Sony Open in Hawaii Betting Tips
Robert Cobley is a maths graduate with years of experience in the sports betting industry. He has now teamed up with Bet UK to bring his golf betting tips to our readers.
Waialae Country Club, Course One - Honolulu, Hawaii, USA - Par 70, 7044 Yards
The regular season begins on the PGA Tour this week as Hawaii, and the Waialae Country Club plays host to the Sony Open for the 17th consecutive year. Waialae has become an institution on Tour, every bit in the same way as Torey Pines or Riviera, although the test is very different to those old stalwarts, and presents opportunities to a wholly different type of player to get a victory on the board early in the season. The past winners of this event have a very distinct 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 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, and designed back in 1925 by the late Seth Raynor, Course One at Waialae is a fairly short, flat, tree lined course that sits by the bay. As previous winning scores here suggest, it can be picked apart by the right type of player and the presence, or absence, of wind is a big factor. The fairways are a familiar bermuda grass, and 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 main defence of the course at Kapalua is the wind. In calm conditions, and at just over 7,000 yards the players can hit 3 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 to 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. With 40 mph winds forecasted this week, I will also be looking at strong wind players.
Last Five Winners
The Market Leaders
Justin Thomas (5/1) is a course winner (2017), won last week, and has won two of his last four events, and so would appear to be the understandable market leader heading into this week in Hawaii. Thomas came out on top in a three way playoff over Xander Schauffele and Patrick Reed last week having looked like he might have blown the tournament with a six on the 72nd hole, but the World number 4 kept his composure to record his 11th PGA Tour victory. That was no surprise, and having only finished outside of the top 20 here in four visits, it is hard to see Thomas not getting into contention once more. Justin's game holds no secrets, he is medium to long, but his strength lies in his impeccable iron play. Thomas makes few mistakes, and arriving in this form would be expected to hit the ground running. What maybe puts me off is that he has never gone back to back, and there might be a slight hangover from last week to contend with. For that reason, and at such a short price in a strong field, and with the weather set to be blustery for most of the week (it was calm when Thomas won in 2017) i am able to leave him out and look for value further down the market.
Patrick Reed (12/1) and Webb Simpson (12/1) were both a part of the victorious US President's Cup team, and on the back of strong years in 2019, both will be looking to start 2020 with a bang, and there will be no lacking motivation for either here at Waialae. Reed has played here twice, with a missed cut in 2015 followed by a 13th placed finish last year. This is without a doubt a course that suits his solid game, and if the wind gets up it will be all the more helpful for the controversial American. One concern is the irregularity with which Patrick is able to convert good performances into wins. In Reed's last five tournaments, he has four top 10s, including a playoff defeat last week where he closed with a stunning 64, but no wins. Reed is about priced right, he would usually be higher but for that strong last round at Kapalua. The price is just too short for a player that wins less than he should, so i will leave Reed this week also. Webb Simpson (12/1) has not finished outside the top 13 in any of his last four visits to Waialae before an injury enforced year off in 2019, including a 4th in 2018. He also enjoyed a strong year, returning to the World's top 20 and finishing inside the top 10 in each of his last 4 events. His game is ideal for the venue, straight, great iron play, and good in wind. He has a chance, but it's rare Webb goes off at such a short price which is off putting.
Hideki Matsuyama (16/1) and Colin Morikawa (18/1) are rated as the next best. Hideki has been in great form, but his record here is astonishingly poor with four missed cuts, and just one top 50 in his six appearances. That justifies the sharp increase in price over the recent Asian swing events, but it is understandable, and with that form, even on a course where it is less critical, he is impossible to keep on side. Morikawa was one of several breakthrough young players last year, and the Californian continued to perform well with a 7th place in the Tournament of Champions last week. I would not have him shorter than the likes of Niemann, and for that reason the price is too short, despite being on an obviously highly talented player.
Rob’s Golf Betting Tips
Headline Betting Tip
Joaquin Niemann was, for me, the breakthrough star of the 2019 PGA Tour. His win at The Greenbrier in September was a lesson in low scoring golf in tough, windy conditions, albeit on a fairly easy golf course. What really excites me, is that is the exact setup that the players face this week, and Joaquin comes in on the back of a very impressive top 5 on his first appearance at Kapalua last week where he shared the lead after two rounds. Niemann has a piercing low ball flight which sets up perfectly for Waialae. The trees provide some protection from the winds, which are predicted to gust up to around 40 mph over the 4 days, and he will be able to keep his ball under the canopy and negate much of the interference from the course's strongest defence. Niemann is not the longest player on Tour, and the absence of par 5s here (there are just two) will also play to his advantage over the four days. He also fits the bill of having come from Kapalua last year, as the last six winners of this event have.
I am expecting a huge year from the young Chilean, who i fully expect to break into the World's top 10-15 players over the next 12 months. He stands out as the predominant young talent in World golf for me, and at just 21 is a name we will see at the top of leaderboards, in the biggest events, for many years to come. That can start this week at Waialae, and he is my headline pick with 3 points e/w at 33/1.
Other Betting Tips
Andrew Putnam is a player that was generally overpriced throughout the whole of last season, and that trend has continued into 2020 where he begins at the Sony Open as a 50/1 relative outsider despite a 2nd placed finish here last year, and the fact that the conditions should play into the hands of the man who contended throughout the first three days of a blustery Open Championship at Royal Portrush in July. Putnam fits the bill perfectly for Waialae; he is a medium, but very straight, hitter, he keeps the ball low, and he pummels the greens in regulation statistic - finishing in the top 20 on Tour last year. Putnam headed out to Asia as part of the PGA Tour's Asian swing, but the results were largely unimpressive, finishing in the lower echelons of reduced fields. After an 8 week lay off i'm expecting him to bounce back here, and that solo 2nd place last year lights up like a beacon for a player who is without doubt stronger than he was then, and who is playing in the most suitable conditions. I recommend 2 points e/w at 50/1.
I wouldn't usually stake 4 points on a player at 125/1, but there is so much to like about GMAC this week at such big odds. I will preempt all this by accepting that his only previous visit to Waialae resulted in a missed cut back in 2016, and he isn't normally a player that i would have on my radar these days, especially in the context of some rather average finishes in Europe and Asia of late, but this week seems ,made for an in form GMAC to take the reigns and contend. Strongly. Graeme has won twice on the tree lined bayside course at Harbour Town in tough and windy conditions before, and the similarities to what the players will face this week are enormous. There will be a lot of low "stinger" tee shots and shaped approaches to counter the wind, and nobody manages that strategy better than McDowell. The market seems to have missed a trick with this three figure price, and I expect he could go off much shorter, so I suggest getting on with 2 points e/w at 125/1.
Following a rolling profit of 463 points in 2019, I am looking for an even better 2020. Each week I will pick between 2 to 4 selections at each event on the European and PGA Tours, and suggest a suitable staking plan.
|European Tour||Event 1: South African Open Jan 9th|
*All odds from Bet UK’s online betting markets correct at the time of writing.
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