Sony Open Fantasy Golf Preview

Sony Open Fantasy Golf Preview

No Champion at the Tournament of Champions

It was a fairly average start to the calendar year as Sam Burns placed 19th and Jason Kokrak 38th. After a fabulous ten under second round, it appeared that Burns might challenge the leaders come Sunday evening. However, he had two mediocre final rounds, which were topped off by a double bogey on the last, which hurt us. Kokrak couldn’t get anything going all week and looked every bit an average player amongst superstars.

Our attention turns to the Sony Open this week as we look to get our first win of the calendar year. We will begin, as always, by taking a look at the history of the tournament as we start to build this week’s BeerLife profile.

The History

The Sony Open, which takes place in Hawaii, is the PGA Tour’s first full-field event of the calendar year. In 1965, the Sony Open in Hawaii, a spin-off of the Hawaii State Open, became a PGA Tour event. The tournament was initially planned to be held in the fall, but after not being held in 1970, it was relocated to the early winter.

The PGA Tour switched to a wraparound schedule after the 2013 season, which meant that the Sony Open in Hawaii was no longer the second event on a schedule that now went from September or October to August or September. The Sony Open in Hawaii, part of the Hawaii Swing, continues to be held after the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Hubert Green, Corey Pavin, Lanny Wadkins, Ernie Els, and Jimmy Walker are the only players who have won the Sony Open in Hawaii twice. Back-to-back championships were won by Els (2003, 2004) and Walker (2014, 2015).

Let’s turn our attention to the form of the previous five winners, analyze their rounds and see if we can find some crucial links to begin our BeerLife profile.

Past Results

2021 Kevin Na – 259 – Form 38/2/13/28
2020 Cameron Smith – 269 – Form 60/3/13/CUT
2019 Matt Kuchar – 258 – Form 19/16/1/57
2018 Patton Kizzire – 263 – Form 15/45/1/4
2017 Justin Thomas – 253 – Form 1/5/23/1

The Course

Waialae is a short, tree-lined, wind-affected course with small Bermuda greens designed by Seth Raynor. Only three holes have water in play, and the greens are generally around 11 on the stimpmeter. Before the 2019 renewal, the course underwent a few alterations. On the 10th hole, a fairway bunker was eliminated, the green was doubled in size, and the par-five finishing hole’s green was extended by about 33%.

Seth Raynor is the designer of some of America’s most iconic and classic golf courses. The Old White TPC at the Greenbrier, Chicago Golf Club, Fishers Island Golf Club, the Country Club of Charleston, and the Dunes Course at the Monterrey Peninsula are among his notable design credits.

The golf course’s routing is superb. The variation of tee-to-green directions from hole to hole keeps players on their toes. The vast range of tee-to-green routing in windy circumstances makes it a challenge. It forces players to strategize their way from hole to hole around the golf course. The greens are also slanted in unusual ways to produce fascinating pin locations.

The wind shouldn’t play too big a part this week, although it could pick up a touch on Sunday, which could make things interesting. Other than that, these are perfect conditions to see some more low shooting, much the same as last week.

H: +74°
L: +69°
Tuesday, 11 January
See 7-Day Forecast
Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Mon
+75° +77° +76° +75° +76° +76°
+71° +71° +72° +71° +72° +72°

The Field

Hideki Matsuyama of the Masters will headline, but Bryson DeChambeau of the 2020 US Open, who agreed to play at Waialae Country Club last week, is no longer in the field. As a result, his name has been removed from the Sony's field list. DeChambeau has competed in the Sony twice before, the most recent time in 2019 when he tied for tenth place.

Kevin Na, the defending champion who won last year with a birdie on the 18th hole, and Sungjae Im and Billy Horschel are all expected to compete. In addition, Jim Furyk and Jerry Kelly, who usually play on the PGA Tour Champions, are in the field on sponsor exemptions.

Key Stats

We run each player in the field through our BeerLife profile analysis to develop our selections. This is what we are looking for this week:

May the Force be with you – Two of the previous four winners here won at Mayakoba before lifting the trophy here. Also, Justin Thomas, who won this five years ago, placed third at Mayakoba this season.

