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Sony Open Preview: DeepDiveGolf’s Tournament Analysis, Weather, And Advice

Waialae Country Club plays host to our Sony Open preview

Well, you can’t ask for much better a start to the year than that! Before we delve into our Sony Open preview proper, it pays to reflect on a fabulous first week of the PGA Tour season. Although we unfortunately dropped Chris Kirk off our final betting card, we had a stunner of a tournament.

Our tips included Theegala in 2nd. He lipped out in the 18th for a play-off, and also delivered us a first-round leader at a massive 60/1!

As well as talking through our favourite PGA DFS plays, we always end the PGA Draftcast with a few FRL tips. Although I wouldn’t consider them “official” bets per se, it’s always a fun way to end the episode and nice to get a big winner!
Subscribe to WinDaily Sports on YouTube and catch the PGA Draftcast every Tuesday 9PM ET here.

We also had Spieth in 3rd, who looked comfortable in a welcome return to form. Sungjae Im finished 5th. He broke the record for most birdies in a single tournament in PGA Tour history and somehow didn’t win, when an even par 3rd round 73 putting paid to his chances. Straka in 12th also cashed our Top 20 bet on him.

Basically, should Kirk have stumbled we had every other realistic option for the winner. To his credit, he looked incredibly calm under pressure and never looked stressed despite a studded leaderboard breathing down his neck. We should probably raise our expectations on his output, as he has looked so comfortable in both victories the past two years.

Before we get into the Sony Open, you can now read not only our free preview at The Sentry here but also get free access to our premium article from last week with our Sentry betting tips and player profiles here.

Nearly all Sony Open previews I read every year will refer to trends. My advice is to approach these with caution. A trend is only worthy of attention if there is an understandable reason why. Correlation does not always mean causation. The most prevalent trend will be some form of “X number of winners of the Sony Open also played at The Sentry the week prior”.

Is there merit to this claim? Fact is, The Sentry typically features the very best players of the PGA Tour the year before. So, it’s unsurprising that those who play the Sony Open tend to go off as favourites and often win in a typically weak field.

I do believe there is an advantage in having played the week prior, to acclimatize and shake the off-season rust. However, I do believe this trend is over-played. I will often see punters and DFS players completely excluding any players who didn’t start the week prior at The Sentry. That is a huge overreaction to a tentative link at best.

Waialae Country Club Course Analysis

The PGA Tour does indeed remain in Hawaii for another week. The Sony Open is once again played on the beautiful Wai’alae Country Club, as we preview what to expect from this golf course. The tournament has been held at the same venue since 1965, so we have plenty of data to delve into!

Part of my perspective on trends comes from the fact that Wai’alae Country Club is as opposite as possible to last week’s Plantation Course at Kapalua. Plantation is huge, both in length of the course and width of the fairways. In contrast, Wai’alae is narrow and fiddly. Actually, Wai’alae Country Club had the largest deviation from normal driving distance of any golf course on the PGA Tour in 2023.

Therefore, unsurprisingly driving accuracy is a strong predictor of success. Much of that comes from the narrow fairways, but also overhanging trees. In 2023, the rough was grown out to 3 inches from 2.25 inches in 2022. Bermuda rough is tough to play. It can really grab onto the club face, as well as produce flyer lies. 3 inches is the longest the PGA Tour have had for Bermuda rough, only previous seen at the Valspar Championship and Arnold Palmer Invitational. That saw a reduction in scoring with -18 enough to win.

With large greens, it is surprising that SG: ATG is such a strong predictor of success here. The main defense for the course are the Hawai’i trade winds and this could be one explainer. As the weather shows some heavy rains before the tournament, I would hazard a prediction we see an uptick in SG: Putting instead with softer surfaces easier to hold. Approach between 150-175 yards is higher than other PGA Tour courses. 63% of all shots will occur from 125-200 yards.

Wai’alae Country Club Course Comps

Prior form at Wai’alae Country Club is highly correlated to success. The correlation of prior performance as a predictor of future success is the 2nd highest of any golf course on the PGA Tour. Augusta National is the highest, by quite some margin.

El Cameleon Mayakoba is a very good guide to our Sony Open preview. The golf course was the prior host of the Worldwide Technology Championship. Then, course designer Greg Norman claimed it back for LIV Golf to use. In 15 iterations of the WWT Mayakoba Championship, 6 also won the Sony Open. Henley completed the double most recently in 2022. It is a narrow test, where driving accuracy is weighted heavily, and is played in tropical and coastal climes.

RBC Heritage host Habour Town Golf Links is another narrow test by the ocean, as is RSM Classic host Sea Island GC. Colonial Country Club receives inclusion, given it’s propensity for SG: ATG and similar approach buckets of 125-200 yards.

Weather

To begin, it is worth a preview of the weather forecast before the Sony Open starts. Heavy rains and thunderstorms are predicted Monday, Tuesday, and early Wednesday this week. The volume of rain will be such that it will be impossible to firm out the course in time and conditions will be soft. As such, I would really be focusing on the key approach numbers listed. I also give a boost to SG: Putting over typical tournaments held here. Holding greens should be easier than previous iterations.

Thursday should present calm weather and, given the early rain, should provide low scoring. Friday sees light rain and overcast conditions all day. Winds should pick up, but they look to be high all day. This means there is less chance of a weather wave developing. Do check-in to our WinDaily Discord channel for the latest weather updates prior to tournament start. This is especially important for DFS purposes.

Sony Open Preview Golf Betting Tips

Thank you for reading my Sony Open preview and tournament analysis.
If you would like access to my golf betting tips and player profiles for the Sony Open, premium customers can find these here.

For the start of a new golf season, we have a special offer on our premium memberships.
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