We start our FanTeam Golf journey in beautiful Hawaii at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu in what is the first full-field event of the year. The course is a par 70, measuring 7,044 yards and on Bermuda greens.
The initial field at the Sony Open has been announced with Bryson DeChambeau, Cameron Smith & Hideki Matsuyama among the leading names.
24 players make the short island-hop over from Maui having played in the Sentry Tournament of Champions the week previously. Playing in Hawaii the week previous has seemingly proven to give golfers an advantage with seven of the past nine winners of the Sony Open having played The Tournament of Champions the week prior.
It’s a relatively straightforward course, the fairways are tree-lined and generally flat, with water coming into play on 3 of the 18 holes. Its biggest protection, like many coastal courses, is wind. However, historically the Waialae Country Club has not been too adversely affected by this.
It appears missing the fairway is not a stat to worry about too much this week as past winners Cameron Smith, Justin Thomas, Patton Kizzire, Fabion Gomez have all lost strokes in fairway accuracy and won the event.
As is often the case on the more generous courses the key stat this week will be strokes gained on approach. Good ball striking from the fairway and getting the golf ball in the right areas of the green is the key to a low score at Waialae CC.
Player to watch – Cameron Smith
The mulleted Australian was winner here in 2020 and at the time of writing joint-leading the Sentry Open, Cameron Smith has to go down as the favorite heading into this week. Over 50 rounds he has gained on average 0.64 strokes per round on approach (7th best) and this is backed up with excellent putting having gained on average 0.59 strokes per round (3rd best). Cameron Smith is remarkably consistent with 8 top tens in 22 tournaments last year. However, he was seemingly missing that killer instinct last year with only one of the eight top tens leading to a place in the top 3, a second at the Northern Trust.
(EDIT: Cam Smith just beat world number 1 Jon Rahm in a final round head-to-head to take down the Sentry Tournament of Champions and finish on a ridiculously good -34. It seems he has found his ruthless streak after all. Could this be the year of Cameron Smith?)
Potential Underdog – Henrik Norlander
On Fanteam you’re rewarded for a strong ‘last man in’, with your cheapest player gaining 1.25x of his regular points. Maybe consider the dashing Swede Henrik Norlander for your Underdog selection. He’s had three good finishes at the Sony in five attempts, with a 9th and a 20th under his belt. Norlander finished last year in inconsistent form, but did have a 5th at the Barbasol and 4th at the Sanderson Farms, the kind of peak finishes that could go a long way towards your inaugural Fanteam golf victory! This course demands strong iron play, and this is where the Swede shines. 20th on Tour over the last 50 rounds in strokes gained approach numbers and gains nearly a stroke per tournament with the irons. He’s not the best short game exponent, but that’s mitigated by just how easy this course can prove to be.
2021 – Kevin Na -21
2020 – Cameron Smith -11
2019 – Matt Kuchar -22
2018 – Patton Kizzire -17
2017 – Justin Thomas -27
Fancy any of the players above? Well, as of this week you’ll be able to pick them in fantasy, player matchups, our sportsbook markets, and player props such as total birdies, finishing position and round score.
We’re super-excited to make Fanteam your one-stop-shop for PGA Tour golf action, what better place to start than Hawaii! 🏄♂️