UG Tips: Sony Open
Although this week sees the return of Rory in the South African Open, we are opting to maintain our focus on Hawaii and the Sony Open. Though the PGA Tour remains in Hawaii, the course couldn’t be much different to last week. There will certainly be a lot less use of the driver let alone 400 yard drives.
If you are looking for a guide as to suitability for the course, then there are a lot of correlations with other seaside courses that demand accuracy from the tee like Harbour Town and El Camaleon. Experience certainly looks to be key also with every winner (with the exception of Russell Henley) being 30 or above. Driving distance has certainly not proved important in the past, and although accuracy is not the most important factor, avoiding trouble is. The top 10 in recent years has largely been made up by those toping the GIR category.
On recent form it might seem foolish to look past Hideki Matsuyama, but by our reckoning his run has to end soon and his record here at Waialae is average at best. We are going for a mix of guys who are coming in off a good week last week, have good course experience and have games that suit the preference for accurate right to left play.
Brandt Snedeker 30/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £395
Sneds didn’t quite come through last week, but he certainly showed enough for us to think that he can be confident after coming so close here last year. Nothing has changed our minds about the form he was in worldwide at the back end of 2016 and his victories at Harbour Town only support the view that this course sets up well for his game.
Pat Perez 40/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £520
We may have had an ugly run-in with the abrasive American in a St Andrews bar back in 2005, but that didn’t stop us backing him last week. He clearly felt that he owed us something and duly delivered. On top of the form and confidence we talked about going into the SBS we can add his win at El Camaleon last year to the argument that he should contend once more. It’s almost a shame that he did so well last week as his odds are plummeting as punters are realising that he is very much a good horse to back most weeks now.
Russell Knox 40/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £520
“I love it here,” said Knox ahead of the start this week, and why shouldn’t he? He is a man not renowned for his length (which is a fair reason he didn’t finish higher last week) but knows how to get it around this sort of course as he showed when narrowly missing out to Brandon Grace at Harbour Town last year. These seem generous odds for a man who won twice last year and is building a solid bankroll on the PGA Tour.
Chris Kirk 50/1 – Stake £10 e/w Potential return £645
Although he signed with the most modern of brands, PXG, last year, Kirk is an old-fashioned type of player who enjoys the tactical side of the game and predominantly works the ball from right to left. “I think it’s a good right to left players’ course,” he said of Waialae. “I think here and Colonial are kind of two of my favorites of the year.”
“You kind of have to play the ball on the ground a little bit, get firm and fast greens and small greens, so you’ve got to have a good short game, too. I think all those kind of things together plays into my hands a little bit.”
Kirk had amassed a very good record at Colonial prior to winning the Crowne Plaza at Spieth’s expense, and his record here is similarly impressive.
Charles Howell III 50/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £322.50
He’s been runner-up twice here and had a further eight top 10’s. If that isn’t a sign that he feels comfortable here then I don’t know what we need to prove it. Couple that with a strong finish to 2016 and he should be seriously juiced-up. The only thing against him is not getting a pipe-cleaner last week at Kapalua.
Brian Stuard 150/1 – Stake £5 e/w Potential return £947.50
Do you remember when we backed him from nowhere last season at 1000/1 to win the Zurich Classic? Nor do we, but having scratched the surface we are impressed with his credentials. He’s been 5th at Harbour Town and twice been bridesmaid at El Camaleon which help to explain his two top 5’s here at Waialae. He certainly played better after his win last year and after a run out in the SBS should be feeling game-ready for another good week.