Sony Open in Hawaii First-Round Leader Tips: Side with Sabbatini

Slovakian Rory Sabbatini
Slovakian Rory Sabbatini can make a fast start

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

"Sabbatini has won some FRL place money at this event in three of the last six years."

Rory Sabbatini each-way @ 90/1

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

Weather forecast for Thursday: It's a pleasant 75-80 degrees all day although there could be a chance of late morning rain. The wind drops slightly as the day goes on. It's nothing drastic though, perhaps 11mph to 8mph.

FRL history at Waialae

2020 - 65 Collin Morikawa
2019 - 61 Adam Svensson
2018 - 63 Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson
2017 - 59 Justin Thomas
2016 - 63 Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Kisner, Morgan Hoffman, Vijay Singh, Ricky Barnes
2015 - 62 Webb Simpson, Paul Casey
2014 - 63 Sang-Moon Bae
2013 - 62 Scott Langley

Strategy: An obvious question to ask is how many of these first-round leaders had played in the previous week's Sentry Tournament of Champions. The answer: just five of 14. In other words, there's nothing to be said that those who played last week are sharper. Of these same 14 players, eight teed off in the morning wave. On the stats then, you'd lean slightly towards a morning starter who is teeing it up in 2021 for the first time. Winds are pretty constant so I'll go for two from the a.m. bunch and one from the p.m.

Sabbatini can get motoring early again

An early starter at 07:20, six-time PGA Tour winner Rory Sabbatini has something of a history of fast starts in this event.

He was the first-round leader in 2006, third after day one in 2017, fifth following the first 18 holes in both 2008 and 2015 while sitting sixth at close of day one in 2020.

In other words, Sabbatini has won some FRL place money at this event in three of the last six years.

The South African-born Slovakian is a two-time runner-up in this event so clearly loves the track and has a 62 and two 63s to his name.

That's the course history dealt with so how about some current form.

Just two starts ago he finished tied 12th in the RSM Classic, a tournament that correlates well with this one. At Sea Island he opened with a 65 to sit third after the opening lap while he closed with that same score on Sunday.

Also tied 12th at the Sanderson Farms, his game certainly seems in good enough nick and the industry-best 90/1 looks good value.

Opportunity Knox

Russell Knox likes these type of shorter courses and the Scot has some useful history at Waialae with three top 13s in his last six appearances.

Notably, he's shot plenty of low rounds. Knox fired pre-cut 64s in both 2017 and 2018 while he's also sprinkled four 65s since 2015.

One of the six-under rounds came in round one in 2017, a score that put him in the top four after the first day.

After a difficult stretch, former WGC winner Knox found some better form at the end of 2020. It started with T9 at the Safeway Open while he finished the calendar year with three top 25s in four starts.

Most eye-catching in terms of this market was that he twice held the first-round lead.

Knox opened with 63 at the Safeway Open to top the leaderboard and repeated the feat via a 65 in round one at the Mayakoba Golf Classic.

The 80/1 is a good bet for the 08:10 starter.

Look to Leishman

Finally, I'll look to a player who did play last week.

Marc Leishman hit the ball nicely at the Plantation Course, firing three rounds of 69 and a 71. Had his putting been decent, he would easily have finished better than T24.

This is a course where he boasts some strong history having finished third in 2019 and fifth in 2014. He also owns four other top 20s, including T9 in 2013.

The Aussie, who was tied 13th at the US Masters, has navigated this track in just 62 blows before and twice shot 64 two seasons ago.

In terms of first-round scoring he's been T6 (2020) and T17 (2019) after day one in the last two years here and was second following Thursday's action in 2011.

His iron play looks sharp enough to hit these smaller greens and, of course, he'll be putting from relatively short distances when he does find the dancefloor.

He's been a first-round leader five times on the PGA Tour and one of those came in Hawaii. Back him here at 60/1.

Leishman sets out in the afternoon at 12:30 local.

Dave's 2021 First Round Leader P/L

Staked: £30
Returned: £0
P/L: -£30

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