Sony Open in Hawaii
Date: January 10-13, 2013
Where: Waialae CC Honolulu, HI
TV: The GOLF Channel
by Evergreen, Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
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Who says it is always sunny in Hawaii?Rain and wind have dominated the season opening Tournament of Champions so much that the TOC is still being contended as this piece is being written.Hawaii normally produces some of the most serene and therefore score-able conditions on Tour but the trade winds are at full gust so far in 2013 and who knows what that means for the 2013 Sony Open.The first full-field event for 2013 has a rosier forecast than the winners-only TOC event but the host course at Waialae is much more difficult than the Plantation Course and the winds wont simply quit either.As usual, there is plenty of youth at the Sony as dozens of rookies are eager to make their first official start on the PGA Tour but look for the vets out there to do well this week as scoring at this course is difficult for first-timers.
The PGA Tour and Hawaii go back as far as 1928 and the Sony at Waialae has seen just about everyone make a stop or two as the first non-exempt tournament of each year.There will still be plenty of rust to knock off, even for those making the start after playing the TOC, and this tournament has often favored the hard working journeymen on Tour, including defending champ Johnson Wagner.Waialae plays just over 7,000 yards at par-70 but has plenty of challenge for the players as the fairways arent easy to find and hitting the greens from the rough isnt a given.This event usually turns into a short game test for most as their accuracy is bit hit and miss in the early schedule and the hottest putters are often saving par instead of getting ahead on the leaderboard.A strong tee to green game will lend birdie looks but it will be a weeklong grind for the eventual winner.Again, the winds are scheduled to be less than what we are seeing at Kapalua but there will be wind, especially early in the week and that will further test the players and their ballstriking.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight the players that we think are the best bets to win.We make a short, middle and long odds pick to win and normally make a few head to head picks as well but the goofy schedule from week one and the Tuesday finish have the sportsbooks a bit behind on the pairings, so just the winners picks this week.There will be head to heads as the week goes on, so dont forget to check with your favorite golf betting site as the event goes on for match-ups and prop bets.
Short Favorite: Matt Kuchar (16 to 1 odds to win)
Kuchar has battled the winds at theTOC to what looks like will stand as a T9 finish and he returns to Waialae a year removed from a T5 at the 2011 Sony.Matt has the type of swing that can produce results in the windiest conditions and certainly has the potential to hit enough fairways and greens this week to be in the running.Kuchar spun the 5thbest scoring average in 2011 on a no-mistakes approach that maximized the impact of his 8thranked total putting game.Kuch was in the top-10 on nine occasions last year and tends to fare better in the moderately paced scoring events like this one.
Middle of the Road: Brendon de Jonge (33 to 1 odds to win)
Even the nuttiest of golf nuts might be hard pressed to name de Jonge as the Tour leader in birdies last year but this road warrior fired 410 of them to lead all players.Brendon has some impressive overall stats as his birdie average, scoring average, ballstriking and greens hit percentage were all in the top-35 to produce the 10thbest all-around mark.Brandon missed just five cuts in all of 2011 and he should be poised for victory at some point this year.
Longshot: Johnson Wagner (50 to 1 odds to win)
I picked Steve Stricker as a defending champion to win the TOC and given the odd finish with that event, I cant tell you how good that pick was as he is currently in 2ndwith three holes to play.No matter the finish there, Wagner had himself a nice TOC as well with three 1-under rounds in tough conditions and that is as good a reason to tab another defending champion for a potential repeat.Johnson fired four rounds in the 60s last year en route to his two shot victory and he really made his push with back to back 66s on Friday and Saturday.Wagner found a way to score on the par-5s with a 9-under total for the week and he remains one of the best on Tour in eagle conversion.Johnson is pretty average in both fairways and greens hit but has an above average putter that really pays off in these kinds of grinding environments.