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Sony Open Preview and Picks
by Matt Fargo - 01/08/2013
The PGA Tour officially got underway last week with Dustin Johnson bringing home the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Tuesday which was a winners only event. This week, the Sony Open in Hawaii takes center stage with it being the first full-field event on the PGA Tour this season. You won't see many big names this week and you will see a lot of rookies, 23 in all, and we are officially off and running.
Waialae Country Club in Honolulu plays host once again and we should see some better weather this week after the debacle at Kapalua. The par 70 layout is not considered very long compared to other courses as it measures just 7,044 yards but is known for narrow fairways and that was evident last year as less than 47 percent of tee shots found the short grass. While the wind won't be nearly as bad as last week, it will still play a small part.
Five of the top 10 finishers from Kapalua Resort, including Johnson, will be in the field this week so momentum from last week could play a factor. While hitting fairways is essential, scrambling comes into play for those who can't find the fairway. Also further proving that experience here is key, rookies have not had much success as no rookie has posted a top ten finish over the last three years.
To no surprise, Dustin Johnson (+800) is the favorite this week as he looks to go back-to-back to start the season. History is not on his side though as the last player to open the season with consecutive wins was Ernie Els in 2003. Johnson has played here only twice with his best finish being a T10 in 2008. He does have momentum on his side but with a full field chasing, it will not be easy.
Webb Simpson (+1,500) finished tied for 11th at the Hyundai and the weather arguably affected him the most as he got off to a very hot start on Friday before the round was cancelled. He finished T38 here last year after an opening round 66 put him into an early tie for fifth. His best finish in five trips to the Sony was a T9 in 2009 so don't be surprised to see him near the top come Sunday.
Zach Johnson (+2,000) is considered one of the best wind players on tour with his knockdown ability and while it wasn't evident last week, the wind was out of control. He won this event in 2009 so he knows how to get around and his driving accuracy will again be a big asset. Last year he finished T54 but that included a second round 65, his fourth 65 in his last four starts here.
Tim Clark (+2,500) started off very slow last year but he was recovering from an elbow injury which forced him to miss this event for the first time in four years. He came on strong toward the end of the season with three top tens. His track record here is solid with a T12 in 2009, a T25 in 2010 and a T2 in 2011. Long known for a short but accurate driver off the tee, it makes sense that he has thrived at Waialae.
Bud Cauley (+3,000) looks like he could have a breakout year following a solid rookie season. He finished 44th on the money list and caught fire in July and August with three top fives in a span of four starts. Overall he had six top tens. He opened his rookie season with a T29 here as he opened 66-68. He isn't the most accurate driver but he finished eighth on tour in scrambling last season.
For a long shot we will take a look at Davis Love III (+5,000). While a lot of Ryder Cup captains are well past their prime, that can not be said about DLIII. He had two top fives last year and now that the pressure of captaincy is gone, he could be in for a comeback type of year. He missed the cut at the Sony last year but finished T9 in 2011 and T5 in 2010 and still owns the 36-hole scoring record of 128.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Sony Open in Hawaii - All for 1 Unit
Webb Simpson (+1,500)
Zach Johnson (+2,000)
Tim Clark (+2,500)
Bud Cauley (+3,000)
Davis Love III (+5,000)
2012 Record to date after 36 events: +51.6 Units
2013 Record to date: -5 Units
Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units