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2023 Sony Open Early Picks: Tom Kim, Russell Henley, More To Back

2023 Sony Open Early Picks: Tom Kim, Russell Henley, More To Back article feature image
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Pictured: Tom Kim. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

I was fully prepared to send all the praise on Collin Morikawa after he was blitzing the field through the first 60 holes of the week and looked set to cruise to victory Sunday. Instead, Jon Rahm had other plans and put together a 10-under round. Rahm got some help via Morikawa’s first three bogeys of the week and ultimately finished as 2023’s first winner. It was a wild turn of events and another reminder why we love watching this game so much.

Some of the players from this week will island hop over for the Sony Open, the first full field event of the year. Tom Kim, Jordan Spieth and defending champion Hideki Matsuyama headline that group in what sets up for an exciting field in Wai’alae. It’ll be really interesting to see how the odds shake out on Monday morning and, as usual, that will be a driving force for my card as there are a number of directions to go this week.

First Look

Tom Kim

I’ll preface this by saying I don’t expect to see Kim at a number I will be able to bet Monday, but he’s just been too good for me to ignore.  He just closed out another top-five finish at Kapalua, overcoming a course that is more suited for the long hitters and held his own in his debut. Now, he heads to Oahu to a course at Wai’alae Country Club that should be tailor made to his game. The 20-year old will see a track that favors his combination of elite accuracy off the tee and approach play, making him an immediate favorite for that set up. On second thought, I may have trouble resisting any number on Monday as everything aligns quite well for the 15th-best player in the world.

Corey Conners

There’s a lot of history that shows trends to top finishes for players who shook the rust off at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. My list will start with the best course fits this week and Conners is certainly part of that group. Everything comes down to the short game for the Canadian as his ball striking combination can always have him in the hunt and it has led to top-12 finishes in each of the past three times he has played this tournament. Conners closed this week on a high note with a 6-under Sunday round to finish T18.

As noted Conners has posted some strong finishes in his prior trips to the Sony Open and there is some level of comfort for him on these greens. He has gained strokes putting in each of his past four appearances, gaining more than five shots on the greens in two of those. I try not to take too much stock in small samples like that, but it certainly catches my eye when we are talking about a player who hasn’t finished a season better than 112th in putting over the past five years.

Russell Henley

Russell Henley knows Morikawa’s pain as he experienced a very similar fate at the 2022 Sony Open when he blew a five-shot lead down the back nine as Matsuyama overtook him for the win. I will look to go right back to the Georgia Bulldog this week as he is a similarly good fit to this course and comes in having already gotten the monkey off his back for a win as he was able to close the door at the Mayakoba in the fall.

Henley finished T30 this week at the TOC and I am hopeful that lackluster finish will leave him at longer odds than he should be at this week. He has the skillset to contend this week and he’ll be one of the first names I look for when the odds open Monday morning.

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