This week the PGA kicks off 2015 with its first full field event. The tour stays in Hawaii but will be moving the players over to a different island and much different test in terms of course setup. The Waialae Country Club is a par 70 course which generally favours accuracy and shot making over pure power. Windy conditions and small Bermuda greens are a staple of this event, but if the winds hold off, scores can get low. It’s a complete and stark contrast to the week before where huge fairways and long holes awaited the players. For DFS players, this week also represents a huge shift. Instead of 33 players to choose from we now have well over 100 and prices ranging from 16000 to under 4000. As well, the dreaded cut will be there on Friday to reduce rosters. Hence our selections must be made with this in mind.
Last year Jimmy Walker took home the trophy showing he had a great all-around game and was not simply a bomber with no substance. Lots of different attributes can be looked at this week but I’ll be focusing on players who have a history of going low here coupled with good consistent performances at other similar tracks such as Hilton Head and Colonial. With small greens and short holes, approach games should also be focused on with a recent history of strong putting on Bermuda greens being a last but very strong indicator of success given the fact lots of birdies will be necessary to get the win here.
Russell Henley (10400): There’s a lot of intriguing plays this week between the 9000-12600 range on Draftkings but for my money the best value of the lot is Henley. Henley is a fast rising star who has already shipped two titles on the PGA tour at the age of 25. One of those titles was the Sony Open back in 2013 when he set the scoring record and finished with 5 straight birdies to close his round. Henley just missed getting into the playoff with a similar feat last weekend. He’s an absolutely masterful putter on Bermuda grass and has recently been clamouring about significant improvements to his swing. After last week, it seems he’s on point in this regard.
Luke Donald (9600): You need to jump on Luke while you can because this price will not last. Donald is the former number one player in the world whose game went into the tank for large portions of last year as he tried to change his swing. Last fall he went back to his old swing coach and his game has, not surprisingly, gotten back on track. This course sets up perfectly for Donald as his approach game and putting is second to none when on. He’s got a runner finish at this event to boot.
Charles Howell III (9600): I could not finish the write-up without mentioning Charles Howell III. Quite simply, Howell loves playing at the Sony Open. He has finished inside the top ten 6 out of his past 8 visits and has a 4th and 2nd to his name as well. He’s a cash game must.
Brian Harmon (7600): Harmon to me represents one of the best value plays this week. He played a great final round to end his Tournament last week and excels on shorter tracks which favour a wedge game. He can bury a lot of birdies if he gets hot and has proven he can win on tour. I think he’ll possibly be overlooked this week and makes a great gpp saver with loads of upside.
Hudson Swafford (6000): Swafford is another up and comer who many fantasy players new to golf won’t recognize. But he’s plenty talented and even better, excels at shorter older style golf courses such as the one he’ll face this week. He’s already proven his worth here last year when he landed his first top ten on tour. He gives you massive upside for his price.
Others to consider: Brendon Todd, Tim Clark, Boo Weekley
Justin Thomas (5600): Thomas is a graduate of the web.com tour who will be making his first go round on tour this year. But don’t be afraid, he comes ready with tons of talent and having already gained valuable experience by finishing in the top ten in a fall series event. He can make lots of birdies if he gets going and it would shock no one if he excelled here. For the price, he makes a great gpp play.
Heath Slocum (4400): Slocum can be a tad erratic but given his price, history and the fact his game is taylor-made for courses like Waialae I can’t really ignore him. He has won on tour multiple times before and showed some resurgence in his game at the end of 2014. If good Heath shows up, he could easily score you a made cut and top ten to boot.
Others to consider: David Lingmerth, Michael Putnam, Tim Wilkinson
Scott Langley (7100): Langley is a great speculative GPP play. He has taken leads into the final round of a PGA tourney a couple times in the past year and has shown he can score on any course. He shot a 62 here two years ago and the track sets up great for his game.
Sang-Moon Bae (9000): Looming legal issues with his visa might really be creeping in. He started hot last week but faded. He’s been playing well but you have to wonder where his mind is at and if he might pack it in after a slow start.
I think the course sets up well for a lot of players, but I really think this is the week we get to see Luke Donald get his career back on track and remind everyone hes still got game.