2023 Sony Open Odds & Picks: Maverick McNealy, Corey Conners Offer Weekend Value
Pictured: Maverick McNealy. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
It would be an understatement to suggest there aren’t many proven winners in contention at the Sony Open entering the final two rounds.
Sure, there’s Chris Kirk and his four PGA Tour victories atop the board, but the most recent of those wins happened nearly eight years ago. Despite finding water off the tee on his final hole, defending Valero Texas Open champion J.J. Spaun remains well in the mix. Brendon Todd (three wins) and J.T. Poston (two) aren’t too far back, but neither quite qualifies as a closer. And then there’s four-time winner Harris English, who seemed primed to remain in serious contention before a final hole double-bogey dropped him outside the top 20.
That’s about it, though, as so many of the pre-tournament favorites — including Tom Kim, Sungjae Im and Jordan Spieth — have already booked an early flight home.
What we’re left with is a list of contenders replete with some underachievers and up-and-comers. That leaves plenty of value on a topsy-turvy leaderboard that should continue shuffling throughout the weekend.
Let’s take a look at where we might be able to maximize some value in the live marketplace entering the final 36 holes.
(Odds via FanDuel)
Maverick McNealy (+1800)
Entering the week, I wrote about McNealy being my favorite bet for this one — not for outright plays, but in the top-20 markets. As we’ve seen so often — in four of his last events of 2022 and in 18 of 50 dating back to the beginning of ’21 — the Stanford product owns tremendous value as a top-20 play, showing a higher floor than most other players of similar status. While I’ve questioned his potential ceiling, there’s no doubt he owns plenty of game. A leaderboard devoid of superstar closers could be the recipe McNealy has needed to break through for his first career win. This feels like a decent number to chase that possibility.
Corey Conners (+4100)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: In Friday’s second round, Conners posted a sublime score of 4-under 66, owned one of the best tee-to-green numbers in the field and finished below the average putting number for the day. If Conners had just rolled his rock a little better — granted, that’s a major if that has plagued his career — he’d be a lot closer than six shots off the pace. Regardless, this remains an intriguing price for a guy who was my favorite outright play before the week began, at more than twice this number.
Si Woo Kim (+4100)
Through two rounds, Kim’s matching scores of 67 might look like the model of consistency, but dig a little deeper and we’ll find they’ve been far from it. Instead, he’s posted an eagle and nine birdies against three bogeys and a double. Sure, the coulda/shoulda/woulda in each of us starts thinking he could be just a stroke or two off the lead if he could avoid the mistakes. While that’s true, I’ll take a more optimistic approach. That number of birdies suggests he hasn’t been afraid to step on the gas pedal this week. We know his massive ceiling when he’s got his best stuff.
Harris English (+4100)
I mentioned it in the above intro: If he hadn’t made a mess of his final hole on Friday, English would’ve followed an opening 65 with a 68 and been just four shots back. Instead, that late double-bogey might leave a bad taste in his mouth, but it also leaves some value on the board. English would likely have been about one-third this price if he’d made par, but at six shots back, he’s still very much in the mix. For a player ranked inside the top-20 in both approach shots and putting so far this week, I’ll take a chance on him righting that late wrong.
Cam Davis (+8000)
Sometimes betting simply comes down to picking a player we like, seeing the upside and continually buying until he pays off. I’m confident Davis is going to win at least once this year — maybe more — and I’m willing to see if it’s this week for this price. After an opening 66, he posted a second-round 70 to remain seven back, but ranks sixth off the tee and seventh on approach shots, which suggests his ball-striking should be dialed in for the weekend.