Marc Leishman, of Australia
Marc Leishman, of Australia, hits out of the 12th bunker during the third round of the Tournament of Champions golf event, Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022, at Kapalua Plantation Course in Kapalua, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PGA TOUR: SONY OPEN IN HAWAII BEST BETS

Matt Lively

Cam Smith deserves whatever beach drink he wants after his record-breaking weekend at Kapalua in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. I’m okay with him putting in a few umbrellas if he’d like after shooting 34-under par, a new record in any PGA event.

The effects of that drink can’t last long as Smith and the rest of the field get ready for a back-to-back event weekend in Hawaii with the Sony Championship at the beautiful Waialae Country Club.

Oddsmakers have tabbed the 28-year-old Australian as the favorite this weekend, entering at +900. Smith has never missed a 36-hole cut at Sony and won the event back in 2020. In his six trips, he has failed to place higher than a T-18 outside of his win.

The field is more limited than last week. Prominent names such as Collin Morikawa, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, Bryson DeChambeau, and Brooks Koepka aren’t competing in Hawaii this week. The door could be open for Smith to continue his dominance.

+900 is incredible value for a guy coming off the greatest weekend of his life, but there are certainly other bets to look into. Winners in five of the last six years reached at least 20-under to pick up the win and Waialae certainly isn’t at the top of the toughest courses on the tour. With a much shorter course being in play, aim for accurate pin seekers and clutch putters.

To Win

Marc Leishman: +2000
How about back-to-back Aussies winning to begin 2022? Leishman is a great candidate with great odds to take home a win this weekend. Leishman played well at Sentry, placing T-10. That’s a good sign as seven of the last eight winners at Sony participated the week before in the TOC.

Leishman has mentioned that Hawaii golf is similar to Australian golf and his numbers show. He’s never missed a cut and has finished third, fourth, and fifth to go along with seven top-25 finishes at this course. Big bettors have moved this line down from +3000 to +2000 in a short amount of time.

To Finish Top-10

Webb Simpson: +160
Simpson is an incredibly safe bet this weekend with a depleted field and a guy who might move to Hawaii permanently if he has another great finish at Sony. Simpson is a sucker for Waialae, finishing top-10 in eight of his 11 trips to the course. Some guys can hang with the vibe of laid-back play and others cannot. Simpson fits into that first category. In his last three trips, he’s finished third and T-4 twice. I love hunting for plus-money any shot I can and this is one of the more attractive bets of the weekend for me.

Kevin Kisner
Kisner is already on top of the world as his Georgia Bulldogs won the National Championship on Monday. The tour vet could make it an even better week with a win or a top-10 finish. Kisner has had some nice finishes at this tournament, placing in the top-five in three of his last six trips. Kisner is coming off a T-8 finish at Sentry and looks dialed in. He hit 80 percent of greens in regulation and gained 1.347 strokes while putting.

To Miss Cut

Keegan Bradley: +114
I’ll throw a little pizza money on this pick here as Bradley isn’t playing his best golf. He didn’t play at Sentry thanks to no wins in 2021. His last victory came back in 2018. In his last five starts, he’s missed two cuts. At this tournament, things aren’t much better, he has missed the cut in three of the last six years. The three times he made the cut, he finished 39, 29, and 12. Before those six tries, he did qualify another three but placed 68, 13, and 49.

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