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Sony Open in Hawaii: Preview & DFS Picks

We are staying in Hawaii this week for the Sony Open at Waiʻalae Country Club in Honolulu. Originally a mid-Autumn tournament, the event moved to early January in 1971 as the first full tournament of the PGA Tour season, immediately following the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The layout is short (par 70 7,044 yards) with a purse of $6.4 million. Last year Patton Kizzire defeated James Hahn in a playoff to win, shooting -17 for the tournament. However, it was Justin Thomas’ Thursday 59 in 2017 that is more talked about, where he eventually won with a score of -27. Six of the last seven champions at Wai’alae played the week before at the TOC, so that might suggest taking one (or multiple) of the bigger names that played last week.

Power Rankings

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5. Paul Casey (Dark Horse)

Casey isn’t exactly a longshot but he’s not a favorite by any means either. He did play in the TOC finishing T-16 at -9, but he never had a day below 68 and only broke 70 once. This week there’s a cut so I expect there to be a set of urgency amongst all the players to score early. Casey is always a solid pick in DFS because of his consistency in making cuts. In the PGA Tour’s wrap-around season he has finished in the top-20 in all 4 events, including a T-13 at the CIMB Classic in October. The key stat this week in Honolulu is strokes gained: approaching the green, because while the course is narrow and traditionally sports the lowest fairways hit percentage on Tour each year, the rough is not penalizing. Casey ranked 11th in strokes gained: approaching the green in 2018 and was 26th in strokes gained: tee to green. Additionally, with just two par-5s on the course it will be imperative to take advantage of birdies/eagles on the easiest holes. Casey ranked 24th in par-5 scoring last year at 4.57 and had a par-5 birdie or better percentage of exactly 50.0%, good for 18th on Tour in 2018. Casey was 77th in strokes gained: putting last year but he was 8th (1.736) last week at the Sentry TOC- so if he can keep it up on the greens he has a shot to contend this week.

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4. Cameron Champ

A newcomer to Power Rankings in 2019, Champ is quickly becoming the hottest pick in DFS and a favorite amongst regular sports bettors. In 6 tournaments this wrap-around season, he has made all 6 cuts and won the Sanderson Farms Championship going 65-70-64-68 with 28 birdies. He is lethal off the tee, where last week he ranked 2nd in driving distance behind Jason Day and ahead of Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy. He struggled putting (T-27 last week) otherwise he could have made a push over the weekend. This will be hist first full season on Tour, but he already is inside the top-10 for FedEx Cup Points and the money list, and he should make a push in the Official World Golf Rankings soon. He’s definitely a flyer pick this week since he has never played Wai’alae before, but he has the potential to make this course look even shorter off the tee and can set himself up for more make-able putts.

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3. Gary Woodland

When Woodland is playing well, he quite literally does not have a flaw in his game. Last week at the TOC he finished in solo 2nd- dropping a shot to Xander Schauffele who shot a 62 on Sunday. Woodland had a great week though, going 67-67-68-68 and finishing 4 strokes ahead of the next highest competitor. He finished 5th in average driving distance, 3rd in driving accuracy (85%), T1 in greens in regulation (87.5%) and 7th in putting. Last year Woodland finished T-7 at the Sony Open, including a Sunday 64- that puts him at the highest finished at last year’s tournament buy everyone in Power Rankings this week. In 2018 Woodland was fantastic tee to green, finishing in the top 20 in SG: off the tee, SG: tee to green and SG: total. If he can crack the top-100 in putting and SG: around the green he might be a sneaky major winner in 2019 and a potential Presidents Cup pick.

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2. Marc Leishman

I was high on Leishman and Day last week and while they didn’t win, they both played particularly well with Leishman finishing T-4. Leishman has played in this event the past 6 years and made each cut, with his highest finish coming in 2014 with a solo 5th (-13). Last year a bad Saturday performance took him out of contention, but he still finished -7 and tied for 47th. Leishman’s game in the second half of 2018 improved tremendously and I expect him to be a key contributor for the International Team at the 2019 Presidents Cup. This year he already sports a win at the CIMB Classic and a solo 2nd at the Australian PGA Championship. Leishman is a tough golfer to understand in that he finishes well, but doesn’t have a particular strong point to his game. He didn’t finish in the top-20 in SG statistics last year and actually slightly lost strokes off the tee last year. He is pretty good around the green, but finished 80th in putting in 2018. He does make birdies though (19th in 2018) and is still one of the top players in the world.

