PGA Tour Picks: Sony Open in Hawaii Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
No sport, in my opinion, makes you want to go out and play it more than watching golf. At the same time, no sport, in my opinion, humbles you more quickly. I learned that again this weekend, and I'm definitely not Dustin Johnson.
American and world No. 1 Johnson almost had a hole-in-one on Sunday in the 2018-opening Tournament of Champions at Kapalua in Hawaii. OK, no big deal as pro golfers come close to holes-in-one all the time (no, I haven't yet had one). But DJ's near-miss came on the par-4 12th measuring 433 yards, where he had to "settle" for a tap-in eagle. I mean, already the Drive of the Year has been crowned. Johnson joked to Golf Channel on-course reporter Jim "Bones" Mackay that he'd caught his drive a little "thin."
If you are wondering, just one player on the Tour has had a hole-in-one on a par 4: Andrew Magee on the 332-yard 17th hole at TPC Scottsdale during the first round of the 2001 Waste Management Phoenix Open. Johnson had 15 drives over 375 yards over the four days in Maui and didn't three-putt once in his runaway victory.
Johnson could be in line for a monster year - he said before the tournament he could envision nine victories -- if he stays away from climbing stairs in his socks as he crushed the field in the Tournament of Champions by finishing at 24-under, eight shots ahead of second-place Jon Rahm. Johnson had birdies on four of his first nine holes Sunday to expand his 54-hole lead, and that was that. It was his fifth win since February, his second in career in Maui and he has now won at least one event in 11 straight PGA Tour seasons, which is amazing. Only Tiger Woods with 18 victories has won more than Johnson (17) in that time span.
We are off to a good start here at Doc's as I recommended Johnson to win at +750 - he was only the third-favorite behind Jordan Spieth and defending champion Justin Thomas, who were both +600 at Bovada . Spieth finished at 12-under in ninth place. Thomas was 4-under and T22. I also hit on Johnson at -250 for a Top 10 in the limited-field event and +400 for top American, so Happy New Year indeed!
As usual, the Tour stays in Hawaii this week but shifts to Honolulu for the Sony Open in Hawaii. Apparently, Johnson doesn't need another $1 million-plus in his bank account because he's not in the first full-field event of the year. A total of 20 players who competed in Maui are set to tee it up.
Since the Tournament of Champions moved to Hawaii in 1999, 13 Sony Open winners have won after playing Kapalua the previous week. That includes the defending champion Thomas. He shot an opening-round 59 - no longer the record thanks to Jim Furyk's 58 in 2016 at the Travelers Championship - and closed with a 65 to set the PGA Tour 72-hole scoring record at 253. The previous record was when Tommy Armour III shot 254 at the 2003 Texas Open. Thomas finished seven shots ahead of Justin Rose and also became the first player since Tiger in 2009 (Buick Open and Bridgestone Invitational) to win back-to-back weeks by three shots or more.
Waialae Country Club is a par 70 measuring 7,044 yards and it's the 53 rd straight year it hosts this event. Only three other venues have hosted a tournament longer consecutively. Waialae ranked as the eighth-easiest course on Tour a season ago.
Golf Odds: Sony Open in Hawaii Favorites
Spieth is the +500 favorite. It's only his third trip to this tournament. He missed the cut in 2014 and was third last year. Spieth has finished in the top nine in his past seven worldwide events.
Thomas is +800 to become the first player since Jimmy Walker (2014-15) to go back-to-back here. Ernie Els, Corey Pavin and Hubert Green also did it. Thomas wasn't particularly sharp last week but this shorter course more fits his game.
Marc Leishman (+1600), Brian Harman (+2000) and Kevin Kisner (+2000) round out the favorites. Leishman was seventh last week and 20th here last year. He has a best of fifth in 2014 at the Sony Open. Harman was T3 last week, his fourth straight top-eight finish on Tour. His best result here is T13 twice. Kisner was 17th last week and has been Top 5 here the past two years.
Golf Odds: Sony Open in Hawaii Picks
For a Top-10 finish, I like Spieth (-265), Zach Johnson (+220) and Charles Howell III (+280). Chucky Three Sticks plays here for the 17th straight year and ranks third in all-time earnings at Waialae, He hasn't won but has four Top 10s in his past six visits.
Head-to-head, go Spieth (-135) over Thomas (+105), Leishman (-125) over Harman (-105), Kisner (-135) over Cameron Smith (+105), and Russell Henley (-115) over Daniel Berger (-115).
The only non-American winner here this decade was Fabian Gomez in 2016. You can get Spieth and Thomas at +250 vs. the field (-350). I'm taking the field. My winner is Zach Johnson at +3300. He won here in 2009 and has three Top 10s in his past four trips. Johnson also had a solid start to the season back in the fall.
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