STAR PREVIEW Thurs: Sony Open in Hawaii with GLENN DAY


he PGA tour stays in Hawaii for a second week but moves to a different island for the Sony Open, held at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. Waialae is the polar opposite of the Plantation course used for the Sentry Tournament of Champions; The players enjoyed expansive fairways and downhill runs with large greens in Kapalua whereas this week narrow fairways on a flat course with smaller greens will provide a much sterner test.

Accuracy off the tee will be the order of the day, although the stats for the players who have placed here over the last 5 years doesn’t highlight any one key area. A key stat however is that only three players ranking inside the Top 10 for driving distance have made the frame in the last five tournaments – so we can rule out those who take the DeChambeau approach!

Bizarrely only 6 players that ranked in the top 10 in driving accuracy made the frame so although accuracy is beneficial it is not the be all and end all. Second shot prowess and a good week on the greens, the stats suggest, will be what ultimately gets the job done.

One stat that has stood the test of time is that players who have played the previous week seem to have a better chance than those who are starting their season this week. Over two thirds of recent winners were in the Tournament of Champions field prior to victory at Waialae.

With that in mind, two players I like this week are Lanto Griffin and Sebastian Munoz.
Lanto Griffin did me a huge favour when winning his maiden title at the Houston Open at the backend of 2019. I think it is easy to tailor stats and course preferability to your selections if you so wish as there are so many angles to take.

Sony Open In Hawaii
Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, Hawaii
Thursday 15th – Sunday 17th January Live on Sky Sports Main Event HD and Sky Sports Golf HD, Midnight Thursday

Griffin is not an obvious fit as he is one of those players that plays well in patches and his stats do not always look great, but he finds a way to get the job done. His rankings are only average for driving distance and G.I.R but he can come alive on the greens. A mediocre start last week in Kapalua was not a surprise as he hadn’t started since the Masters but rounds of 68-69-67 saw him move through the field for a share of 13th place, the same placing he achieved in 2020.

Last year it was his approach play that kept him in contention – this year it was his putting. Following last year’s first visit to Kapalua he stayed on to play the Sony Open and finished in a tie for 7th in very tough conditions when his putting was his key attribute (he was ranked 7th in PPR.) Following the same path this year and with previous experience of the course under his belt I am expecting an even better showing this time round.

Sebastian Munoz has a similar profile to Griffin and likewise had a poor start last week when he was last after day one. He followed up though with rounds of 67-68-69, with only one bogey, for a share of 17th. He’s another player whose stats don’t appear to add up to much but, like Griffin, he seems to find his form in patches and when he does it all comes together. When he won the Sanderson Farms Championship, he ranked 3rd in driving distance, 9th G.I.R, 7th scrambling, and 11th for putting attempts. When third a few weeks later at the RSM Classic, he was 7th, 7th, 6th & 9th in the same categories. When seventh at the Tour Championship, he was 2nd, 5th, 13th, and 8th. You get the picture- it’s fair to say when he’s on he’s on. Last week he had an average week on the greens and that is possibly the lesser area of his game but even the flat stick gets hot as highlighted in three of the four tournaments he played around the turn of 2019/20 when he ranked 7th, 4th and 3rd in putts per round. Let’s hope for a repeat.

Failing that, he does like a fast start so at around the 50/1 mark he is worth a small interest in the first round leader market.

Two more players I must have a small interest in are Ryan Palmer, who has been playing good, consistent golf since July, backed up by two tied 4th place finishes in his last 2 outings, always seems to play well in Hawaii and was a winner of this event in 2010. He may have won again last year but for an errant tee shot deep into the 4th round. And last but never least, Charles Howell III, who like Palmer always seems to play well in Hawaii. How about 7 top 5’s and 10 top 10’s for course form! He is only able to start his season at Waialae due to the fact he does not win often enough to get to the Sentry but obviously gets himself ready for his Hawaiian trips and there is no reason to think he won’t put in another good show this week.

BACK Lanto Griffin 1.5 pts each/way at 40/1 with
BACK Sebastian Munoz 1 pt each/way at 45/1 with
BACK Ryan Palmer 1 pt each/way at 33/1 with
BACK Charles Howell III 0.5 pts each/way at 45/1 with
BACK Sebastian Munoz First Round Leader 1 pt at 50/1 with

Each way 1/5 odds, 6 places

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