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The PGA Tour wraps up the Hawaii swing with the 2023 Sony Open at Waialae Country Club, teeing off Thursday, January 12th. This is the first-full field event of 2023 and cuts down to the top-65 players after 36 holes.
Defending Sony Open champion, and 21st in the Official World Golf Rankings, Hideki Matsuyama headlines a 144-golfer field featuring Sungjae Im (ranked 19th), Tom Kim (14th) and Jordan Spieth (15th).
World No. 5 golfer Jon Rahm ran down Collin Morikawa to win last week’s 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions. Morikawa entered the final round of the Sentry up six strokes on the field and seven ahead of Rahm.
However, Rahm fired a final-round 10-under, even after bogeying the first hole. Morikawa came through for us in a head-to-head vs. Tom Kim but gave outright backers an epic bad beat.
After a losing 2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions for ya boy, my 2022-23 PGA Tour balance dropped to +4.08 units (u). The recap of my Sentry bets are at the bottom of this post.
Before we get into the Sony Open bet slip, let’s look at Waialae Country Club and go through some of the key performance indicators (KPIs) guiding my picks.
Course breakdown and KPIs
Waialae Country Club is a par 70 that plays at 7,044 yards with two Par 5s, four Par 3s and 12 Par 4s. It has Bermuda grass greens with narrow fairways and a majority of the second shots at Waialae are within 150-200 yards.
Comp courses used
- Harbour Town Golf Links for the RBC Heritage
- Sea Island Golf Course for The RSM Classic
- Sedgefield Country Club for the Wyndham Championship
- Colonial Country Club for the Charles Schwab Challenge
- Proximity (PROX): 150-200
- SG: Short-game and Around-the-Green (ARG)
- Driving Accuracy
- SG: Approach (APP)
- Strokes Gained (SG): Par 3
- Par 3 EFF: 175-200
- Greens-in-Regulation (GIRs) gained
- SG: Putting on Bermuda over the last 24 rounds
- Course History
- SG: Trending over the last 24 rounds
- Par 4 Efficiency (EFF): 400-500
- SG at courses less than 7,200 yards
Sony Open ‘Horses for the course’
- All stats are provided by FantasyNational.com unless noted.
The red flags for Conners are his ARG game and struggles in putting. Conners ranks 95th in SG: ARG in this field and 112th SG: Putting on Bermuda greens over the last 24 rounds.
But, Conners has the most SG at Waialae over the last five Sony Opens with and 11th in 2022, tied for 12th in 2020, and tied for third in 2019. He’s picked up strokes on the greens in all four of his Sony Open appearances.
Conners is 11th in my KPI-model. He’s second for this field in GIRs gained, fourth in SG: APP, eighth in driving accuracy, seventh in Par 4 EFF: 400-450, and fifth in Par 3 EFF: 175-200.
The Par 4 and Par 3 stats are important because there are five Par 4s between 400-450 yards and three Par 3s within 175-200 yards.
At the end of the day, Conners ranks fourth in my Sony Open power rankings and he’s got the sixth-best odds to win this event. He is fourth in SG at the comp courses used and fifth in SG at courses 7,200 yards or shorter.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Corey Conners odds:
- Win: (0.5u: +2500)
- Top-5: (0.5u: +500)
- Top-10: (0.5u: +240)
We are going back to the well with Henley after he came through for us with a 45-1 outright victory at the 2023 World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba.
The host course of Mayakoba — El Camaleon Golf Course — is another short, shot-makers course. Henley won the 2013 Sony Open and lost in a playoff to Matsuyama in last year’s Sony Open.
He is eighth in total SG at comp courses used. Henley has finished ninth or better finishes in the last three Wyndham Championships. Sixth in the 2015 RSM Classic and fourth in the 2014 RSM Classic.
DraftKings listing Henley with the sixth-best odds despite an uninspiring performance at last week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions proves how well this course fits Henley’s game.
