Sony Open: Preview, Notes & Best Bets

The second leg of the PGA Tour’s “Hawaii Swing” will begin Thursday at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

Kevin Na is the defending champion and one of 38 players who made the island hop from Maui, the sight of last week’s Tournament of Champions.

Field Level Media’s golf experts break down key tournament notes along with odds and best bets.

SONY OPEN

  • Honolulu, Jan. 13-16
  • Course: Waialae Country Club, Honolulu (Par 80, 7,044 yards)
  • Purse: $7.5M (Winner: $1.350M)
  • Defending Champion: Kevin Na
  • FedEx Cup Leader: Talor Gooch
Kevin Na
Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

HOW TO WATCH

  • TV: Thursday-Saturday, 7.-10:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Sunday, 6-10 p.m. (Golf Channel)
  • PGA Tour Live: Thursday-Friday, 12-7 p.m. ET (Featured Groups), 7-10:30 p.m. (Featured Holes); Saturday, 4-7 p.m. (Featured Groups), 7-10:30 p.m. (Featured Holes); Sunday, 4-6 p.m. (Featured Groups), 6-10 p.m. (Featured Holes).

NOTES

  • Each of the past eight winners of the Sony Open also competed the previous week, with Justin Thomas winning both events in 2017.
  • Smith, the 2020 Sony Open winner, is the sixth player to win both Hawaii events in a career. He joined Thomas, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Vijay Singh and Zach Johnson.
  • World No. 8 Bryson DeChambeau withdrew due to a wrist injury, leaving Smith (No. 10) as the lone top-10 player in the field.
  • Waialae has played host to a PGA Tour event since 1965, making it one of the longest-tenured events on tour.
  • Na is seeking to become the first player to successfully defend at the event since Jimmy Walker in 2014-15.
  • Keita Nakajima, the top-ranked amateur in the world, is in the field on a sponsors exemption. Other exemptions include Chan Kim, Takumi Kanaya and Rikuya Hoshino, who each rank inside the top five on the Japan Golf tour Order of Merit.



BEST BETS

  • Smith (+900 at BetMGM) has posted six top-10s in his past nine starts, two other top-20s and has gone 52 consecutive holes without a three-putt. With favorite odds, Smith is drawing only 4.6 percent of the bets and 6.0 percent of the money.
  • Webb Simpson (+1400) has finished in the top four of the event in each of the past three years. He finished 2021 with three consecutive top-15 finishes but Simpson’s odds have lengthened since opening at +1200.
Webb Simpson
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
  • Sungjae Im (+1400) has three top-10s in five starts this season but has not finished better than T16 in three previous event starts.
  • Hideki Matsuyama (+1600) will make his ninth event start. He has posted 16 sub-70 rounds in 20 rounds on tour this season.
  • Marc Leishman (+1800) opened at +2000 but his odds have shortened while being backed by 7.6 percent of the Bets and 10.6 percent of the money at BetMGM – both second-most at the sportsbook.
  • Kevin Kisner (+3300) is coming off a T8 on a far longer course last week. He finished T4 in 2020 at Waialae, a shorter and narrower course that suits his ball-striking. That has led to Kisner being backed by 5.1 percent of the bets and 8.4 percent of the money.
  • That’s still well behind Abraham Ancer, who has been backed by a book-high 8.2 and 10.6 percent, respectively. Ancer is also +3300 while coming off a T35 last week but is also one of only four top-20 players in the field.
  • Brendan Steele (+6600) lost in a playoff to Smith in 2020 and held the 54-hole lead last year before finishing T4.


–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)