Sony Open in Hawaii
Date: January 9th – 12th
Course: Waialae Country Club
Purse: $6.7MM ($1.3MM to winner)
FedEx points: 500 to winner(s)
2019 Winner: Matt Kuchar (-22)
Waialae Country Club. At 7,045 yards, this par 70 was opened in 1927 and designed by Seth Raynor and Charles Banks. Much like last week, wind can definitely be a factor that golfers have to be cognizant of during shots. On holes 9, 11, 12 and 17 (the signature hole) the wind can come up off the Pacific Ocean and play havoc to high altitude or softer shots. Lakes and bunkers are layered aside many of the fairways requiring accuracy off the tee. Despite all of this it always comes down to the putts that seal the successful golfers here.
My Starting 4
Chez Reavie (1st selection this year) — Chez has not lost a beat on a strong 2019 season. He comes into the Sony Open with a 13th place finish at the Hero World Challenge and a 27th place finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He has one of the strongest track records here over the last three years with an average finish of 10th.
Justin Thomas (1st selection this year) — Much in the same way that Brooks Koepka is the king of Majors over the last few years, Justin is the king of Hawaii.
Charles Howell III (1st selection this year) — Charles comes in with a clunker at RSM Classic in November where he finished 102nd. Prior to that he had some success at the Club at Nine Bridges, Silverado Resort , Accordia Golf and El Cameleon finishing in the top 20 in each of those tournaments. He is familiar with the Sony Open where he has two top ten finishes in the last three years (the other year he was 32nd). One of my favorite things with Charles is his consistency across the board, top 50 in strokes gained off the tee, approaching the green and putting.
Russell Knox (1st selection this year) — Russell has two top 12 finishes here in the last three years. On top of that he has been in the top 35 each of the last four tournaments leading into this tournament. Opening this up to the SBS Tournament of Champions Russell has a good track record at Hawaiian courses. Russell is accurate with his woods and irons which will translate well at Waialae.
My Bench 2
Brian Stuard (1st selection this year) — Brian has been in the top 10 each of the last two years at Sony Open. In addition to that he was in the top 25 in the two tournaments leading into this tournament (23rd at Mayakoba Golf Classic & 10th at the RSM Classic). Brian is about as accurate a driver as you will find on the tour, this more than offsets his lack of distance.
Keith Mitchell (1st selection this year) — Keith has been in the top 25 each of the last two years at Waialae. When you add in a 32nd place finish last week at Plantation Course he has averaged a 24th place finish in Hawaii over the last three years. Keith had three top 10s last season predominantly of this driving distance and irons, both where he was top 50 in strokes gained.
2019 Stats (2020 will begin after this tournament)
Starting 4: Avg finish 45th (35th percentile)
Bench 2: Avg finish 61st (49th percentile)