Paulie’s Picks: 2018 Sony Open

Paulie is looking at players with a strong approach game who can keep it in play


The Sony Open brings primetime golf and the first full-field event of the year. The Sony’s host Waialae is quite different than last week’s, Kapalua. Kapalua features expansive fairways, drastic elevation changes, and large undulating greens. Waialae is flat with narrow fairways and small flat greens. The one thing the courses have in common is they yield lots of birdies. With minimal wind currently forecasted, I expect the winner this week to be north of -20. Who will that person be? Let’s jump right into the picks for this week:


Jordan Spieth $12,000
It might be surprised that I’m on Spieth this week after his lackluster result at Kapalua. Digging into the stats, Spieth struggled because of putting. It was his second-worst putting performance in the last five years. Had he putted at his career average, he would have finished second, one shot ahead of Rahm. He gained a massive 8.6 shots tee to green and failed to capitalize. The field will be in trouble if he continues that strong tee to green play and putts like his normal self.   His course history is limited but good; he finished 3rd in his first start at Waialae last year. He is currently listed at 5/1 to win, which means that $12,000 is a value given the upside and consistency he provides.

Hudson Swafford $7,300
Swafford is one of my favorite contrarian tournament plays. He is the same price as Jason Dufner who is the most underpriced player in the field.  I will be investing in similarly priced players as I expect massive Dufner ownership. I’m hoping to find an advantage if those players outscore Dufner. Swafford finished a dismal 27th last week at Kapalua, but heads to a course where he finished in the top 13 in three of the last four years. Swafford’s bad result last week was due to his putter.  He lost six shots on the greens compared to his normal result. In his four previous appearances at the Sony, he gained strokes on the green in all of them. I look for him to find his putter this week and rack up another high finish.

J.J. Spaun $7,600
Spaun is another player who I like the Dufner price range this week. He also is the same price as another golfer who should be popular (Austin Cook). Spaun had a great Fall Series contending on the back nine on Sunday in two events. In those events, he relied upon his solid iron play gaining 11.8 shots over the eight rounds. If he brings a similar iron game to Waialae, he should be a factor on Sunday.


Brian Harman
If you decide to keep Jordan and JT for later in the year, Harman seems to be the obvious choice for this week. Harman has finished in the top eight in his last four starts including a third at Kapalua. He is familiar with Waialae as he has finished in the top 20 the last three years. His game is based on keeping the ball in play and strategically attacking the course. I would not be surprised to see Harman capture another victory this week.

Charles Howell III
If you are a major believer in course history, then Charles Howell III is your man. He has finished in the top eight in seven of his last 11 appearances at this event. He may not have the upside to win, but he has a very good chance to rack up some easy money for you with a top ten finish. One of my favorite bets of the week is +350 for a Howell top ten finish.


Ryan Armour (90-1 to win, 8-1 top 10)
I’m wondering how many weeks I will be featuring Ryan Armour this year? He continues to be undervalued from both a fantasy and betting perspective. Armour is a premier iron player who should succeed at Waialae. While reviewing last week’s results, I found an interesting statistic for Armour. He had 38 birdie or better opportunities inside 20 feet. In comparison, DJ had 39 opportunities. If Armour can carry over that iron play to this week, he has a chance to contend.

Beau Hossler (350-1 to win, 20-1 top 10)
Hossler is a player who I expect to see great things from in the future. He showed the ability in the amateur and collegiate ranks to compete and win when in contention. He showed a few flashes of that game in the fall with top ten finishes at the Shriners and Sanderson Farms. He is drastically mispriced this week as he should be around 125-1 to win and 12-1 for a top ten.