GOLF analyst Lewis Blain (@LewisBlainSport) shares his betting thoughts ahead of the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Sony Open in Hawaii | 14th–17th December 2020 | Sky Sports
The PGA Tour returned for 2021 last week with the Sentry Tournament of Champions where Harris English triumphed at 33/1, continuing his impressive form for the season.
It was very much a scouting mission for me ahead of the Sony Open in Hawaii this week – the first full-field event since early December. A strong line-up which includes the likes of USPGA champion Collin Morikawa, Webb Simpson, Adam Scott and defending champion Cameron Smith will tee off at Waialae Golf Club.
The Par 70 track, measuring around 7,044 yards is a short and tight, tree-lined technical course by the coastline, drawing correlations to Sea Island (RSM), Harbour Town (RBC) and El Camaleon (Mayakoba).
In short, it boils down to how many greens you can hit and how many putts you can make on the Bermudagrass surface.
Colonial and TPC Southwind are other courses to consider in relation to this test too.
We'll jump straight into my picks for the week…
Sungjae Im (18/1 William Hill)
It was a toss-up between Daniel Berger and Sungjae Im (18/1 William Hill)
for the front of the market and I think the South Korean is primed to pick up his second PGA Tour title here after a T5 last week. Had he been better with the flat-stick (he lost strokes), then there's a chance that he might have won. Now, he putts better on Bermuda ranking 10th in this field for the past 50 rounds alone.
Im is in world-class form, finishing T2 at the Masters which was held in November. He's a workhorse that turns up every week with no real weaknesses in his game, so I fully expect him to be in and around the chasing pack come Sunday afternoon.
Kevin Kisner (30/1 William Hill)
When you come to this sort of test, you instantly consider Kevin Kisner (30/1 WilliamHill) and given the form he's in, he will go on the staking plan this week. His last five starts here read 5th ('16), 4th ('17), 25th ('18) and 4th ('20), whilst he's won the RSM and been runner-up at the RBC. He comes into this week on the back of a runner-up at the most-recent RSM Classic and with a T24 last week.
Overall, he's looking in good nick – for the past 36 rounds in this field, he ranks 13th for SG: APP, 9th for Par-4 Scoring and 4th for SG: Putting, whilst he's 11th for the last 50 rounds for putting on Bermuda. Kisner is in the sort of price range that can win this event, so I fancy his chances very much.
Sebastian Munoz (50/1 SkyBet)
Using FantasyNational's win simulator, an interesting name crops up ahead of both the aforementioned picks in Sebastian Munoz (50/1 SkyBet)
. And having delved into it a bit deeper, I feel he's of some value this week. Now a world no. 56, the Colombian has snuck up the rankings since claiming the Sanderson Farms in 2019. The same year, he was sole third at the RSM.
Munoz finished 10th here on debut and showed promising signs ball-striking last week, and now with prices gone on the likes of Lanto Griffin and Brendan Todd, I feel he could be of immense value. It's certainly a punt, but one that could pay dividends this week.
Emiliano Grillo (50/1 William Hill)
Last time you heard from me on the PGA Tour, I put up Emiliano Grillo (50/1 WilliamHill) at the Mayakoba and at one stage he looked set to win it for us at 55/1 before another final day nightmare had him finishing in 8th, only just giving us some return money. Well, I like him again at a similar price at a track he loves. He's gained strokes here every single visit.
In my overall model, he ranks 6th whilst for the last 36 rounds in this field, he is 6th for GIR, 12th for SG: APP and 14th for Par-4 Scoring. We just need his putter to behave – though that could be a tall ask.
Branden Grace (100/1 William Hill)
And finally I round off with someone who had one awful 2020 in Branden Grace (100/1 William Hill)
. This sort of test is made from him and he's proven that over the years, winning at the likes of Harbour Town and at the Dunhill Links. It's this coastal venue that seems to fit his eye but having ended the year strongly with an 8th in Dubai, he might be one to keep an eye on.
The South African usually starts the year strong – even in a bad 2020, he won the South African Open. In 2016, he won twice (RBC + Qatar) in his first nine outings, so perhaps there can be some correlation even five years later. A 13th here at Waialae in 2017 backs up the fact that he could have the tools to contend here if on his game, so for a 100/1 shot we could do far worse.
Sony Open in Hawaii – Sungjae Im (18/1 each-way William Hill)
Sony Open in Hawaii – Kevin Kisner (30/1 each-way William Hill)
Sony Open in Hawaii – Sebastian Munoz (50/1 SkyBet)
Sony Open in Hawaii – Emiliano Grillo (50/1 William Hill)
Sony Open in Hawaii – Branden Grace (100/1 William Hill)