The Sony Open | Thursday 15 January - Sunday 18 January | Waialae Country Club
After the excitement of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions golf fans are in for another treat this week as there’s more golf to be played in Hawaii, this time at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. Although both tournaments are played in Hawaii the courses couldn’t be more different. Waialae is a short, par 70 track compared to the beast that is Kapalua. Measuring in at a paltry 7,020 yards, distance off the tee is a non-issue this week and rather focus should be on GIR% and putting. The fairways are wide and forgiving and although there are 83 strategically placed bunkers scattered across the course, most players of this calibre should be able to avoid those and post low scores. Whoever wins on this picturesque course is going to have to make a lot of birdies and have a cool head on their shoulders as this is always a tightly contested affair. So who has the game to walk away victorious this week? Let’s have a look.
To Win Outright
Jason Day 12/1
Matt Kuchar 16/1
Jimmy Walker 16/1
Chris Kirk 18/1
Hideki Matsuyama 20/1
Chris Kirk (18/1 a win, 4/1 a place)
Chris Kirk came out firing in his final round last week and shot an impressive 62 to catapult himself on to every golf punter’s radar this week. He gained entry into the Hyundai based on his two stroke victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship last year and he could have walked away with another victory in the McGladrey Classic had his putting not let him down. On Sunday those woes with the putter seemed to be behind him and he will be looking forward to posting some low scores on a course that suits his game. Each way on Kirk is my tip here.
Jimmy Walker (16/1 a win, 7/2 a place)
Jimmy Walker let a lot of golf punters down last week when he lost to Patrick Reed in a playoff but clearly he enjoys playing golf in Hawaii because he won this event last year. I’m a firm believer that players should be backed when they are in form and defending a title, which is exactly the case with Walker this week. At odds of 16/1 I can’t ignore Walker so each way is the bet for me here.
Luke Donald (35/1 a win, 77/10 a place)
I avoided tipping Luke Donald for most of last year but he seemed to find some form in December and will be hoping that he can carry that through into the New Year. He managed to come third in the Nedbank, a tournament that he has traditionally fared well in, and he arrives here with more course form than almost anyone else in the field. A second in 2007 has been followed by four Top 25s in six starts so don’t be surprised to see Donald competing on Sunday. 35/1 is a great price; each way seems a solid bet here.
Matt Kuchar (16/1 a win, 7/2 a place)
Matt Kuchar let me down last week but I’m giving him another chance based on the fact that he loves the course. He’s been quoted as saying that this is one of his favourite courses and over the past three years his finishes have reflected that as he’s managed two Top 5s and an eighth. He’s accurate off the tee so will avoid the hazards and even if he finds himself in the bunker he’s known to be one of the better scramblers on the Tour. At 16/1, Kooch offers a lot of value so get on while you can.