A shorter preview for the Sony Open, but Frazzled briefly outlines his selections and stakes for the event, which are Kevin Na and Harris English, with possibly a few Top 10 picks to come.
The Sony Open is the second of the two Hawaii events on the Tour and is played on the 7,044 yard Par 70 course at Waialae. This is a Seth Raynor and Charles Banks design and was opened in 1927. It is one of the shorter courses on the Tour and consists of narrow tree lined, turning fairways with small greens that consists of grainy Bermuda Grass and are likely to be running fast. This coastal layout is usually influenced by the Trade and Kona winds, but they are unlikely to be a factor this week and as a result scoring is likely to be very low.
The venue ranked as the easiest Par 70 on the Tour in 2013 and the second easiest for the past two years. With the forecast looking very favourable this week, we would expect that scoring will be around the -18 mark or so, although whether the exceptional play from Jimmy Walker which registered -23 last year, or Russell Henley when he was -24 in 2013, will be equalled, will decide the ultimate winning score.
Finding Greens in Regulation and having a very strong week on the greens is usually the key to success and with the wide fairways, light breeze and minimal rough, we expect the test to be similar over the coming 4 days. This is a venue where form at other courses correlates very well and they include the following;
- McGladrey Classic held at Sea Island Georgia
- St Jude Classic at TPC Southwind
- RBC Heritage at Hilton Head
- Crowne Plaza at Colonial
- Mayakoba Classic
Form at these venues together with the game that should be suited by the demands of this event is what we are using for our picks this week.
Na continues to frustrate in that he places so often, but fails to get over the line. He did the same towards the end of last year with runner up finishes in the Frys Open, Shriners Hospital for Children and a 3rd place in the CIMB Classic. If he replicates that however, we will get a healthy return for our money and he has a very solid record early in the year and in this event. He was 4th and 5th here in 2008 and 2009 and since then he has been 8th in 2014. He has very solid form at some of the relevant venues, such as Colonial and Hilton Head. He is first in Strokes Gained Tee to Green this season, 6th in Scoring Average and 13th in Ball Striking. The fact that he did not play last week is a slight negative, but he looks worth a bet at 35/1 each way. This has to be with Stan James however given that they are top price and paying 6 places each way.
1.5 points each way Kevin Na at 35/1 each way with Stan James
Harris English has been usurped by many of the young guns over the past 18 months and a player who looked a moral to be challenging for a Ryder Cup spot this year, has it all to do now. He does however have compelling form here, with 9th, 4th and 3rd place finishes over the past three years. He is also a winner of the St Jude Classic and the OHL Classic at Mayakoba. He has also been 5th at Colonial and has a Top 10 finish at Hilton Head, so is the perfect fit for this venue. He is without a Top 10 since the Valspar Championship early last year, but was playing some solid golf in the latter stages of 2015 and was 12th in the Deutsche Bank and 19th in the BMW Championship. He also registered a few Top 25 finishes in the HSBC Champions and the RSM Classic, which was the McGladrey. His tee to green game is usually excellent, but he lies first in Strokes Gained Putting this season, albeit based on a small sample size.
English badly needs some big performances to get back into the limelight and also to propel himself into a position to be included in the fields for the major events this season. This looks like a venue to kickstart his season and he is worth backing at 40/1 with Coral.
1.25 points each way Harris English at 40/1 with Coral
Top 20 Finish Bets:
Wilcox was 8th on his debut here in 2014 and is an improved player since then. He had an excellent season last year, when he ranked 4th in GIR, 32nd in Strokes Gained Putting, 8th in Scoring Average and 24th in Birdie Average. These shorter tracks suit his game very well and after hitting a purple patch in late summer, followed by a slight drop off, he at least showed his game is in good order, by signing off with a 7th in the Dunlop Phoenix Open. Experience is usually key here, but one very solid display from a previous visit is enough to persuade us that 5/2 on a Top 20 finish looks decent value.
2 points win Will Wilcox - Top 20 Finish at 5/2 with Stan James and Bet365