Sony Open In Hawaii - DraftKings Preview

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Steve Bamford's DraftKings preview for the Sony Open In Hawaii. Follow Steve on twitter: @bamfordgolf

Our first DraftKings column last week for the SBS Tournament of Champions highlighted Justin Thomas, Ryan Moore, Jimmy Walker and Pat Perez as positive players to follow at a relatively low salary price. Thanks for the positive feedback and if you have any questions or views on what else you would like to see included in each preview do not hesitate to tweet me @Bamfordgolf. Fantasy Golf on DraftKings is becoming ever more popular here in the UK, so why not join and play. We run our own weekly GBS Leagues for both the PGA Tour and European Tour with $3 entry - full details on how to get an invite to play is via our Facebook Group.

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My full betting preview is available here and contains course information, tournament trends, player insight and key skill sets required for the Sony Open which is played at the Waialae Country Club.

Waialae Country Club, Honolulu, Hawaii: Designer: Raynor, 1927; Course Type: Coastal, Resort; Par: 70; Length: 7,044 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 4; Fairways Bermudagrass; Rough: Bermudagrass, 2"; Greens: 6,500 sq.ft TifDwarf Bermudagrass; Stimpmeter: 11ft. Course Scoring Average 2012: 69.77 (-0.23), Difficulty Rank 28 of 49 courses. 2013: 68.90 (-1.10), Difficulty Rank 33 of 43 courses. 2014: 69.30 (-0.70), Rank 36 of 48 courses. Course Scoring Average 2015: 69.01 (-0.99), Difficulty Rank 37 of 52 courses. 2016: 68.50 (-1.50), Difficulty 45 of 50 courses.

Previous Winners: 2016: Fabian Gomez (-20); 2015: Jimmy Walker (-23); 2014: Jimmy Walker (-17); 2013: Russell Henley (-24); 2012: Johnson Wagner (-13); 2011: Mark Wilson (-16); 2010: Ryan Palmer (-15).

The second week of the Aloha Swing sees the annual visit to Honolulu. A full field takes part at Waialae Country Club at a course which is at the complete opposite end of the scale to the vast, undulating expanse that we witnessed at Kapalua last week. Current form and tournament form is available to view here: Current Form | Tournament Form.

Bermudagrass PGA Tour Victors: In this week's field since 2008:

DraftKings Predictor Model: We have a unique DraftKings predictor model which is available to view and use for free here. The model contains 29 different variables which can be used to pull together a view of which players theoretically should suit the course this week. My own ratings can be seen within the published predictor model. Output is available across the top 10, 15, 20 and 25 players. The top 10 published predictor model players can be seen below:

Rank 1: Jordan Spieth ($11.5m); 2: Jimmy Walker ($9.9m); 3: Brandt Snedeker ($9.7m); 4: Jason Dufner ($7.7m); 5: Russell Knox ($8.1m); 6: Justin Thomas ($10.5m); 7: Russell Henley ($8.6m); 8: Zach Johnson ($8.5m); 9: Hideki Matsuyama ($11m); 10: Chris Kirk ($7.7m).

Predictor Positives: Jordan Spieth dominates the Predictor model this week with a virtual 500 point gap to 'course horse' Jimmy Walker. Both Texans performed well enough at Kapalua with Spieth needing to take less risks to alleviate damaging dropped shots. Walker has clearly been focusing on his course management with a shorter driver bringing increased accuracy from the tee.

Last week I warned that Russell Knox was a poor-fit for Kapalua, but for me it's a definite green light this week. The Florida-based Scotsman, who is now in the Official World Golf Ranking's top 20, thrives on shorter formats where his grinding accuracy and excellent longer iron-play pays real dividends. He's never won on Bermudagrass greens but he's comfortable on them as his results at PGA National (2nd 2015 & 3rd 2015), Harbour Town (2nd 2016) and TPC Southwind (8th 2015) indicate. 2nd (2015) and 3rd (2016) at El Camaleon also links beautifully to Waialae. Even better his salary point is down $100k week-on-week on a far more suitable course.

Predictor Negatives: Hideki Matsuyama at Number 9 says it all for me. He struggles at Waialae with 3 Missed Cuts and a MDF from 4 appearances. The MDF came after finishing 3rd on debut at Kapalua in 2015 and although he's a better player now - and is playing the best golf on the planet right now - it's a huge risk to throw $11m at such a risky play.

High-value Englishmen Justin Rose ($9.3m) and Paul Casey ($9.5m) don't make the top 10 of the predictor model either.

Fantasy Points Per Game:

Rank 1: Cody Gribble ($6.8m); 2: Daisuke Kataoka ($6.4 m); 3: Jordan Spieth ($11.5m); 4: Ryan Blaum ($7m); 5: Hideki Matsuyama ($11m); 6: Russell Knox ($8.1m); 7: Justin Rose ($9.3m); 8: Charles Howell III ($7.8m); 9: Ryan Palmer ($8.3m); 10: Branden Grace ($7.5m).

