PGA Tour: Sony Open odds, preview, and course notes
Following Harris English’s win in Maui last weekend, the PGA Tour will island hop to Oahu for the Sony Open.
Played at Waialae Country Club, one of the shortest courses on tour, the 144-player event in Honolulu will feature 21 of the top 50 in the world golf rankings, including English (No. 17), Collin Morikawa (No. 5), Webb Simpson (No. 8), and Daniel Berger (No. 13).
Sony Open in Hawaii 2021 Group A
Mon, January 18 2021, 2:00 AM
The par 70 Seth Raynor design stretches 7,044 yards and features large Bermuda greens.
Unlike last week’s tournament, which favored longer hitters, the Sony Open rewards elite approach play, putting, and par 4 efficiency.
Sony Open layout and relevant statistics
Waialae’s tree-lined fairways are mostly flat, but are some of the most difficult on Tour. Nonetheless, missing the fairway hasn’t proven too penal in the past, as recent champions Cameron Smith, Patton Kizzire, and Justin Thomas struggled with fairway accuracy at the time of their wins.
Strokes gained approaching the green is one of the most important statistics to consider, as is par 4 scoring and strokes gained putting.
Waialae has 12 par 4s, ranging from around 350 yards to 490, four par 3s, and two par 5s. Water comes into play on three holes on a layout surrounded by the Koʻolau volcano range to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south.
Typically, this event sees extremely low scores. In 2019, Matt Kuchar topped the leaderboard at 22-under, while Thomas won by seven strokes, at 27-under, two years prior.
In 2020, heavy wind affected the first two rounds and led to Smith’s triumph at 11-under, the lowest winning mark since 2005.
Smith will return this week in an effort to become the third back-to-back winner in the tournament’s 56-year history. Jimmy Walker (2014-15) and Ernie Els (2003-04) are the only players to successfully defend their titles.
Best bets for Sony Open
One frequent participant of the tournament who will not be present is Thomas.
After he finished third at last week’s Tournament of Champions, the 27-year-old will enjoy some rest and skip the Sony Open for the first time in six years.
Without Thomas in the fold, Simpson is one player to eye for a win at Waialae.
Simpson landed third in last year’s event and has not finished worse than 13th in five appearances since 2015. He has also never missed a cut in 10 Sony Open appearances.
In last week’s Tournament of Champions, Simpson tied for 17th.
Seven of the last nine Sony Open winners competed in the Tournament of Champions the week prior, while four of the past six champions finished in the top 15 in Maui.
Simpson also won last year's RBC Heritage at Harbour Town, which is a course similar to Waialae.
If you're looking to back a longer shot, consider 2010 Sony Open winner Ryan Palmer.
The 44-year-old Texan just landed a top five finish at the Tournament of Champions, where he tied for second in both par 4 scoring and birdie or better percentage. He also ranked fourth in strokes gained approaching the green and 20th in strokes gained putting.
Palmer also posted a top 10 at last year's RBC Heritage and a top 20 at the Honda Classic's PGA National Golf Club, another correlated course.
How to watch the Sony Open
The winner of the Sony Open will receive $1.188 million of a $6.6 million purse and 500 FedEx Cup points.
You can watch the Sony Open, Thursday through Saturday, from 7-10:30 p.m. ET, and Sunday, from 6-10 p.m. ET, on the Golf Channel. Live streaming is available on PGA Tour Live.