The PGA Tour stays in Hawaii this week, but switches islands and offers up a different style of golf course than the Plantation did last week, where there were record lows.
Those came in part due to favourable wind, lift-clean-and-place procedures and, of course, some talented players.
Waialae Country Club will bring different demands this week, primarily off the tee, where the fairways are much tighter, and into the greens.
Here are my picks for the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Webb Simpson +1500
Simpson likes to come to Hawaii and it’s clear why. In 11 starts, he’s never missed the cut, averaging $151,000 per start. In his last three starts, he’s finished fourth, third and fourth. He’s currently 26th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. He’s also a tremendous putter, which always helps too.
Sungjae Im +1700
Im is coming in off a tie for eighth last week. He currently sits 18th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and fifth in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, to key measurements for this week. In his first five starts of the year he’s had four finishes inside the top 20 and has logged a total of 99 birdies, which is loads, if you’re keeping track.
Corey Conners +2600
Not many golfers hit as many fairways or greens as Conners, who is eighth in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and ninth in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green. He has a third and a 12th in his last two starts at Waialae and in three appearances at this tournament, he has a scoring average of 67.4. Over that stretch, he’s been 22 under par on his weekend rounds. Overall, his performance here is more than solid and he’s been a heavy pick by a lot of poolies.
Matt Jones +3600
Imagine being the first PGA Tour player ever to finish a tournament a 30 under or better. Now imagine doing that and not winning. Thanks to weekend rounds of 62 and 61, Jones ended up at 32 under but that was only good enough for third place. His numbers last week were jaw-dropping – in Strokes Gained, he was fourth Off the Tee, second Around the Green, second in Putting, fourth Tee to Green and third Overall. If his game is still close to that level, he might get his third career victory.
Brendan Steele +5500
One of the leading non-Canadian hockey fans on the PGA Tour, Steele has finished fourth and second in his last two starts at Waialae. Each of the last two years here the Los Angeles Kings fan was leading after the third round but couldn’t capitalize down the stretch. Maybe this is the year he earns the crown.
Stewart Cink +9000
The veteran Cink has played this tournament 17 times and made the cut every year since 2014. Last year, he started quickly with rounds of 67-62 and was sitting in second place before fading on the weekend. While not necessarily great off the tee, he has always been strong in hitting greens, which can mean good things around Waialae. After the strong resurgence to his career last year, there’s every reason to believe he still has plenty of game.