World Wide Technology Championship

  1. Viktor Hovland
  2. Carlos Ortiz
  3. Justin Thomas
  4. Scottie Scheffler
  5. Matthew Wolff
  6. Joaquin Niemann

Slicing Through the Field with the Blade – The previous five winners have all ranked inside the top six in the field for strokes gained putting.

SG: Putting

  1. Beau Hossler
  2. Harry Hall
  3. Adam Long
  4. Cameron Smith
  5. Joshua Creel

Be Foursome – As above, the previous five winners here ranked inside the top six for their par-four scorings.

Par 4 Performance

  1. Sungjae Im
  2. Sam Burns
  3. Talor Gooch
  4. Cameron Smith
  5. Justin Thomas

Winning is a Habit – Four of the last seven winners had won earlier in the wraparound season.

Fortinet Championship – Max Homa
Sanderson’s Farms Championship – Sam Burns
Shriners Children’s Open – Sungjae Im
CJ Cup – Rory McIlroy
Zozo Championship – Hideki Matsuyama
Bermuda Championship – Lucas Hebert
World Wide Technology Championship – Viktor Hovland
Houston Open – Jason Kokrak
RSM Classic – Talor Gooch
Hero World Challenge – Viktor Hovland
Sentry Championship – Cameron Smith

Draft Picks

After looking at the above data and running the field through our Beerlife profile builder, we have selected the following picks.

Must-Have Players – These are the players you need to have in your lineup regardless of the price.

Cameron Smith
Odds To Win +800
DraftKings $11,200
FanDuel $12,000
I hate to pick a tournament favorite, but as they say, it's better to have a short-priced winner than a long-priced loser. Everything the Aussie touches seems to turn to gold at the moment. I was incredibly impressed with his win last week as he had Jon Rahm breathing down his neck the whole way, and he managed to hold his nerve. Before winning the Sentry last week, Smith placed fourth at the RSM and ninth at the CJ Cup, highlighting his great form right now. He won here two years ago, so he knows his way around this golf course. He has been decent off the tee without being exceptional, but that won't matter much here. His approach play has been superb this season, which has meant his long and short game hasn’t had to be remarkable to shoot some low scores. It also helps that he has the second-best putting average on Tour this season. All of this has meant he has the best scoring average this season, so you can see why I am reluctant to ignore him this week.
Sungjae Im
Odds To Win +1600
DraftKings $10,300
FanDuel $11,500
Sungjae Im is another player who has already won on Tour this season. Like Smith, he also placed ninth at the CJ Cup and came eighth at the Sentry last week. With form like this, it's clear to see why many consider the young Korean to be the hottest Asian golfer at present. While he has entered this tournament for the last three seasons and hasn’t placed better than 16th, it does mean he has course experience. Unlike our selection above, Im has been excellent with driver in hand, which has meant his approach play hasn't had to be the best. However, it has still been excellent. His putting will likely need to improve to win this week, but it's hard to write him off with a touch such as his around the green. He has made 14 consecutive cuts which is the second most on Tour and one of the best traits for any DFS player.

Steady Eddies – These guys should give a good account of themselves and are good additions to your lineup.

Talor Gooch
Odds To Win +2500
DraftKings $9,100
FanDuel $10,800
Talor Gooch appears to have come out of nowhere, but there is no doubt that every in the world of golf knows this 30-year-olds name now. This season he won the RSM Classic, came fourth at the Fortinet Championship, and fifth at the CJ Cup. His game off the tee is decent, as is his approach play. However, when you look at his stats overall, nothing jumps off the page other than the fact he has made more birdies and eagles than anyone this season. Granted, they are pretty good stats to have but what strikes me most is that he doesn't seem to have any weaknesses to his game which is another fantastic attribute to have when picking a fantasy golf player.
Freelance Sports Writer | + posts

Hey Guys

My name is Dean, AKA The Stat Man. I am a Sports Betting Analyst who uses math, algorithms, probability and logic to create my posts. I specialize in many sports, with Golf being the primary focus. You can find a lot of my work on various websites but the best content is found here on Beer Life.

I live in the UK, on the outskirts of London but my background and heritage is Irish. I'm an avid Manchester United fan who sees following them as a religion. Sport is pretty much my life, as I live and breathe it daily. If there is something I don't know it's probably not worth knowing as I have over 20 years industry experience and insight.

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As always, believe in the power of statistics!