The PGA Tour returns to full-field action after last week’s 32-man invitational, and the Waialae Country Club, Hawaii, is once again the host-venue for the Sony Open. It’s a Par-70 measuring just over 7,000 Yards, and its main features are tree-lined fairways and smaller than average Bermuda Grass Greens which are set at around 11 on the Stimpmeter.
The wind can be a major factor, especially when the rough is long, but the early weather forecast is quite calm, suggesting scoring will be on the low-side this week. That means the winner may have to shoot around -23/-24 as Jimmy Walker and Russell Henley respectively did in 2015/2013.
It’s no surprise to see Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth at the head of the market this week, though at just slightly bigger prices than for last week’s limited-field event it’s hard to make a case for backing either.
Spieth has been talking the talk since his final-round 65 last-week, but this isn’t a tournament he usually bothers with, having missed the cut in 2014, and given it a miss for the last two seasons. Meanwhile, Matsuyama has an horrendous record in the event and, though he could probably win anywhere in his current form, 15/2 doesn’t get the juices flowing.
Next in is last week’s winner Justin Thomas though, if you didn’t take 22/1 last week, taking 14/1 this week looks no value. However, he did finish sixth here two years ago, so victory wouldn’t be the biggest shock.
By comparison, I‘d find it hard to leave two-time champion Jimmy Walker out of this week’s staking plan at 22/1. He may have faded last week after a decent start, but 9th last week in the SBS Championship was a better finish than the one he posted in the 2016 renewal of that event before finishing 13th in his bid for an unprecedented Sony Hat-trick last season. He was also very positive about his new shorter-shafted driver last-week, and should go close around one of his favourite venues.
Plenty of previous winners have been priced-up at 100/1 pre-tournament, so I’m also going to make room for Harold Varner III and Zac Blair in this week’s staking plan. Varner III’s victory just before Christmas could have done wonders for his confidence and, if he’s not too rusty after his break, he could well improve on last year’s Tied-13th. Meanwhile, Zac Blair at 125/1 may have his limitations as a professional golfer, but this tournament has helped him keep his playing privileges for the last two seasons with finishes of 3rd and 6th.
Pat Perez also makes plenty of appeal, as he looked in excellent form last week, and has four top-10s here in his last 10 visits. You can back him at 40/1 each-way, however the top-10 angle may offer better value at 4/1.
2017 Sony Open Tips
Jimmy Walker 2 Points Each-Way @ 22/1 (Stan James) 6 places ¼ odds
Harold Varner III 1 Point Each-Way @ 100/1 (Boylesports) 5 places ¼ odds
Zac Blair 1 Point Each-Way @ 125/1 (Various Bookies) 5 places ¼ odds
Pat Perez 2 Points Top-10 Finish @ 4/1 (Betfair Sportsbook, Paddy Power)
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