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Cameron Smith poses with a trophy after winning the 2020 Sony Open.

The PGA Tour remains in Hawaii for one more week as 144 players head to Honolulu for the 2022 Sony Open. In a vast contrast to last week’s Plantation Course at Kapalua, players will face a tight, tree-lined Waialae Country Club. Looking to get their year started in the right direction, champions, rookies and veterans alike are expected to make appearances.

Among 38 players who played in last week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, 21 are expected to make the short trip from Maui to Honolulu. It was originally 24, but Bryson DeChambeau, Garrick Higgo and Lucas Herbert backed out of the tournament early Monday morning, thus shifting the 2022 Sony Open betting odds in the process.

DeChambeau would have been an interesting player to watch as his sheer strength could have brought Waialae CC to its knees. Long, inaccurate drivers of the golf ball have had success on this Seth Raynor design in the past with the most recent being Patton Kizzire in 2018 and Justin Thomas in 2017.

That would certainly describe last week’s winner, Cameron Smith, who is now officially a top-10 player in the world after his victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Smith leads the way at Bovada at +1000 and our odds calculator gives the 2020 Sony Open champion a 9.09 percent chance to claim yet another title in the Aloha State as he completed the coveted Hawaiian double last week.

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Here’s a look at the golfers with the likeliest odds to emerge triumphant this week:

Who Is Favored To Win The Sony Open?

2022 Sony Open Odds
Golfer Odds
Cameron Smith +1000
Webb Simpson +1600
Sungjae Im +1600
Marc Leishman +1800
Hideki Matsuyama +1800
Corey Conners +2200
Kevin Na +2800
Abraham Ancer +2800
Talor Gooch +2800
Russell Henley +3300
Kevin Kisner +3300
Billy Horschel +3300
Harris English +3300
Matt Jones +3300
Jason Kokrak +4000
Charles Howell III +5000
Cameron Davis +5000

Odds as of January 11 at Bovada

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What Happened In Last Year’s Sony Open?

While Smith was victorious in 2020, another short-game specialist, Kevin Na, captured the 2021 Sony Open. Brendan Steele led the way heading into the final day of play at Waialae CC. The American has had plenty of success at the Sony Open in the past, including a playoff loss the year prior to Smith.

Carding a round of 1-under 69, Steele was passed by the field and eventually finished in a tie for fourth place at 19 under. Multiple players shot up the leaderboard, including Webb Simpson, Joaquin Niemann, Marc Leishman and Collin Morikawa. Simpson and Leishman are two of the favorites this week, while the next time we see the two young guns will be on the continental United States.

In the end, Na proved to be too much as he only needed a par on the par-5 18th to secure his fifth PGA Tour title. A surprising 23rd in Strokes Gained: Putting for the week, Na’s tee-to-green prowess came to light unexpectedly. Ranking 44th in SG: Off-the-Tee, fifth in SG: Approach, and eighth in SG: Around-the-Green, the combination of Na’s sharp iron play and timely scrambling propelled him to victory.

Course And Analysis:

Waialae Country Club measures just around 7,000 yards and features Bermuda grass throughout the property. When thinking of players who thrive on such a surface, I always tend to gravitate toward former SEC and ACC players and those who play well in the Southeast of the United States in general.

The course features average fairways and greens which are friendly to players with the putter in hand, and the winning score has found its way into the 20-under range in recent memory. With only two par 5s in play, par-4 scoring will be at the forefront of our analysis.

Couple this with precision with key scoring clubs from 150 to 200 yards and that tends to be what drives the scoring on this coastal beauty. If the wind picks up, those who are strong ball-strikers will rise to the top, but if not, just about anyone has a chance to capture the 2022 Sony Open if those names at the top of the oddsboard sleepwalk through the week.


2022 Sony Open Expert Selections:

Billy Horschel (+3300)

We mentioned the thought of targeting those from the SEC and Horschel would certainly fit the bill in that regard. A passionate former Florida Gator, Horschel struggled last week at the Plantation Course at Kapalua and finished dead last in SG: Approach among the 38 players. However, he was able to put a few pieces of his game together and a course such as Waialae CC could help bring those missing pieces up to speed.

