The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
Waialae Country Club has hosted every edition of the Sony Open in Hawaii since its inception in 1965. The Honolulu course is the final Aloha-state stop of the short Hawaiian swing. Last year, Justin Thomas fired an opening round 59 on his way to a PGA Tour record 27-under par that foreshadowed his amazing FedExCup winning 2017 season.
The Par 70, 7,044 yard course has what are described as tough to hit greens, not to mention trade winds of Hawaii offering up additional scoring defense. That hasn’t really mattered to the last three winners at Waialae, who have all been at least 20-under par, so the supposedly challenging fairways and windy conditions clearly haven’t deterred scoring too much.
As always, I backtested all metrics within our PGA Models to find which ones have been valuable at this track. Per the Trends tool, here is how the top 20 percent of golfers in various metrics have done (in Plus/Minus valuation) at Waialae. Historically, the course has yielded averages of 57.78 DraftKings points and a +47.99 Plus/Minus with 53.0 percent Consistency to the field.
- Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score): +8.30 with 53.4 percent Consistency
- Long-Term Greens In Regulation (GIR): +4.65 with 44.4 percent Consistency
- Long-Term Driving Distance (DD): +4.08 with 43.8 percent Consistency
- Long-Term Driving Accuracy (DA): +8.52 with 55.6 percent Consistency
- Long-Term Adjusted Putts per Round (Adj PPR): +13.11 with 62.1 percent Consistency
- Long-Term Scrambling (SC): +10.10 with 57.7 percent Consitency
- Long-Term Adjusted Birdies Per Tournament (Adj Bird Avg): +14.87 with 67.2 percent Consistency
- Recent Adj Rd Score: +11.91 with 65.1 percent Consistency
- Recent GIR: +12.07 with 65.7 percent Consistency
- Recent DD: +23.44 with 70.0 percent Consistency (10 count sample size)
- Recent DA: +11.57 with 65.1 percent Consistency
- Recent SC: +17.21 with 68.6 percent Consistency
- Recent Adj Bird Avg: +18.57 with 70.4 percent Consistency
As you can see, there are several metrics that provide serious Plus/Minus power and an excellent Consistency Rating. While not all golfers have played recently, the data suggests players with strong Recent metrics are set up for success here at Waialae.
Jordan Spieth ($12,000) currently has the highest odds to win the tournament (18.2 percent) and leads the field with his 67.8 LT Adj Rd Score and 16.6 LT Adj Bird Avg. In 31 tournaments over the past calendar year, Spieth has averaged 85.2 DraftKings points per tournament (PPT) — the best PPT average in the field. Spieth’s 68.3 Recent Adj Rd Score ranks second and he is tied for fourth with his 28.5 LT Adj PPR. Last season he posted 117 DraftKings points and a +43.04 Plus/Minus here at Waialae with 34.3 percent average ownership in large-field guaranteed prize pools. With the Spieth tout-machine in high gear, he is likely to be nice and chalky again this week. You can check out player exposure and much more with our amazing PGA Contests Dashboard.
Justin Thomas ($11,600) rewrote the PGA Tour record books at Waialae last season and currently has the second-best odds to win the tournament (11.1 percent). Thomas missed the cut here in 2016, but his 68.4 Course Adj Rd Score ranks second among golfers with at least three starts at this track. Both JT’s 68.4 LT Adj Rd Score and 15.6 LT Adj Bird Avg are second to only Spieth’s. Golfers with comparable salaries and long-term metrics have previously produced an average of 80.16 DraftKings PPT with a +4.16 Plus/Minus and 58.1 percent Consistency Rating.
Marc Leishman ($11,100) has finished outside of the top 10 just twice in his last seven starts, although he hasn’t finished better than 20th at Waialae in his last three trips. He did post a fifth and ninth place finish here in 2013 and 2014 and his recent form is tough to argue with. Leishman’s 68.4 Recent Adj Rd Score ranks third in the field and his 18.5 Recent Adj Bird Avg is second among golfers with more than one start in the past six weeks.
Brian Harman ($10,600) has notched four straight top 10 finishes since the season-ending Tour Championship, including back-to-back top five finishes in his two most recent starts. Harman hit 81.9 percent of Greens in Regulation at last week’s Tournament of Champions on his way to a robust 20.0 Recent Adj Bird Avg.
The Value Plays
One way to use FantasyLabs to find potential value golfers in our Models is to leverage our LT Adj Rd Score metric. If you sort the field by LT Adj Rd Score, you are looking at a list of players who have been the best golfers over the past 75 weeks. Among these golfers, those who have high Adj Rd Scores and low salaries make great value plays.
Jason Dufner ($7,300) is tied for eighth in the field with his 69.2 LT Adj Rd Score, but his salary is $1,900 less than Russell Henley, who shares the same score. Dufner finished ninth here two years ago and looked to be in good form last week when he finished 11th and racked up 82.0 DraftKings points at the Tournament of Champions.
Kyle Stanley ($7,300) didn’t look quite as sharp as Dufner last week, but he has made eight straight cuts on Tour and four straight cuts at this event. If you’re looking for a low cost cut-maker to fill out your lineups this week, Stanley and his 10th-best 69.3 LT Adj Rd Score looks like a great option.
The Bump and Run
Choke up and take a narrow stance.
Gary Woodland ($7,800): Woody’s 68.0 Course Adj Rd Score leads the field among golfers with more than one start here at Waialae — Gary hasn’t finished worse than 13th here in the last three years and he has a third and sixth place finish in that stretch. Woodland is tied for 10th with his 69.3 LT Adj Rd Score and is tied for 13th with his 13.8 LT Adj Bird Avg.
Hudson Swafford ($7,300): Currently the No.2 rated player in CSURAM88’s Player Model, Swafford has finished inside the top 15 in each of his last two starts here and he has two finishes inside the top 10 in his last four trips to Waialae. His 69.3 Course Adj Rd Score ranks eighth among golfers with at least three starts in Honolulu. Swafford’s 69.8 LT Adj Rd Score ranks him inside the top-25 of this full field.