2022 Sony Open Betting Preview: Odds, 4 Picks Based on Who Fits Waialae Country Club Best
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Marc Leishman
- The TOUR moves from Maui to Honolulu this week for the Sony Open.
- Waialae Country Club will host 144 players in the first full-field event of 2022.
- Matt Vincenzi breaks down the course and identifies which players fit best.
Click for full Sony Open odds as of Tuesday night via PointsBet.
|Charles Howell III||+3300|
|Erik van Rooyen||+6000|
|Si Woo Kim||+6000|
|Andrew D. Putnam||+17500|
|Dawie van der Walt||+25000|
|Hao Tong Li||+30000|
|Bo Van Pelt||+50000|
The PGA TOUR moves to Honolulu as we stay in Hawaii for another week to play the 2022 Sony Open at Waialae Country Club. Waialae is a 7,044-yard par 70 that was built in 1927 and has annually featured a TOUR event since 1965. The Sony Open is the first full-field event of the calendar year.
The 2022 Sony Open field is comprised of 144 golfers. Some notable names in the field include Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson, Sungjae Im, Corey Conners, Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith.
The Sony Open is typically a low-scoring affair, and with soft conditions in Hawaii, this year could provide even more birdies. Wind is about all the course has in terms of defense, so it may prove wise to keep an eye on the forecast this week.
Past Winners at the Sony Open
- 2021: Kevin Na (-21)
- 2020: Cameron Smith (-11)
- 2019: Matt Kuchar (-22)
- 2018: Patton Kizzire (-17)
- 2017: Justin Thomas (-27)
- 2016: Fabian Gomez (-20)
- 2015: Jimmy Walker (-23)
Let’s take a look at several metrics for Waialae Country Club to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds:
Strokes Gained: Approach
Green sizes are much smaller at Waialae than we saw last week at Kapalua. Green in Regulation numbers are far lower, therefore requiring iron play to be even more sharp in order to go low.
Total Strokes Gained: Approach in past 24 rounds:
- Luke Donald (+22.3) (+50000)
- Tom Hoge (+21.8) (+10000)
- Webb Simpson (+21.4) (+1600)
- Talor Gooch (+20.8) (+3500)
- Russell Henley(+20.1) (+3500)
Not only are the greens much smaller at Waialae than we saw at Kapalua, but the fairways are also a lot smaller as well. Last week, golfers were spraying errant drives with little consequence; that won’t be the case this week. While missing the fairway might not be incredibly penal, those who split the middle on the narrow fairways will be rewarded with flat lies and straightforward approach shots.
Total Good Drives Gained in past 24 rounds:
- Jim Herman (+29.7) (+35000)
- Russell Knox (+26.7) (+15000)
- Kyle Stanley (+23.6) (+22500)
- Jim Furyk (+22.6) (+20000)
- Tyler Duncan (+21.2) (+20000)
Strokes Gained: Short Game
With small fairways and greens, it is to be expected that golfers will have to scramble around the green at one point or another. Strokes Gained: Short Game encompasses both chipping around the green and putting to account for tough par putts while scrambling. Historically, players with great hands and short games have had success here (Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, Patton Kizzire, Cameron Smith, Kevin Na).
Strokes Gained: Short Game in past 24 rounds:
- Kevin Na (+24.7) (+3000)
- Christian Bezuidenhout (+24.1) (+7000)
- Martin Trainer (+23.8) (+50000)
- Kevin Tway (+23.2) (+30000)
- Hank Lebioda (+22.9) (+20000)
Birdie or Better Gained
While Waialae presents its fair share of challenges, the winning score will likely be somewhere in the -20 to -27 range; therefore, birdies are a must. In an event where par isn’t good enough on most holes, golfers who can get hot and go low need to be targeted this week.
Birdie or Better Gained past 24 rounds:
- Cameron Smith(+25.8) (+1100)
- Webb Simpson (+23.5) (+1600)
- Marc Leishman (+21.0) (+2000)
- Joel Dahmen (+15.4) (+7500)
- Cameron Young (+13.1) (+17500)
Course history seems to be particularly important at Waialae, as 15 of the past 16 winners have played the course previously before hoisting the trophy. It is also common to see similar players pop up on the leaderboard year after year in Honolulu, so a bit of course history should be factored in.
Total strokes gained in category in past 24 rounds (per round, minimum 16 rounds):
- Webb Simpson (+2.1) (+1600)
- Matt Kuchar(+2.0) (+7000)
- Corey Conners (+1.8) (+2500)
- Charles Howell III (+1.7) (+5500)
- Marc Leishman (+1.6) (+2000)
Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.
