Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. However, finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they select a champion.
Below, we will cover the best bets for the Sony Open in Hawaii based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their golf odds.
Well, nothing ruins a trip to Hawaii like blowing a six-stroke lead on Sunday, but that's exactly what Collin Morikawa did last week at Kapalua to deprive us of a win in our first event of 2023. Morikawa mercifully has the week off, and we can delve into the field without having to relive last week's trauma as we scroll the odds board.
The course setup could not be more different this week, as Waialae Country Club requires accuracy and rarely yields to the biggest bombers. Keeping it in play off the tee and controlling approach distance is crucial, especially if the wind picks up. The greens here are slower than most Bermuda surfaces, and someone is going to have the week of their lives on these greens. That makes it a particularly tough course to handicap, so we'll focus on value options who have solid enough iron play to put them in a position to close the door with the flat stick.
For more info on Waialae Country Club, along with this week's key stats, check out Brandon Gdula's primer.
At The Top
Tom Hoge (+2200) - Hoge is the early leader in strokes gained: approach this season, but that's no fluke. He was 11th last year in his career-best season, and even before he found that high-level consistency, it was a strength. He played a ton in the fall, with four straight finishes inside the top 15 to start the swing season before missing his final two cuts. He won the team event QBE Shootout and carried the momentum to Kapalua, where he finished third. Strong recent form driven by approach play is the formula we want. Even if we have to forego the bigger names under 25/1 to get Hoge, the opportunity cost isn't as extreme as you might think. The best raw or value option above Hoge is the betting favorite Joohyung Kim (+1000), and that price is a bit too rich for the 20-year-old phenom.
Corey Conners (+2200) - A few months before Conners broke out with a win as a Monday qualifier at the 2019 Valero Texas Open, he teased us at the Sony Open with what he could potentially do if he ever hit a putt. Since finishing T3 that year at Waialae, he's also added a T12 and 11 in his two trips since, and his mix of driving accuracy and precise iron play lends itself well to this layout. He hasn't been worse than 20th on the entire PGA Tour in either strokes gained: approach or driving accuracy percentage in any of the last three seasons. His downfall is usually the putter, and he's been one of the clearest beneficiaries of easier, slow putting surfaces, which is what he'll see here.
Matt Kuchar (+5000) - It was Kuchar who Conners couldn't quite catch here in 2019, and a T7 last year makes the 44-year-old an interesting option at 50/1 even as we've definitively moved into the tail end of Kuchar's PGA Tour career. There are only a handful of courses and events he stands a chance at these days, and Waialae is right at the top of the list. Even at his peak, he never possessed the power or driving dominance of top rivals. Kuchar's game is predicated on accuracy and precision, and few courses on Tour reward that combo the way this one does.
Webb Simpson (+5000) - Simpson had a lost season last year, and his run as anything close to an elite player is at an end. He's fallen about 100 spots in the Official World Golf Ranking in the last 12 months. Roll it back 24 months, and Simpson was a top-10 golfer. A lot has changed in two years, and like Kuchar, the list of events at which Simpson stands much of a chance keeps growing ever shorter. He'll start building his schedule around those events, and we can expect him to play at Waialae as long as they'll have him. Prior to a T61 here last year, he had three top 10s in his prior attempts. We'll back him as a sneaky pick for another Top-10 Finish (+600).
Russell Knox (+9500) - Knox is a good model to follow for a Sony Open long shot. His good accuracy and good ball-striking are held back by a limited short game. You have to go back to 2017-18 to track the last time Knox ranked worse than 26th in strokes gained: approach. He also has been outside the top 40 in driving accuracy percentage just twice since he began playing a full PGA schedule in 2013-14. Knox is never one to skip a trip to Hawaii, and he has good history at Waialae, as well -- four top-15 finishes in the last nine years are punctuated by a career-best T7 last year.