Former Sony champions Ryan Palmer (2012) and Matt Kuchar (2019) will be discussed with Jason Kokrak, the world’s best amateur Keita Nakajima and other celebrities in Fantasy Insider on Tuesday.
There are so many things that make up the warm welcome at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Hosting 144 golfers, it will be the first full-field event of the season’s reopening. The Waialae Country Club on the Honolulu coast is a par 70 stick and the only stage since the tournament debuted in 1965. The setup is consistent and the score is cheap. And, duh, it’s in paradise.
Before Kapalua’s Plantation Course hit a record low score last week, the 2021 edition of the Sony flashed its own tournament record – 67,975. Chris Kirk scored Quad-65s … and settled for second place with Kevin Nas 21-under 259. Of the 292 scores from the 73 golfers who completed four rounds, only 14 (or 4.8 percent) were above par.
The goal is simple: hit the ground and run. However, it doesn’t hurt to have played at Kapalua the week before.
Seven of Waialae’s final eight winners made the short journey west from Maui. The only exception is, ironically, Cameron Smith in 2021, he of course has last week’s TOUR record for par (34-under 258). On Monday afternoon, 21 of the 38 golfers who signed up with Kapalua signed up to the Sony, including the Aussie.
Those who have tried Waialae are likely to notice longer primary roughs. It’s 33 percent more than previous editions and is allowed to grow to three inches. This is not insignificant, so it should defend the scoring to a certain extent on the approach and lead to pauses at some tees. Bermuda greens remain limited to 11 feet on the Stimpmeter, however, so Justin Thomas’ course record 59 (2017) is a reasonable goal, especially during the first three laps when light winds are expected. Rain can almost never be ruled out, but dry conditions are consistently predicted.
The experience on Waialae has also defined every champion except Russell Henley in 2013. After Bob Goalby, who prevailed in the opening edition, in which all participants were of course newbies, Henley is the only debutant to stand up for victory.
For the 16th edition in a row, the total length is 7,044. The only notable modification was on the second par 4 hole, where a pair of bunkers were connected to the right of the fairways.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
Rob Bolton from PGATOUR.COM summarizes and previews each tournament from numerous perspectives. As planned, look for his following posts.
MONDAY: Power ranking
TUESDAY*: Sleeper, Fantasy Insider
* – Rob is a member of PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Selection Panel for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which will also be released on Tuesday.