Sony Open Golf Betting Tips
Rob Cobley’s World Tour Championship Betting Tips
Waialae Country Club, Course One - Honolulu, Hawaii, USA - Par 70, 7044 Yards
The regular season begins on the PGA Tour this week in Hawaii as the Waialae Country Club plays host to the Sony Open for the 18th consecutive year. Waialae has become an institution on Tour, every bit in the same way as Torey Pines or Riviera. However, the test is very different from those old stalwarts and presents opportunities to a wholly distinct player to get a victory on the board early in the season. The past winners of this event have a very different game; the likes of David Toms, Zach Johnson, and more recently Russell Henley are all intelligent, straight hitters who can grind down a course with fairways and greens, and who are also able to make above the average number of putts on the field most weeks. It is also worth noting that the last eight winners of the Sony Open had played in the limited field event at Kapalua the week before - a staggering statistic, given that they make up only one-fifth of the field each year.
A couple of long drives South East of Honolulu - designed back in 1925 by the late Seth Raynor, Course One at Waialae is a reasonably short, flat, tree-lined course that sits by the bay. As previous winning scores suggest, it can be picked apart by the right type of player and the presence, or absence, of wind, is a significant factor. The fairways are a familiar Bermudagrass. The trees are light but regular, making for a high probability that any errant shot will lead to either a blocked out second, or one where the player will need to shape their approach to the small, slow, and well-bunkered greens. The primary defence of the course at Kapalua is the wind. In calm conditions, and at just over 7,000 yards, the players can hit three woods or long irons and have mid to short iron approaches to the small greens, setting up plentiful birdie opportunities; however, if the wind blows, the challenge becomes all the more difficult. Course form has historically been of little importance at Waialae. More critical is the ability to handle the wind and have a good putting week, combined with steady greens in regulation numbers. Look for a medium to short hitter who plays well in the wind, and can get hot on the Bermuda greens.
Last year was a bit of an anomaly, as 40mph winds battered Hawaii, and Cameron Smith won with a record high score. This week should yield far more birdies, and I’ll be looking for in-form players. Just once in the last ten years has a player won here having not played (somewhere in the World) the previous week.
Last Five Winners:
The Market Leaders
Webb Simpson (11/1) is not the favourite I expected this week, with last week's winner Harris English (12/1) and local high flyer Collin Morikawa (12/1) more probable contenders in my view. Simpson played well enough last week, without ever really pushing himself near to contention, and a resultant 17th place represents a fairly average opening to 2021 for Webb. He does have a game that suits Waialae, with his straight hitting and significant putting meaning he is likely to be well suited to the birdie-making required to contend here. His form is also solid, reading 13, 13, 13, 4, 3, but I just feel that he is on one of his "flat" runs, and I feel that one of the more explosive players near the top of the market will surpass him this week.
That could conceivably be Harris English, who picked up a long-overdue win last week on the sister island, and who looks in fantastic form after several years in the wilderness. English is another straight hitter who will set up lots of chances. With consecutive top 10s here between 2013-2015 when his game was in better shape, it is hard to see him being out of the picture. Morikawa was just one stroke off the lead going into the final round at Kapalua, but a closing level par 73 saw him fall well away to 7th place. He makes his second career start here this week, and will be looking to improve on a 21st place last season. I would be shocked not to see him in the top 20.
The best of the rest is Daniel Berger (14/1), who finished 10th last week, but has nothing better than 15th place in five starts here. He can go very low and cannot be ignored after a strong Sunday at Kapalua.
Rob’s Golf Betting Tips
Headline Betting Tip
Ryan Palmer is a previous winner at Waialae, albeit 11 years ago, and I see signs of a repeat from the 2010 champion in his recent performances. Palmer was the co-leader in illustrious company going into the final round last week at a far less-suited venue to his consistent and straightforward game. If he can ultimately achieve what was eventually a 4th placed finish there, I am incredibly bullish about his chances this week.
Ryan followed up that win with other top 10 finishes, including last year when he eventually came 4th in tough conditions. He will like the calmer, low scoring venue on offer this week, and looks great value to back with 3 points e/w at 22/1.
Other Betting Tip
Tom Hoge is yet to pick up his maiden Tour victory, but did finish last year on a high with a 3rd place around a similarly tight and tricky seaside course in Mexico. Tom has an easily repeatable and compact swing that provides fantastic consistency, and he should like the Bermuda greens, which are the same that he performed so well on in Mexico. In the last three years, he has finishes of 12th and 3rd here, and should not be this high a price amongst one of the weaker fields to have made up this event in recent memory. I will be backing him with 2 points e/w at 80/1.