This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Golf series.Sony Open in Hawaii
Waialae Country Club - Par 70 - 7,044 yards
Field - 144 Entrants
Purse - $6.4M
Following a nearly two-month stretch without the familiarity of a full-field event on the PGA Tour, The Sony Open in Hawaii is set to host 144 entrants at the esteemed Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. While episodes such as the Hero World Challenge and The Match between Tiger vs. Phil provided some form of entertainment in the golf atmosphere, having the DFS golf landscape back to normal is a pleasant way to bring in the new year.
The field this week includes eight of the Official World Golf Rankings' top 25 players, though a cut to the low-70, including ties, after Round 2 also comes back into play. The weather in Honolulu has been perfect and the course will be subject to extremely scorable conditions with the eventual champion likely to reach at least 20-under-par. A lack of rain makes driving accuracy a bit more challenging due to dry fairways, but the rough will be tame as stellar iron play coincided with par-breaker opportunities becomes the ultimate goal.
2018 - Patton Kizzire
2017 - Justin Thomas
2016 - Fabian Gomez
2015 - Jimmy Walker
2014 - Jimmy Walker
2013 - Russell Henley
2012 - Johnson Wagner
2011 - Mark Wilson
2010 - Ryan Palmer
Key Stats to Victory
SG: Approach - Kizzire's inaccuracy off the tee (T56 in FIR percentage) wasn't very penal en route to his victory in 2018 because he still ranked third in this category.
GIR percentage - Waialae was the 14th-toughest venue on Tour in terms of GIR percentage last season, so hitting a lofty rate of greens is relatively difficult, but important.
Birdie or better percentage - Thomas' 2017 Sony Open win was highlighted by a first-round 59 on his way to four consecutive strolls of 65 or better.
Yahoo Value Picks - based on $200 salary cap
Cream of the Crop
Justin Thomas - $46
The 2017 Sony Open champ notched a third-place finish at Kapalua thanks to a final-round 65, amassing nine birdies on Sunday alone. JT led the field in both SG: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green, a perfect combination as he heads to Waialae CC. There have been 10 sub-60 rounds in the entire history of the PGA Tour and Thomas owns one of them here in Honolulu.
Bryson DeChambeau - $44
Up to a career-best fifth in the OWGR, DeChambeau has finished no worse than 19th in seven consecutive starts dating back to a win at the Northern Trust. He led the field in SG: Putting at the Tournament of Champions and ranked third in scrambling, showcasing enough maturity to rely on his short game when the ball striking was not present.
Gary Woodland - $40
We get Woodland at a slight discount on Yahoo this week in a tie for the sixth-most expensive player on the board, given he owns the third-best betting odds (GolfOdds.com) and is priced directly behind JT and DeChambeau on other prominent DFS sites. Woodland has been on an impressive run at the Sony Open with four consecutive top-15s, including results of T7-T6-T13-T3 since 2015. He also posted four straight scores of 68 or better at Kapalua last week, earning runner-up honors by just one stroke behind champion Xander Schauffele.
Charles Howell - $37
The 39-year-old is tied with Jerry Kelly for the most career top-10s at the Sony Open among this year's field with nine such results each. Howell, however, is inching back near the top 50 in the OWGR thanks to his emotional win at The RSM Classic this past fall. He has hit just over 80 percent of his greens in regulation this season, good enough for sixth on Tour in GIR percentage.
Ian Poulter - $37
Poulter lacks experience at Waialae with just one career Sony Open appearance, but his ball striking has been on point lately, as evidenced by him hitting the most GIR at the TOC last week. The Englishman averaged five birdies per round at Kapalua despite a rough showing with the putter, so he could be dangerous if the flat stick comes around.
Cameron Champ - $33
Champ costs a whole $13 more than he did last week at the TOC and he's STILL underpriced. The rookie just continues to impress despite a lack of course history at venues he's seeing for the first time, so you might as well continue rolling with the affordable hot hand. Champ ranks eighth or better on Tour in driving distance, BoB percentage and scoring average.
Keith Mitchell - $28
Mitchell attained a top-25 finish during his Sony Open debut in 2018, but underwhelming performances in his past two starts at The RSM and Mayakoba Golf Classic should help limit ownership. He's known as a bomber off the tee, but Mitchell also ranked 31st on Tour in GIR percentage and 13th in birdie average last season.
Patrick Rodgers - $28
We last saw Rodgers at The RSM Classic in mid-November when he racked up a whopping 26 birdies on the way to his playoff loss, collecting a 61.5 stroke average throughout the final two rounds. He's up to 13th in the FedExCup standings and ranks top-40 on Tour in SG: Approach, SG: Putting and birdie average.
Scott Piercy - $27
Piercy is averaging 20 par-breakers per tournament in his last five starts, leading to three consecutive top-10s from the CJ Cup through the Mayakoba Golf Classic. He picked up additional momentum with back-to-back 69s over the weekend in Maui and will be making his 11th career Sony Open start. Piercy finished solo-second at the event in 2015 and has notched three top-25s in the last four years at Waialae.
Strategy Tips on Yahoo this week
In past years we've seen entrants from the Tournament of Champions make the short trek to Waialae and enjoy continued success, so this trend would indicate a desire to select at least a few Kapalua participants in each lineup. Differing from last week, however, is the return of a 36-hole cut, which obviously makes a studs and duds approach less enticing in cash-game formats. Still, weapons like Thomas and Woodland in the $40-plus range might be essential in tournament formats given their intrigue in the birdie-or-better department.