This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Sony Open in Hawaii
Waialae Country Club (7,044 yards, par-70)
$1,152,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
Established as the Hawaiian Open in the 1960s, Waialae Country Club in tropical Honolulu continues to host what we've come to know as the Sony Open. The first full-field event of 2019, a 144-entrant list is highlighted by just two players in the top-10 of the Official World Golf Ranking, though 15 of the FedExCup standings' top-25 will be in attendance. Storylines include a beautiful Hawaiian winter forecast with sunny skies and temps reaching the low 80s, while a majority of the contiguous states continue to suffer through less than ideal January conditions. Also on tap will be Jordan Spieth's upcoming attempt to bounce back from three consecutive performances of T55 or worse since early September, currently hanging onto the top betting odds for the 2019 Masters by a thread.
Recent Past Champions
2018 - Patton Kizzire
2017 - Justin Thomas
2016 - Fabian Gomez
2015 - Jimmy Walker
2014 - Jimmy Walker
2013 - Russell Henley
2012 - Johnson Wagner
2011 - Mark Wilson
Key Stats to Victory
Strokes Gained: Approach
Glancing at our key stats this week, driving the ball well is a noticeable omission as accuracy off the tee doesn't matter too much in determining overall success at Waialae. Obviously you have to stay out of major trouble, but dry fairways will entice tee shots to roll through fairways and into the rough. Thanks to incredible weather and perfect scoring conditions in Honolulu, however, this rough is nowhere close to what you might see at a U.S. Open. Kizzire ranked just 54th in fairways hit and still managed to win last year. Stockpiling greens in regulation is the way to hit paydirt at Waialae CC, so elite iron play is chief. Usually we wouldn't include par-5 scoring as an essential measure on a par-70 layout, but it's necessary to take advantage of the pair of elementary par-5s this week.
FanDuel Value Picks
Justin Thomas, $12,300 - JT set the tournament scoring record in 2017 when he won in dominant fashion by seven strokes with a four-day total of 27-under-par. That same week he posted an 11-under 59 in Round 1 to once again supplant his name in the Sony Open record books, so it's no surprise he's the betting favorite this time around. Thomas racked up 25 birdies in 72 holes at the TOC while leading the field in SG: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green.
Gary Woodland, $12,000 - Woodland added his fifth top-10 of the season at Kapalua where he tied for the lead in both birdies and GIR, but ultimately fell one stroke shy of Xander Schauffele who fired a final-round 62. The former is No. 2 in the FedExCup standings and his stellar recent form is accompanied by impressive course history as well, having placed T13 or better in four straight Sony Open outings.
Jordan Spieth, $11,400 - Spieth is a combined 30-under-par in his last two trips to the Sony Open, but recent form is a major question for the former World No. 1. Gamers may pivot to the slightly more expensive likes of Woodland and Cameron Champ in this general price range, which could result in deflated ownership for Spieth if you're willing to take the gamble. He's gone over five months without a single top-10, but should be well-rested with zero appearances since mid-November.
Marc Leishman, $10,900 - With a trio of top-4 results in his last four starts, Leishman is a prime candidate to outplay his salary again this week. He's tied with Spieth for the fourth-best betting odds in the field (GolfOdds.com), but there are eight players priced higher than the Australian on FanDuel. Take advantage of this discrepancy as Leishman looks to add his second win of the season.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Cameron Smith, $10,200 - Fresh off a win back home at the Australian PGA Championship, Smith heads to Honolulu at No. 29 in the OWGR with top-10s in three of four events dating back to the CJ Cup. He's improved in each of his three voyages to Waialae, collecting a T18 at 11-under-par just last season.
Danny Lee, $9,000 - The streaky Lee hasn't missed a cut since The Greenbrier in early July, currently coming off a runner-up performance at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in his last start. He ranks 15th on Tour in both GIR percentage and scoring average despite hitting less than 60 percent of his fairways in regulation.
Patton Kizzire, $8,800 - The defending champ saw a dip in production throughout the spring and summer months following his Sony Open victory, but he's totaled three top-25s in five starts this season and notched a T8 at the Sentry TOC. Kizzire not only aced the par-3 eighth hole at Kapalua last week, but he also ranked second among the field in scrambling, fifth in SG: Putting and eight in SG: Approach. His shortcomings are primarily off the tee, which hasn't really hurt him in Hawaii.
Shugo Imahira, $8,300 - Imahira, who is currently the Japan Golf Tour's top player, already made headlines this week when he earned a special invite to the 2019 Masters. The 26-year-old has ascended to a career-best 53rd in the Official World Golf Ranking thanks to eight consecutive finishes of T13 or better in Asia, most notably winning Japan's Bridgestone Open. He placed T54 at the Sony Open in 2018.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
Targeting the field's best iron players with reliable SG: Approach numbers is a good start, as GIR percentage figures to play a major role in this week's tale. This goes hand in hand with birdie or better opportunities, which are always fundamental to a quality DFS score by tournament's end. Experience at Waialae should also be on your radar, especially in cash-game formats as the presence of a 36-hole cut could derail riskier lineups.