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PGA DFS Primer: Sony Open in Hawaii (2022)

by Matthew MacKay | @Matt_MacKay_ | Featured Writer
Jan 12, 2022
Webb Simpson

The 2022 Sentry Tournament of Champions yielded a new Tour record last week in Maui, Hawaii. 28-year old Aussie Cameron Smith was lights out at the Kapalua Plantation course over the weekend, consistently finishing at eight-under-par or nine-under-par during all four rounds to earn first place at 34-under-par. This is a new Tour record in relation to par, but Jon Rahm and Matt Jones were also only one and two strokes behind Smith after the tournament. During December, the time off has helped many of the sport’s elite players rest up and prepare to dominate.

Smith will stay in Hawaii but travel west from the island of Maui to the island of O’ahu to compete in the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. He is familiar with the course at Waialae, finishing first place in 2020 at 11-under-par. The vast majority of winners at previous Sony Open tournaments competed at Kapalua the last week. This makes sense due to the Sentry Tournament of Champions field being restricted to only players who won an event in the previous season. The field completely opens up at Waialae this weekend, and the obstacle of making the cut returns. The course has yielded massive production in the past, as under five percent of competitors finished over par at Waialae in 2021.

Birdies will be pouring in, and I’m here to make sure you insert the most talented players and high-upside value prospects to ensure you construct winning lineups that will cash on Sunday. So, without further ado, let’s jump right into it!

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Previous Winners

  • 2021 – Kevin Na (-21)
  • 2020 – Cameron Smith (-11)
  • 2019 – Matt Kuchar (-22)
  • 2018 – Patton Kizzire (-17)
  • 2017 – Justin Thomas (-27)

Course Overview

Waialae Country Club is a stock par 70 with gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. Hardly any changes have been made to the course since 2021, and the weather conditions appear to be dry and favorable. Four par 3s and two par 5s, one on the ninth hole and the other waiting on the 18th hole, offer limited opportunities for players to earn an easy birdie or eagle. However, the Bermudagrass greens measure out to 11 feet on the Stimpmeter. This wooden device releases a golf ball at a measured velocity and angle to calculate its roll on a particular putting surface. The expectation of dry skies is excellent news for the speed and length of putts at Waialae this weekend.

A few dogleg fairways require precise drives and shots off the tee, so make sure that the player you’re adding into lineups possesses accuracy with their driver and irons to avoid the numerous sand bunkers, trees, streams, and bodies of water. The rough is longer and thicker than in years past, which will likely be the biggest challenge for experienced players to adapt and overcome. However, players with an elite scrambling ability or sand save percentage should counter these obstacles that litter the beautiful course on the shores of Honolulu, Hawaii, this weekend.

Relevant Betting Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
  • Greens in Regulation percentage
  • Driving Accuracy percentage
  • Sand save percentage

Recommended Plays: DraftKings

DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000

Webb Simpson ($10,500)
The oddsmakers have 36-year old American golfer Webb Simpson listed with the second-highest odds (16/1) to win the 2022 Sony Open in Hawaii. Simpson has strung together a couple of solid finishes at The CJ Cup @ Summit (T14/-19) and The RSM Classic (T8/-14) while also getting over a month off to rest and prepare for this weekend. He is averaging a ridiculous 5.14 birdies per round, which is ranked 12th best on Tour this season. Simpson also possesses a lethal GIR conversion rate at 73 percent, meaning he is nearly sure to hit the green with a chance to birdie or par the hole. As if this wasn’t enough incentive, Simpson ranks inside the top 20 in strokes gained around the green, meaning he has great finesse and touch, while also ranking 26th in strokes gained tee-to-green. He finished T4 (-19) in 2021 at Waialae, so expect Simpson to remain atop the leaderboard yet again. Acquire Simpson at a great value and don’t look back.

Billy Horschel ($8,700)
35-year old Billy Horschel is fresh entering the Sony Open, having competed in only two legitimate Tour events this season. Last weekend, his most recent outing at Kapalua saw him overcome a rough start to finish 17-under-par with a strong seven-under-par delivered in the final round. Horschel currently has 40/1 odds to win the Sony Open this weekend, making him 14th in the odds rankings. Horschel is equipped with a highly accurate driver and putter, which comprise a potent combination for advancing up the leaderboard in Honolulu. He is an exceptional value at $8,700 and can be considered a salary-saver while also providing massive upside in lineups this weekend.

Ryan Palmer ($7,800)
We’re dipping into the hidden value with 45-year old American Ryan Palmer. He may be a relatively obscure name on the PGA Tour, but Palmer stands out with his impressive GIR conversion percentage (74%), an eighth-ranked strokes gained off-the-tee and ranked inside the top 40 for strokes gained tee-to-green. This season, Palmer has not produced a better finish than T26 in fully competitive PGA Tour events. Still, he possesses the skill set necessary to perform well at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Last year, Palmer started even and ended only one-under-par while racking up a collective ten-under-par score in the middle rounds. Unfortunately, Palmer did not compete at The Sentry Tournament of Champions last week, but it is worth the flier when you’re looking for salary-saving prospects that offer intriguing upside.

Recommended Plays: FanDuel

FanDuel maximum salary is set at $60,000

Marc Leishman ($11,200)
Australian golfers dominated the elite field at Kapalua this past weekend. While Cameron Smith set a new record at 34-under-par, 38-year old Marc Leishman fared well, finishing T10 (-23), manufacturing at least four-under-par or better in every round. The veteran Aussie has finished inside the top 20 in four of five events that he’s competed in this year. Leishman is the definition of consistent and has all of the momentum on his side entering the first round of the Sony Open on Thursday. Last week, Leishman had an absurd 87.5 GIR percentage and sand save rate of 40 percent. These are significant factors pointing to why Leishman has 20/1 odds to win this weekend, which is fifth-best among the dozens of players set to compete at Waialae.

Maverick McNealy ($9,800)
26-year old Maverick McNealy is enjoying quite an impressive season thus far. Currently ranked 14th in the FedExCup standings, McNealy has three top 20 finishes, including finishing runner-up at the Fortinet Championship (-18) to begin his fifth season on the PGA Tour. He performs well and measures out nicely in nearly all statistical categories and has had two months to rest and prepare for the Sony Open this weekend. McNealy will make his debut at the Sony Open in Hawaii this weekend, but his efficient, high-level play should be sustained on a course with a favorable layout and conditions. At under $10,000 on FanDuel, McNealy possesses the floor and ceiling necessary to return value in lineups at Waialae beginning Thursday.

Abraham Ancer ($11,300)
30-year old Mexican Abraham Ancer has excellent odds to win The Sony Open in Hawaii this weekend. Ancer shook off a missed cut in his first event of the 2022 PGA Tour season and has since rattled off three top 15 finishes before producing a pedestrian finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions last weekend with ten-under-par. Last year, Ancer missed the cut at Waialae and has not had a ton of success in previous years either. However, it’s a new year, and Ancer has the skill set and ability to navigate the fairways with precision, ranking third in driving accuracy percentage (74%) and a 4.93 birdie average. He is a bit pricey, but the upside is baked into the salary, so follow the birdies, as they are the most lucrative stat to acquire in PGA DFS lineups.

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Whether you’re new to daily fantasy golf or a seasoned professional, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Golf Glossary. You can get started with The Stats That Matter Most or head to a more advanced strategy — like How To Use Vegas Odds To Generate Your Lineup  — to learn more.

Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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