Our golf expert brings you his preview and predictions for this week's PGA Tour event, the Sony Open in Hawaii.
- Golf expert Niall Lyons has three tips for the Sony Open in Hawaii, including a two 2pt each-way headline tip.
- The Sony Open will take place at the Wai'alae Country Club in Hawaii, between Thursday 14th January and Sunday 17th January.
- Webb Simpson is currently the favourite to win the Sony Open in Hawaii, at a best price of 12/1.
The Sony Open - Winner
The Hawaii swing moves onto Honolulu and the annual jaunt to Waialae Country Club for the Sony Open. Waialae is the opposite of Kapalua in the fact that it's a shortish track that rewards a more accurate game from tee to green. Greens In Regulation has always been a stat to look towards in this event as many contenders continually rank highly in this stat across the week. Approaching the green plays a fair part too, especially last year when Smith got the better of Steele in the playoff. Wind dominated that event though and I'd envisage a slightly different event this time with the wind at this moment in time looking largely non existent over the four days.
Morikawa heads the field and will be disappointed after his final day effort at the Sentry. He had every chance but didn't produce the goods. He looks to me that he's not properly at the top of his game and at a venue that often rewards good putters I'll happily swerve him. Simpson around the same price looks a better prospect but he too will be disappointed by last weeks effort somewhat. Others at slightly bigger prices look to have similar chances than the favourites. Matsuyama hasn't put his best foot forward here down the years and propped up the field at last weeks opener so is easily dismissed as a betting prospect.
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Russell Henley at 30/1
Russell Henley comes here as a former winner and someone who must consider himself very unlucky not to have won in the last six months. Bar a surprising missed cut in Mayakoba, Henley finished of 2020 in fine fashion top 5 finishes at the Zozo and CJ Cup. He posted three other top tens in the latter half of 2020 also and has been very consistent over that period. As ever the problem remains on the greens with some shocking performances with the flat stick ultimately stopping him in his quest for a 4th tour victory. As well as his win here back in 2013 he has posted two other top 20s. If ever there was a track where Henley may just get rewarded for his excellent long game lately it is here at Waialae.
2pts each-way R.Henley 30/1 (1/5 8)
I'm a little surprised Niemann isn't shorter in the market as he has all the credentials here to go well again but last week may just have emptied the tank a little. Around the same price my preference is for Sungjae Im. Sungjae plays more golf than anyone on tour so has to be among the best match fit competitors. We've seen before how recent outings have been a positive at the start of the new year. English's win on Sunday was another in that trend given he played in Mexico and then again in the QBE Shootout winning that event with Kuchar by his side. Sungjae performed well last week finishing in a tie for 5th in the end whilst losing almost a stroke on the greens throughout the week. Waialae sets up perfectly for the Korean and I expect him to have a fair chance of gaining his second tour victory over the weekend.
3pts WIN S.Im 18/1
Branden Grace at 100/1
Branden Grace finished 13th here on debut in 2017 with four rounds in the 60s. That isn't a surprise as his credentials for this place are up there with the best. He has won at Harbour Town where results translate regularly to Waialae. He has proven himself down the years to be a perfect fit for seaside tracks with a win at the Dunhill Links as well as various other events where wind plays its part, most notable Qatar where he has won twice. He had a mighty poor 2020 but bounced back to some form last time out in the DP World Tour finishing 8th in a strong field. Previous to that two made cuts in Mexico and the RSM show us he can't be too far away. Therefore triple figure quotes this week are of huge interest for someone who goes well early in the year. He won in Qatar twice, both times as his third start in the year. In 2016 and 2018 he posted two top 5 finishes in the SA Open on his first start. On his third start in 2019 he threw away the Phoenix Open at the death going into the water on the 71st hole whilst in the lead. He hasn't been at his best this past year, but small signs lately that things are turning and he has a lively chance on this track.
1.5pts each-way B.Grace 100/1 (1/5 8)
Emiliano Grillo at 50/1
Emiliano Grillo gave up a golden opportunity to win the Mayakoba in December leading heading into the final day. The wobbles got him once again and he was left behind in 8th place in the end. He has had a few disappointments like that in his career. Back in 2015 on the Korn Ferry he lead at River Run heading into the final day only to shoot a disappointing 72 and finish second. A few weeks later though he won the Tour Championship on the second tier then followed up with his first pga tour win a few weeks later at the Frys. If there is a time to bounce back from the Mexico slump it is here in Hawaii. The Argentine is a fine performer here down the years gaining nearly a stroke per round on the field at this track during his career. Four made cuts from four and two top 25 finishes is a respectable return here.
1.25pts each-way E.Grillo 50/1 (1/5 8)
Tom Hoge at 100/1
Tom Hoge is another triple figure poke worth chancing this week. We know how easy form translates from Mayakoba to this event with numerous golfers winning both events and Hoge posted his best finish there in over a year at the back end of 2020 finishing 3rd. A top 10 at the RSM, top 20 at the Colonial and a 12th placed finish here at Waialae last year are all signs that Hoge is more comfortable on these layouts. It was in 2018 though that he really made waves here leading heading into the final day. He narrowly missed out on the playoff in the end finishing 3rd behind Kizzire and Hahn. The performance in Mexico suggests he's playing well enough to contend here once again and certainly looks a lively outsider.
1pt each-way T.Hoge 100/1 (1/5 8)
CT Pan at 150/1
CT Pan is another who has tremendous correlating course form and has performed well enough lately to consider him a potential contender this week. The Tawainese star impressively held off the likes of Kuchar and Cantlay on his way to winning at Harbour Town back in 2019. Add a top 3 finish at Colonial, top 10 at the RSM and 11th at Mayakoba and we have a decent recipe for someone who will go well here. He missed the cut here in his only jaunt to this track in 2017 but 71-68 was no disaster. Pan finished off 2020 with some eye catching efforts finishing 12th at the Sanderson then a career best performance in a major at the Masters finishing 7th. Of the others Brice Garnett appealed having won by the sea in Punta Cana and having three top ten finishes at Mayakoba. Anirban Lahiri was 6th and 11th in Punta Cana and Bermuda before a few decent performances in his native India. He is another who could go well at a big price. Finally Ryo Ishikawa is showing some form of old in Japan and although this standard is higher don't be surprised should he feature over the weekend.
1pt each-way CT Pan 150/1 (1/5 8)