Tuesday, January 8, 2013

2013 Sony Open in Hawaii Preview and Predictions

After a long weekend in Kapalua for the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, the PGA Tour moves to Honolulu and the Waialae Country Club for the 2013 Sony Open in Hawaii, the first full-field event of the season.  With players from the Hyundai worn down and fatigued from the extended play the last two days, this tournament will be wide open for anyone to win.  This is the first time for last year's Web.com Tour graduates and the PGA Qualifying School top 25 to show their stuff on the big stage.

Sony once again is sponsoring the event and Waialae Country Club plays a formidable host for the best players in the world.  A shorter course at just over 7000 yards awaits the players, and at par-70 accuracy and precision will be key.

The tournament starts Thursday, January 10th.

TV Schedule:

Thursday: The Golf Channel, 7:00-10:30 PM EST
Friday: The Golf Channel, 7:00-10:30 PM EST
Saturday:  The Golf Channel, 7:00-10:30 PM EST
Sunday: The Golf Channel, 7:00-10:00 PM EST


PGA Tour Network XM Satellite Radio (all times Eastern)
Thursday: 5-11 PM
Friday: 5-11 PM
Saturday 5-11 PM
Sunday: 5-10 PM

In The Field
The Sony Open marks the first full-field event on the PGA Tour in 2013.  Players who did not win last year get their first shot at a victory this year and Web.com tour and Q School graduates get their first go on the big stage.

Players to Watch
Keegan Bradley: Coming off a T4 at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Bradley will be bringing a confident game to Waialae.  With a hot putter, the long-hitting Bradley can blow away most fields on the PGA Tour.  Look for his iron play to stay sharp and his short game to remain solid.

Tim Clark: Returning to the PGA Tour in 2013 is Tim Clark, who has missed a lot of time the past couple years due to injury.  With his health back to 100%, the accurate Clark should be able to plot his way around the short Waialae Country Club.  The former Players Champion will get his 2013 on track at the Sony Open.

Fred Funk: The Champions Tour standout will look to get another win on the regular tour.  Funk is one of the most accurate players of all time and still has the game to compete on the PGA Tour.  If his putting cooperates he can have a strong finish.

Luke Guthrie: The two-time Big Ten champion and winner of two nationwide events last season looks to continue his strong play on the PGA Tour.  With three top-20 finishes on tour last season, including a T-5 at the John Deere Classic, Guthrie should be one of the main competitors in the rookie of the year race.

Davis Love III: The 2012 US Ryder Cup captain will look to avenge his team's loss at the biannual competition with play of his own.  Nearing the age for the Champions Tour, Love wants to prove he still has what it takes to win on the PGA Tour.

Holes to Watch
Waialae Country Club has hosted the PGA Tour's Hawaii Open since 1965, and has hosted major tournaments since 1928.

Hole 1: The opening hole at Waialae Country Club was designed with St. Andrew's famous Road Hole in mind.  The former par 5 was shortened and a new tee added to play as a long par 4.  At 488 yards, the hole is one of the toughest opening holes on tour.

Hole 9: A mid-length par 5, hole 9 measures in at 510 yards.  The hole is flanked on either side by out-of-bounds which is exacerbated with a strong right-to-left prevailing wind.  Two accurate shots, however, give players the opportunity at eagle and a very good shot at birdie.

Hole 11: A picturesque par 3 with the Pacific Ocean in the background, the 11th hole is a strong par 3 with a left-to-right prevailing wind.  At 196 yards, a mid to long iron is necessary to reach the green and the wind forces many shots to find the right front bunker.

Hole 17: The signature hole at Waialae bears the name of the Sony Open fire-bird of Hawaiian lore.  A very difficult par 3, 17 plays at 189 yards and requires a mid to long iron tee shot.  The green was recently restored to its original Redan-style green with a large bunker on the left and four hidden bunkers on the right.  This hole can make or break a round an will be very important down the stretch on Sunday.

Hole 18: Like the Hyundai last week, the Sony Open finishes with a par 5.  At 551 yards, hole 18 is reachable with two good shots and eagle is a distinct possibility.  A fairway bunker off the tee makes players think about their drive, but a solid shot leaves an approach usually downwind to the green.  Look for hole 18 to be the winning hole on Sunday.

Groups to Watch
Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson, Johnson Wagner: 7:50 AM Round 1
Webb Simpson, KJ Choi, Vijay Singh: 12:20 PM Round 1
Luke Guthrie, Scott Langley, Russell Henley: 1:00 PM Round 1

Coming off a win at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Dustin Johnson will be brimming with confidence at Waialae.  If he continues his strong driving of the golf ball and improved wedge game, he will be near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.  But Jeff Overton and Carl Petterson will also be right near the top as well.  Overton will look to regain his form of 2010 this season and Petterson wants to avenge his Ryder Cup snub with another strong season.  But none of these three players will win the tournament.

Bud Cauley, a player many thought would win in his rookie year on the PGA Tour, will get his first tour win this weekend at the Sony Open.  The second-year professional will continue his strong play and get off to a quick start this year with his maiden victory. 

1 comment:

  1. A well done and informative post. I think the logical winner this week is Zach Johnson. I broke it down on SportsUnbiased.com here.