THE PGA Tour hops across the water from Maui to the Big Island for the second tournament of the new year.
The Waialea Country Club is set between the Koolau mountain range and the Pacific Ocean and is the host for this year’s Sony Open.
The 7044-yard, par 70 course has been the only venue for the official Hawaiian PGA Tour tournament since 1965. Although the rough can be quite penal I think GIR will be the key stat here.
I said at the beginning of last year I would be backing Dustin Johnson in every Major until he won one. Well he’s done it, at last, and this year I’ll be doing the same with Hideki Matsuyama. I really think the young Japanese player is the one to watch in the Majors and will be following him regularly.
His form worldwide recently is nothing short of phenomenal. In the last four months worldwide he has notched four wins and two seconds. Last week his second to Justin Thomas confirmed he was continuing how he finished last year.
Waialea hasn’t been the happiest of places for him having just broken par twice in nine rounds. He has a GIR stat of 80.56% (5) and putts per round of 28 (21) so no reason he can’t do the business this time.
Paul Casey had a superb finish to last season with with two seconds and a fourth in the Fed-Ex play-offs and followed that with a T3 in the first tournament of the new season. He’s had a long lay-off with his last outing the WGC-HSBC Champions at the end of October but hopefully he’s not lost any form.
Casey seems to like the Waialea course, he hit a career low here (62) in the first round here in 2015. His GIR is 76.85% and putts per round of 28.75.
I wasn’t going to pick a third player but Keegan Bradley has pricked my interest. He had a horrendous year last year with 11 missed cuts and only two top-10 finishes.
However, in his last three outings this season I saw a marked improvement in his game and with GIR of 78.13% and putts per round of 29.56 a small bet might pay dividends.
2pts win Matsuyama (Ladbrokes, 8-1)
1.5pts ew Casey (Bet365, 28-1)
1pt ew Bradley (Coral, 66-1)