Preview of the Sony Open in Hawaii 2023 edition. Read our analysis, strategy and betting picks for the week.
The Hawaii swing continues in the longest-standing tour course in the schedule near Honolulu this week. It's the first full field event in PGA Tour in almost two months and here are the basics:
This tournament has been on the PGA Tour's regular schedule from 1965 and has been played in Waialae Country Club in Honolulu ever since. The course has been renovated, few par 5s changed to par 4s and this year the rough is cut to 3 inches to make it more challenging.
With tree-lined fairways and doglegs this course is not a "bombers paradise" and accurate ball striking has been the key to success. For some reason the greens in Waialae seem to make miracles to normally cold putters (compared to their strokes gained data) and has thus featured winners such as Hideki Matsuyama and Russell Henley.
There's a lot of other strange findings when analysing data and history of this tournament. Some times the winners have had a market share of less than 1% (meaning >100 odds in the exchange) before the start and many of the winners have come from 2-5% bracket. But then there's a that year's favourite Justin Thomas who sailed to a victory in 2017 with an ease (while scoring 59 in the first round).
The winning scores have varied a lot based on wind conditions (from -11 to -27 lately). Same variation can be found from the winners history since it has featured missed cuts and solid track records. One insight is that most of the winners have started their year week before in Tournament of Champions although these courses play totally different:
"You don't have two more different back-to-back weeks I think than Kapalua to Sony" Jordan Spieth after Sentry.
To read more about the course and stats we recommend Vincerix and Betspertsgolf's excellent reviews. Both are free to read and feature a solid analysis of this week's competition and the course. Below is a golden nugget from last year's event (second shot must be one of the best shots of the history):
The betting card & reasoning
Our models could not generate solid strategy for this week and thus we select the "spray and pray" strategy for the week.
This means that we do not want to make huge positions on either side in the most liquid winner market (winner markets turnover grossed 250k € on Wednesday morning in central Europe). Still we are aiming to short some >2% players that tend to start slowly or have obvious discrepancy between our estimation and the odds in the market. For the longs, we've built a large card with a total risk of under 10% of bankroll and a high chance of cashing out the longest ones before weekend. Managing these longs will be the main goal for the in-play action.
Since there's around 20 selections I won't write reasoning for all but the main idea is to target accurate players off the tee, players who are streaky putters, have shown good form early in the year and have a good course fit based on the data.
In addition some "veterans" were picked with huge upside on the odds when comparing those to our estimations. For example Ryan Palmer has a decent track record in Sony and showed a great form in pair competition in December (especially his putting had improved by a mile).
Main positions on the long side will be Brian Harman (with odds of around 20) and Russell Henley (odds around 24). Both fit the afore mentioned reasons and seem like a great fit (with addition to competing in TOC last week).
Some gems include Andrew Putnam (65), Will Gordon (200), Ryan Palmer (220) and David Lingmerth (328).
We've also built a position on the top20 side and those selections are found below. The sheet will be updated in a real-time and I try to update the additions better this time.
Lastly few words about last weeks result. Our short positions were profitable and focusing on Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay bore fruit. The late addition of Jon Rahm was dangerous but ended up as a positive result since we managed to long him at high price of 30/1 before round 4. Top 10's were -6 units but there was 4 close calls that could've changed this result in a dramatic way. Finally, the week was saved with watching the round 2's early action and spotting Xander's foes on the range session. It looked so bad that it was easy to risk about 10% of bankroll to have Max Homa beat him on the 2nd round. All in all week turned out in profit (44 units) but it was dangerously close to being a total disaster. We're updating our results in the featured posts to be as transparent as possible. See it here.
Enjoy the week and stay active in the market!