Finishing first in driving accuracy and first in SG: Around-the-Green, the iron play is the only area of the bag which needs to see improvement as Horschel is the very definition of a “Bermuda specialist” and finished inside the top 10 in SG: Putting last week among some of the best putters in the world.

On a shorter course which does not require as many long irons as the Plantation Course at Kapalua, Horschel should be able to thrive in this spot given his prowess with his wedges. Drawing similarities to Sedgefield Country Club and Harbour Town Golf Links, this is right up Horschel’s alley and given his winning pedigree – boasting two victories worldwide in 2021 – this is a number I am comfortable starting the 2022 Sony Open betting card with.

Jason Kokrak (+4000)

Much like Horschel, Kokrak struggled mightily at the Plantation Course at Kapalua, finishing dead last and failing to crack the top 20 in any statistical category. Losing nearly seven strokes from tee to green and an additional six strokes with the flat stick, it was one of Kokrak’s worst results in recent memory. While some may be a bit concerned with his poor play so recently, Kokrak failed to play well in his Tournament of Champions debut and followed it up with an 8-under 62 in the first round of the 2021 Sony Open.

Clearly it has something to do with the island of Maui as he tends to fare much better on Honolulu. A perfect 6-for-6 on weekend appearances, the three-time winner on the PGA Tour has collected a couple of top-20 results at Waialae CC. Being this far down on the Sony Open betting odds was a surprise to me and given his long-term metrics, this is a spot to buy in on Kokrak in a field of this caliber.

Charles Howell III (+6600)

No one in the field has a better history at the Sony Open than Charles Howell III. In 20 editions of the tournament, the 42-year-old has never failed to make it to the weekend, collecting 14 top-25 finishes in the process. Throw in a couple of runners-up and another podium finish and Chucky Three Sticks clearly knows the secret recipe for success at Waialae CC.

And better yet, this year he arrives in some of his best form in recent memory. Finding the top 20 in his last start of the fall at the RSM Classic, Howell lost strokes on approach in Sea Island. If able to figure those clubs out this week, he should once again thrive in Hawaii and possibly enter the winner’s circle as he is deservedly overdue for a victory here.

Joel Dahmen (+6600)

There is a long-running theory that concludes those who play in the Tournament of Champions are more well-equipped to win the Sony Open. Dahmen would certainly fit this narrative and while he lagged behind during the weekend at the Plantation Course, it was never a venue in which the Corales Punta Cana winner would find success.

He overachieved and as one of the better wedge players in this field, I believe knocking off any rust last week will lead to a strong showing this week. Extremely accurate off the tee as well, Dahmen will have plenty of looks for birdies as his ball-striking should take to the short, tight Waialae CC.

If the putter chooses to cooperate, he should find himself in contention come Sunday. After finishing in a tie for 12th in a rain-soaked 2020 Sony Open, the firm, fast and possibly windy conditions should be to his liking and remind him of his lone victory on the PGA Tour.

Alex Smalley (+10000)

Many of you may have never heard of Alex Smalley, but I assure you that you want to get familiar with this young man. A former standout at Duke University, the 25-year-old secured his playing status on the PGA Tour via the Korn Ferry Tour Championship this past summer. Before then, he took quite an unorthodox route, playing in Monday qualifiers and on the Forme Tour when unable to play his way onto the big stage.

Now with full-time status, Smalley played plenty in the fall and showcased just how competitive he can be. After missing his first cut, he rattled off four consecutive made cuts in a row, finding the top 20 at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship and the Hewlett Packard Enterprise Houston Open.

Both were featured on golf courses where accuracy off the tee is important and with Bermuda grass wall to wall. That’s the case this week as well and Smalley’s tee-to-green expertise should be something he can rely on in his Sony Open debut.

While he lacks in experience, that’s just about all he lacks as a run toward a victory is in his near future. If the putter chooses to cooperate, I am willing to say that victory will come sooner rather than later as his game is that impressive and thus he makes for our last selection on our Sony Open betting card.

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