Sony Open: Three to play in the First Round Leader market

American Patton Kizzire
Defending champion Patton Kizzire can go low in round one

Dave Tindall looks at the opening round of the Sony Open in Hawaii and has three picks to make a fast start...

"Going back to the scene of his Mayakoba win proved an inspiration rather than a burden and he opened with a 65 to sit in the top four after day one."

Back Patton Kizzire each-way @ 50/1

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

Weather forecast for the Waialae, Honolulu: Unlike last week, the forecast is for light winds on day one. They're minimal for the very early starters and peak at 9mph around midday before dropping off again. Otherwise, it's clear skies and some sun.

Strategy: Justin Thomas shot his 59 two years ago from a morning start but the afternoon wave shared the honours in 2016 and 2018. Seven players in those two years opened with 63s, four from a.m. starts and three from p.m. I wouldn't put anyone off backing a player in either half of the draw.

Familiar Patton

Patton Kizzire returns this week as the defending champion - just as he did at November's Mayakoba Classic in Mexico.

Going back to the scene of his win proved an inspiration rather than a burden and he opened with a 65 to sit in the top four after day one.

That's part of a wider story of strong starts. Kizzire shot a Thursday 66 at the RSM Classic the week after, good enough for T7 after 18 holes.

Kizzire wins Sony.JPG

And, following the winter break, a first-round 69 put him in sixth place at last week's Tournament of Champions.

He went on to finish T8 there after a five-under 68 on Sunday so is in good spirits.

Speaking about the happy vibes on his Waialae return, the American said in Tuesday's press conference: "It feels good. I told my wife, Kari, when we got here, I said, I just feel comfortable here.

"It's so nice staying right on the beach; country club feel. Everybody in Hawaii is nice so it feels good."

An 07:50 starter, he looks good value at 50/1.

Zach can attack from the gate

I've also put up Zach Johnson in my outright preview but am keen to play him in this market too at an attractive 50/1.


The double major champion has lifted the trophy here (2009) although he was only T24 after day one.

However, he's twice been the first-round leader at the Sony Open, shooting 65 to set the pace in 2010 and blasting a 63 to lead the way last year.

The latter one is of particular interest as he hadn't played in the previous week's Sentry Tournament of Champions so came in cold in terms of competitive action.

Johnson also posted a 64 to lie tied sixth after the opening lap in 2016 so quick starts are common here.

More recently, he was R1 leader at June's Travelers Championship via a 63 and T3 after day one of August's PGA Championship (66).

He starts out from the 10th tee at 07:30.

Thomas can go low again

I'm absolutely convinced Justin Thomas is going to have a huge week and although it's a safer bet for his class to show fully over 72 holes rather than 18, I'll take the 16s for FRL rather than the 6/1 outright.

As mentioned, Thomas opened with a 59 two years ago to win this market and his four-year record also shows a 61 in the second round on debut in 2015.

Justin Thomas iron shot 1280.jpg

This is a place he can tear apart and I think he will do so again with a lack of wind in the forecast.

Last week, he just couldn't get going on the tricky Plantation Course greens until the gusts subsided on the final day and he roared up to third spot with a 65.

The bottom line for this bet is that he's traditionally a superb starter.

Thomas has finished day one inside the top six in four of his last five events and, extending the search, inside the top 10 in eight of his last 12.

He tees off at 12:40 but should play the easiest six holes (9, 18, 10, 12, 14, 15 in that order based on last year) when the winds drop later in the afternoon.

Dave's 2019 R1 leader P/L (based on £5 ew per selection)

Staked: £30
Returned: £0
P/L: -£30

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