Sony Open Betting Guide: Should You Back Bubba Watson at Waialae?

Sony Open Betting Guide: Should You Back Bubba Watson at Waialae? article feature image

Brian Spurlock, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Bubba Watson.

  • Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth top the odds at the 2019 Sony Open in Waialae, Hawaii.
  • Six of the past seven winners at the Sony Open played in the Tournament of Champions the previous week.
  • Joshua Perry thinks there's value with a few golfers in between 45-1 and 90-1.

The Tournament of Champions provided a nice golf-appetizer last weekend as Xander Schauffele claimed his fourth title in just over 60 events on tour. It was a good payday for those with Schauffele on their card as he went off as high as 25-1 at some sportsbooks. 

But now it’s time to move on to the Sony Open, the first full-field event of 2019. About two-third of the Tournament of Champions field remained in Hawaii to take place in the event.

Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth headline a relatively weak field, where the biggest advantage in recent years has been participating in the Tournament of Champions.

Six of the previous seven winners of the Sony played in the TOC the week before. It makes sense since most tour players have had an extended layoff during the holidays. Getting a chance to play a week before the vast majority of the field and shake off that competitive rust is clearly an advantage.

The Course

Waialae Country Club is one of the shorter courses on tour, checking in at 7,020 yards for a par 70. It rarely plays that difficult with the winner usually getting in the high teens or low 20s under par. If the wind is down, the course is pretty defenseless.

Two years ago, we saw Thomas shoot 59 on the way to a seven-shot victory at 27-under par. It can be hard to hit the fairways here, but the rough is so light that is doesn’t really matter too much in most circumstances.

The Field

As mentioned, Thomas and Spieth are the headliners this week with Thomas a clear favorite at +650. Bryson Dechambeau is next in line at the top at +1000 with Spieth and last week’s runner up Gary Woodland opening at +1400. Marc Leishman is the only other player in the teens at +1800.

I’m steering clear of the top of the board unless I see Leishman in the low 20s. I’ll hold enough of the bankroll back to add him if the number pops up, but my focus for this event will be in the mid-tier.


There are quite a few guys in this range I like. And as we mentioned earlier, six of the last seven winners at Waialae played in the TOC, so I’m going to be betting guys who were in the field last week and showed some good form.

First, I’ll start with a couple of tour vets in Paul Casey and Matt Kuchar at +4555 on Bookmaker. Casey has six straight performances inside the top 25, so he’s been able to play some consistent golf. He’s also shown the ability to go low on this course, opening with a 62 back in 2015.

Kuchar finally broke out of a five-year PGA winless drought in Mexico to end his fall schedule. He started slow but closed with a 69 on Sunday last week to shake off the holiday rust.

Next, I’m going with Bubba Watson at +6850 on Bookmaker. Bubba usually only plays well on courses where he’s had previous success, but I’m going to take a chance with him at this number. He didn’t play great last week at all, but that was mostly due to losing 11 strokes with the putter. If that bounces back to field average, he can contend here.

Ian Poulter
Ian Poulter tees off at The Tournament of Champions. Credit: Brian Spurlock

I’m also going to back Brandt Snedeker at +7351 on Bookmaker. Snedeker lost in a playoff here three years ago, so he’s shown that his game suits this course. He was also able to get into a playoff to start the 2019 season at the Safeway Open.

Next, I like a pair of players at +8000 in Ian Poulter and Andrew Putnam. I backed Poulter last week and he struggled with the putter, but everything else was solid. So I’ll jump back in again this week.

Putnam gained strokes with the approach and with the putter last week, but struggled with the driver. With the lack of length required for this course, the tee ball won’t be as important as at the long Kapalua.

Lastly, Kevin Tway is available at +9000 which seems high for a player who’s been playing as well as the 30-year-old Tway has. He won the Safeway this season, and was the first round leader at Tournament of Champions. He’s been fairly consistent since the start of the fall swing, gaining strokes in every aspect of the game.


Normally this is where I’d have some guys in the triple digits, but nothing really stands out to me this week. And since I went heavier in the middle of the card this time, I’ll steer clear of a long shot this week. Longshots have had success here with Johnson Wagner (2012) and Fabian Gomez (2016) cashing at over 100-1, but I’m just not seeing who fits that mold this year.

I will take a shot on Japanese Tour pro Shugo Imahira at +600 to top 20. Imahira has been the best player on Japan’s tour for a couple of years now and is ranked No. 53 in the world, so he’s in position to earn a Masters bid by breaking into the top 50 and we’ll likely see him in a few WGC events this year.

He’s finished in the top 10 in 28 of 55 events in the last two years, picking up a couple wins in the process. It’s a clear step up in class, but without a lot of distance required for this course, Imahira could play well here.

The Card

  • Kuchar +4555 (.725 units Bookmaker)
  • Casey +4555 (.725 units Bookmaker)
  • Watson +6850 (.47 units Bookmaker)
  • Snedeker +7351 (.43 units Bookmaker)
  • Putnam +8000 (.41 units MyBookie)
  • Poulter +8000 (.41 units Bookmaker)
  • Tway +9000 (.41 units Bookmaker)
  • Imahira +600 top 20 (1 unit Sportsbook)

Total Stake: 4.58 units

Season: -16.46