We are hanging around in Hawaii for week six of the 2013/14 golf calender season but we couldn't have a more contrasting venue from Kapalua to disect as the Sony Open 2014 returns to Waialae Country Club. About the only similarity to the HTOC last week is the coastal winds that players will again have to cope with.
A look down previous leaderboards shows a diverse mix of experienced players and rookies/ graduates fresh and eager from the Web.com Tour. Russell Henley fell into the latter category in 2012 and a putting masterclass on grainy greens was what got him over the line to claim victory at last year's Sony Open....
Nicspicks' Sony Open man to beat: Zach Johnson 11/1
Sony Open Market #negatives (markedly underpriced IMO) Charles Howell 20/1, Harris English 22/1, Tim Clark 20/1, B De Jonge 40/1
Likely to be tipped up/backed in: Charles Howell, Brian Gay 50/1, Brian Stuard 80/1
Waialae Country Club; length 7,044yds; par 70
Key features: Tight, dog-legged, Palm tree-lined track. Sticky, penal rough. Small, grainy greens.
Premium on: accuracy, course management, GIR and scrambling/ putting.
Note: Scoring will depend on the wind but birdies are generally there to be made.
Sony Open shortlist (latest form last)
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Matt Kuchar 16/1
Course form: mc-5-5; current form: 7-2-4-3-6
Key stats: consistently near the top of the scoring av. and scrambling stats. Hot putter.
Other: Almost never go as low as 16s but before Johnson's performance last night I had him as the man to beat here. Adam Scott teeing it up has put value in Kuchar's price IMO. Bounced back from a poor Saturday at Kapalua with a closing -6
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Tim Clark 22/1 (pre odds)
Course form: 12-25-2-2; current form: 31-2-36
Key stats: (2013) Driving accuracy: 5th; approaches from 100-125yds: 9th
Positives: Excellent wedge game. Has hit regular low rounds on the Waialae track.
Brian Gay 50/1
Course form: 5-25-13-6-31; Current form: 46-4-45-13
Key stats: (2014) 4th in DA, (2013) 5th in putting from 5-15', 15th in approaches 100-125yds
Other: Held the low round outright at Kapalua (-8) on course that doesn't suit. Worked on his putting Friday night and found his touch again.
Michael Thompson 100/1
Course form: mc-6-mc (par,par); Current form: 35-4-45-mc-16
Other: Very focused last week and happy with his game. Can be streaky with the putter and big price relative to the field given a solid performance at Kapalua where he led after R1.
He said: "I'm visualising my shots well"
John Rollins 100/1
Course form: 20-8-10-20 Current form: 77-32-mc
Key stats: n/a
Other: One of the best total drivers of the ball in the game when on. Can go low and often starts fast. Good early season form last two years.
He said: "Getting ready to board so we can kick the year off at the @SonyOpenHawaii. Looking forward to a great week in paradise. #aloha"
Course form: 52-mc-46-20 Current form: 2-23-mc-25
Key stats: (2014) Ball striking 11th; GIR% 4th;
Other: mid distance putting has taken a step up in the 2014 events so far and he's hit 9/14 rounds in the sixties. Went 10-1-6 at Waialae during the peak of his powers.
Jerry Kelly 150/1
Course form: 3-23-wd-8-29-mc Current form: 19-wd-mc
Key stats: (2013) Led the tour in driving accuracy
Other: Played some good stuff at back end of 2013. Went 1-4-5 here in 02-04 and closed out the Franklin Templeton shootout well with Stricker.
Others On the shortlist but missed the cut: Ishikawa, Sabbatini, Stuard, Pettersson, Allenby
Sony Open finalised EW staking plan
1.5u ew M.Kuchar @ 16/1 (Coral)
3u Brian Gay top 10 @ 9/2 (general)
0.5u ew M. Thompson @ 100/1 (BetVic, Spreadex)
0.5u Vijay singh @ 100/1 (paddy 6 places)
2u J. Kelly top 10 @ 11/1 (SJ)
0.5u ew John Rollins 1st round leader @ 100/1 (general)
Trading Zone See the Sony Open betfair market here
Potential Pre tournament Steamer: Brian Gay
#Backtolay pointer: dutch Kuchar 16.0 and Zach Johnson 12.5 for 5 units. Lay back 5 units if either hit 4.0 and exit between holes 54-64 if possible.
Long odds eye catchers: Ryo Ishikawa 85.0, Vijay Singh 130.0, Jerry Kelly 150.0, - lay targets 12.0 - 16.0 (prices will rise before Thursday)
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