Power Rankings: Sony Open in Hawaii
January 10, 2022
By Rob Bolton , PGATOUR.COM
All-time shots from the Sony Open in Hawaii
So much for fatigue or rust!
The super season of 2020-21, nine tournaments in the fall to open 2021-22 and a traditional holiday hiatus did nothing to slow the flow of record scoring at last week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions. But before you wonder if the Sony Open in Hawaii can follow that act, it’s already poised to replicate its own from a year ago.
For details on that, a not-so-subtle change in the course setup and other analysis, continue reading beneath the projected contenders.
Former Sony champions Ryan Palmer (2012) and Matt Kuchar (2019) will be reviewed in Tuesday’s Fantasy Insider with Jason Kokrak, world’s top-ranked amateur Keita Nakajima and other notables.
There are so many things that define the warm welcome extended by the Sony Open in Hawaii.
As host to 144 golfers, it’s the first full-field event of the reopening of the season. Waialae Country Club on the oceanside of Honolulu is a stock par 70 and the only stage since the tournament debuted in 1965. The setup is consistent and scoring is favorable. And, duh, it’s in paradise.
Before Kapalua’s Plantation Course showcased record-low scoring last week, the 2021 edition of the Sony flashed its own tournament record – 67.975. Chris Kirk posted quad-65s … and settled for co-runner-up honors to Kevin Na’s 21-under 259. Of the 292 scores recorded by the 73 golfers who completed four rounds, only 14 (or 4.8 percent) were over par.
The objective is easy: Hit the ground and run. However, it doesn’t hurt to have played the previous week at Kapalua.
Seven of the last eight winners at Waialae made the short trip west from Maui. The only exception, ironically, is Cameron Smith in 2021, he, of course, of last week’s TOUR-record in relation to par (34-under 258). As of Monday afternoon, 21 of the 38 golfers who pegged it at Kapalua are committed to the Sony, including the Aussie.
Those who already have given it a go at Waialae likely will notice longer primary rough. It’s up 33 percent from previous editions and allowed to grow to three inches. That’s not insignificant, so it should defend scoring on approach to some degree and cause pause on some tee boxes. However, bermuda greens remain restricted to 11 feet on the Stimpmeter, so Justin Thomas’ course-record 59 (2017) is a reasonable target, especially during the first three rounds when winds are expected to be light. Rain almost never can be ruled out, but dry conditions are forecast throughout.
Experience on Waialae also has defined every champion except Russell Henley in 2013. Dismissing Gay Brewer, who prevailed in the inaugural edition for which all participants naturally were first-timers, Henley is the only debutant who has connected for victory.
For the 16th consecutive edition, overall yardage is 7,044. The only modification of note occurred at the par-4 second hole where a pair of bunkers right of the fairways have been conjoined.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous perspectives. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.