For those who missed it, please check out the 2020 Sony Open Preview and Betting Strategies column for information about what types of golfers to target this week for your props and futures bets this week.
With that in mind, here’s who I like this week at Waialae Country Club:
Pre-Tournament Futures Bets
Webb Simpson – 12/1: Webb Simpson is the prototypical player who should excel at a place like Waialae. Webb is a precise ball-striker, an excellent scrambler and can really roll the rock on the greens. He’s also overdue for a win, as per DataGolf his expected win total since the beginning of the 2018-2019 season is 1.12. His form was great throughout 2019, and at a golf course that fits his game it could be his week to get off the schneid.
Sungjae Im – 22/1: Sungjae followed up his solid rookie campaign with a very strong Fall, recording a win over in Korea and two other Top 3 finishes on the PGA Tour. I’m a little worried how he’ll fare in the wind, as he has struggled with that at times in his professional career. But solid ball-striking helps overcome struggles in the wind and based on his performances from the Fall that looks to be very much improved. That improvement should help him with his distance control and ball flight to navigate the expected blustery conditions. If what he showed in the Fall is legit, he can couple that with his strong short game and putting to secure his first victory on the PGA Tour.
Joaquin Niemann – 33/1: Big things are in store for the 21 year old Chilean this season. Niemann already has one victory on a Seth Raynor course when he won the Greenbrier back in September. Now he enters the Sony Open off a very impressive performance at Kapalua where he successfully navigated the blustery track with good ball-striking. That’s no surprise to anyone who’s followed Niemann since he’s come up to the PGA Tour, as his performance tee-to-green is one of the best on Tour. It’s his putter that’s held him back, but he comes into the Sony Open with momentum after gaining 3.5 strokes on the greens at Kapalua. With windy conditions at the Sony Open expected to keep scores lower, that’ll only help the better ball-strikers in the field.. Niemann has a great chance to grab his second win of the season this week, especially if he continues to ride a hot putter.
Marc Leishman – 40/1: The results from the Fall weren’t pretty for Big Leish. Surrounded by an impressive 3rd place finish at the Safeway Open was a back injury at the Greenbrier, a very poor showing on the Asian swing and a surprisingly lackluster performance at Royal Melbourne in the Presidents Cup. Still, for a player who has good success at both Waialae and other correlated golf courses and has one of the higher ceilings of anyone in the field, 40/1 odds is disrespectful for the caliber of player Leishman is. No one knows how healthy he is heading into this week’s tournament, but if he’s feeling good he’s absolutely a threat to win the tournament.
Others to Consider (with Top 20 Prop Odds in Parenthesis)
- Russell Knox – 65/1 (+235): Knox is a poor man’s Webb Simpson, had a decent Fall season and has past success at both Waialae and other similar golf courses.
- Carlos Ortiz – 70/1 (+250): It’s too bad he’s coming off a long layoff because Ortiz was red hot at the end of the Fall Season. Ortiz had three Top 5 finishes in the Fall and showed great form both tee-to-green and with his putting. A continuance of this form makes him a threat to breakthrough for a win.
- Daniel Berger – 90/1 (+325): His career has hit the skids because of injuries, but he enjoyed a solid Fall and has the raw natural ability to return as a Top 30 player on the PGA Tour. Berger also has a good track record at Waialae and is worth a flyer at 90/1.
- Doc Redman – 175/1 (+600): An up and down player in his young career, but possesses the raw talent to be a winner on the PGA Tour and enjoyed a solid Fall season where he made six of 8 cuts. Showed improvements with his putting towards the end of the Fall season. At 175/1, why not?
Other Props and Matchups
Hideki Matsuyama Top 10 – +150: I love almost everything about Hideki Matsuyama’s game, and anyone who has followed this column for a long time knows he’s my kryptonite. I just don’t trust his putter, especially after what I’ve seen from him in the Fall and at the Presidents Cup. But with windy conditions expected at the Sony Open this week, that’s going to give premium ball-strikers a big edge and there’s very few players better tee-to-green than Hideki. I don’t love his 16/1 odds to win the Sony Open, but I do expect him to be in the Top 10 by the end of the weekend.
Mark Hubbard (+725) and Scott Harrington (+900) Top 20: A pair of super deep sleepers. Both of them have made a nice transition from the Korn Ferry Tour with each finishing T2 in Houston and have made six of 7 cuts. Both have also shown very solid ball-striking in the Fall but were held back a bit with hot and cold putters. If they can get the flat stick going their odds to post a Top 20 finish at the Sony Open are great values.
Collin Morikawa -125 over Matt Kuchar: Fading a player with as strong a history at Waialae like Kuchar has isn’t an easy pill to swallow, but I have not been a big fan of what I’ve seen from him this fall. Kuchar has been going through a few equipment changes and seems be struggling a bit with that. He also hasn’t shown very good form since the second half of the 2019 season. Should Kuchar continue to struggle, the windy conditions could expose the mediocre ball-striking that’s plagued him recently. Meanwhile, Morikawa is a very solid player tee-to-green and should be able to navigate the blustery conditions quite well. He should beat Kuchar head to head.
Cameron Smith -120 over Chez Reavie: Like Sungjae Im, I’m a little concerned with how well Smith can do in the wind, as he has struggled in those conditions in his career. But after struggling with his ball-striking at the beginning in 2019 he’s turned it around both in the Summer and Fall. In addition, shorter golf courses that elevates good iron play, scrambling and putting is one that Smith tends to do well at. Meanwhile, while Reavie has a great history at Waialae he has struggled since his win at the Travelers in June and is undergoing an equipment change of his own. Reavie is now on Team PXG – where careers have gone to die (see Zach Johnson and Charl Schwartzel). Despite some reservations about Smith, I like him to beat Reavie one on one.