The PGA TOUR returns to Waialae Country Club for the Sony Open, and here is a preview to get you off and running with your research. For years, this event was the first full-field event of the new season. While that isn't the case any longer, it is still the first opportunity for most of the PGA TOUR to knock the holiday rust off and pick up the torch in the 2014-15 season.
Waialae Country Club is a relatively short par-70 layout, maxing out at a mere 7,044 yards. It offers just two par 5s, to go with the normal set of four par 3s and a hefty 12 par 4s. A solid outing in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions isn't necessarily a good indicator of success in the Sony Open, as Waialae is much tighter and flatter than the wide and hilly layout in Kapalua.
While Waialae has hosted since 1965, we will focus our research on the returns since 2005. Here is a list of winners / runners-up, as well as scores since that time.
2005 – Vijay Singh (-11 / 269) over Ernie Els (270)
2006 – David Toms (261) over Chad Campbell / Rory Sabbatini (266)
2007 – Paul Goydos (266) over Charles Howell III and Luke Donald (267)
2008 – K.J. Choi (266) over Rory Sabbatini (269)
2009 – Zach Johnson (265) over Adam Scott and David Toms (267)
2010 – Ryan Palmer (265) over Robert Allenby (266)
2011 – Mark Wilson (264) over Tim Clark and Steve Marino (266)
2012 – Johnson Wagner (267) over Charles Howell III, Harrison Frazar, Sean O’Hair and Carl Pettersson (269)
2013 – Russell Henley (256) over Tim Clark (259)
2014 – Jimmy Walker (263) over Chris Kirk (264)
Here are several observations from that list of players:
- With the exception of Steve Marino (2011 runner-up), everyone on that list is a PGA TOUR winner.
- There are five different major winners represented (Singh, Els, Toms, Johnson and Scott). It’s easy to think of this event as one where the rookies and lower-tier players get their feet wet, the truth is that the elite tend to rise to the top.
- I also notice that there are both long and short players populating this list. The takeaway from that is that a player either needs to be short and accurate, or very good at finding the GIR from other than the fairway.
- While there are several very good putters above, the list is populated by guys who are very average with the flat stick on a good day, and below average on occasion. I would take a hard look at the new strokes gained: tee-to-green metric for this tournament.
- Several noted wind players show up on this list, with Chad Campbell, Rory Sabbatini, Robert Allenby and Ryan Palmer jumping off the page in that regard. Sort of a Texas feel, in that regard.
- We always like a guy with a solid par-4 scoring average, but that may be even more the case this week with 12 par 4s in play.
We will sort this all out and return tomorrow with a Power Ranking. Until then, happy research and enjoy the final round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.