PGA Tour: The best prop bets for the Sony Open in Hawaii

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January 13th, 2021

The PGA Tour is back and in full swing, and it will stay in Hawaii, following the Tour of Champions — hopping from Maui to Oahu for the Sony Open at Waialae.

That means another fantastic four days of golf, and another four days of watching enviously, as some of the world’s greatest players tee off on an unbelievably beautiful golf course.

Jealous? Me? Of course not.

This tournament has been a regular on tour for more than 50 years and is a par 70, at 7,044 yards. It’s short and tree-lined, with Bermuda greens that can sometimes be affected by the wind, although the forecast this week seems to be calm.

Driving distance and accuracy aren't overly important at Waialae, but greens in regulation is key. Seventeen of the last 19 winners ranked in the top 12 for GIR, so getting to the dance floor without finding trouble is essential.

When you’re on the greens, you need to sink the putts. The last four winners of the Sony Open ranked in the top five for putting average.

Players who have performed well at TPC Southwind (St. Jude Classic) and El Camaleon (Mayakoba Golf Classic) have excelled at Waialae, and that’s a course trend to keep in mind as we go through the best props for the week.

Top rest of the world player: Sung-Jae Im (+550)

Im’s recent form has been hot. He was the runner-up at the Masters in his debut at Augusta, shot over to Dubai for a top 10 finish in the DP World Tour Championship, and last week played very fell to finish fifth at the Tournament of Champions.

Now the final piece of the jigsaw to get Im over the line — the Bermuda greens. He excels on these greens, as he showed when he won the Honda Classic last year. Although his putting average doesn’t inspire confidence, break it down to his average on Bermuda greens, and suddenly he is in the top 12.

Im finished 16th on debut at Waialae in 2019 and 21st 12 months ago. In both of those efforts, he put in three sub-70 rounds, with a poor 18 holes thrown in to hurt his chances. Last year, he came into the final round at 6-under, but a 71 on Sunday cost him any chance to compete with Cameron Smith, who got to 11-under and won a playoff with Brendan Steele.

With more experience under his belt and some quality recent form, Im is a great play.

Top 10 finish: Abraham Ancer (+275)

This tournament requires a smoking-hot putter and Ancer could barely miss last week at the Tournament of Champions. He ranked third in shots gained putting and 13th in shots gained approach, so his iron play and flat stick were excelling ahead of this test.

And the more he played, the better he got. The Mexican shot 11-under for the weekend’s 36 holes — the same as eventual winner Harris English.

Waialae looks set up for Ancer, and while his form around the course is “meh,” he is getting to know the ins and outs. He has missed the cut and has finished 29th and 38th, but seven of his last eight rounds here were under 70, and he can crack the top 10 off last week’s confident putting performance.

To miss the cut: Collin Morikawa (+340)

Morikawa put in a solid debut in this tournament last year, when he finished 21st, and last week, in the Tournament of Champions, he was just one shot off the lead as he teed off for his final round. He eventually dropped to seventh because of his putting.

Out of the 42 players last week, Morikawa ranked 21st in putting average, and in this event 12 months ago, he ranked 56th of 66. While on and around the greens, Morikawa is at times unplayable. He ranks 220th on tour this season in shots gained putting.

The PGA Championship winner had a rough end to 2020, as he finished 50th in the Zozo Championship and 44th at the Masters. Although he bounced back last week, if his putter isn’t dialed in at Waialae, he is going to struggle to keep pace.

Group C winner: Kevin Kisner (+335)

Kisner is a creature of habit, which makes him a betting man’s friend. On courses where distance off the tee is not crucial and the greens are Bermuda, he relishes the challenge.

In three of the last five years at the Sony Open, he has finished in the top five, and last week at the Tournament of Champions, he ranked seventh in shots gained putting and ninth in putting average, so there is nothing wrong with his flat stick.

The course suits Kisner, and hopefully he will enjoy being back. There is enough in his locker to beat Ryan Palmer, Russell Henley, Billy Horschel, and Adam Scott in this group.