rounds in Waialae. He has shot a 66 or better in five of his last eight rounds including a 64 in the first round last year and a 62 in round three in 2013. Kirk has opened with a round in the 60’s in three of his last four competitive rounds and looks in great shape after a course record equalling 62 last Monday in Kapalua.
Final Selections –
Jimmy Walker 16/1 2 pts EW
Chris Kirk 20/1 1 pt EW
Tim Clark 33/1 1 pt EW
Russell Henley 28/1 1 pt EW
First Round Leader –
Jimmy Walker 25/1 1 pt EW
Chris Kirk 28/1 1 pt EW
Total staked = 14 pts
Good luck and enjoy the golf,
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