Sony Open

The Course

Waialae Country Club has been the host of this event since 1965 and is the final event of the “Aloha Swing”, with much of the field island hopping over from Maui.  It is a 7,000 yard Par 70 that rewards shot making and excellent play inside of 50 yards.  The fairways are tight and tree-lined, and one should expect a much more difficult test than what was faced last week at Kapalua, especially if the island wind comes into play.  This is not a course where length off the tee is necessary for success, as previous champions include Kevin Na, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson, and Patton Kizzire.  The most interesting fact of Waialae is how correlated past performance is to future success.  Of the 50 courses played on TOUR this calendar year, Waialae is second only to Augusta National in past performance correlation, meaning that although not absolute, if someone has played well here in the past, it is likely to continue in the future.  With all this in mind, I will be targeting golfers with good ball striking and a competent short-game, while also targeting those who have performed well here in the past.

Top 20/10/Win

Corey Conners (-105/+210/+2800) ($9,600 DK)

Conners is one of my favorite players on TOUR and has unlimited potential when his putter is working.  While Conners and positive strokes gained putting are rarely heard in the same sentence, Waialae is the exception to the rule.  Over his career, Conners has been a positive putter at just five different courses (minimum three starts) and has gained a truly incredible 13.2 strokes putting over his 12 rounds at Waialae.  While I would guess this is bound to regress some, it is clear that Conners likes these greens.  This combined with his elite ball striking, in which he ranked 6th on TOUR last season, makes the Canadian a perfect fit for success this week.  Furthermore, Conners is 3/3 with an average finishing position of 18th at Waialae, including a T3 in 2019.  Conners is my pick to win this week, especially at any price above 25-1.  

Webb Simpson (-115/+175/+1500) ($10,500 DK)

No need to say too much here as this is incredibly simple.  Webb is an auto-play twice a year, and this happens to be one of those weeks.  While Webb is notorious for his success at the Wyndham Championship, even naming his child after the tournament, people forget how consistently well he has played at the Sony Open.  Webb is 11/11 here with six straight Top 15 finishes, including three straight inside the Top 5. 

After a bumpy start to his 2021 campaign, Webb began to find his form, making 9 of his last 10 cuts, with seven of those leading to Top 20 finishes.  I expect this form to carry over to this week, and at just -115, a bet on Webb to Top 20 should be a maximum investment.

Abraham Ancer (+130/+225/+3000) ($9700 DK)

This is a contrarian play that I think can pay off big time in DFS contests as well as the betting markets.  Ancer is coming off an atrocious week at Kapalua, a course not suited to any of his strengths.  I believe this performance has deflated his price and that the 20th ranked player in the world is primed for a bounce back effort this week.  Ancer finished T3 in Par 4 scoring last season, and I think he is perfectly suited to dominate this week with his excellent ball striking.  A shot-maker, Ancer can rely on his elite iron play and hopefully make enough putts to contend.  His course history at Waialae is concerning, but the Abe Ancer of present is a markedly improved player from that of 2018.  Look for Ancer to continue his domination of short Par 70 courses, where he has gained the fourth most strokes on TOUR over his last 24 rounds.  

Charles Howell III (+185/+350/+4500) ($8000 DK)

This is the exact same handicap as Webb.  CH3 is 20/20 at Waialae and is the all-time earnings leader.  He has finished inside the Top 20 in 8 of his last 10 appearances.  At nearly 2-1, this is an auto-play.

Others to Consider: Sungjae Im, Russell Henley, Cam Davis, Joel Dahmen, Denny McCarthy, Hudson Swafford

The Big Fade:

Hideki Matsuyama

Hideki has played Waialae eight times, missing three cuts, and never finishing better than 12th.  While he has played better here of late, this is the most amount of starts he has had at an individual course without a Top 10 finish.  I didn’t love the way he finished last week at Kapalua, and am always eager to fade Hideki in what could turn into a bonafide putting contest.  At plus money, look to back Ancer and Leishman against the Green Jacket winner, or even at -120 to not finish inside the Top 20.

Others to Consider: Matt Jones

ONE AND DONE PICK

Marc Leishman (+100/+195/+2500)

For this season beginning this week, I have entered a ‘One and Done’ contest, in which you pick one golfer each week, and after choosing them, you cannot pick them again the rest of the year.  This week’s pick is Marc Leishman.

Like Webb Simpson and CH3, Leishman loves Waialae.  The Aussie is 12/12 with seven Top 20 finishes.  Furthermore, Leishman has played the weekend in 14 of his last 15 events, with a run of form of T10-T19-T38-T3-T4.  Lastly 17 of the last 23 winners played the previous weekend at Kapalua, and Leishman is fresh off a Top 10 finish there.  Look for his hot form and incredible course history to continue this week.  I am playing him across the board in addition to my OAD pool.

MY CARD:

WEBB SIMPSON: 1U to Top 20 (-115); 0.5U to Top 10 (+150)

MARC LEISHMAN: 0.75U to Top 20 (EV); 0.5U over Hideki (EV)

COREY CONNERS: 1U to Top 20 (EV); 0.35U to Top 10 (+210); 0.15 unit to Win (+2800)

ABRAHAM ANCER: 0.75U to Top 20 (+130); 0.15 unit to Win (+3000); 0.5U over Hideki (+105)

CHARLES HOWELL III: 0.75U to Top 20 (+175) 

CAM DAVIS: 0.4U to Top 20 (+250)

DENNY MCCARTHY: 0.25U to Top 20 (+250)

HUDSON SWAFFORD: 0.25U to Top 20 (+400)

JOEL DAHMEN: 0.25U to Top 20 (+250)

RUSSELL HENLEY: 1U over Matt Jones (-135)

LAST WEEK RECAP:

Due to work and travel, I was unable to post, but started the year off with an outright winner.  Cam Smith posted a record 33-under par en route to a wire-to-wire victory at Kapalua.

I made four plays to finish in the Top 10 (each either risking or to win one unit) and went 2-2 netting 0.4 units, in addition to one matchup play which won 0.5 units.

Additionally, I risked 0.1U on each player outright, which cashed with Cam Smith at 22-1

Cam Smith to Top 10 (+130), 1U to win 1.3U

Xander Schaufele to Top 10 (-130), -1.3U to win 1U

Sungjae Im to Top 10 (+140), 1U to win 1.4U

Hideki Matsuyama to Top 10 (+140), -1U to win 1.4U

Justin Thomas over Viktor Hovland (-140), 0.7U to win 0.5U

Top 20s/10s and Matchup Record: 3-2, +0.9U 

Outrights: 1-3, +1.9U

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