PGA Picks: Sony Open in Hawaii Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
Justin Thomas kicked off 2020 in style on Sunday by beating Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele in a playoff to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua . It was the third victory in the past six Tour starts for Thomas as well as the 12th of his career. That's more career victories than any other active player under 30; Thomas is 26.
Thomas, Reed and Schauffele were all former winners of the tournament and part of the USA Presidents Cup team. Schauffele, the defending champion, held the 54-hole lead. He would have won again if he had two-putted from 35 feet on the 72nd hole but couldn't do it. Schauffele three-putted again on the first playoff hole and was knocked out. Thomas also nearly choked as he had a two-shot lead with three to play. Reed had two putts on the 18th in the playoff to win.
I did get Thomas at -300 for a Top 10 as well as Dustin Johnson (-150, finished T7), but my winning pick was Rickie Fowler at +1100 and he was T5, four shots out of the playoff.
This week is the first full-field event of the New Year as the Tour changes Hawaiian islands from Maui to Oahu for the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. It's a rare tournament that Tiger Woods has never won, but he also has never played it (wonder why?) and won't this week, either.
This event began in 1965 and was played in November for a few years before being shifted to winter for the 1971 tournament. Waialae has hosted every year and is a par 70 at about 7,050 yards. A few notable things have happened in this tournament. In 1983, Isao Aoki became Japan's first winner on the PGA Tour. Starting in 2004, Honolulu native Michelle Wie played here four straight years on a sponsor exemption but never made the cut.
In 2007,16-year-old amateur Tadd Fujikawa became the second youngest player ever to make a 36-hole cut in an official PGA Tour event. In 2017, Justin Thomas shot one of the 59s on Tour (first round) and won at 27-under 253, with that total being the lowest in PGA Tour history for a 72-hole event. Thomas also set a 36-hole (123) PGA Tour scoring mark and tied the 54-hole record (188).
You may really remember 2018 because preparations for this tournament were disrupted for a bit when a false emergency alarm was sent out to all cell phones in Hawaii that a ballistic missile had been launched toward the islands. Obviously, that was sent in error. A state emergency management employee pushed the wrong button. It took state emergency management 38 minutes to send out a "false alarm" alert to cell phones. Also that year, the Golf Channel's final-round broadcast was affected by a walkout by the channel's cameramen.
The defending champion is Matt Kuchar, who continued American dominance of this tournament. Kuchar closed with a 4-under 66 to finish at 22-under 263 and four shots ahead of Andrew Putnam. Kuchar is +2200 to become the fifth repeat winner here and first since Jimmy Walker in 2014-15. In fact, five players have won this tournament twice and the only one who didn't do it back-to-back was Lanny Wadkins (1988, '91).
Golf Odds: Sony Open in Hawaii Favorites
Thomas is +500 to complete the Hawaii sweep for the second time - Ernie Els is the only other guy to do it in the same year. Thomas won in 2017 by seven shots but hasn't been Top 10 in his past two visits here.
Reed and Webb Simpson are +1200 with Collin Morikawa, who has family in Hawaii, and Hideki Matsuyama each +1600. Reed has a best finish of 13 th here last year. Simpson's best is fourth in 2018. He didn't play last week. Morikawa was seventh last week and debuts here. Matsuyama is yet to have a Top 10 in the Sony Open.
Golf Odds: Sony Open in Hawaii Picks
Players from just six countries other than the USA have won the Sony Open and no Europeans have. That's hard to believe. The last non-American winner was Argentina's Fabian Gomez in 2016. For a Top 10, go Thomas (-175) and Charles Howell III (+450), who has seven of them here since 2009. Our winner is relative unknown Brian Stuard at +6600. He has four Top 10s in his past six trips, including eighth and fourth the past two years.
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