Golf pundit Jason Daniels is here to give his best bets on the Sony Open.
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Corey Conners E/W21/1
K.H Lee E/W30/1
Greyson Sigg E/W75/1
Greyson Sigg - Top 2010/3
After the limited field of elite players at the Tournament of Champions, The PGA Tour makes the brief journey to Waialae, where a full field awaits the starter.
As opposed to the wide fairways and huge greens of the long Kapalua, the Sony Open asks for a more measured approach, with accurate driving and pin-point irons the required assets for this 7000-odd yard test.
Whilst we have over 100 more players here this week, the list of winners suggests that a run-out at last week’s event is an advantage, with only two of the last 11 champions devoid of form at the previous week’s jamboree.
That should narrow the field down somewhat but, in Cam Smith and Russell Henley, we have one that was to be a future major winner, the other a victor at Mayakoba, a weird but significant form link with fellow winners of both events Matt Kuchar, Patton Kizzire, and Johnson Wagner.
The top of the market sees the superstar that is Tom Kim rank clear favourite at 11/1. The brilliant 20-year-old is having the time of his life on tour, flying at the Presidents Cup, having Christmas dinner with the Spieths, and now heads the market of a full-field PGA Tour after just 10 or so outings.
Everything about him is simply top grade. His iron play is as good as anyone seen in the last couple of years, he arrives off a 5th place at ‘unsuitable’ Kapalua and it’s hard to see him knocked out of the frame at worst. It makes obvious sense to have him as a saver if that’s your way of playing.
Instead, I’m taking a chance with Corey Conners to reward loyal backers with his first win since the Texas Open in 2019.
The Canadian 31-year-old finds greens for fun, ranking 12th and 13th for tee-to-green through the past two seasons. Of course, it’s his short game that lets him down, but has some of his best putting figures on these greens, as well as finishing 4th and 12th at the coastal Bermuda surfaces of Harbour Town, and recording high finishes at Bay Hill and Sawgrass.
Top-20 finishes in Mexico and at Muirfield provide the correlations, whilst three improving top-10s at Augusta confirm he has the class.
The last few winners had experience of this tight circuit before their wins, and with a course average of 67 and finishes of of 11/12/3/39, Conners follows a similar pattern to Matt Kuchar, Cam Smith and last year’s champion Hideki Matsuyama.
With the first selection taking away any temptation to be with recent Mayakoba winner Russell Henley, back him up with K.H Lee, a player that has very few weaknesses, something required around a track with heightened rough that will force a smart short game at times this week.
The Korean had a stellar 2021 on tour, proving far hardier than Jordan Spieth and Xander Schauffele when running up to Brooks Koepka at the Phoenix Open before winning the first of his back-to-back Byron Nelson championships. Of note is that close behind, even if beaten, were Patton Kizzire, Ryan Palmer and Matsuyama, all past winners of this week’s event.
Recent performances suggest the 31-year-old is still at the top of his game, and worthy of his ranking inside the top-40 of the world.
20th and fifth at the first two FedEx play-off events, he ended his year with a third place finish at the high-class CJ Cup before finishing seventh last week at the ToC, again displaying his excellent skills on and around the TiffEagle Bermuda greens.
There are plenty of flakey players ahead of him in the market, and KJ probably deserves to be ranked closer to them, given his win record. If it got a tad windy over the weekend, expect to see him launch up the board as he did in Scottsdale. He ranks the best of the three bets this week.
All four of this year’s players to follow turn up this week, but with all making their debuts on the course and for their first outings of the year, a ‘watch’ is very much the order of the day.
Instead, I am in again with one of last year’s ‘follows’ in Greyson Sigg, winner of ‘Rookie of the Year’ on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020/21.
Another from the production line of quality Georgia Bulldogs graduates, the 27-year-old highlighted his early career with a closing 59 on the Mackenzie Tour, before a memorable couple of years on the KFT resulted in running-up at the Tour Championship, recording eight top 10 finishes and two victories. At the Knoxville Open, Sigg shot 61 in the opening round, whilst his second victory, in Idaho, came courtesy of three rounds of 65, consistency at its best, beating J.J Spaun, Aaron Rai and Mattias Schwab, all with similar games that match a test such as this.
He’s taken his time to find his feet at the top level but since October has finished 9th at Jackson, 11th at the Bermuda (sixth after three rounds), and 16th at the RSM, fighting back after a third round had dropped him from inside the leading 20 to outside the top 40. In between, the 42nd at Mayakoba looks poor on face value, but he was well inside the top ten after 54 holes.
All three late 2022 efforts rank amongst his best 15 results of his career, so it’s safe to assume Sigg is getting there and displaying the promise of his early days.
Although not long off the tee, Sigg is one of the straighter hitters on tour, surely an advantage at Waialae. With a four-round sighter here in 2021, and with three of his most recent results coming on Bermuda greens, he can give us a run at a decent price.