Quick look at the Sony Open in Hawaii
January 08, 2020
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
- A scenic view of the 16th hole at Waialae Country Club. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
Aloha! The second part of the Hawaii swing is about to get wild. Most years, there is a respite from the winds at Waialae Country Club when the PGA TOUR comes over from Kapalua to Honolulu. But forecasts suggest the wind is going to blow and blow some more over the tournament days making this anything but a vacation for our first full-field event of 2020. Can Justin Thomas do the double like he did in 2017 or will someone else figure out the winds and reign supreme?
THREE PLAYERS TO PONDER
The 506-yard par-5 9th hole has routinely been not just the easiest at the Sony Open in Hawaii, but one of the easiest on TOUR each season. Last year, it played at 4.280 with 34 eagles and 266 birdies. The year before it was 4.210 with 39 eagles and 285 birdies. But this season should be a little different. Forecasts suggest there will be a strong cross breeze from left to right that is hurting rather than helping if anything. Out of bounds on both sides of the hole means this previous snack will need some attention in 2020.
With the final hole being a par-5 at Waialae, players know they have a chance to make a late move, but right before they get there the par-3 17th at 194 yards becomes a pivotal hole. Again, it will be a new test in 2020 thanks to forecast winds as the green is narrow and guarded by bunkers on both sides. Last season, the hole played to 3.075 with just 52 birdies over four rounds. Although the green may be soft, hitting and holding it will be tougher. It’s likely the forward tee will be used a few times. Here’s a look where all tee shots finished last season.
From PGA TOUR meteorologist Wade Stettner: An active weather pattern is forecast from Thursday through Sunday as an upper level low pressure system passes over the islands. Showers are possible each day with a chance of thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday. Windy conditions will continue over the next several days with peak gusts approaching 40mph on Thursday and Friday. Winds will begin to diminish over the weekend.
For the latest weather news from Honolulu, Hawaii, check out the PGA TOUR weather Hub.
SOUND CHECKIt’s going to be harder here. Last week, three of the four days it blew really, really hard, and I easily could have gotten to 17 or 18 under par still. I think if it blows like that here it could be anywhere from 8 to 15 (under).
BY THE NUMBERS
4 – The number of players who could overtake the number one position in the FedExCup this week after Justin Thomas took it from Brendon Todd last week. Todd, Sebastian Munoz, Lanto Griffin and Joaquin Niemann could all earn top spot with a big week.
10 – All 10 of the last 10 winners of the Sony Open have ranked inside the top-10 in Strokes Gained: Putting.
11 – Last week’s playoff victim Patrick Reed has played his last 11 final rounds on TOUR par or better.
131 – The number of strokes Justin Thomas is under par in Hawaii since 2015, most under par of any player.
1,272 – Number of FedExCup points earned by Jimmy Walker at the Sony Open, most of any player since 2009.
Rally cry for bushfire relief… With incredible devastation happening in Australia thanks to bushfires, Marc Leishman, Cameron Smith, Matt Jones and the other Australian players in the field have vowed to donate to relief causes this week. They are calling on other players to join them. The Presidents Cup and PGA TOUR have vowed to match player contributions up to $125,000.
Island Hopping… Twenty-two of the 34 players that competed at the winners-only Sentry Tournament of Champions are scheduled to play the Sony Open, including winner Justin Thomas, runner-up Patrick Reed and defending champion Matt Kuchar. Thomas was the last player to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions and Sony Open back-to-back, having done so in 2017 on the way to winning the FedExCup. He opened his week at Sony back then with a 59.
Fantasy Island… Looking for a fantasy play this week at the Sony Open? Look no further than Charles Howell III, who has 10 top-18 finishes in 18 career starts without a missed cut. Thirty-two of his last 33 rounds at Waialae Country Club have been in the 60s with a scoring average of 66.94 during that period.
Long term love… The 2020 Sony Open in Hawaii marks the 22nd year of Sony’s sponsorship, tied for the third-longest title sponsor on the PGA TOUR with John Deere (John Deere Classic) behind AT&T (AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am) and Honda (The Honda Classic, 1982). Waialae Country Club is the third-longest running host venue (non-major) behind Colonial Country Club (1946) and Pebble Beach Golf Links (1947).
Local favorite… Collin Morikawa has plenty of extended family across the Hawaiian Islands and expects a lot of support this week. The Barracuda Championship winner has taken the PGA TOUR by storm already at just 22. His story is a great one… check out this extensive look at one of the new breed on TOUR.