FANTASY GOLF: SONY OPEN IN HAWAII
By James Dalthorp
BEAST DOME NATION
Week 2 on Tour in 2020 takes us back to Waialae Country Club, which is one of my favorite events to watch on TV. Even though it’s one of the few tournaments that I have not been to (walking or playing) I have seen it on TV many times. I love the layout because it’s very traditional, framed by palm trees and by the ocean.
It’s not a course that looks too challenging – but it separates itself from last week’s Sentry at Kapalua by being a par 70 layout – which focuses more on par 3 scoring. This places importance on iron play, short game, and veteran grinding. There’s not a lot of trouble you can get into here – so the scores tend to be more bunched up. But one thing is for sure – the veterans tend to enjoy a bit more success here than the rookies, so I’m riding that thought with my picks this week.
I’ve watched countless Sony Open’s and I really like how it does not tend to favor a long hitter over a short one. I’ve seen Zac Blair and other unheralded, short rookies contend here and I’ve seen grizzled veterans like Jerry Kelly just grind their way around. I’ve seen great matches between Aaron Baddeley and Ernie Els… the list goes on. This course brings the best out of the best players and provides a very relatable experience for the viewer because it is not an overly rich course to look at.
2020 Sony Open in Hawaii
Must haves Top 6
Coming off the Presidents Cup, we can all appreciate the very steady and solid game of Im. He’s won me over of late and this is the first time I’ve put him in a lineup. The thing I like the most is that he had a great event here last year. He shot 70 in the first round and then went 64-65-68. I think this event tends to favor guys who have been here before. So I’m not picking any rookies. This is an event where guys who know the course seem to have an upper hand. Im’s game suggests to me that he will be dangerous.
Say what you want, he’s a cheater, blah blah blah…. Even Tiger Woods has been heckled a cheat, criticized for getting a penalty shot, and Reed just wears a bit of cockiness on his back right now that makes everyone want to go after him. The guy obviously wears hate on his chest like a badge of honor. I think, even though I’m not his biggest fan, that he has handled his predicament of late the best way he knows how to – with letting his clubs do the talking. I would not be surprised if he won, especially since he had two chances to win last week at the Sentry, and his Presidents Cup was a full blown spectacle. He’s hot under the collar and with the putter. His record here is VERY solid. Go for it.
He didn’t have his best at all last week. He didn’t putt well, he didn’t hit smart shots under pressure. He even seemed emotionally wound too tight. And he still won. Justin Thomas may not win a million majors, in fact – he’s the antithesis to Brooks Koepka – but I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t have more regular PGA wins than some of the greats when his career is over. He has done damage at this event. I’m a little skeptical of how he’ll play considering he got some great breaks last week. But this is a guy who SHOULD grab a major in 2020. He’s just that good. I think he just needed to slow his transition down a little with that chunked wood in the playoff. He’s still learning and it’s scary. 9-2 odds to win.
For my third pick, I wanted to grab a veteran that was coming into this event with some solid play. Brendon Todd was on my mind -and he has some OK performances at this event – but he’s starting to cool off since his 4 event show in November. Brian Gay’s first top 10 in this event came back in 1999 and he’s played in this tournament 18 times, only missing a couple cuts. He’s had all four rounds in the 60’s many times including his T22 last year. Now T22 is not exactly a sure fire sign- so here are all of his best finishes in chronological order: T10, T23, T36, T33, T5, T25, T13, T6, T31, T13, T22. What does that mean? This event has been a steady source of Benjamins. He has 3 top 10’s without a win and he’s had 3 top 10’s in his last 5 starts. Despite coming off a MC, this course suits his game. It’s a track where shorter players thrive and traditional, simple game plans and talent merge. He plays well by the ocean and I think he’s in his prime, he’s a late bloomer with a veteran mentality.
We all watched Abraham play against Tiger at the Presidents Cup and we’ve all probably seen the edited video of Tiger taking his hat off after making contact with his putt to shake Abraham’s hand. He was the target of the world’s greatest payer down under and he certainly won’t be the last guy to walk away empty handed against Woods. But playing against him on the biggest stage will certainly turn the volume down for regular tour events and allow him to beast the average fields. He finished T29 here last year and has made 600k in his last 3 starts with two back to back top 10’s. He’s definitely a name that can’t be dropped this week.
There’s a couple dark horse picks I like, but even though Kuchar didn’t play great last week in the Sentry TOC, he has the best record here of any player. Defending his title, not to mention a list of top tens longer than a CVS receipt. We know he’s fresh from the Presidents cup and the Sentry, so there’s just no chance that Kuchar will not be there on the weekend in my mind. The only way I could see him missing out on this race would be food poisoning. He’s the guy to beat at Waialae CC.
Dark horses: Chez Reavie is a decent pick and Cameron Smith played well in the Presidents Cup – he has some decent starts here and is playing for fire relief money down under. He’s the sentimental favorite among plenty of fans I would suspect, especially with his opposition to Patrick Reed in the tabloids.
Everyone is picking Colin Morikawa this week, the hometown favorite. He’s a great player with no missed cuts as a professional. However, I think there is a ton of hype going on around his pick and that could backfire. For some reason Tiger woods doesn’t play well at Riviera and I don’t have any track record to show that Colin will be a good fit for this course. Even though I know he is a good wedge player, his results suggest to me that he’s not ready for the big stage quite yet.
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