After a fantastic PGA Tournament of Champions event which saw Xander Schauffele claim the title, the 2019 PGA Tour season remains in Hawaii this weekend for the annual Sony Open. The Sony Open will be played at the Wai’alae Country Club and begins on Thursday. We take a look at the event in full and give our betting tips for the weekend’s action below.
Wai’alae Country Club is a 7,044-yard par 70 course which will provide different challenges than the Sentry Tournament of Champions on the weekend. One of the courses most interesting features is its imitation of famous holes from around the world highlighted by the 10th hole’s mirroring of the famous ‘Road Hole’ from St. Andrews.
The course also features some other interesting imitations including:
22 players will make the trip from the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Kapalua to compete in the Sony Open this weekend, which automatically makes the starting field for Thursday a star-studded one. Patton Kizzire will be back to defend his 2018 title as will Justin Thomas, who won the event in 2017 with a record –28 score.
Other headliners from the Tournament of Champions include, Bryson DeChambeau, Marc Leishman, Cameron Champ and Gary Woodland while some star names who didn’t qualify for Kapalua will still make the trip to Hawaii in Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott.
The Sony Open has proven to be an easy course to hold a lead on in recent years. Generally, the winner in Wai’alae comes from the top 10 players after the 36-hole cut. There has been some fantastic scores over the past few tournaments, highlighted by Thomas’ -27 in 2017 and –23 by Jimmy Walker which came in his second of back to back wins in 2014-15.
Scoring juggernauts is what we’ll be targeting this weekend. The course doesn’t really benefit one single type of player, so it will be consistent birdie makers across different conditions and courses that we think will have the advantage.
With limited sample sizes to go by in the 2019 season so far, we are looking back to some of the scoring leaders in 2018 to get a gauge on this weekend’s proceedings.
Through 91 rounds in 2018, Justin Thomas finished third in scoring average, total strokes gained and fourth in par 4 birdies or better. He is a birdie machine who has proven he can score well at the Wai’alae Country Club. Thomas got his 2019 off to a decent start in the Tournament of Champions as well, finishing sixth with a handy –14 under for the weekend.
Thomas will enter the tournament as the favourite but we think he is a great chance given his pedigree in Hawaiii and his good start to the season.
Our value pick this weekend comes in the form of Japanese star Hideki Matsuyama. Matsuyama gets his 2019 underway this weekend and has had a fairly decent start to the PGA Tour season with two 18th place finishes at the CJ Cup and the Hero World Challenge. Matsuyama was in the top 25 in scoring average on tour last season and was ranked 21st in birdie average. He represents great value as he hasn’t played a tournament in almost a month.
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