January 10 2013
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Insider
In my Power Rankings for the Sony Open in Hawaii, I noted the primary challenges of Waialae Country Club. They include accuracy off the tee and proximity to the hole. Not surprisingly, some recent winners have led the charge in both stats, but there's one more that deserves some attention.
In 2012, Waialae ranked as the sixth-shortest in average distance of putts made per round on the PGA TOUR at 69 feet, 4 inches. For greens that measure a very average 6,500 square feet, that's a telling figure.
Defending champion Johnson Wagner tied for 12th in proximity (33 feet, 10 inches) and fifth in putting from outside 10 feet en route to his two-stroke victory. However, he also played the duet of par 5s in a bogey-free 9 under to lead the field. This illustrates that hopeful contenders must capitalize on Waialae's weaknesses.
Other recent champions, including David Toms (2006), Paul Goydos (2007) and Zach Johnson (2009), also cracked that top 12 in both proximity and putting from outside 10 feet, but Waialae is really no different in terms of scoring as its brethren on the schedule. Each of the last seven champions has finished inside the top 12 in both greens in regulation and strokes gained-putting the week they won.
As for finding fairways, four of the last seven winners ranked inside the top 10 and three were inside the top three. Interestingly, all four also ranked inside the top 10 in putting from outside 10 feet. The only winner since 2006 who didn't crack the top 12 in fairways hit, proximity or putting from outside 10 feet was K.J. Choi in 2008.
Waialae requires an all-around game, but despite its reputation, it can be had even if one's game off the tee didn't quite make the trip to Oahu.