Weekly Preview: Sony Open in Hawaii

Weekly Preview: Sony Open in Hawaii

This article is part of our Weekly Preview series.

Sony Open in Hawaii

Waialae CC
Honolulu, HI

The PGA Tour heads to Honolulu for the first full-field event held in 2022.

If it's anything like last week's tournament, we are going to see some low scores! There was a lot of discussion about the insanely-low numbers this past week, but I think we can all agree that under perfect conditions, a regular PGA Tour track is not going to offer much defense. There have even been years when Augusta National has looked like your local muni when it's wet and the winds are calm. It's nothing to get hung up on – a little wind and some dryer conditions and things will be back to normal. Will we get average conditions at Waialae? It's hard to tell, but regardless, the golfer who plays the best is going to win, no matter if he finishes 11- or 30-under-par. It's highly unlikely someone goes 30-under again this week, as hat has almost never happened. Plus, the field isn't as strong as it was at Kapalua, and even under benign conditions, the winner here generally ends up around 20-under par.

As far as handicapping, we have a lot of information at our hands, as Waialae has been the only course to host this event and many in the field that have made at least five appearances.

LAST YEAR

Kevin Na shot a final-round 65 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Joaquin Niemann and Chris Kirk.

FAVORITES

Cameron Smith (8-1)

Sony Open in Hawaii

Waialae CC
Honolulu, HI

The PGA Tour heads to Honolulu for the first full-field event held in 2022.

If it's anything like last week's tournament, we are going to see some low scores! There was a lot of discussion about the insanely-low numbers this past week, but I think we can all agree that under perfect conditions, a regular PGA Tour track is not going to offer much defense. There have even been years when Augusta National has looked like your local muni when it's wet and the winds are calm. It's nothing to get hung up on – a little wind and some dryer conditions and things will be back to normal. Will we get average conditions at Waialae? It's hard to tell, but regardless, the golfer who plays the best is going to win, no matter if he finishes 11- or 30-under-par. It's highly unlikely someone goes 30-under again this week, as hat has almost never happened. Plus, the field isn't as strong as it was at Kapalua, and even under benign conditions, the winner here generally ends up around 20-under par.

As far as handicapping, we have a lot of information at our hands, as Waialae has been the only course to host this event and many in the field that have made at least five appearances.

LAST YEAR

Kevin Na shot a final-round 65 on his way to a one-stroke victory over Joaquin Niemann and Chris Kirk.

FAVORITES

Cameron Smith (8-1)

It's amazing what decimating a course over four days on your way to besting the top golfer in the world will do to your odds. Smith started 2022 with a bang, and the secret is out. Actually, it wasn't much of a secret – Smith flashed a lot of potential over the past five years. Perhaps this is the year he puts everything together, but odds this short on the heels of an impressive win won't provide much value.

Webb Simpson (12-1)

Simpson is coming of a so-so season, especially consider where his expectations were at heading into it. Will this year be different? The oddsmakers think so, as he was installed as the second favorite. Then again, there aren't many big names in the field, so he might be here by default. Simpson has not won this event, but he's played extremely well here over his past three starts, with nothing worse than a T4. At this number, there is some value here, especially if he brings his best.

Marc Leishman (16-1)

Leishman's name usually pops up when the PGA Tour is in Hawaii, and that's because he's strong in the wind and has played well on the islands over the years. Leishman posted a T10 at the Tournament of Champions, and his track record here is very solid, with zero missed cuts and four top-10s over 12 starts.

THE NEXT TIER

Russell Henley (22-1)

This lines up as a nice spot for Henley, as his form – at least when we last saw him – is solid and his track record here is strong. We last saw him in late November and there's no way of knowing if anything will carry over, but during the fall portion of the season, he posted a top-25 in four of five starts. His results here have been all over the place, but the upside is high, as he proved in 2013 when he took home the title.

Kevin Na (25-1)

The odds of Na successfully defending are slim – actually they are 25-1 – but he has always been streaky, and if he's on this week, he will be tough to beat. Na finished 21-under-par this past week, which was only good for T13, but I have to imagine that his performance will only help his confidence.

Talor Gooch (25-1)

Gooch picked up his first PGA Tour win last fall, which gained him entry into the Sentry Tournament of Champions this past week, and he actually fared quite well for a first-timer. Gooch had solid stats across the board this past season and he's actually faring better early in the current campaign. The question for Gooch, just like all other young players who pick up a win early in their career is, is he content or now even hungrier?

LONG SHOTS

Erik van Rooyen (80-1)

I'm going to stay on the van Rooyen train until it goes off the tracks, and he's not quite there yet. I had him listed as a OAD sleeper pick this past week and after one round I nearly separated my shoulder patting myself on the back. However, the excitement didn't last long, as he slowly faded over the weekend. He did play well, just not well enough to keep up with some of the best players in the world. He won't have to worry about most of those guys here, as only a handful are playing again this week.

Brendan Steele (80-1)

Steele can get hot with the best of them, and if he's even close to top form he's going to make a run, as he has a good feel for this track. Steele first played this event in 2011, but he missed the cut and didn't return for almost a decade. When he came back, though, he came back with purpose, posting a solo second and following that up with a T4 this past year.

ONE-AND-DONE LEAGUES

Highly-owned Pick: Cameron Smith - There might not be much value in betting on Smith to win, but he's plenty capable of delivering in this format. In fact, unless he goes bonkers over the next couple months, I can't imagine a better spot for him. Sure, it's hard to win in consecutive weeks, but he's on fire right now and he's won this event before. Everything is lined up for him.

Moderately-owned Pick: Marc Leishman - Simpson would seem to be the second-best pick, but there are a couple other spots on the schedule where Simpson is an even better option, so it's best to hold onto him for now. As for Leishman, he too has value down the road, but I doubt his odds will be lower at any point of the season.

Lightly-owned Pick: Brendan Steele - If not for some solid options near the top of the odds chart, Steele would be a much more popular pick. He's finished top-4 in each of his past two starts here and he posted a runner-up at the ZOZO Championship this fall, so we know his game is in good enough shape. If you want to save Smith, Steele is your guy.

Buyer Beware: Hideki Matsuyama - Matsuyama might be the biggest name in the field, but that doesn't mean he's a good option. Matsuyama has played this event eight times without a single top-10 to show for his efforts. He's also missed the cut three times. It's quite odd that a player of his caliber has struggled this much against what is usually a fairly weak field. He must not have an eye for this course.

Last Week: Patrick Reed - T15 - $132,500

Season Total: $2,641,771

This Week: Cameron Smith - This came down to Smith or Steele, but in the end, I couldn't pass on Smith, who is locked-in right now. If Smith had a poor track record here, I would have gladly gone with Steele, but that's not the case, as Smith is a perfect 6-for-6 in cuts made and is a former champion.

FANDUEL PICKS

Upper Range: Cameron Smith $12,000
Middle Range: Talor Gooch $10,800
Lower Range: Stephan Jaeger $8,200

SURVIVOR LEAGUES

Last Week: N/A

Streak: 6

This Week: Cameron Smith - It's been the season of the double-up, and it has yet to fail me. The only thing working against Smith is the fact he won this past week and could be due for a letdown. Physically he's exactly where he needs to be however and the fact that he's never missed a cut here gives me comfort in this pick.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Greg Vara
Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the FSWA Golf Writer of the Year in 2005 and 2013. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.
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