For the second straight week, the PGA Tour will take place in Hawaii, as the Sony Open will begin tomorrow at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. We’ll preview the course and field before getting into my two Top-20 Finish picks for the weekend.
The field for this weekend’s Sony Open does not feature the same amount of notable names as last weekend’s field, but 13 of the Top 50 ranked Official World Golf Ranking players will be teeing-off tomorrow, including last year's tournament winner Hideki Matsuyama. In total, 144 players will be competing this weekend on a much different style of golf course than in the Sentry Tournament last week.
Accuracy and precision will be needed to be successful on this Par 70 and 7,044-yard course. Waialae has narrow fairways that are not generous to players who are dominant in driving distance only. The course was ranked 9th easiest on the tour last season, but between the possible wind and the course layout, finding the green consistently is vital.
Last year's second-place finisher Russell Henley found a lot of success on the course due to his 14th-ranked driving accuracy percentage and 7th-ranked greens in regulation percentage. Henley is by no stretch of the imagination a “bomber” with his driver, so his approach of not trying to cut the corners off the tee proved to be the blueprint for finding success on the course last year.
It is not much of a surprise that Henley now enters this weekend with the fifth-best odds to win the tournament at (+2100). Last year's winner, Hideki Matsuyama, currently has the fourth-best odds at (+1600), and right now, Tom Kim has been given the best odds to win the tournament at (+1100).
Kim enters this week off a T5 finish in the Sentry last weekend, and his style of play certainly fits the layout of the course. So far this season, Kim is ranked third in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and seventh in Strokes Gained: Approach the Green.
Keith Mitchell is one of 14 players in this tournament that has finished Top 15 multiple times in this event. Mitchell did not compete in the Sentry Tournament, but through six events this season, he already ranks fourth on the tour with a 72.98% driving accuracy percentage, which could help explain his past success on this course.
In his T7 finish in the event last season, Mitchell finished with his best Shots Gained: Putting average of the season, which was also the 14th-best average in the tournament last year. His Shots Gained: Around the Green average was the 20th best in the tournament, which is essential since accuracy with irons will be key this weekend.
Mitchell’s overall comfort with the course and track record stacks up nicely in a lighter field. In 2021 when Mitchell finished in seventh, he was 11 under on Par 4’s, which was the most success he had on Par 4’s for the entire season, and I think he can find a similar momentum this weekend and get himself another T20 in the event.
Adam Scott is one of the 13 Top 50 players that will be playing this weekend, and after finishing 29th in the Sentry Tournament last weekend, I think he will find his way into the T20 this weekend. Scott put up very good numbers in scrambling from 20-30 yards out last season, and with the way the course plays and his driving ability, I think this will be an essential factor in his success this weekend.
Scott has played in this event a total of nine times in his career and has four T25 finishes and two T10 finishes, so he has been able to put together solid rounds throughout the years, even though his style isn’t exactly ideal for this type of course.
Keith Mitchell Top 20 Finish (+165)
Adam Scott Top 20 Finish (+180)