Sony Open in Hawaii: Experience Wins [Part Two]
After calculating ratings for the field in the Sony Open, I now have plenty of data to dissect in today’s piece. We will take a look at the highest rated golfers in the field, and discuss possible fades. I use my own calculated rating system that takes in to account course history, statistical rankings, salary, last year’s performance, and a handful of other factors. This gives me a base to start my research, and where I should focus most of my researching efforts.
With a cut this week, the first goal is to get six of your golfers in to the third round. This is imperative in GPPs because we are looking to get the most possible points. In cash games, you can still squeak by with four out of six golfers, but the goal is always six. There are 28 golfers in this field that have made the cut every time. Of those 28, there were 6 golfers who have only participated once, and 22 who have been to this event two or more times. Sitting a top that list are two golfers who are in the Top 25 for Birdies Made, Charles Howell III (15 appearances, #16 in birdies made) and Spencer Levin (8 appearances, #24 in birdies made). Howell III has 8 Top 10 finishes, and Levin has zero, so the clear pick would be Charles Howell III at $7,800. In 2016 1,770 birdies were made, the most of any course on the PGA Tour, so this is a very important stat.
Following a similar theme, other golfers who have a high cuts made percentage, have made a Top 10, and are in the Top 25 for Birdies Made are:
Pat Perez ($8,000): 87% Cuts Made (13/15–4 Top 10s — #11 in Birdies Made)
Ryan Palmer ($8,300): 73% Cuts Made (8/11–2 Top 10s — #20 in Birdies Made)
There are other stats to take into consideration this week, narrow fairways and extremely thick rough will prove driving accuracy will be important, green surrounding bunkers will make greens in regulation a pivotal statistic, which leads to birdies made. With the amount of bunkers, and difficult rough, scrambling could be important, but birdies made should trump it.
It’s very intriguing to see the 15 golfers who has played the Sony Open more than ten times are priced $8,500 or less, and out of those 15, only one has a cuts made percentage under fifty percent. Let’s take a look.
When a name keeps appearing, it’s usually for good reasons. I am infatuated with how much Pat Perez keeps popping up in my research, and that leads me to further investigation. Is it too good to be true? He scored 111.50 DK points last week in Maui, and he’s golfing on the Big Island this week. He only scored 40 DK points last year, and that is what is concerning me. He did not participate in the TOC last year. The last time Perez golfed back to back tournaments in Hawaii (remember, Kapalua TOC is only for previous years’ winners), was 2010. Perez was tied for 10th at the TOC, and went on to finish T46 (-2) that same year at the Sony Open. Coming off a big week, and having the stats to back it up, Pat Perez making 87% of the cuts is a great cash play, but I’m worried that history may repeat with him.
I am comfortable rostering any of the Top 10 in that list shown in the graphic above. They have experience, stats to back up their play, and have a high cuts made percentage. The best part about the group above is the pricing. You will want exposure to golfers with history at Waialae in your cash lineup, and you must be willing to take a few risks in tournaments. Let’s take a look at the top dollar golfers:
The Top 5 most expensive golfers this week, were all at Kapalua last week. Justin Thomas’ price went up $1,600, Hawaiian Native Jimmy Walker’s price went up $2,100 due to course experience, and back to back wins, and Brandt Snedeker’s price went up $1,000 as he was the runner up last year. Spieth and Matsuyama’s price did not change at all. They both scored over 100 DK points last week, though, both golfers have not fared well here. This makes them exceptional tournament plays, whom are both in great form. This is Hideki’s second professional appearance here (fifth time playing), is arguably the hottest golfer on the tour, and given his poor performances, I am going to roster him at low ownership in guaranteed prize pools.
The remaining part of the list under the Top 5, begins with Paul Casey, whom ended his 2016 season with a T21 or better in eight of his last nine tournaments. He was on fire, and is a serious contender. I wouldn’t write him off in tournaments. Justin Rose and Gary Woodland and the rest of the gang have serious potential, but Scott Piercy, Zach Johnson, and Ryan Palmer have the experience to get it done.
This week features a massive field, and there are plenty other great golfers, but I just don’t have the wind to cover them all. Some other notables golfing this week include:
Cody Gribble, a young lefty who has been playing out of his mind, who got his first win just months ago. I believe he will be a serious contender this year.
K.J. Choi who has had decent success here, for a reasonable price.
Cheng-Tsung Pan, who seems to have an incredible short game, and does well on shorter courses.
Webb Simpson may be under priced for this tournament.
Chad Campbell has experience, and the stats, and nobody seems to be talking about him.
Jason Dufner, Chris Kirk, and Kevin Na are all solid plays at only $7,700.
My Top Cash Plays and Top Tournament Options will be released later today on Twitter, so give me a follow @davidwiles.