What You Need to Know
Waialae has undergone some renovations since Fabian Gomez edged out Brandt Snedeker in a playoff here last year. Despite the changes, the course remains a tight but scoreable Par 70 with the Hawaiian trade winds its primary defense.
Greens in Regulation (GIR) and Scrambling (SC) have traditionally been important metrics here. Five of the golfers who finished in the top 10 at last year’s tournament ranked in the top 10 in GIR for the week.
The Big Three
Jordan Spieth ($11,500) leads the field with a 68.2 Long-Term Adjusted Round Score (LT Adj Rd Score), 16.1 LT Adjusted Birdies Per Tournament (Adj Bird Avg), and 13.3 percent odds to win. Spieth also has a top-six SC score at 62.6 percent.
He missed the cut here in his only appearance in 2014 but he racked up 129 DraftKings points last week on his way to a third-place finish at neighboring Kapalua. His bogey-free 65 in the final round was the tournament’s best score on Sunday, so he comes in hot.
Second to only Spieth in LT Adj Rd Score (68.4), LT Adj Bird Avg (15.9), and odds to win (11.8 percent) is Hideki Matsuyama ($11,000), who has four wins and two runner-up finishes in his last six tournaments. You have to go all the way back to September to find a tournament in which he finished worse than second place. That was the Tour Championship, in which he finished fifth.
However, Matsuyama has four missed cuts at Waialae in four tries since 2011 and his 72.8 Course Adj Rd Score is the sixth-worst mark among golfers who have made more than one start here. He has broken par just twice in nine rounds at this course. Hideki’s poor course history may lead to reduced ownership in guaranteed prize pools.
The Dude Who Won Last Week
He may not be quite as historically hot like Hideki, but Justin Thomas ($10,500) has finished in the top 10 in five of his last six tournaments, including two wins and a top-five performance.
Thomas’ 69.1 LT Adj Rd Score ranks seventh, his 15.0 LT Adj Bird Avg is fourth, and his 6.7 percent odds to win are currently third in the field. JT has accumulated a redonkulous 87.5 Recent GIR percentage in his last two tournaments, leading to a very healthy 25.0 Recent Adj Bird Avg. Per our Trends tool, golfers with comparable LT and Recent metrics have produced a +5.14 Plus/Minus.
Thomas missed the cut at this track last year but did finish sixth in 2015 when he shot a career-low 61 in the second round.
The Bump and Run
Choke up and take a narrow stance.
Paul Casey ($9,500): Casey’s 68.5 LT Adj Rd Score ranks fourth, his 71.6 LT GIR percentage is fifth, and his 14.4 LT Adj Bird Avg is ninth. He played extremely well at the end of 2016 with four top-four finishes and a 12th-place finish in his final six tournaments. He finished 30th here last year behind a career-low opening round of 62 and recently tweeted about how much he loves this course.
— Paul Casey (@Paul_Casey) January 11, 2017
Justin Rose ($9,300): Rose is tied with Matsuyama for second in the field with a 68.4 LT Adj Rd Score. His 10th-best 70.2 percent LT GIR and fourth-best 15.0 LT Adj Bird Avg set him up for success this week. Rose has a 12th- and 13th-place finish here.
Charles Howell III ($7,800): CH3’s 69.3 LT Adj Rd Score ranks 15th, his 60.7 LT SC percentage is 26th, and his 14.1 LT Adj Bird Avg is 14th. Howell has not missed a cut at Waialae since his debut in 2002 and has two runner-up and 10 top-15 finishes here. His 69.0 Course Adj Rd Score is fourth among golfers with more than one start here, tied with . . .
Marc Leishman ($8,200): Like Howell, Leishman is a cut-making machine at Waialae, where he has two top-10 finishes since 2013. His 69.4 LT Adj Rd Score is tied for 16th in the field.
Pat Perez ($8,000): Perez missed the cut here last year but in the three years prior he finished in the top 10 twice and top 20 thrice. He is humming right now with a win at the OHL Classic and a third-place finish last week at Kapalua, where he had an 84.7 GIR percentage.
Zac Blair ($7,600): Another course horse, Blair leads all golfers with more than one start here with a 67.5 Course Adj Rd Score. He finished sixth here in 2015 and was third last year. Blair’s 64.2 LT GIR percentage and 60.0 LT SC percentage work well at Waialae, and his sixth-best 69.3 percent LT Driving Accuracy doesn’t hurt either.
Jerry Kelly ($6,800): Kelly has three top-10 finishes in his last three trips here, and his 69.1 Course Adj Score is sixth among golfers with more than one course appearance. His price and course history will likely make him a popular play this week.
Bill Haas ($8,400): Haas has sandwiched two missed cuts around a ninth-place finish at Waialae in his last three starts. His 63.9 LT SC percentage is third and his 69.1 LT Adj Rd Score is tied for seventh. With a slew of course horses available and affordable, Haas is flying under the radar as a potential GPP play.
Cheng-Tsung Pan ($6,600): Pan’s second-best 72.7 percent LT GIR, ninth-best 62.3 LT SC percentage, and respectable 14.1 LT Adj Bird Avg will suit him well at Waialae. He finished sixth his last time out at the RSM Classic, where he accumulated 102.0 DK points.
Adam Levitan created a course history model, which I’ve tweaked. Jimmy Walker ($9,900) is the adjusted-model’s top-rated golfer — its Levitanimal, if you will. Walker’s stellar 68.5 Course Adj Rd Score is second among golfers who have made more than one start here and the best among golfers with three or more starts. He has two wins at Waialae in the past three years. His #AlohaNarrative is extremely strong.
Good luck this week!