Positives: Ryan Blaum stands out on a FPPG basis, ranking fourth across the Sony field for a mere $7m. 4 from 5 since he was promoted to the PGA Tour, Ryan finished 11th at the Sanderson Farms and 15th at the OHL Classic. Sitting 70th in Bogey Avoidance, 68th in Greens in Regulation and 30th in Strokes Gained Putting season-to-date are statistics which marry-up well with Waialae. At 33, Blaum has been around the block playing plenty of Latinoamerica and Tour golf and Bermudagrass green results such as 4th & 5th at Louisiana Open (2015/16), 9th at BMW Charity Pro-Am (2015) and 7th Brasil Champions (2016) jump from the record books.

Charles Howell III just begs to be included in the line-up this week. The tied 24th most expensive player in the roster sits 8th in the FPPG charts and his love affair with Waialae is just easy to see. On a course where inaccuracy off the tee matters little, Howell's Greens in Regulation prowess pays real dividends here and it shows in his results. 8 top 10s from 15 appearances is mightily impressive, as is a 67.70 average score which places him in the top 10 for that category. 13th-7th-15th across November and played into mid-December at the Franklin Templeton Shootout.

$10million+ Salary Players:

Positive: My published DraftKings Predictor model tells you the whole story about Jordan Spieth this week statistically. Yes, he missed the cut on his one and only visit here in 2014, but back then the Texan was hugely disappointed to have missed out to Zach Johnson at Kapalua - a tournament he feels he should have won. 3 years on Spieth still clearly has demons to deal with, but his Greens in Regulation, Proximity to Hole and Strokes Gained Putting numbers were exemplary last week. Cut-out the stupid tactical calls and mental errors and Spieth will undoubtedly be in the mix - his disappointing PGA Tour results must be a bug-bear by now and we know how dangerous he is when he has a point to prove.

Negative: Call me crazy - and plenty have over the years - but I have huge reservations across both Hideki Matsuyama and Justin Thomas this week. Starting with last week's victor Thomas, since 1999 only Ernie Els has won at Kapalua and Waialae back-to-back. Only a further 2 from 11 have won at Kapalua and finished in the top 10 at Waialae. Thomas looks a huge risk especially as he has backed-up both wins in Malaysia with 27th and 23rd. A jump in salary from $8.9m to $10.5m this week is something to avoid for me. I think Hideki only plays Waialae because of its close association with sponsor Sony and the fact that plenty of players from the JGTO traditionally play here. He's a much better putter on Bermudagrass greens than he ever was, but this huge run of results has to come to an end. I think it's this week.

$8million to $10m Salary Players:

Positive: I have already highlighted Russell Knox who comes in at $100,000 less than Kapalua last week - on a course that's sure to suit. In a world where I have reservations with both Matsuyama and Thomas, I also like the look of Jimmy Walker for obvious reasons. Played beautifully from tee-to-green last week and nobody putts better on the flat, fast Waialae greens.

Negative: I'm struggling with Justin Rose ($9.3m) who never lasted a round at the Hero World Challenge and then finished 36th at the UBS Hong Kong Open. A quality player who's having to refine his swing with his back problems in mind. Ryan Palmer ($8.3m) is another to ignore in my view. The rust caused from no competitive golf since the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick will take more than a week to shake off.

Sub $8million Salary Players:

Positive: Ryan Blaum and Charles Howell III deserve respect as highlighted and I cannot believe that Chris Kirk is available at ($7.7m). Kirk was top-priced $11.3m at the RSM Classic last time out for him and a missed cut there has seen his salary plummet by $3.6 million. That's a huge downshift and one that needs to exploited as Kirk is a TifDwarf Bermudagrass green specialist who otherwise finished 2016 brilliantly. 19th for Bogey Avoidance, 46th for Greens in Regulation, 14th for Strokes Gained Putting and 14th for Putting from 5-10' 2016/17 skill sets are the perfect numbers for Waialae where he finished as runner-up in 2014.

Bermuda-positive Sean O'Hair ($7.1m), Jamie Lovemark ($7.8m) and Brian Stuard ($6.6m) also deserve close inspection. O'Hair has been playing some excellent stuff since his shock 2nd at The Barclays got him a career revitalising spot at the Tour Championship. He was 10th at TPC Summerlin in November and 5th when partnering Kenny Perry at the Franklin Templeton Shootout in mid-December. O'Hair thrives on Bermudagrass greens and was 2nd here in 2012. Lovemark was 7th here 12 months ago and has always been the sort who specialises on low scoring tests - check out his 6th at Sea Island last time out on TifDwarf Bermudagrass greens. Brian Stuard is hitting greens in regulation for fun right now - indeed he was 6th in that category at Kapalua. 5th and 6th here across 2013/14 suggest he's a value call this week.

Negative: Jonas Blixt ($6.4m) is terrible on Bermudagrass greens and I would be dubious of Si-Woo Kim ($7.9m) whose approach game has seriously deserted him since the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Bryson DeChambeau can sit on the bench at $6.8m until his side-saddle putting either brings results or is dropped as crazy stunt. Branden Grace ($7.5m) is another to avoid as he seriously struggled on the greens last week.

Published at 15:00GMT 10.1.17.Author Steve Bamford, Find us on Google+




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