Dustin Johnson sent out a message to the rest of his PGA Tour colleagues with his dominant win at the Tournament of Champions last week. DJ was at his powerful, majestic best to show the competition the levels they’ll need to reach to stop him from winning golf’s biggest titles in the coming year. Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas are two of those expected to compete with Johnson and they’re both remaining in Hawaii this week for a crack at the Sony Open.
Thomas may be the defending Sony Open in Hawaii champion but it’s Spieth who has been installed as the early favourite with the bookies. Whichever of the two friends ends up on top there are some key skills they must display to have a chance of winning at Waialae Country Club.
There’s no doubt that Waialae can be a birdie fest for players of this calibre. Thomas won with a frankly ridiculous score of -27 last year but it’s not always so easy. The Hawaiian winds can make life much more difficult while the 7,044 yard, par 70 layout poses a stern test of accuracy off the tee. The rough may not be overly penal but hitting the fairway makes it that much easier to hit the greens and it’s world class approach play that separates the wheat from the chaff at Waialae.
Spieth the Worthy Favourite
Although Spieth lost out to his good friend last year, he still placed a very respectable third at Waialae. That was no surprise. This is a course which plays into Spieth’s strengths. He hits more greens in regulation than most of this week’s field, he is as good a putter as you’ll find and he’s tightened up his driving accuracy lately.
You could talk about the technical aspects of Spieth’s game for hours but it’s his mental fortitude that really sets him apart. Nobody can score so well when playing as badly as Spieth. His ability to grind rounds out will stand him in good stead for the year ahead and he can do as Johnson did last week by sending out a message with an early win at 5/1 with BetVictor.
Quiet Man Stanley Going Under the Radar
There are plenty of big personalities on the PGA Tour but equally many golfers like going about their business quietly. Kyle Stanley is very much in the latter category. The 30-year-old tends to show up at a tournament and simply concentrate on his golf which often means he goes unnoticed by the bookies.
This week is a classic example. Despite Stanley being one of the most accurate drivers on the PGA Tour and that he regularly leads the greens in regulation stats, you can back him to win the Sony Open in Hawaii at 80/1 with Ladbrokes. Were it not for some issues with his putter, Stanley would surely have won more than two PGA Tour titles but, thankfully, recent stats suggest that his putting is improving. If he continues in that vein Stanley will quickly look overpriced for an each way bet in Honolulu where he’s had strong results previously.