The PGA Tour switches from Maui to Oahu for this week’s Sony Open in Hawaii, which is held at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. Unlike last week’s Tournament of Champions, this is a full-field event and is played over much flatter terrain. It isn’t the best field we will see, but it will provide a two-year exemption to the winner, provided he isn’t already fully exempt.
|Golfer||2020 Sony Open Odds|
The Sony Open is wide open
This tournament started at Waialae in 1965 and has stayed there since. It plays to a modest 7,044 yards, is a par 70, and has now become fixed as the second PGA event in the calendar year. Players of any length can win here, and in an era when so much emphasis is placed on power off the tee, it’s refreshing to see. Longer hitters, such as Justin Thomas and Ryan Palmer, can score, but at the same time it can also be Matt Kuchar, David Toms or Zach Johnson on the leaderboard.
One interesting feature that is likely to be mentioned during the broadcast is the fact that the two nines are switched for this tournament. The 18th hole for the Sony Open is a medium par 5 but has provided plenty of drama through the years. Perhaps the most famous shot ever hit there was in 1983, when Isao Aoki sank a wedge shot from the fairway to edge Jack Renner by one stroke and become the first Japanese player to win on the PGA Tour.
Thomas is on a hot streak
Flash forward to three years ago, and Thomas shot a 59 in the first round en route to a Sony Open victory. He comes into this event off a triumph at Kapalua last week, the same scenario that occurred three years ago. Will the circumstances repeat? He’s only at +500 but is probably worth any and all wagers, considering his proven form.
A fight to the end. 💪
With his twelfth PGA Tour win, Justin Thomas becomes the most winning active player under the age of 30.pic.twitter.com/Y6ghSDLGZC
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) January 6, 2020
Thomas has a dozen wins on the PGA Tour and is still only 26, so he already is in pretty rarefied air. He reached 12 wins faster than both Phil Mickelson or Rory McIlroy, and in recent decades only Tiger Woods has gotten to that barrier quicker. Entering this year’s Sony Open, Thomas is fourth on the Tour in strokes gained total and could be headed for his best year yet.
Keep an eye on Charles Howell III
Another I’ll consider to visit the winner’s circle at Waialae is Charles Howell III. In 18 appearances Howell has 10 finishes in the top 10, including two seconds and a pair of thirds. He’s what I would call a horse for the course. This season Howell owns two top 10s, one at Safeway in Napa Valley and another at the ZOZO Championship in Japan.
The 40-year-old is listed at +3500 for top honors. Given his record over these Oahu grounds, Howell should be considered in any each-way betting, to go along with top five and top 10 placings, as well.