The PGA Tour continues its Hawaii swing with the Sony Open. Wai’alae Country Club is a Par 70, 7,044 yards, and has Bermuda greens.
In 2019, Matt Kuchar was quoted saying that Wai’alae reminded him of Harbour Town and of Colonial. This led me to look at Harbour Town (RBC Heritage) and Colonial Golf Course (Charles Schwab Challenge) as correlated courses. Other golf courses that have some similarities with Wai’alae are El Camaleon (Mayakoba Classic), and Sea Island Golf Course (RSM Classic).
The last 5 winners of the Sony Open are Cameron Smith, Matt Kuchar, Patton Kizzire, Justin Thomas, and Fabian Gomez. Reviewing their scorecards from their events, I found some key stats to look at this week. Over the last 5 years, the winner of this event has averaged: 4.41 Strokes Gained Approach, 7.86 Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, 7.05 Strokes Gained Putting, 76.66% Greens in Regulation, and 307.58-yard average driving distance. Perhaps the most important stat will be Par 5 scoring. There are only two Par 5s on this course, and golfers must score on these Par 5s.
Cameron Smith (2020) Par 5 Performance: 8 total Par 5s, 5 Birdies
Matt Kuchar (2019) Par 5 Performance: 8 total Par 5s, 6 Birdies, 1 Eagle
Patton Kizzire (2018) Par 5 Performance: 8 total Par 5s, 4 Birdies
Justin Thomas (2017) Par 5 Performance: 8 total Par 5, 6 Birdies, 2 Eagles
Fabian Gomez (2016) Par 5 Performance: 8 total Par 5s, 3 Birdies, 1 Eagle
Therefore, the key stats I used for this week were: SG: Tee-to-Green, SG: Approach, Greens in Regulation, SG Putting, Good Drives %, Distance, Putting Average, Par 5 Birdie or Better, Par 4 Efficiency (400-450 yards).
Sony Open Tips
Webb Simpson 14-1 (Bet MGM)
Webb is coming off a decent performance at Kapalua in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Webb shot -16 with 1 Eagle, 22 birdies, 6 bogeys, and 1 double. Webb has 5 straight Top 20 finishes at the Sony Open finishing – 3rd, T4th, T13th. T13th, T13th.
Webb Simpson won the RBC Heritage in 2020 and finished T16th in 2019, and T5th in 2018.
Using ShotLink data from 2020, Webb Simpson excels in almost all of the key stats I looked at for this week. Among the golfers in this field, Webb Simpson is 6th Tee-to-Green, 4th Approach, 7th Greens in Regulation, 6th Putting, 1st Putting Average, 15th Par 5 Scoring, and 5th in Par 4 Efficiency (400-450 yards).
Daniel Berger 20-1 (BetMGM)
Berger is also coming off a nice showing at Kapalua. He shot -19 with 23 birdies and 4 bogeys. Berger’s course form isn’t as good as Webb’s but Berger has not missed a cut the last 5 times, he has played this course.
In 2020, Berger won at Colonial, and finished T5 at Harbour Town.
Among the golfers in this field, Daniel Berger ranks: 5th Tee-to-Green, 17th Approach, 10th Putting, 1st Par 5 Birdie or Better, 2nd Par 4 Efficiency (400-450 yards).
Kevin Kisner 33-1 (DraftKings)
Kisner got the rust off by playing in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Kisner didn’t have an overly impressive performance finishing -14 with 1 eagle, 19 birdies, and 7 bogeys. However, a strong Sunday performance has Kisner trending in the right direction.
Kisner’s first appearances at Sony were less than stellar, but he’s drastically improved over his last 5 tries. Over the last 5 years, Kisner is 5/5 on made cuts, he has 3 Top 5 finishes, and added one more Top 25 in that span as well.
Among golfers in this field, Kisner is 8th in Putting and 3rd in Par 4 Efficiency (400-450 yards). Kisner is an accurate hitter, a good putter, and a consistent golfer.
Charles Howell III 66-1 (DraftKings)
Charles Howell did not play last week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, but this is a course he loves playing on. Howell has played the Sony Open 19 times dating back to 2002. He has never missed a cut at this event and has 10 Top 10 finishes. He has 7 Top 20 finishes over the last 9 years. Howell is not a golfer who will stick out in stat models, but he can drive the ball and give himself birdie opportunities. 66-1 is a good price for a guy who has shown he has Top 10 upside on this course.
Sebastian Munoz 66-1 (DraftKings)
Sebastian Munoz played in the Sentry Tournament of Champions last week and got off to a rough start. After Round 1, Munoz was +2 while recording 5 bogeys in the round. Rounds 2-4 were much kinder to him, as he recorded 2 bogey-free rounds and only one bogey in Round 3. Munoz finished the Sentry Tournament of Champions -16, with 22 birdies and 6 bogeys. Munoz has only played Sony twice, recording a Top 10 in 2019 and a missed cut in 2020.
Among golfers in this field, Munoz is 15th Tee-to-Green, 25th in Approach, 14th in Driving Distance, 20th in Par 5 Scoring, and 25th in Par 4 Efficiency (400-450 yards). Munoz was 5th among all PGA players in total birdies for 2020 (84 rounds), and through 2021 (32 rounds) is currently 3rd in total birdies. At 66-1, Munoz provides great scoring upside and if he can avoid bogeys could find himself near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.