Sony Open in Hawaii First-Round Leader Tips: Back Zach to attack

Golfer Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson can get off to another Sony flyer

The PGA Tour heads to Honolulu and Dave Tindall has three each-way picks to be First Round Leader at Waialae Country Club...

"Zach Johnson knows a thing a two about making fast starts in this event as he's twice been first-round leader at Waialae."

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Weather forecast for Waialae: The Thursday forecast suggests fairly consistent wind speeds of around 6mph and sunshine throughout the golfing day. In other words, near perfect conditions to shoot low scores.

Jump in for Johnson

Zach Johnson knows a thing a two about making fast starts in this event as he's twice been first-round leader at Waialae.

The first of those was thanks to a 65 in the 2010 event and he repeated the trick via an opening 63 in 2018.

A couple of years earlier he'd started out with 64 to sit sixth after 18 holes.

Johnson also shot a 61 in round two in 2017 so can rip this course apart when he's on.

Talking of 61s, the two-time major winner fired another such score on day one of his latest start, November's RSM Classic. That put him second after the first round.

There's not much consistency in his Thursday scores but I'm hoping he can suddenly pop again here.

Johnson heads out at 12.40pm local time.

Home in on Hudson

Hudson Swafford is a perennial quick starter at the Sony Open so grabs my attention.

Beginning in 2016, his first-round scores read: 66, 62, 68, 65, 69, 65.

The 62 put him second after 18 holes while the two 65s have placed him fourth and 10th respectively on the day one Waialae leaderboard.

Overall, he's been in the top 20 after the first round here in five of the last six years.

Widening it out, Swafford has also hit the ground running on plenty of other correlating courses by the coast.

He's been the first-round leader at the Corales Puntacana (2020) and Mayakoba (2014) and twice sat in the top five after Thursday's play at the RSM Classic.

Two recentish examples from 2021 of him going low on day one include the CJ Cup (65 for fourth place) and the Wyndham Championship (64 for second place).

Swafford, who tees off at 07.40, appeals at 80/1.

A hunch for Hoge

I put up Tom Hoge in my outright preview at 80/1 and don't want to let him go here in the FRL market at 75s.

The reasoning there was his ability to excel on Sony Open-style courses, examples being tied fourth at the RSM Classic in November and third at Mayakoba in 2020.

Looking through his first-round scores, Hoge was second after 18 holes in that 2020 Mayakoba event while a few months earlier he'd opened with a 62 to be the day one leader in the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefied, another course that correlates well with Waialae.

Go back further and he was first-round leader in the 2015 RSM Classic.

At this course, he was seventh after one lap in 2018 and 10th following Thursday's action in 2021. Both times he shot 65.

In that 2018 event he actually shot 65, 65, 64 to take the 54-hole lead.

Hoge heads off at 07.10.

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