Analysis and write-up provided by KendoVT. Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom to see each player’s tournament history as well as the complete box scores for each of the last three years. Enjoy!
The PGA Tour stays in Hawaii this week as Waialae Country Club plays host to the Sony Open. This will be the first large field event of the season and after multiple no cut events in a row, we finally will have cut sweats on Friday. Waialae CC is a complete 180 degree turn from last week’s tournament at Kapalua. The course is a 7,044 yard Par 70 with four par 3s, twelve par 4s, and two Par 5s which are both reachable by almost all the players in the field. The par 5s are actually two of the easiest on Tour. It is also setup right next to Maunalua Bay, which can cause windy conditions. The weather report as of now says that the winds should stay calm (except for maybe Friday) but check closer to lineup lock and make sure. The fairways are tight and fast (as long as there is no rain) with many bunkers lining them and the rough is thick with local vegetation in play on wayward drives. Waialae CC was actually the most difficult course to hit fairways on in 2006 and 2010 (due to wind) and is always inside the Top 12 in this stat every year. The greens are Bermuda grass, average to small in size, and will play fairly fast (around 11 on the stimpmeter) and firm especially compared to last week. Golfers who hit a draw tend to have a slight advantage here. Check out my Fantasy Golf Degenerates podcast cohost’s (@zachwoodsgolf) in depth article on why players with a draw play well here. One last tidbit, 12 of the last 17 winners here have played the week before in Kapalua.
Looking at the course description above, a few key stats come to mind. I will be using these stats and course history to select golfers for my DraftKings lineups this week. I will look at current form as well but because of the lengthy break for most of the golfers in the field, current form is less important to me than usual.
Key Stats For The Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G) which is a key stat every week. Also, if the weather report changes and they say it’s going to be windy, take a look at Scrambling stats because greens will be missed quite frequently if the winds pick up.
Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P):
In the last ten years here 28 of the 36 golfers who have finished in the Top 3 were 86th or better in SG:P for that specific year. In a field like this, anyone who has a SG:P ranking of 90 or better is well above the field average. Of the last ten winners of this event, only Vijay Singh and Mark Wilson were ranked outside the Top 36 in SG:P for that specific year with many of the winners inside the Top 15 in this stat. If the wind is down, this tourney could turn into a shootout and the play on the greens will be the deciding factor.
Par 4 Scoring 400-450 yards (P4/400+):
Depending on how the tee boxes are set up, nine of the twelve par 4s could be from this range this week. 27 of the 36 golfers who have finished in the Top 3 the last ten years have finished 82nd or better in this stat for that specific year with the majority being inside the Top 50.
Birdie or Better % (BoB%):
If the wind stays light, this tournament could become a shootout. Many birdies are going to be needed to just make the cut. In the last 7 years five out of the seven winners have finished inside the Top 34 in this stat for the specific year that they won. Also 22 of 36 golfers who finished in the Top 3 the last ten years were 82nd or better in this stat for that specific year.
Bogey Avoidance (BA):
If this becomes a shootout like I think it will be, avoiding bogeys is a must. Even though the fairways are narrow and the rough is thick, the course is still fairly easy as long as there is no wind. The winning score is usually around -15 to -18 so making birdies and avoiding bogeys will be key especially for golfers trying to make the cut, which is probably the most important aspect of your PGA DFS lineup. Going six for six in made cuts will almost guarantee you money every week.
High End Picks ($9000 and up)
*** I will be using stats from last season but I will take a peak at this year’s stats (Fall Series) where applicable.
Jimmy Walker ($12,200):
Mr. Hawaii played well last week especially on Saturday with a -9. He is the two time defending champion in this event and has three Top 5 finishes here in the last five years. With all the value plays available this week, fitting him into your GPP or cash lineups this week should be easy to do.
Matt Kuchar ($11,500):
Kuchar has had four Top 8 finishes in his last four times playing this event including a third place finish last year. His stats for the course are some of the best in the field. He’s 33rd in SG:P, 20th in P4/400+, 26th in BoB%, 14th in BA, and 22nd in SG:T2G. He will be a staple in my cash AND GPP lineups and he is my pick to win this week.
Brandt Snedeker ($10,900):
Snedeker had a strong showing last week finishing T3 at Kapalua. According to him, he has been working really hard with Butch Harmon during the off season trying to improve his swing after an off year in 2015. It showed last week and since he is one of the best putters in the world, I can see him finishing high and maybe even winning this week. Even though he hasn’t played here in a long time I will still be using him in a bunch of lineups this week.
Russell Henley ($10,300):
Henley has played well at Waialae in the past with three made cuts and a win in 2013. His stats for the course are solid. He’s 5th in SG:P, 57th in P4/400+, 31st in BoB%, and 76th in BA. His price seems a bit high but he finished in the Top 25 in almost half of his events last year and only missed 4 cuts in 2015. I’m not going to overload on him but I will have him in a few GPP lineups.
Harris English ($10,200):
English made three out of four cuts in the Fall and finished in the Top 9 at the Sony Open the last three years with a 3rd place finish last year. He obviously likes the course. This is probably due to the fact that his game matches up with the course well. He’s 10th in SG:P, 59th in P4/400+, 62nd in BoB%, 20th in BA, and 81st in SG:T2G. I feel comfortable using him in both cash games and GPPs.
Charles Howell III ($9,700):
CH3 is the definition of a Horse For The Course golfer this week. He has made the cut here in each of the last ten years with SIX top 5 finishes. His stats last year really don’t match up with the course but I don’t think that matters. His course knowledge should supersede that. Another Top 5 and maybe a win is possible for him this week. I also think he will be one of the higher owned golfers this week in all games.
Will Wilcox ($9,000):
Will the Thrill makes my picks as the final high end golfer I like. His stats like usual are sick. He’s 32nd in SG:P, 5th in P4/400+, 7th in BoB%, 2nd in BA, and 20th in SG:T2G. With these type of stats you would think he would be a safe play every week but for some reason he still misses a bunch of cuts. He has missed the cut in 7 of his last 21 starts but he finished 8th his last time out at the Sony Open. I’ve been battling back and forth on whether or not to use him in cash lineups this week and I’m leaning toward making him just a GPP pick. If he can improve his consistency though, I can see him making moves in 2016. The game is there.
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Commentary based on DraftKings strategy and scoring.