The PGA Tour stays in Hawaii this week for the first full-field event of the year - the Sony Open - and our man's picked three outsiders to back...
"Decent recent form is a big plus and four of the last six Sony Open winners had already won earlier in the season."
Unlike last week's Sentry Tournament of Champions, the Sony Open has been a decent tournament for outsiders. Fabian Gomez, in 2016, is the last triple-figure priced winner but four of the last five winners have been matched at 75.074/1 or higher before the off and we very nearly witnessed a monster-priced winner 12 months ago when Brendan Steele, matched at a high of 890.0889/1 before the off, lost a playoff having been matched in-running at just 1.111/9.
The Sony Open has been played at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu since 1965 and some very nice trends have been established. I've used three of them to narrow the selections down to three.
A start in the Sentry is a big plus
Although Waialae is very different to last week's venue - the Plantation Course at Kapalua - an appearance there in the week before this event has been a great pointer with as many as 15 of the last 22 winners having teed it up at the Plantation.
One could very easily, and quite correctly, argue that, although small, the strength of the field at the Sentry Tournament of Champions is so strong that it stands to reason that many winners here had played there the week before. Given the only way to qualify for the event (apart form this year when there was a slight change to the criteria) is to win on the PGA Tour in the previous calendar year, the field there tends to be strong but in the last five years alone we've seen three outsiders win here (Gomez, Kizzire and Kuchar) that played at the Plantation Course so it's an angle in I'm happy to explore.
There are ten players in the field this week trading at in excess of 100.099/1 that played last week - listed below.
That's a bit too long a list to work with so I've cut it in half...
A recent win is another strong pointer
As highlighted in the preview, decent recent form is a big plus and four of the last six Sony Open winners had already won earlier in the season. The following five outsiders that played last week are looking for their second titles having won the events listed in brackets.
Stewart Cink (won the Safeway Open)
Hudson Swafford (won the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship)
Brian Gay (won the Bermuda Championship)
Carlos Ortiz (won the Houston Open)
Robert Streb (won the RSM Classic)
All five finished down the field last week but that isn't a concern. They were playing because they'd won the events listed and the Plantation Course is just too long for at least a couple of them. Only Brendon Todd and Kevin Kisner ranked below Gay and Streb for Driving Distance and my idea of the best way to whittle down the five is to look at their form at all the courses that correlate best with Waialae - El Camaleón (Mayakoba Golf Classic), the Seaside Course (RSM Classic), Harbour Town (RBC Heritage), Colonial Country Club (Charles Schwab Challenge) and TPC Southwind (FedEx St Jude Invitaional).
Brian Gay has some fantastic figures at all five so he's the first pick. He's won at El Camaleón, Harbour Town and TPC Southwind, he's been fourth and third at the Seaside Course and he finished runner-up at the Colonial Country Club. He's also finished 10th (2001), fifth (2009) and sixth (2012) here already so already has course form in the bag too.
Stewart Cink has finished fifth (2005) and 10th (2006) here previously and he's also won at Harbour Town a couple of times. He's finished fourth, fifth and 10th previously at Southwind, second, fourth and 10th at Colonial and although 10th his best effort in the RSM Classic and he's never finished better than 15th at El Camaleón, I was more than happy to back him too. Cink is also one of Dave Tindall's three each-way picks.
After that it gets tricky. Streb has won the RSM Classic twice but he doesn't have any form to write home about at any of the other four courses, or at Waialae, and Ortiz only has form around El Camaleón.
Given he's Mexican, he may just get inspired to play the Mayakoba well because his form here, and at the other four courses mentioned, is awful so he's discarded too.
Hudson Swafford's form at all the correlating courses is poor but his form at Waialae is too strong to ignore. With course form figures reading 8-MC-9-13-54-3-57, I'm happy to include him in the staking plan too.
I'll be back on Friday with the In-Play Blog.
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Steve's 2021 Find Me a 100 Winner P/L
Staked: 2.5 units
Returned: 0 units
P/L: -2.5 units