Preview: Sony Open in Hawaii

What a difference a year makes!

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind and so is that barnet!

Sony Open in Hawaii

Waialae Country Club


Yards (per official scorecard):7,044
Par:70 (35-35)
Rough:Celebration Bermuda (Year 2) at 2.25 inches.
Bunkers/Water Hazards83/4
Architects:Seth Raynor (1927); Tom Doak (ongoing).
Course Record:59; Justin Thomas (2017)
Tournament Record:253; Justin Thomas (2017)
Defending Champion:Cameron Smith (-11*)
Fact of the Week:Last year’s winning score was the highest since 2012 (weather).
Fact of the Week II:Only Sedgefield gives up more rounds of 62 or lower. #GoALOWha


  • Field of 144
  • Top 65 and ties play the weekend.
  • First full field event of 2021
  • The front and back nine are flipped for the pros.

2020-2021  Season Winners

*- First-time winner

**- First-time winner AND rookie winner

Safeway OpenStewart Cink
120th United States OpenBryson DeChambeau
Corales Punta Cana ChampionshipHudson Swafford
Sanderson Farms ChampionshipSergio Garcia
Shriners Hospitals for ChildrenMartin Laird (playoff)
Bermuda ChampionshipBrian Gay
Vivint Houston OpenCarlos Oritz*
84th Masters TournamentDustin Johnson
The RSM ClassicRobert Streb
Mayakoba Golf ClassicViktor Hovland
Sentry TOCHarris English

Check out HORSES FOR COURSES for more details and angles for this week.

Previous Winners: *Playoff

YearWinner Comment
2020Cameron Smith-11*Began the final round three back before a birdie at the last forced a playoff with Brendan Steele. Trrbl weather all week.
2019Matt Kuchar-22Opened 63-63 and never looked back in winning by four over Andrew Putnam.
2018Patton Kizzire*-17Only round he led after was the final one as he defeated James Hahn in a six hole playoff.
2017Justin Thomas-27Course and tournament record in wire to wire fashion after winning the week before at Kapalua.
2016Fabian Gomez*-20Closed with 62 then defeated Brandt Snedeker in a playoff.

Facts and Figures:

Lowest Rounds – Last Year64; Brendan Steele, Kevin Kisner & Mark Anderson, Round 3. Graeme McDowell (not entered) & Lanto Griffin Round 4. 65; Seven players.
Defending Champion(s) Event:Jimmy Walker (2014-15); Ernie Els (2003-04) this century.
Multiple Champion(s) Entered:Jimmy Walker.
Oldest  Winner:42; Paul Goydos (2007).
Youngest Winner:23; Justin Thomas (2017).
First Time – TOUR:Russell Henley (2013); Jerry Kelly (2002).
First Time – EventHenley (2013); Bruce Lietzke (1977).
Odd Fact:Only three players in their 20s have won this event since the turn of the century.

Quick Thoughts

The weather last year was garbage as it blew like crazy and rained buckets. LCP in closely mown areas all week didn’t even help because the ball didn’t go anywhere once it hit the ground.

I’m throwing out last year in general because of said conditions. Usually this is firm and fast making fairways hard to hit and greens tough to hold. Last year was the best driving accuracy this century.

Simple rules this week: Find the fairway, attack the flag. Miss the fairway, try to hit the big greens and two putt on slow-ish Bermuda.

Only two Par-5 holes this week. One is the easiest on the course (No. 9) and one is not easy, because of the tee shot (No. 18).  Must birdie No. 9.

Big greens make for great recovery targets. The average winning score here is pushing 17-under so saving pars scrambling will help as bogeys need not apply.

Par is not our friend this week. Find players who can attack and make birdies. The cut hovers around 2-under when the weather cooperates but going low (65 or better) is required more than twice to contend.

It’s Bermuda to start so that’s an advantage to the Florida/Georgia guys. No surprise they have feasted here over the years (Horses for Courses).

The winners here have made it a second shot course and taken advantage with their putters. Also, not many in the 20s as driver isn’t always the club here, similar to Hilton Head. Be patient, find the attacking pins, and take the chances when they are presented. Precision players are licking their chops this week!

Chalk – My Thoughts on the Betting Favorites

Webb Simpson (+1200): Six straight top 20s and his last two are the best two (3rd, T4). Loves Bermuda, loves not having to bomb away to keep up. Solid form and rust busted last week with T15 at Kapalua.

Collin Morikawa (+1400): Was in the fight after 65-65 Rounds 2 and 3 before posting Par 73 in the final round for T7 last week. Opened with 65 on debut here last year before sliding to T21 in the elements. Premium ball-striking isn’t the question. It’s the putter on Bermuda in a shootout.

