The PGA Tour remains in Hawaii this week for the Sony Open, the first event of the year that is open to everyone with their tour cards. After a runaway win for Dustin Johnson at the Tournament of Champions last week everyone teeing it up here will be looking to set themselves up for the year ahead.
Justin Thomas shot 59 on his way to glory here 12 months ago and he will be out to defend his title. He has Phil Mickelson’s caddie ‘Bones’ on his bag this week which I’m sure will get plenty of attention.
2017 – Justin Thomas
2016 – Fabian Gomez
2015 – Jimmy Walker
2014 – Jimmy Walker
2013 – Russell Henley
2012 – Johnson Wagner
2011 – Mark Wilson
2010 – Ryan Palmer
2009 – Zach Johnson
2008 – K J Choi
As always the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu is the venue for the tournament this week. With it being on the island of Hawaii the wind is always a factor but generally the usual rules of PGA Tour golf apply – hit greens and make lots of putts to win.
The track is a par 70 which extends to 7,044 yards so by no means is it a brute or anything like that. Good drivers of the ball and excellent putters have formed the roll of honour down the years here and I don’t think we need to deviate too much from that when forming out bets this week.
After just 34 men teed it up last week we are up to 144 this week with a number of those who featured in the 2018 opener teeing it up again. There is some real star quality in the field too with Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Kevin Kisner among those in action.
Those chasing a first title of the year also include Marc Leishman, Daniel Berger and Tony Finau while former winners Russell Henley, Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker are all back to try their luck and attempt to regain the title.
Jordan Spieth is an emphatic 5/1 favourite this week. He didn’t look to have his best stuff with him last week but if he needed the run then he should be nicely primed for this task. This is a rare title that he hasn’t bagged so far in his career which might act as motivation to do well. On the face of it there is no reason why he can’t better his third place from 12 months ago.
The defending champion Justin Thomas is next in the betting at 8/1. He definitely didn’t have his best golf on show last week and it remains to be seen how he and Bones will gel as a pairing. He won’t have defended many titles before and will hope to make a much better job of it than he did last week. He feels a little short to me.
Marc Leishman is the third favourite at 16/1 for this tournament. He has been playing some nice stuff over the last 12-18 months and would have a leading chance here, especially with his proficiency in the wind. This is not the strongest field for a PGA Tour event which should further improve his chances. He is tough to dismiss.
Kevin Kisner is 20/1 to land the title for the first time. He is an obvious player for the head of the market having finished in the top five in the last two renewals but he’s gone a little quiet since the end of last season and never really got anything going last week. Nevertheless his form here must be respected at an acceptable price.
I think there is a premium on players who teed it up last week and as such I’m taking two who were in action in Maui as my main bets this week. Brian Harman continued his good form last week when he ran hot for a third placed finish and he ticks every box this week. He played last week, he is good in the wind, his approach play is pinpoint and he’s an excellent putter. He has three straight top 20s in this tournament but has never arrived here in the form he is currently in. He’s my first main bet.
I’ll continue my liking for Daniel Berger in my second main bet. His liking for Bermuda grass greens is well known and despite a level par first round last week he still came just outside the top 10. The interesting thing was that he was third in greens hit in Maui so if his approach play remains as strong the run he’s had with the putter should have him nicely primed to deliver the goods here.
My two outsiders for the week will not surprise anyone. The first one is Chris Stroud who I have backed plenty of times in 2017 and who I’m sure I’ll continue to back in 2018. Stroud has plenty of good form lines in the wind which is huge and the fact he teed it up last week is very much a positive. He was second in the field for putting average last week so if he can tighten up his approach play, and this course will suit him better for that than Maui did, I expect him to go close here.
Luke Donald has been quite vocal with the amount of work he is getting in to get back to the top of the game and I’ll chance him again here. We saw in the Dunhill Links last year that he can still play tracks in the wind. He ranked seventh for GIR and putting average that week and finished in that position for the tournament. His iron play has been improving in the second half of 2017 and if the work he has been putting in over the close season has worked he could yet emulate his runner up finish here in 2007 if not go one better.
Back B.Harman to win Sony Open in Hawaii (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 23.00 with Paddy Power (1/5 1-7)
Back him here:
Back D.Berger to win Sony Open in Hawaii (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)
Back C.Stroud to win Sony Open in Hawaii (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-7)
Back him here:
Back L.Donald to win Sony Open in Hawaii (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with Betfred (1/4 1-5)
Back him here: