The PGA Tour’s annual two-event Hawaii swing concludes with this week’s Sony Open, which begins Thursday at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.
One of the longest-tenured venues on tour, Waialae features narrow, tree-lined fairways and 83 bunkers for the 144-player field to contend with. Our golf experts provide key notes from the event along with their favorite prop picks and best bets to win this week.
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii, Jan. 12-15
Course: Waialae Country Club (Par 70, 7,044 yards)
Purse: $7.9M (Winner: $1.422M)
Defending Champion: Hideki Matsuyama
FedEx Cup leader: Seamus Power
HOW TO FOLLOW
TV: Thursday-Friday, 7-10:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 4-6 p.m. (NBC), 6-8 p.m. (GC)
Streaming on ESPN+: Thursday-Friday, Noon-10:30 p.m. ET; Saturday-Sunday, 1-8 p.m.
–This is the 11th tournament of the FedEx Cup season and the first full-field event of 2023.
–Matsuyama beat Russell Henley in a playoff last year to earn his eighth PGA Tour victory. Matsuyama is seeking to become the first player to successfully defend at the event since Jimmy Walker in 2014-15.
–The field includes six players currently in the top 10 of the FedEx Cup standings.
–Danny Guise will make his first PGA Tour start after a 9-for-1 playoff in the Monday qualifier.
–Former top-ranked amateur Keita Nakajima is making his second career start on tour (T12 at the 2022 Zozo Championship). He finished 41st at the Sony Open as an amateur last year.
Jordan Spieth to Shoot 66 or Lower Round 1 (-125 at BetMGM): Spieth returns to the event for the first time since 2019, but it is his fifth start in Honolulu. Coming off a T13 at Kapalua, Spieth’s incredible short game should set him up for a bevvy of birdies as long as he can find fairways, with Spieth comparing Waialae to Colonial. Thirty-nine players opened with 66 or better in Round 1 last year.
Adam Svensson Top Canadian Finisher (+330 at DraftKings): Svensson is a career-high 64th in the world rankings as he comes off a 37th-place finish at the Tournament of Champions, which he qualified for with a victory at The RSM Classic in his final start of 2022. He tied for seventh here last year, posting four rounds of 67 or better. His 263 was one shot better than countryman Corey Conners, who is the +110 favorite in this prop. Mackenzie Hughes (+350) won during the fall swing as well but didn’t play at Waialae last year. The other two Canadians are Nick Taylor (+450) and Michael Gligic (+1100).
Russell Henley Round 1 3 Ball vs. Tom Hoge/Matt Kuchar (+150 at PointsBet): Waialae clearly suits Henley’s game. In addition to his playoff loss last year after he and Matsuyama beat the rest of the field by four shots through 72 holes, Henley won the event in 2013. Hoge is the top-ranked player of the three, but he also jetted to the college football title game between the Hawaiian events to support his alma mater, TCU. Kuchar, who finished T7 last year, doesn’t have a top 10 in 13 starts since last April.
–Tom Kim (+1100 at BetMGM) is No. 3 in the FedEx Cup standings and the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 14. The 20-year-old two-time winner in 2022 is making his event debut while coming off a T5 in his first TOC appearance. Kim opened at +1200 and along with being the pre-tournament favorite, he is also the sportsbook’s biggest liability as he led the field with 10.5 percent of the winning tickets and 17.2 percent of the money as of Wednesday.
–Sungjae Im (+1200) has seven top-20s in his past 10 worldwide starts as he seeks his first victory since 2021. With his odds shortening from +1400, Im has received modest support with 3.8 and 3.4 percent of the action, respectively.
–Jordan Spieth (+1600) is making his fifth start in the event but first since 2019. He has six top-20s in his past eight starts. Spieth is BetMGM’s second-biggest liability this week as he trails only Kim with 8.5 percent of the total bets and is tied with Henley with 10.6 percent of the money backing each.
–Henley (+2200) won the event in 2013 in addition to his runner-up last year. He’s the third-biggest liability at the sportsbook.
–Matsuyama (+2000), who has been dealing with a neck injury since Bay Hill last year, doesn’t have a top-20 since the Tour Championship in August and none in a full-field event since the U.S. Open in June. However, with a win, he would break a tie with K.J. Choi for the most Tour wins by an Asian-born player. Matsuyama, who has dropped to 21st in the world rankings, is being supported by 5.6 percent of the bets. That’s third-most at BetMGM, and he has drawn 8.4 percent of the money as well.
–Taylor Montgomery (+3500) is still seeking his first Tour victory but is coming off a fall season in which he made all seven cuts and posted six top-15 finishes. Montgomery remains a dark horse as he has been back by less than 1.0 percent of the total winning handle since opening at +3300.
–Field Level Media