Welcome to the 2019 Sony Open Fantasy Picks and Pro-Tip
News and Notes
The Sony Open is hosted again by Waialae Country Club, a short Par 70 course measuring just over 7000 yards long that will feature just two Par 5s for the golfers to attack. This will be the first full-field PGA event of 2019 and the cut will be to T70 and ties bringing the Friday cut sweat back into play. With an easy scoring environment forecasted at an average of 1-under par, getting the maximum number of golfers through the cut will be critical. In tournaments and cash games, DFS players will be forced to decide whether to pay up for tournament favorite Justin Thomas or maximize their odds of getting all six golfers through to the weekend with a more balanced approach. Our optimal lineups based on maximizing made cut odds lean with a balanced approach generating roughly 20% odds to go 6/6, while the best Justin Thomas teams would be closer to 18% odds to get 6/6 but have more tournament winning upside.
As noted last week, DataGolf has revamped the projection model and there are a few key changes:
- More alignment with the finishing probability
- Moving towards a decay model for Current Form and Long-Term form to weigh rounds
- Incorporation of specific strokes gained metrics based on the predictive power of each metric
The wind conditions look calm and not impactful.
One other thing to think about this weekend is whether or not to place an added emphasis on golfers who played last week, with some known form, or take a gamble on players who may be using this as a tune-up.
.@JordanSpieth told me he hasn’t practiced much heading into the @SonyOpenHawaii and he is using this event to measure where his game is. Complete story tonight on @GolfCentral at 6:00 pm ET. pic.twitter.com/G0zenb1SW0
— Todd Lewis (@ToddLewisGC) January 8, 2019
Several players played last weekend with different fates:
- Justin Thomas, Bryson Dechambeau, Marc Leishman, and Gary Woodland all played well in general, with JT playing exceptional T2G but struggling with the putter. All are priced very appropriately and expected to carry ownership.
- Patton Kizzire, Cameron Champ and Brandt Snedeker were carried by strong putting performances
- Ian Poulter, Kevin Tway and Charles Howell III showed strong played T2G but struggled on the putting surfaces
- Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley, and Patrick Reed generally underperformed their expectations and didn’t flash much over the course of the week
So is it better to have a poor event but practice or question marks?
Course Fit and Course History
Given the low scoring environment, there will be more strokes gained via putting than a traditional tour event and a hot putter will be required to win. There aren’t clear SG splits from the historic event data at DataGolf but given the short course and smaller greens, there isn’t an advantage for pure bombers who spray the ball. Regardless, course fit seems to be a minor concern this week.
Justin Thomas, Charles Howell III (strong T10 record), Jimmy Walker (B2B wins), Matt Kuchar, Gary Woodland, Steve Stricker (our boy), and Marc Leishman are all names that pop in DataGolf’s course history index but generally carry class in weaker field events. If anything, it does reinforce the narrative that it isn’t a bomber’s course but can be won by strong tee-to-green players or those who get hot with the putter.