This week’s Sony Open in Hawaii is the first full-field PGA Tour event in seven weeks. Waialae Country Club hosts the field of 140 in its 55th consecutive year as a PGA Tour stop. Justin Thomas, fresh off his playoff victory in the Sentry Tournament of Champions, and defending Sony Open champ Matt Kuchar are two of nine golfers from the top 25 of the Official World Golf Ranking in attendance. Last year’s tournament, won by Kuchar at 22-under par, ranked as the year’s 25th-toughest event with a Strength of Field of 338. Below, we’ll look at the best betting picks for the 2020 Sony Open.
Thomas is the odds-on tournament favorite at both DraftKings Sportsbook (+500) and FanDuel Sportsbook (+500). He looks to win back-to-back events and his third of the 2019-20 PGA Tour season (Sentry TOC, CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges). We turn our attention elsewhere in search of better value among the longshots.
The course: Waialae Country Club
Only three courses have served as longer-running hosts of a PGA Tour event than the pride of Honolulu, Hawaii. Waialae CC measures a relatively short 7,044 yards and plays as a par 70. Five of the last seven champions of the event finished at or below minus-29, including Thomas’ record aggregate score of 253 strokes (-27) in his seven-shot victory over Justin Rose in 2017.
The two par 5s on the course come in at 506 and 551 yards. They played as the two easiest holes on the course last year, with the 506-yard 9th playing to a scoring average of 4.280 and the 551-yard 18th averaging 4.486 strokes. The two holes saw a total of 48 eagles and just 31 scores of bogey or worse carded. The toughest hole was the 477-yard par-4 13th with a scoring average of 4.218. There were 111 bogeys, seven doubles and one “other” carded there in 2019. The other par 4s range from 351 to 480 yards. The four par 3s vary from 176 to 204 yards. All but one had a scoring average above par last year.
Trees are a rare find on the course, with bunkers and streams acting as the predominant hazards. The greens consist of Bermuda grass.
Key stats to consider for the Sony Open
With only two par 5s on the course and those presenting many eagle opportunities in last year’s tournament, Eagles Gained is a focus this week. Scoring, or more importantly not not scoring on those holes will be very important. Similarly, Bogey Avoidance and Strokes Gained: Par 4s are important to consider. We’re also looking at Strokes Gained: Approach and Good Drives Gained, based on historical data from Fantasy National.
My model for the week is set to the last 36 rounds for each golfer in the field from par-70 courses shorter than 7,200 yards and featuring Bermuda greens.
Sony Open betting picks: Sleepers and value bets
Stanley is one of many in the field returning to competitive play for the first time since the RSM Classic in late November. He finished T-30 there, following a missed cut at the Mayakoba Classic. He enters the week ranked 118th by the OWGR, but he was ranked as high as 26th in 2018. The 32-year-old has played here each of the last four years with a top result of T-10 in 2018.
Stanley last won the Quicken Loans National in 2017 where he beat Charles Howell III in a playoff. He’s a strong performer on par 4s and has a good approach game while avoiding trouble.
Fifteen of the last 21 Sony Open champions played the previous week at the Sentry. Reavie looks to follow that trend following a T-27 finish in the 30-man field last week. He has missed the cut in just one of eight events to begin the 2019-20 season.
His 2019 victory came at the Travelers Championship hosted by the 6,844-yard, par-70 TPC at River Highlands. He’s among the best in the field in SG: Approach, Eagles Gained and Good Drives Gained. He will look to take advantage of another short venue tailored to his game.
Conners also looks to follow the historical trend of those who used the TOC as a warm-up for the Sony Open. He is coming off a T-19 result last week which was his fifth top-20 result in six events to open the season. The Canadian finished T-3 here last year after gaining entry as a Monday qualifier.
He followed up the breakout performance with his first PGA Tour victory three months later at the Valero Texas Open, where he was also added to the field as a Monday qualifier. Conners doesn’t card a lot of eagles, but he ranks second in the field in Good Drives Gained and seventh in SG: Approach.
Sony Open betting picks: Our winner
Leishman is presented as a tremendous value pick at DraftKings, as he is just +3300 at FanDuel. He is the seventh-best golfer in the field with a world ranking of 28th. He didn’t win in 2019, keeping him out of the field last week at Kapalua. The Australian did collect three third-place finishes and five other top 10s against just four missed cuts. One of those was a T-3 at this event and another was a solo third at the Safeway Open in September. He hasn’t finished worse than T-47 in his last five appearances at Waialae.
Leish ranks second by my stat model. He’s fourth in SG: Approach and seventh in Good Drives Gained. He may have some extra motivation this week with thoughts on the wildfires wreaking havoc in his home country.
This article was originally published on Tuesday. Odds subject to change.