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1. Justin Thomas

The undisputed favorite this week, “Mr. 59” looks poised to win his second Sony Open in three years. Last year he finished tied for 14th going 67-67-66-68, and he also sports a T-6 finish at the 2015 contest. Thomas had a stellar 2018 winning the Honda Classic and WGC Bridgestone Invitational. He doesn’t have a flaw in his game as he finished 3rd in SG: total and was 4th in SG: approaching the green and 3rd in SG: tee to green in 2018. Overall he has been a go big or go home putter, ranking towards the top in 1 putt percentage- but he also ranked 67th in 3-putt avoidance last year and needs to improve on mid-range putts (10′-20′). Still, last year he sat 3rd in scoring average and 1st on the money list, and he should be a threat in every tournament he plays in this year. Expect him to add to his major trophy case and be a leader on a Presidents Cup team that might have some new faces come October 2019.

Vegas Odds

  • Justin Thomas — +650
  • Bryson DeChambeau — +1000
  • Gary Woodland — +1400
  • Jordan Spieth — +1400
  • Marc Leishman — +1800
  • Cameron Champ — +2500
  • Patrick Reed — +2500
  • Bubba Watson — +2800
  • Cameron Smith — +2800
  • Hideki Matsuyama — +2800
  • Kyle Stanley — +2800
  • Abraham Ancer — +3300
  • Charles Howell — +3300
  • Emiliano Grillo — +3300
  • Kevin Kisner — +3300
  • Paul Casey — +3300
  • Adam Scott — +4000
  • Brandt Snedeker — +4000
  • Keegan Bradley — +4000
  • Kevin Tway — +4000
  • Matt Kuchar — +4000
  • Patton Kizzire — +4000
  • Zach Johnson — +4000
  • Adam Hadwin — +5000
  • Brian Harman — +5000
  • Chez Reavie — +5000
  • Chris Kirk — +5000
  • Jimmy Walker — +5000
  • Pat Perez — +5000
  • Patrick Rodgers — +5000
  • Russell Knox — +5000
  • Scott Piercy — +5000
  • Si-Woo Kim — +5000
  • Brian Gay — +6600
  • Danny Lee — +6600
  • Dylan Frittelli — +6600
  • Ian Poulter — +6600
  • Jamie Lovemark — +6600
  • Russell Henley — +6600
  • Andrew Putnam — +8000
  • Ben Martin — +8000
  • James Hahn — +8000
  • Kevin Na — +8000
  • Sung-Jae Im — +8000
  • Brian Stuard — +10000
  • Hudson Swafford — +10000
  • Jason Dufner — +10000
  • Ryan Armour — +10000
  • Ryan Blaum — +10000
  • Sam Ryder — +10000
  • Steve Stricker — +10000
  • Andrew Landry — +12500
  • Anirban Lahiri — +12500
  • Brice Garnett — +12500
  • Jason Kokrak — +12500
  • Jerry Kelly — +12500
  • Joel Dahmen — +12500
  • Keith Mitchell — +12500
  • Ollie Schniederjans — +12500
  • Robert Streb — +12500
  • Sam Burns — +12500
  • Shugo Imahira — +12500
  • Stewart Cink — +12500
  • Tom Hoge — +12500
  • Troy Merritt — +12500
  • Adam Schenk — +15000
  • Brandon Harkins — +15000
  • Cameron Davis — +15000
  • Dominic Bozzelli — +15000
  • J T Poston — +15000
  • Kelly Kraft — +15000
  • Kramer Hickok — +15000
  • Luke Donald — +15000
  • Max Homa — +15000
  • Rikuya Hoshino — +15000
  • Sam Saunders — +15000
  • Satoshi Kodaira — +15000
  • Scott Brown — +15000
  • Scott Langley — +15000
  • Shawn Stefani — +15000
  • Ted Potter — +15000
  • Vaughn Taylor — +15000
  • Vijay Singh — +15000
  • Yuta Ikeda — +15000

DFS Picks

Justin Thomas -> $11,400

Paul Casey -> $9,100

Patton Kizzire -> $7,900

Andrew Putnam -> $7,400

Steve Stricker -> $7,300

Shugo Imahara -> $6,800

Remaining Salary -> $0

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