The Sony Open is the first event in 2016 to feature a full field and a Monday qualifier. To those souls who traveled across the Pacific to claim one of four qualifying spots, we salute you. It’s actually wily move: miss qualifying for the field and soothe the sting of disappointment with a week of Daiquiris on Waikiki Beach (looking at you Olin Browne and Olin Browne Jr.)! Shout to Luke List, who has put his weekly money game with MJ at Bear’s Club on hold this week by qualifying Monday with a TIDY -7, 65 at Hoakalei Country Club. Also, a HUGE shout to Robert Allenby, for showing the courage to return to the scene of his kidnapping while keeping a close eye on his adult beverage – #StayWokeRob. This week’s field is chalked full of familiar names, wily veterans, up and comers, and target golfers enjoying the Pacific vibes while the bombers and top 5 prepare for California.
Kapalua’s wide fairways, severe elevation changes, and relatively modern design are nowhere to be found on Waialae’s classic and flat Seth Raynor layout, which plays to a modest (at least by Tour standards) 7,088 yards. Michael Collins’ Caddie Confidential piece provides good insight this week on the impact stiff ocean breezes will play this week, and highlights some of the same sentiments we discussed last year:
A refreshing change from the “bomb & gouge” tracks so prevalent throughout the year, the premium is instead on accuracy and being able to flight the ball through the trade winds. By all accounts, tour players seem to enjoy this course and the consensus suggests it’s an underrated track (although that could be skewed with the players sampled being, by and large, those who enjoy and/or are well-suited to this type of test; surely the bomber contingent has a different view and thus quite a few stay away).
It’s also worth noting that the first hole is one of the most bossy opening holes on Tour, a 488 yard par-4 incorporating elements of the road hole at St. Andrews – it’s a STRONG start. May we suggest PGATour.com put a live feed of this hole for the week and and dub it, “The Snuff Film?” Overall, not a typical No Laying Up style track, but there is fun to be had. It just all comes down to how hard the wind blows.
Tickets start at $15, so expect a bunch of retired white men milling about clad in baggy Tommy Bahama shirts and cargo pants/board shorts. The Golf Channel Schwaldos will embrace the attire and play up the Hawaiian vibe HARD with music, surfers going ‘aggro’ on some clean, backside pipeline barrels, and Waikiki Beach jokes. Even if you don’t like golf, just tune in for a televised respite from the shitty weather that’s making you SAD right now. We can only hope to see ample amounts of Shaka #TourSauce (#TourShaka?) this week in place of the traditional crowd wave – we see you Ricki!
If you’re looking to go DEEP on fantasy and gambling insights, check out The Tour Junkies weekly Podcast. Below are a few guys I like for very uneducated reasons!
Justin Thomas (25/1): 61 here in the 2nd round last year, and a solid weekend last week (69, 69). Though the value isn’t what it used to be, get use to seeing JT in this section of previews even if Soly isn’t behind the wheel!
Russell Henley (33/1): Broke through here with a record setting -24 under in 2013 to win his debut. Surfer lettuce and #FratStar vibe make him an easy play.
Emiliano Grillo (50/1): Strong showing last week playing with the big boy (final round 66). #ElPatito is here to stay.
Steven Bowditch (80/1): Good value, played well last week (T10), not TOO far from home down under, “Oodles of game,” according to @TronCarterNLU – that’s good enough for me.
Brian Harman (100/1): When he’s on, “Marky Mark Jr.” hunts pins. His iron play sets up well here.
Robert Allenby (500/1): THE FINAL ACT IN THE DRAMA! #StayWokeRob
- The Robert Allenby saga is truly bizarre. For the last year, I’ve envisioned Allenby beating himself up like Jim Carey in Liar Liar, but Dave Shedoski piece for Golf Digest is the best recap and analysis I’ve read on the psychological effects last year’s mugging had on Allenby. After reading that, I actually feel for the guy because it’s still unclear what really went down, and that night kicked off a season from hell that sent his game, confidence, and world ranking careening off a cliff. A ton of jokes have been made and opinions cemented on Allenby in the aftermath of the incident (His on course breakup with longtime Caddie Mick Middlemo at the Canadian Open last year didn’t help his image either), but I give him credit for showing up a year later to face his demons. #StayWokeRob
- Little known fact: The 1998 United Airlines Hawaiian Open (they probably had AWESOME hospitality and customer service back then) was won by John Huston. Dude went 28 deep, causing uproar among environmentalists and local homeowners over the sheer number of birds slaughtered during that year’s event. The negative publicity caused United to pull out and Sony signed on, but with a caveat: the membership redesigned the course during the off-season (the next year Jeff Sluman emerged as champion with a heavily toned-down winning score of -9. Coincidence? You be the judge). The Oahu avian population rebounded nicely post 1998 atrocities, for those who are wondering.
- This event is essentially the PGA Tour’s spin-off of the popular TLC show “Little People, Big World,” with the illustrious lineage of little ass dudes who have won this event: the aforementioned Sluman, Paul Goydos, Mark Wilson, Corey Pavin (Back-to-back winner, Tom Emansky style! Shortly thereafter he tried to rename it the Rat Family Open), Brad Faxon, David Toms, and Russell Henley among others. It would seem that Tim Clark and Mike Weir are PRIMED to win this thing. How did Ian Woosnam not get an invite?
- Among today’s hopefuls in Sony Open’s Monday qualifier at Hoakalei? Tadd Fujikawa. #RememberTheMagic— Jeff Babineau (@GolfweekBabz) January 11, 2016 #RememberTheMagic
Check in with the NLU Gang all week on twitter whilst we do our usual hood-rat act: @NoLayingUp.