Since 1965 (except 1970), the Sony Open has played at Waialae CC, the fourth-longest standing course to host a PGA TOUR tournament. This year will be no different, with a mixture of PGA TOUR rookies and veterans looking to start their calendar year off with a win.
Looking back at the winners and their odds is quite impressive. The average number of the past winners dating back to 2010 is around +8200, with the highest coming from Johnson Wagner at +15000 in 2012 and the shortest coming from Jimmy Walker (2015) and Justin Thomas (2017) at +1200. Cameron Smith won at +5000 last year, and Matt Kuchar was +4000 the year previous.
We’ve seen a myriad of winners claim victory at this coastal course. Even though course history matters with 14 of the last 15 winners playing at least once before their win, it’s not essential. Past winners like Wagner missed the cut three-straight times before winning in 2012. Russell Henley won in his first start back in 2013, and Fabian Gomez claimed victory in 2016 after missing the cut twice and recording a 67th as his best prior finish. We’ve also seen those who played in the Sentry Tournament of Champions the previous week have success in Oahu; 15 of the past 22 winners at the Sony Open played in Kapalua the week before. All of this is to say the tournament should be wide open, allowing you to scan the entire board this week instead of focusing on just the top tier of golfers.
As mentioned in the DraftKings Preview article, Berger’s opportunity to win is as good as anyone’s this week with how well he’s played dating back to his win at Colonial CC — the first tournament back after the shutdown. Berger lost some steam towards the end of last year, but got back into form with a top 10 in Kapalua last week, gaining just under five strokes ball-striking. With the rescheduling last season, Berger was able to play tournaments like the RBC Heritage and Mayakoba Classic and played them well. He recorded a 23rd in Mayakoba and a third at Harbour Town (the tournament following his win last season). Webb Simpson (+1100) is also someone to consider at the top of the board. He lost close to seven strokes off-the-tee last week, but he still managed to finish with a T20 with how well he hit his irons. Simpson has routinely played well here and should not be as lousy off-the-tee on this short par 70.
Leishman’s long-term stats won’t paint a pretty picture. After the shutdown last season, his struggles were on full display, losing strokes tee-to-green in nine of his last 10 measured tournaments. His 13th at the Masters was the first sign Leishman’s game was coming back into form. He followed it up in 2021 with a decent performance in Maui, gaining 3.8 strokes through approach. Most of his solid iron-play was on the weekend, and even though he only ranked higher than three other golfers with his putter (losing 5.16 on the greens), he comes to a course where he’s gained on the greens in all but two of his previous 11 starts. Leishman hasn’t missed a cut here and — just like his Farmers Insurance Open victory last season — he doesn’t need a ton of form to win. Brendon Todd (+5000) also deserves some looks at his number. His off-the-tee performance rivalled Simpson’s as the worst at Kapalua last week. Still, his ability on the greens is hard to deny, ranking second in putting over the weekend behind Harris English — the eventual winner. Todd’s ball-striking took a dip towards the end of last season from an injury, but he should feel comfortable on this coastal course, which is similar to his back-to-back wins at the Bermuda Championship and the Mayakoba Classic back in 2018.
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