This week the TOUR stays in Hawaii, as Waialae Country Club hosts the Sony Open. The course is a par-70 that measures about 7,100 yards with Bermuda grass greens. The winning score varies based on how windy it gets, but it usually takes close to 20-under or so to get the job done.
The purpose of this article is to highlight the best cash game/single-entry plays on the DraftKings main slate; however, these players are great options in any contest type. Also check out Chris Murphy’s Course Preview and DFS Breakdown, where he highlights his eight favorite DFS picks based on course-fit at the Country Club of Jackson.
Note: My forthcoming analysis will frequently reference Strokes Gained, a set of proprietary metrics generated by the PGA TOUR using millions of data points to calculate how many shots on average it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation. There are a variety of Strokes Gained-related metrics, but the six main categories that you need to know include:
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee (SG: Off-the-Tee)
- Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: Approach)
- Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green (SG: Around-the-Green)
- Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: Putting)
- Strokes Gained: Ball-Striking (SG: Ball-Striking), which is SG: Off-the-Tee + SG: Approach
- Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (SG: Tee-to-Green), which is SG: Ball-Striking + SG: Around-the-Green
For more information on Strokes Gained data and how to use it, check out this article from Bryan Mears on The Action Network, which unpacks each of the above metrics in detail. I also recommend Chris Murphy’s Strokes Gained column each week, which highlights golfers to buy and fade following each round of play at that week’s PGA TOUR event, and Matthew Vincenzi’s weekly “Stats That Matter” column, which highlights which Strokes Gained sub-metrics matter the most for a given course. The following players listed are based on DraftKing’s scoring and pricing.
Webb Simpson ($11,100 DraftKings)
You probably don’t need me to tell you to play the highest priced player in the field, but with the bevy of viable options at the top of the price range, I still think Simpson stands out over everyone. There is plenty of value plays to fit Simpson if you wanted to start your cash game teams with him.That is usually the deciding factor on whether or not to pay up this high in cash.
As far as history goes, Simpson boasts some of the best around as he has a trio of T-13s between 2015-17 in addition to his back-to-back top fives in his previous two trips to Waialae. His rolling stats are also extremely solid as he sits 14th in this field over his last 16 rounds in SG:T2G and 12th in overall strokes gained in the same time frame. He’s also coming off a solid T-17 last week at the Tournament of Champions. We like to target Webb on shorter tracks and that’s exactly what we have this week. Plug him into your lineups and figure out the rest later.
Sungjae Im ($9,800 DraftKings)
If you don’t feel like paying up for Simpson we get a nice discount on Im this week. A shorter track specialist, Im thrives on par-70 courses with Bermuda grass greens. He is also in very good form after posting a T-5 last week at the TOC. He was dialed in at Kapalua as he ranks No.1 in this field in SG:T2G across his past four rounds as well as 10th in total strokes gained. If he putted even semi decent last week he would have won.
Since we know putting is extremely volatile and that Im’s preferred surface is by far Bermuda, I like the idea of going right back to him as he boasts strong win equity and is a decent salary saver from $10k+ guys without losing any upside.
Kevin Kisner ($8,800 DraftKings)
Another shorter course specialist, Kisner has some of the best course history in this field, posting three top five finishes over his past five trips. Kisner was not great tee-to-green last week but he putted well and his around the green game was great as per usual. With the smaller greens we have this week, being able to get up and down becomes more important than normal. Over his past 16 rounds in this field Kisner ranks 17th in SG: Putting and 14th in SG: Short Game, which basically cements him as a cash game lock in this weaker field we have this week. Kisner fits in both stars and scrubs or balanced type rosters and has serious upside at just $8,800 on DraftKings.
Charles Howell III ($8,000 DraftKings)
Strictly a course history play, Howell has a ridiculous six top 10’s over his past 11 trips to Waialae, with an additional T-12 and T-13 mixed in as well. There is something to be said for a guy you can lock in at just $8,000 and have this type of cut making equity. Nothing stands out in Howell’s game right now that would make him a must play, but he has been putting pretty well of late, sitting 13th in this field over his past 16 rounds in SG: Putting, as well as sixth in SG: Short Game. I would not overthink this one. There is something about this course that simply fits CH3’s eye and that’s good enough for me at this very reasonable salary.
Brian Harman ($7,800 DraftKings)
As you can see theres a pretty distinct theme this week of selecting players that are not the longest off the tee, but are extremely accurate and play well on shorter tracks. Harman is another one that fits that mold, as he’s posted four top-20s in nine career starts here. Harman’s also coming off a really strong 2020 season and he should keep the momentum going this week at a course he’s had plenty of success at in the past.
His rolling stats are pretty strong as well as he sits 33rd in SG: Tee-to-Green, 27th on approach and 21st in overall strokes gained over his past 16 rounds in this field. We’re likely to see another made cut from Harman, and at just $7,800 on DraftKings he makes for a really strong value play.
Brian Stuard ($6,900 DraftKings)
Another shorter course specialist, Stuard has four top-10s in his past seven starts at Waialae. He’s always a stronger fit on par-70 tracks as his best weapon is his accuracy. He sits a very respectable 27th in SG: Approach over his past 16 rounds in this field and his bargain bin price of just $6,900 on DraftKings makes him a really strong punt play in all formats.
Harris English ($10,800 DraftKings)
English might be the most locked in player on TOUR at the moment. He posted his first win in seven years last week at the TOC and has three consecutive top-six finishes dating back to the RSM Classic. He’s played this course a bunch over the years and has three top 10’s in that timeframe, so we’re certainly not short on course history either. English is locked in both off the tee and with his putter right now and it would be a big mistake to fade him just because he won last week. I prefer Simpson in a vacuum for just $300 more, but English is probably the best GPP play on the board.