The Sony Open Preview: Who will come out on top in Hawaii

By Bryan Nicholson

Latest Golf Odds

10 January 2024

We witnessed a birdie fest to open the 2024 PGA Tour season in Maui and in terms of course features - if that was the chalk, we are moving onto the cheese in Honolulu with Waialae Country Club. Be that as it may, anyone who shook the rust off at Kapalua will be at an advantage for the Sony Open.

This is the first of the normal events of a PGA Tour season with a new format, and leading the Sony Open market is Ludvig Aberg at around 18.0. Although he won on a tight course in Cran-Sur-Sierre, the big Swede looked off the pace last week at the Plantation course at Kapalua. 

Englishmen Matt Fitzpatrick, 24.0, and Tyrell Hatton, 23.0, performed better, while Brian Harman, 23.0, hit a score of -25 for us but only managed a share of the top 5 spoils. That’s a measure of the strength in depth on the PGA Tour.

The Course

The Sony Open is played each year at Waialae CC which is a Par 70, playing around 7,050 yards in length. Accurate players that make plenty of blue numbers and guys with experience here seem to be a common theme on the leaderboards. Get hot with the flat stick and go low. Again, the trade winds will come into play this week. 

We saw wind gusting 25-30mph on Saturday at The Sentry compared to benign conditions the other three days. The scoring average over the 3 benign days was around 3 shots lower than the Saturday when the scoring average was circa -2.5. Waialae is a tight track with doglegs and a sparse tree line. Spongy Bermuda rough and shallow bunkers line the fairways and surround the small Bermuda greens.

The Contenders

Brian Harman (24.0 or 3.50 top 10) owns what I call simmering form at the Sony Open with his best recent finish being 4th in 2014. 25-under par for Harman last week was only good enough for a dead heat with 4 others in fifth but the Open Champion will be keen to get his putter firing again and keep the good form going.

Eric Cole (36.0 or 4.6) was 8th in strokes gained putting last week and 13th in SG:P last season. 31st in proximity is a welcome bonus showing us his prowess with the short irons, along with 19th in the strokes gained approach stats. Cole dominated the putting stats on tour last season and ranked 4th in bridie or better conversion rate while finishing 1st in the total birdie department. 

Chris Kirk (29.0 or 4.4) has a standout record at the Sony Open with 4 top 10s in the last 10 years. Two of those were runner-up spots and one was a 3rd place finish. The American played flawless golf to win the season opener. Kirk is a streaky player and there’s no reason why his form won’t continue this week. Chris was 1st in strokes gained around the greens at the Sentry tournament where he demonstrated excellent shot making skills with the wedges.

Justin Rose (46.0 or 5.4) is what I’d refer to as the hidden value this week with little recent course form to go on, and the stats show a 40th place finish in Maui. What the data doesn’t portray is his little mishap playing the wrong ball early in the tournament costing him a 2-shot penalty. His -11-record equalling final round didn’t do too much in the way of cutting his odds and Justin’s lone appearance at Waialae in the last 10 years was a 2nd place finish.

Brendon Todd (42.0 or 5.4) made a big mistake on the 14th hole in his final round last week. He made double and broke his driver in the process. It could have been a very different result for the man who flew through 36 holes on -15 before the putter went cold on Saturday. Waialae shows decent course form for Todd who is the typical course fit profile. Hitting fairways and holing putts is the brief here.

Recommended Bets

Back Brian Harman to win @ 24.0 or t10 @ 3.50
Back Eric Cole to win @ 36.0 or t10 @ 4.60
Back Chris Kirk to win @ 29.0 or t10 @ 4.40
Back Justin Rose to win @ 46.0 or t10 @ 5.40
Back Brendon Todd to win @ 42.0 or t10 @ 5.40

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