Waialae Country Club has been the venue for the Sony Open since I started on solid foods and a strong field lines up once again in Hawaii for a prestigious event. The course can be influenced heavily by the wind off the shore and it looks likely to blow once again. Scores have improved here down the years and it could be upwards of 20 under needed here to compete on Sunday. It is key to drive the ball straight, the longer the better. An all round good long game is key as greens in regulation is an important stat to shoot the right scores this week.
Jimmy Walker has won the last two renewals of this event and understandably is priced up as tournament jolly by the bookies. His game suits this place and I would not be surprised if he produced another solid performance around one of his favourite tracks. At 14/1 the price is tempting but I'll be looking for a shade more value at this stage of the season with little recent form to go on.
After the Nedbank and Hyundai on courses that didn't exactly suit his game Russell Knox arrives in Hawaii with a great chance of building on his spectacular finish to last year. He won the HSBC WGC before going mighty close in the Mayakoba a week later. His strengths lie in his long game and with a top 20 posted here last year we can have a solid investment in the Scot at 45/1. He can cope with the tighter fairways and his confidence is flowing so this represents a major opportunity for Knox. I was surprised to see the price and would have expected a top price of 33/1. He has a second and third posted at the Honda, a course which I feel could translate the same form onto Waialae. Loves these tests and with a top 20 last year he is beginning to show signs of getting used the layout.
Russell Knox - 2pts e/w @ 45/1Lost -4pts
Justin Thomas finally got off the mark at the CIMB towards the end of last year and he can possibly gain another off shore win in the Hawaii Islands this week. Length has become more of a factor here down the last few years and Thomas has that in his locker. He posted 26 under at the CIMB so has the ability to go very low. Good performances at the RBC and and the Valspar show that he can score around tracks where the long game is quite important. His price of 25/1 is tempting enough for us to invest in.
Justin Thomas - 1.5pts e/w @ 25/1Lost -3pts
Another whose credentials can not be ignored around this place is Daniel Berger. He is one of the more obvious picks this week and has been well backed but I find it hard to leave him out. He loves a resort type golf course and his game should suit Waialae. He finished 13th here on debut last year and can be expected to get into the mix over the weekend. 2nd place finishes at the BMW and Honda last year show how his game may suit this track. A top 10 at Pebble could also indicate that he can deal with these coastal layouts with some wind off the shore. He posted three solid finishes in the final 3 playoff events last season and is without doubt a golfer on the improve and more than worth supporting at 45/1.