Harris English (+1400): Last week was the week to get him at a price because those days are now long gone. He’s reeled off three consecutive top T6 paydays and four of five in the top 10. Hot.

Daniel Berger (+1600): Sat four back in solo fourth last week after 54 holes before stalling out with 72. Thrives tee to green and thrives on Bermuda. Perfect combo this week.

Sungjae Im (+1600): Knocked off his Mayakoba MC with his second T5 or better in three starts. The other was T2 at the Masters hahaha. So he’s played HILLY courses well but not a flat, ocean side track. It’s B this week but he makes way too many birdies to be bothered about anything. Goes low for fun and you can’t have enough of those guys this week!

Hideki Matsuyama (+2000): Dude was a dumpster fire last week and is still 20-1! There’s no chance he loses almost 10 strokes on the greens again this week, right? Gotta practice a bit harder, la? He was also terrible tee to green and that’s not happening again unless he has an undisclosed injury that I’m not aware of at the moment. I’d expect a correction but I’ll also point out he doesn’t have a top 10 from seven tries (4/7 event). Oh, and he hasn’t won in 84 events worldwide. 40-1? I’d look. No chance at 20.

Joaquin Niemann (+2200): I’m not sure if being mentored by Sergio Garcia was the reason behind THIRTY ONE BIRDIES last week but something clicked. Now, veteran gamers know that the flat stick isn’t his best friend but he has no problems painting fairways and greens. Gonna need 24-odd birdies again this week so that would be some scorching 144 holes if he produces. Made the cut last year in the elements in his only visit.

Abraham Ancer (+2800): First time winners on this track are few and far between but top 10 money shouldn’t be out of the question. Only one bogey in his last 36 holes at Kapalua suggests he’ll be in contention.

Cameron Smith (+2800): Only Jimmy Walker and Ernie Els have defended here and Smith doesn’t fall into that category of ball striking. I’m never a fan of defending champions especially first timers defending (alone, I know he won the partner game in New Orleans).

Russell Henley (+3000): Nothing better than T13 after blowing away Waialae in his first start with a TOUR card in 2013. Write him down for a top 25 but his best results in the fall were on Bentgrass. Weird.

My Long Shots and Others 33-1 or worse

(If you don’t see your player on here, you’ve answered the question you were going to ask me)

Ryan Palmer (+3300): Former champ and back to back T4 finishes on TOUR? Oh and he was T4 here last year? AND HE’S 44??????? Every dollar on him surely! FORE!

Matt Kuchar (+4000): Does he get to play with Harris English? Not interested.  Name his last top 10 without looking. Time’s up!

Zach Johnson (+4000): We know that JDC is his 5th Major but it appears that RSM might be filling that void in the twilight. Sony has always been kind as well. He’s also 44 but we’ve seen plenty of Gay, Laird, Cink etc. to know that’s not impossible.

Billy Horschel (+4000): Glad I wasn’t on board last week when he blew a tire on Sunday and tumbled out of the top 10. I’m expecting a bounce this week as one round doesn’t make a streak. Nibbles on a win ticket.

Brendon Todd (+4000): Fits the mold for veteran-accurate-putter and he’s in form with T8 at Mayakoba and T13 at the big ballpark last week.

Lanto Griffin (+4000): T13 or better in three of his last five and a top 10 here last year. Super putter.

Charles Howell III (+5000): Never won here but never MC either. Stick a few extra on top 20 finish.

Emiliano Grillo (+5000): Trending T34-MC-T18-T8 in his last four and never MC here.

Marc Leishman (+5000): 11 straight.

Patton Kizzire (+8000): All or nothing here and he’s cashed in seven straight on TOUR.

Matthew NeSmith (+9000): Hits it great and loves Bermuda. Top 20.

Scott Piercy (+10000): Six straight at the event, five straight on TOUR.

Takumi Kanaya (+15000): Paint him Top 5, Top 10 and Top 20 just in case his form from Japan transfers to the Islands.

Bo Hoag (+20000): ONLY top 10 on TOUR is here and he’s T30, T23 last two. Stick him in the top 20.

Anirban Lahiri (+25000): Super putter and kept it loose in India over the break. Top 20 only.

Jamie Lovemark (+35000): Two top 10s in his locker but not much positivity going on right now.

YE Yang (+6000): Top 20 long shot.

Andres Gonzales (+100000000000): Go look up his past five days. Buy a lottery ticket while you’re at it.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter (@mikeglasscott) or email me:

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