This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Sony Open in Hawaii
Course: Waialae Country Club ( 7,044 yards, par 70)
Winner: $1,340,000 and 500 FedExCup points
The first two events of the year are in Hawaii, but the only similarity between the courses is that Justin Thomas excels at both of them. The now 12-time PGA Tour winner will be looking for the Hawaii sweep for the second time (2017). While Kapalua is wide open and features extreme elevation changes, Waialae is flat and narrow. The field will feature 23 other players who will make the trip from Maui over to Oahu. Webb Simpson and Hideki Matsuyama are two notables that did not play last week but will tee it up at Waialae. Conditions are expected to be less than optimal with sustained winds in excess of 20 mph throughout the event and a constant threat of rain.
Key Stats to Victory
Waialae will cater to players who are good at positioning themselves from tee to green. There are a number of holes where you need to be on a certain side of the fairway to even have an open shot to the hole locations. The greens are far smaller than they were last week at Kapalua, so solid approach play will be needed. With high winds in the forecast this week, this will be even more imperative. These greens are fairly flat for the most part, but putting in this kind of wind will create an even bigger gap between the good and poor putters.
FanDuel Value Picks
Justin Thomas, ($12,300)
I mean, come on, how do you not take him? In his last 11 starts he owns three wins and hasn't finished worse than a tie for 17th. Thomas owns all of the 18-, 36-, 54-, and 72-hole scoring records at Waialae. His creativity and ball striking in the wind last week was unbelievable for most of the event.
Patrick Reed, ($11,700)
Last week Reed put together one of the greatest short-game displays we've ever seen. Reed was hitting it all over the map, but his putter kept bailing him out. He took only 99 putts at a course with the biggest greens on Tour, which is almost unfathomable. Reed has now finished top-10 in five of his last seven starts worldwide. His preferred draw will fit right in at Waialae. Reed was T13 here last season.
Webb Simpson, ($11,500)
Simpson's game fits so well for Waialae, which explains why he has posted five top-20's in his last five starts there. The 34-year-old has made two official starts on the PGA Tour this season and has gone T7-2nd. Simpson ranks fourth in SG: Approach and 14th in SG: Putting. He is also second in GIR percentage and first in birdie average.
Charles Howell III, ($10,700)
Waialae has been good to Howell in his career. In 18 starts, Howell has yet to miss a cut and owns 10 finishes inside the top 10. It has been a solid start to the season for the Oklahoma State product, as he has made 6-of-7 cuts with a pair of top-10's and four top-20's. Howell ranks 21st in SG: Putting and last season was seventh in GIR percentage. His low-ball flight will be an advantage in the high winds this week.
Longer Shots with Value
Ryan Palmer, ($9,400)
Waialae has treated Palmer to a solid amount of success in his career. He was the victor back in 2010 and has notched three other top-20's since. A big reason I like Palmer this week is that he is used to playing in this kind of wind growing up in Texas. The now 40-year-old owns three top-20's in four starts on the PGA Tour this season.
Zach Johnson, ($9,100)
The 2009 Sony Open champion has always played well in Hawaii. Over his last six trips to Waialae, Johnson posted four top-15 finishes. Even at age 43, Johnson ranked 35th in SG: Approach and 15th in putts per round last season. He's off to a solid start this season with a pair of top-25's in five starts.
Brian Gay, ($8,900)
Whenever we go to short course where accuracy and putting is key, Gay seems to show up near the top of the leaderboard. The now 48-year-old has posted two top-25's in his last three starts at Waialae. Gay has had a good start to this season, making 6-of-7 cuts with two top-10's and four top-25's. He ranks 26th in SG: Putting and 15th in birdie average this season.
Graeme McDowell, ($8,600)
McDowell is exactly the type of player that comes to mind when you think of success in the wind. He is very accurate, has a low-flight, and has a terrific short game. McDowell was fourth last season in SG: Putting, but it has been his iron play this season that has impressed, rising to 11th in SG: Approach. McDowell has also finished top-25 in his four of his last five starts worldwide.
Strategy Tips for this Week (based on a 60k standard salary cap)
There is not a lot of depth to the field this week. Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, and Webb Simpson are appropriately the top-three priced players. I think you have to include one of them this week. From there I'm looking to bolster my lineups with accurate players who are great on and around the greens. A few I did not mention above that fit the conditions and course profile would be Abraham Ancer, Kevin Kisner, Brandt Snedeker, and Brian Harman.