By News Team
Last Updated: 13th January 2021
The first full field event of 2021 on the PGA Tour takes place this week as Waialae Country Club hosts the Sony Open in Hawaii. Last week’s winner, Harris English, is unsurprisingly near the top of the betting as he bids to go back-to-back, while there are a host of other fancied contenders headed by Webb Simpson.
Here’s our preview ahead of Thursday’s opening round.
Conditions look sure to suit Kisner
As mentioned, Webb Simpson is the favourite for the title at 12/1 and it’s not hard to see why given the 35-year-old’s very good record at Waialae, particularly in recent years. He’s played in the event six times since 2013 and has failed to finish outside the top 20 in any of them, while he has finished fourth and third the last two years. He hasn’t been 100 percent over the festive period so he’ll take quite heart from the way he played at the Tournament of Champions last week and is probably the man to beat.
Instead, it’s another man in his mid-thirties, KEVIN KISNER, who gets the vote at 30/1. Like Simpson, Kisner has a strong record at Waialae with three top-five finishes in his last five starts at the Hawaiian course. Kisner’s game is very well-suited to this week’s short layout as he’s one who finds the majority of fairways and greens – an attribute imperative to success. His maiden PGA Tour title came at a very similar track at the 2015 RSM Classic and he again showed his liking to such a course when he was beaten in a play-off there last year.
A tie for 24th last week was more than acceptable at a course that doesn’t really suit and the fact he was nine under par for the weekend shows the game is in good shape.
IM loving Sungjae
The other one who looks worthy of support towards the head of affairs is SUNGJAE IM. The South Korean has long been regarded as one of the most promising players in the world and based on last year’s evidence, he seems to finally be realising that potential. He got his first PGA Tour win at the Honda Classic at the notoriously difficult PGA National and then to finish second on debut at Augusta – a course where newbies have a poor record – was an incredible feat.
He also managed to finish fifth last week at Kapalua – another course where first-time visitors have a bad record – so he’s clearly a player going places as shown by his current world ranking of 18. He’s played Waialae twice before and finishes of 16th and 21st are more than respectable given this is a course that takes plenty of time to become accustomed to. He didn’t putt particularly well last week, but the undulating greens at Kapalua are tricky for newcomers and he’ll be much more at home on the surfaces this week.
He’s playing well enough to contend and looks sure to go well at 18/1 as he seeks a second PGA Tour title of his burgeoning career.