2021 Sony Open Expert Picks: Our Favorite Matchups and Prop Bets for This Week’s PGA TOUR Event at Waialae
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Matthew NeSmith
- The 2021 Sony Open tees off on Thursday morning at Waialae Country Club in Hawaii.
- The Sony is the first full-field event of the year and that means that the betting opportunities are plentiful.
- Here are our favorite matchup bets and props for the Sony Open:
The 2021 Sony Open, the first full-field PGA TOUR event of 2021, tees off on Thursday, Jan. 14 at Waialae Country Club in Hawaii. It is also is the venue of one of the most well-known betting trends in golf. The ol’ TOC-Sony Open correlation.
Seven of the last nine winners at the Sony have played the week before at the Tournament of Champions. Cameron Smith threw a wrench into that run last season, but Smith had been playing some of the higher-profile events in Australia along with the President’s Cup so he definitely didn’t arrive rusty.
Which players are we backing for big performances at Waialae? Check out our favorite prop bets and matchup plays below:
Harris English First-Round Leader (+2800)
Read carefully and see if you can spot the trend here: English ranked second on the PGA Tour in R1 scoring average last season. He’s broken 70 in nine of his last 12 openers. His scoring average is 68.25 in those rounds. And last week, he posted an 8-under 65 to grab a share of FRL before eventually winning the tourney three days later. Unburdened by that victory, it would be unwise to expect the trend to discontinue this week.
I usually like digging a bit deeper for FRL bets, but it feels like there are blinking neon arrows pointing at English’s face this week, so we should probably just follow ‘em.
Charles Howell III Top-20 Finish (+200)
I’ll try ol’ reliable here one more time, even if he hasn’t been so reliable as of late.
Howell just missed this bet by a shot at the RSM to close out his 2020 campaign, but he’s been just as good at Waialae in recent seasons. CH3 has finished inside the top-20 in seven of the last nine years, with five top-10s thrown in there.
There is usually concern about rust with the guys who didn’t play the TOC the week prior, but Howell seems to have that figured out. He’s only played the TOC-Sony back-to-back once in that nine-year span, so each year he’s shown up and been ready to go on a course he seems to enjoy.
Matthew NeSmith Top-20 Finish (+350)
As I looked through this field and the history of who has been successful at the Sony Open, it stands out that a number of players from the southeastern US have fared well in Waialae. There is a lot of correlation from events like RBC Heritage and the RSM Classic, where the Kisners, Simpsons, and Howells of the world have had success, and NeSmith fits that mold, too.
He is coming into the new year off of a 15th-place finish at the RSM Classic in the fall, and is a player poised to do well in 2021. I will look for NeSmith to improve off of his 32nd-place finish at this event last year, and the +350 is a solid number for him to climb into the top-20.
Zach Johnson Top-10 Finish (+400)
At the end of last season, we started to see a bit of a resurgence from the former Masters Champion. At this point of his career there are only a handful of courses where ZJ can still compete and Waialae is one of them. As evidenced by his previous win here (2009), the short par 70 track where driving accuracy and short game is at a premium is a perfect spot for him.
Last year we saw a handful of TOUR veterans get back in the winners circle after going a long time without a win including: Stewart Cink, Martin Laird, Sergio Garcia, Brian Gay and Harris English. Look for Zach to compete for a chance to join that group.
Collin Morikawa (-105) over Webb Simpson
The honeymoon is over for Morikawa, who followed his first career major championship title with five results which had varying degrees of mediocrity to close his 2020 campaign. I think he needed a little recharge and based on what we witnessed last week, he’s ready to start playing like one of the world’s best once again. Simpson is a worthy favorite this week on a course which should suit his game, but still getting over COVID, he revealed feeling some symptoms last week even after testing negative.
I’ll take Morikawa at plus-money and feeling 100% over Simpson at something perhaps a bit less than that.
Sungjae Im (-118) over Hideki Matsuyama
Im has been playing far more consistently than Hideki lately. He’s coming off a top-5 finish last week, while Hideki was tied for last. Matsuyama finished 12th here last year to record his best-ever finish at Waialae, but it’s not been a great spot for him. He doesn’t have another top-25 finish in his other six appearances. Im has shown in his limited starts at the Sony, that he’s capable of a solid result, placing 16th and 21st the last two seasons.
Sebastian Munoz (-110) over Jason Kokrak
As I highlighted in my recap article from the Sentry TOC, Sebastian Munoz was a player that came out of the gates slow at Kapalua, but really found his game over the last 54 holes. He finished those final three rounds with nineteen birdies and just one bogey as he climbed from the worst round on day one into a tie for 17th.
Jason Kokrak on the other hand had a really strong second round to climb into contention, but really struggled overall on the week especially with his irons.
Add to it that this course isn’t one where he can use his distance advantage, and this sets up to be a better than even matchup for Munoz.
Billy Horschel (-110) over Adam Scott
I like Billy’s chances to compete this week. Putting will be very important at Waialae and Horschel has a major advantage over Scott in that department. An excellent putter on Bermudagrass greens, “Bermuda Billy” should feel really comfortable with the flat stick here. Additionally, with Scott’s recent comments I question if he truly cares about winning an event that he sees as unimportant.
Horschel is eager for another PGA TOUR win while I believe Scott is happy to collect some FedEx cup points and move on to Torrey Pines in a few weeks, a spot where he has a good shot to win.