It was a breathtaking start to 2022 and the Tour is set to remain in Hawaii this week for the 2022 Sony Open. It will be the first tournament of 2022 that will see a large field with 144 expectant golfers set to compete this week.
2022 started with a bang and some incredibly high scoring – whether seeing scores in the -30s is good for the game is a debate for another day, but what can’t be denied is the brilliance of last week’s winner Cameron Smith.
Smith is a player I find hard to follow, when he is good, he is really good and his game, in particular, his putting is amongst the very best in the game. A weakness you could label at Smith is that he often struggles to throw four consistent rounds together, however, that all changed last week. Leading after two rounds, it only took a Jon Rahm masterclass to dislodge him from the top of the leaderboard in round 3, before Smith came roaring back on Sunday shooting -8 to clinch his fourth PGA victory.
Fast forward to this week and this year’s Sony Open will be held at the Waialae Country Club as it has been since 1965. It will play as a par 70 -7,044 yard course and compared to last week’s Sentry Open this course couldn’t be any more different in its layout.
The players last week experienced wide, runway-like fairways – this week, the players will be faced with narrow challenging fairways, leaving little room for error. Although the weather last week was benign, Waialae can be impacted by the weather and if the wind gets up it can make scoring challenges.
The keys for success around Waialae will be backing players who strike the ball accurately – keeping their tee shots on the fairway and ball on the green. Waialae has proved in the past that you don’t need to be a huge hitter to be successful. Previous winners include the likes of Kevin Na, David Toms, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson, and Matt Kuchar – all of whom are exceptionally accurate but not the longest of the tee. With the way the course will be set up, most of the field will be in with a chance this week.
Last week (unlike the scoring) our picks were a little slow. Our main bet Xander Schauffelle finished with a flourish but could only manage a 12th place finish. Kevin Na our long shot finished a place behind in 13th with Tony Finau finishing up in 19th. It was a respectable start but we hope that this week will see us back in the winner’s circle.
2022 Sony Open Betting Predictions
Main Bet – Corey Connors +1800
When looking at who has been successful here in the past and looking at who is competing this week, Corey Connors is a man who jumps off the page. Connors isn’t one of the biggest hitters on Tour but you could argue is one of the most accurate. Connors was a name we saw consistently at the top of leaderboards last year but he couldn’t quite string four rounds together to take home a title. It isn’t a surprise to see that Connors has one top ten finish and one top twenty finish in his three visits to Waialae, and if you look at his stats it’s easy to see how and why he has been successful.
He finished last year 12th in strokes gained from tee to green, 7th in overall driving accuracy, and 8th in strokes gained from off the tee. When on the fairway his stats are still solid with Connors finishing 9th in strokes gained through approach and 13th in overall greens in regulation. Connors should give himself plenty of looks this week but he just needs the flat stick to fire. If Connors can get the putter working he could be in with a real chance of success this week.
For those looking to play the places, Connors is priced at +450 for a top 5 finish and +225 for a top 10.
Dark Horse Bet – Keegan Bradley +900
Keegan Bradley has a very similar profile to our main bet Corey Connors and could be flying under the radar this week. Bradley is a veteran around Waialee having played here on nine previous occasions. Although yet to break the top ten, Bradley has only missed the cut twice and does have a 12th and 13th place finish to his name, he has the game to do well here. What draws me to Bradley is all-around consistency.
Last year – Bradley off the tee finished in 6th place in strokes gained from tee to green and 28th in strokes gained off the tee. He ranked 48th for overall driving accuracy and it’s perhaps no surprise to see Bradley finish 4th in strokes gained through approach and 12th for overall driving accuracy. Like Connors, where Bradley struggles is on the greens and despite using a ridiculously short putter (seriously it’s like he’s playing with a junior club) if Bradley can get it going he has to be a live contender this week.
Odds of +1400 for a top-five finish and +800 for a top ten finish could be worth playing.
Long shot Bet – Brandon Wu +40000
There has been much excitement about rookie Brandon Wu and at a huge price of +40000, he could be worth backing. Despite his odds, Wu has been touted to reach the very top of the game. He was ranked fifth in the world amateur rankings before turning pro and he won the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour Championship which we know is a strong breeding ground for future Tour stars.
Wu could do well around Waialae as his game is based more on accuracy than length. His accuracy off the tee is his main strength but unlike our previous two picks, he may actually be stronger on the greens. With not much to go off due to his PGA career being in its infancy, we have looked back to his best result which came in the Bermuda Championship – a short island based course – and the best PGA Tour finish of his short career came in the Puerto Rico Open where he finished seventh.
Despite the learning curves every rookie faces, it could be that this week Wu can launch his career with a positive performance.
Odds of +6500 for a top 5 finish and +2500 for a top 10 finish look incredibly enticing.