These rankings are comprised of SG: App (27.5%) Good Drives Gained (22.5%); SG: Short Game (18%); Course History (18%); and Birdie or Better Gained (14%)
- Talor Gooch (+3500)
- Webb Simpson (+1600)
- Marc Leishman (+2000)
- Cameron Smith (+1100)
- Sungjae Im (+4000)
- Joel Dahmen (+7500)
- Corey Conners (+2500)
- Kevin Na (+3500)
- Denny McCarthy (+9000)
- Mark Hubbard (+20000)
2022 Sony Open Outright Selections
Marc Leishman +2000 (Caesars)
In 2021, I bet Marc Leishman at the Sony Open and have been waiting patiently for another chance to do so in 2022.
Leishman has two top-five finishes in his past three starts at Waialae, and is coming off of a week where he played some pretty good golf. Seven of the past eight winners at Sony have played the previous week at Sentry TOC, so his appearance last week could prove important. The 38-year-old was solid statistically in his 2022 debut, gaining 2.1 strokes on approach.
Last season at this event, the Aussie gained 6.1 strokes on approach which was good for third best in the field, trailing only Collin Morikawa and Hideki Matsuyama for the week.
In addition to the fantastic course history at Waialae, Leishman has been excellent in Hawaii in his career, having two top-five finishes at Kapalua in his past five tries. After round two of the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Leishman spoke about how similar Hawaii golf was to playing golf in Australia, which may explain the incredible success Aussies have had both at Kapalua and Waialae. Ranking third in the field in birdies or better, he should have the fire power to keep up in a low-scoring event.
After a solid swing season, with three top 20s in four starts, Leishman has a great shot to carry some momentum into 2022. He opened around +3000, but bettors took advantage of that number and he’s now down to +2000.
Kevin Kisner +3500 (DraftKings)
Kevin Kisner is a golfer who has his courses that he plays well almost every year. Those courses include Sedgefield Country Club, Sea Island, Harbour Town Golf Links, and yes, Waialae Country Club. “Kiz” will be the first to tell you he can’t compete with the long hitters on every course on TOUR, but Waialae is definitely among the courses he has a real shot.
The 37-year-old has three top five’s in his past six appearances at the event and hasn’t missed the cut in that time frame.
Kisner also fits the trend of golfers who played in the Sentry Tournament of Champions last week, and surprisingly he played very well at Kapalua. He gained 2.7 strokes on approach en route to an eighth-place finish in a loaded field.
Perhaps more importantly, Kisner gained 5.4 strokes putting, which was the most he’s gained since June of 2021. During his rough stretch last year, the former Georgia Bulldog went through a slump with the flatstick which was extremely uncharacteristic.
“Kiz” has managed to come away with a win in his career at most of “his” courses, with Waialae being one that he has yet to completely conquer. That could change this week as he is clearly comfortable and in good form.
Billy Horschel +5000 (bet365)
Billy Horschel is another golfer who teed it up last week at Kapalua, which could be important for his chances this week. While his statistics weren’t very good at the Tournament of Champions, history tells us that even golfers who hadn’t played all that well the prior week have still benefited greatly from being in the field.
“Bermuda Billy” showed us last season that Waialae is a comfortable spot for him as he finished in seventh place while gaining 8.0 strokes putting. That may be a concern for most players, but Horschel isn’t the type of player who wins with an immaculate tee to green performance. He wins by lighting it up with the putter on bermudagrass, and that has consistently been the recipe for winners at Waialae in the past.
Cameron Smith took a similar approach in 2020, where he gained 8.2 strokes putting and lost to the field on Strokes Gained: Approach. It is plausible to envision getting it done on a shorter par 70 track this week in Honolulu.
Sahith Theegala +25000 (BetMGM)
I wrote a story last month identifying Theegala as a breakout candidate for 2022. With intentions of betting him often this year at long odds, the Sony Open seems like a great place to start. Having just earned his TOUR card by playing his way in via the Korn Ferry Tour Championship, Theegala should be kicking off his 2022 season with confidence.
The 24-year-old certainly has the talent to get his breakout win on the PGA TOUR, and a weaker field event like we will see this week gives him a shot to get it done if he gets himself in the mix. The former Haskins Award winner has had a bit of difficulty with driving accuracy, and that shouldn’t be as costly at Waialae as it is at a typical TOUR stop.
It may be a longshot for Theegala to actually win, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented. In 2013, another former Haskins award winner, Russell Henley, won the event for his first win on the PGA TOUR. Following suit could create a necessary jumpstart for Sahith’s career.