Well it’s an absolute pleasure to be back previewing golf again and we hope you have all had a good break and a happy new year! It has been a longer than anticipated break from us here but we feel fresh and more ready than ever for a successful and PROFITABLE 2014! So let’s get down to business…
Over the last few days we saw the first event of 2014, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. With Dustin Johnson winning in 2013 and the course being perfect for the ‘bombers’, it was only fitting king of the pitching wedge, Zach Johnson, took the title. The American is playing some stunning golf at the moment.
The Sony Open marks the first full-field event of the year and we stay in Hawaii for it. On the east side of Honolulu we find the Waialea Country Club where the tournament has been hosted since 1965. Last year we saw Russell Henley put in a record breaking performance to win here on his PGA Tour debut, the first man to do so for over 12 years. He finished on -24 for the week which was not bad for a rookie. He season did get somewhat overshadowed by a certain Jordan Spieth after that though…
This course is one of those where the yardage tells you everything. Being a 7,050 yard Par 70 it is all about finding the tight fairways off the tee and having the right 2nd shot into the tough little Bermuda greens. This is a place that once someone has done well here, they tend to come back and repeat that performance. Charles Howell III, Tim Clark, Matt Kuchar, Zach Johnson and Jerry Kelly are just a few who have two or more top 10’s here. Statistics to be looking at will be putting for sure, Russell Henley was electric on the greens last year. And then driving accuracy and GIR are always musts for courses like this. With it being close to the sea, we could see the wind picking up as well!
With our fancied players having lower odds than what we usually do, we have decided just to leave it at 3 picks this week!
Zach Johnson (12/1 Various)
Now the problem with Zach is that he almost ticks too many boxes for us! He won the Tournament of Champions last week which was his 2nd win in 2 starts! He held off Adam Scott here in 2009 to win and if ever a course was suited to a particular golfer, this one does for Zach. He is a magician with the higher clubs and has made a living out of short, accurate driving off the tee. Perfect for this track.
We agree if Zach were to win this week it would have to put him in the category of the Adam Scott’s and Tiger Woods’ out there, but we can’t deny it, he’s playing that good right now.
Charles Howell III (20/1 Various)
You are backing Charles Howell at 20/1 we hear you say? Yes that’s right, you have read this right. If you didn’t know Charles is one of our favourite golfers and on his day has the ability to do anything with the golf ball. He comes into this tournament with comfortably the best course form in the field with 7 top 5’s in his last 11 starts on this track. That is some going. It does mean however that he has not actually won this thing, but something tells us, this year could finally be the one.
The American started the PGA Tour season a couple of months very competently. He made all four cuts and finished T5 and T7 at the Shriners Hospital and CIMB Classic respectively. Over those tournaments he ranked 10th in GIR, 1st total birdies, 1st scrambling, 6th ball striking and 1st GIR% 75-100 yards. So his current form is good and when you combine that with his intimate knowledge of this course, we are looking forward to seeing what he does this week.
We would advise an outright stake on both Howell and Johnson if you are betting smaller amounts.
Chris Kirk (33/1 Ladbrokes)
Kirky firmly put himself in the ‘one of those’ category last year. We backed him many times over the course of 2013 and would often miss the cut when we did so. And would usually finish in the top 10 the week after. So we are willing to forgive and forget in 2014 and hope the new year brings new luck for us and the American.
He caught our eye last week in Hawaii, particularly in round one, being very accurate with his irons as we know he can. He ended up sinking back into the field, but this will keep him refreshed for the Sony Open. The tournament before, The McGladrey Classic, he did of course win but rest assured he is good enough to do it once more here in Hawaii. His T5 last year combined with his recent win makes Kirk a big contender this week.