Henley ranks sixth in my KPI-model including fifth in Par 4 EFF: 400-450, third in GIRs gained, third in driving accuracy and second in SG: APP.
Like Conners, Henley struggles with the flat-stick. But, his best putting surface is Bermuda grass greens and Henley picked up nearly six strokes on the greens in last year’s Sony Open.
Finally, Henley has the most SG in this field at courses 7,200 yards or less. He ranks first in both SG: Tee-to-Green and APP at courses 7,200 yards or less and second in SG: Ball-strikings.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Russell Henley odds:
- Win: (0.5u: +2200)
- Top-5: (0.5u: +450)
- Top-10: (0.5u: +230)
Si Woo Kim
This is just a value-play because Kim pops on my stats and has played well at comp courses to Waialae. He finished fourth at the 2016 Sony Open and is ninth in my KPI-model over the last 50 rounds.
Kim is fourth in SG: ARG, 16th in driving accuracy, 17th in SG: APP and first in both Par 3 EFF: 175-200 and PROX: 175-200. There are 5.9% more approach shots from PROX: 175-200 at Waialae.
Furthermore, Kim finished second in the 2018 RBC Heritage and 14th in the 2016 RBC Heritage. He’s placed fifth or better in four of his six Wyndham Championship appearances with a victory at the 2016 event.
Lastly, Kim is fourth in my KPI-model at courses 7,200 yards or less. He’s first in SG: ARG and second in PROX: 150-175. Kim is in the top 20 in this field for six of the other nine metrics pulled for short courses.
Go to DraftKings Sportsbook and bet the following Si Woo Kim odds:
- Win: (0.25u: +4500)
- Top-5: (0.25u: +900)
- Top-10: (0.25u: +400)
- Top-20: (0.5u: +200)
Sony Open Matchups
Keegan Bradley (-110) > Maverick McNealy
First of all, Bradley is 10th in my Sony Open power rankings and third on my KPI-model. While McNealy is 32nd in my power rankings and 70th in my numbers.
McNealy ranks 96th or worse in this field for driving accuracy, SG: APP and PROX: 150-200, and 78th in GIRs gained. Bradley is fifth in SG: Par 3, 29th in PROX: 175-200, 19th in PROX: 150-175, and 18th in GIRs gained.
Finally, Bradley fits more trends of recent Sony Open winners. For example, McNealy has never won a PGA TOUR event, didn’t appear in last week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, and has only played one Sony Open.
Sungjae Im (-115) > Tom Kim
Im is my No. 1 overall power-ranked golfer in the Sony Open field while Kim is third. Kim has never played in this event and Im outranks Kim in SG at comp course (4th vs. 14th) and SG on courses 7,200 yards or less (3rd and 29th).
DraftKings has Kim as the favorite to win the Sony Open and lists Im with the second-best odds. However, Im’s spread is more expensive vs. Kim than vice versa. It’s weird the golfer with the worse odds is the favorite in a matchup.
Kim ranks 101st in this field at Par 4 EFF: 450-500 whereas Im ranks first in efficiency at Par 4s within that range. There are five Par 4s at that distance at Waialae.
Final Bet Slip
- Corey Conners: Win, top-5 & top-10 (1.5u)
- Russell Henley: Win, top-5 & top-10 (1.5u)
- Si Woo Kim: Win, top-5, top-10 & top-20 (1.25u)
- Keegan Bradley (-110) > Maverick McNealy
- Sungjae Im (-110) > Tom Kim
2023 Sentry Tournament of Champions (-4.2u)
Win & Picks To Place
- Will Zalatoris (tied for 11th): Win, Top-5 & Top-10 (-1.5u) ❌
- Sungjae Im (tied for 13th): Win, Top-5 & Top-10 (-1.5u) ❌
- Justin Thomas (tied for 25th): Win & Top-5 (-1u) ❌
- Patrick Cantlay > Tony Finau (-1.3u) ❌
- Collin Morikawa > Tom Kim (+1u) 💰
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