Sony Open 2021 Overview
Following the Sentry Tournament of Champions event that kicked off the PGA Tour year in Maui, golfers who teed it up there will make the short 115 mile puddle-jump flight between the Hawaiian Islands to compete in the Sony Open in Honolulu. The first full-field event of the calendar year features plenty of players near the top in the Official World Golf Rankings.
We are in for another low scoring birdie fest this week so attacking golf will be required.
Waialae has an average green size of 6,500 square feet, approximately 80 bunkers, and three to four holes with potential water hazards for the pros.
Hole 1, 2, 4, and 6 are among the five most difficult, with hole 13’s Par 4 being the most difficult scoring hole. As golfers obtain better angles on approach shots to, course management and fairway placement become more important as a result of the variety of tee-to-green routing and anticipated winds.
Players’ scoring will be determined by their accuracy on approach shots to the greens, as well as their putting on the pure Bermuda greens. Greens hit has always been crucial to Waialae’s scoring and top-finishing prowess. Scores will be low once more, with just the possibility of wind causing some problems for the best golfers.I don’t think we will get to the dizzy heights of last week where 30 under par only got you 3rd place.
Waialae is one of the more challenging courses for driving accuracy, with fairways that run fairly fast and drives that run over light Bermuda rough. The fact that Waialae is consistently ranked among the top 20 most difficult courses in terms of Rough Proximity backs up players’ perceptions that getting near to the pin from off the fairway is difficult
Putting is the certainly critical, putting has been a more significant statistic when it comes to winning the Sony Open compared to other events on the PGA Tour. Since 2005, winners have had an average field rank in that stat better than fifth. 7 of the last 8 years the winning player has ranked in the top 5 for SG Putting.
5 Key Skills Set Required
- SG Off The Tee – Gaining strokes off the tee has been a great starting point to attack this event from. When looking at previous winners they have all shown up positively in this category. This week we have the longest player on tour in BDC for which the newer style may suit, however previous renewals have favoured accuracy off the tee. Player who gain strokes in this area are often finding fairways and have natural length for SG OTT is the starting point for me this week.
- GIR Gained – This course is quite challenging off the tee and for that reason hitting plenty of greens in regulation has been key to challenging the top end off the leaderboard. The fact that Waialae is consistently ranked among the top 20 most difficult courses in terms of Rough Proximity backs up players’ perceptions that getting near to the pin from off the fairway is difficult, so we want players who have shown a propensity to hammer GIR from both fairways and rough.
- SG Approach 150-200 yards – With the exception of Cam Smith in 2020 who finished outside the top 50 in SG approach, this has been a killer stat. When we looked at the recent winners 5 of the last 6 have ranked in the top 5 for SG approach. You will need to have plenty of birdie looks this week if you wish to take home the trophy. One way to ensure that is to hit plenty of shots close to the flag stick. This has been the most important factor in contending at this event in recent time. To dig a little deeper I noticed that more shots from 150-200 yards come up here than on average and therefore I want to look at approach play in more detail from this range.
- Par 4 Scoring 400-500 yards – Given we have 12 Par 4’s on the course this week and 10 of them 400-500 yards , we should pay particular attention to this stat. Winners of this event in the past have scored very well on the Par 4’s. This week will be no different and the player who lifts the the trophy will have excelled in this area.
- SG Putting on Bermudagrass – This has been this key factor in lifting this trophy no doubts about it. Putting has been a more significant statistic when it comes to winning the Sony Open compared to other events on the PGA Tour. Since 2005, winners have had an average field rank in that stat better than fifth. 7 of the last 8 years the winning player has ranked in the top 5 for SG Putting. So when looking at your final picks this week be sure to have a top quality putter on side.