The PGA Tour gets back on track for 2018 this week at Waialea, Hawaii, after the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua where big DJ cruised to a win by eight strokes.
Justin Thomas returns to defend his Sony Open title along with pal Jordan Spieth and these two top a good field.
The course: Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, Hawaii. Par: 70, 7044 yards.
Over the last five years this course has either been the easiest or second easiest par 70 on the PGA Tour. Fairly generous fairways and quite small Bermuda greens which run at around 11 on the stimpmeter.
If you hit greens regularly birdies are there for the taking but when the wind blows it can alter scores considerably. There are a couple of par fives which are reachable but accuracy off the tee will be important as hitting fairways here is one of hardest on Tour. So driving accuracy and putts per GIR are key.
Kevin Kisner is on my ones to watch this year and he ticks all the boxes. In his last two visits he has finished fifth and fourth here while hitting a 60 last year.
Apart from last week he hasn’t played on Tour since a T4 at the RSM Classic in November where he hit four sub-70 rounds. Last week in Kapalua he was steady rather than spectacular but past results here show playing the week before is an advantage. Driving Accuracy: 73.28% (26th), Strokes Gained Putting: 1.303 (4th).
One man who has shown great form before the Xmas break and since is Georgian Brian Harman. He’s not afraid to go for his shots even when it would probably be better to lay up.
Last year he won his second PGA Tour event since his first win in 2014. Last year he had five tops 10s along with his Wells Fargo victory. Out of four tournaments this season the American has had four top 10s (three top fives and an 8th). Not the longest of hitters but accurate and capable around the green. Driving Accuracy: 76.32% (11th), Strokes Gained Putting: 0.845 (22nd).
Australian Cameron Smith has shown some really good form over the past few months. He finished T12 at the BMW at the end of last season and continued with a run of T5-3-4 and then winning the Australian PGA in December.
Making his first appearance at Kapalua he finished T17 which is not a bad result. This is his third appearance at Waialae with T27 last year his best result but he is a much improved player from the one who played here 12 months ago and that improvement could show this week.
The 24-year-old’s putting is not at it’s best at the moment but hopefully it will all come together. Driving Accuracy: 69.77% (52nd), Strokes Gained Putting: -0.257 (147th).