This week the PGA Tour is in Hawaii for the Sony Open, the first full-field event of 2020. One hundred and forty-four players will attempt to conquer Waialae Country Club, an older, shorter course that emphasizes precision over power. Any player should have a chance to contend, but there are a few key metrics that can help predict who will play well. At the Sony Open, those metrics tend to be approach shots from 125-175 yards and putting.
Why? First, many holes require layups off the tee, so the landing zones will be similar for most of the pros. From there, it’s a matter of who can be most precise with their irons. Second, since the greens are fairly large relative to the average approach-shot distance, GIR percentage will be very high. As a result, putting will be more important than chipping.
So let’s focus on a few players who fit that bill for both DraftKings and One-and-Done leagues.
Webb Simpson $11,100
With both Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed coming into this event in solid form after making the playoff at Kapalua last week, I expect Webb Simpson, who is priced right between them, to go somewhat overlooked. Webb has a great résumé at the Sony Open and his game fits Waialae CC perfectly. He has finished 13th or better in each of his past four appearances. Also, he has performed well at similar courses like Sedgefield and Harbour Town. Simpson’s game is predicated on accuracy off the tee, precision with his irons, and—for the past couple of years—top-notch putting.
Brian Stuard $7,900
If you’re going to play Brian Stuard at one course this year, Waialae would be it. He has finished eighth or better in four of his past six appearances at the Sony Open, and he has been quietly consistent this season, finishing inside the top 30 in five of his past seven starts.
Charles Howell III
The Sony is Charles Howell’s best chance at a win every year on Tour. He has finished eighth or better in eight of the past 13 years here. That’s an insane level of consistency in a 144-player field. Don’t overthink it: trot out Chucky Three Sticks in your One-and-Done league this week.
If you want to play the contrarian this week, J.T. Poston is a solid choice. His game has been trending upward for the past six months, and he won the Wyndham Championship last August at Sedgefield Country Club, a great corollary venue for Waialae. Poston is one of the best putters on Tour and arrives in Honolulu after an 11th-place finish at Kapalua.