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2021 Sony Open Sleepers and Longshot Picks

Chris Amberley

by Chris Amberley in Golf

Jan 13, 2021 · 6:01 AM PST

Sony Open
Zach Johnson waves his ball after making a birdie putt on the 18th green during the final round of the RSM Classic golf tournament, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, in St. Simons Island, Ga. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
  • The PGA Tour’s Hawaii swing continues with the Sony Open on Thursday, January 14thΒ 
  • Former champ Zach Johnson ended 2020 with three top-8 finishes in his final eight starts
  • Read below for analysis of the event and our favorite sleepers and longshot plays

The PGA Tour remains in Hawaii this week, moving over to Waialae Country Club for the Sony Open. 29 of last week’s 42 players who competed in the Sentry Tournament of Champions have made the trip, which makes this the strongest Sony Open field since the mid 2000’s.

The list of participants includes a plethora of former champions, and one of our favorite longshot bets this week falls into that category.

2021 Sony Open Odds

Golfer Odds to Win Top-10 Odds Top-20 Odds
Zach Johnson +4500 +400 +200
Keegan Bradley +8000 +550 +250
Tom Hoge +11000 +900 +400

Odds taken Jan. 12th at DraftKings

ZJ Checking All the Boxes

A few important factors to consider every week, but at the Sony Open especially, are accuracy off the tee, approach play and putting. Our man Zach Johnson comes in hot in all three of those categories, and ended the 2020 calendar year playing his best golf in quite some time.

Zach Johnson’s Last 8 Starts

Event Finish
RSM 6th
Masters 51st
Houston Open 50th
Shriners 19th
Sanderson Farms 23rd
U.S. Open 8th
Northern Trust 49th
Wyndham 7th

He racked up three top-8 finishes in his final eight events, and played very well at some much longer courses that typically don’t suit his game. Now we get him on a short Par-70 track, where accuracy and putting are at a premium. It’s all signals go.

Over the last 50 rounds, ZJ ranks third in strokes gained putting and good drives (a blend of strokes gained off the tee and fairways hit), eighth in Par-4 scoring and 18th in strokes gained approach in this field. In addition to his win here in 2009, he has five additional top-15 finishes, three of which are top-9 or better.

Pick: Zach Johnson to Win Outright (+4500)

Bradley the Ball Striking Star

If you like ball strikers, i.e. guys who gain a ton of strokes off the tee and on approach, look no further than Keegan Bradley. If putting wasn’t involved, he might win every week. Ok, that may be a bit of a stretch but check out his strokes gained numbers from his past five measured events.

Keegan Bradley Strokes Gained Data – Last 5 Measured Starts

Event T2G OTT APP P
RSM 7.3 3 4 -4.6
Houston Open 2.3 0.9 3.6 -3.7
CJ Cup 3 0 3.9 -2.7
Shriners 3.1 0.4 2.3 -3.9
Sanderson Farms 7.9 3.1 2.5 3

Not too many players on Tour can rival those ball striking numbers, but also notice the abysmal putting stats. He lost strokes on the green in four of those five tournaments, but the one event where he was positive on the greens (Sanderson Farms) he finished 4th.

Putting of course is incredibly volatile, but if his flat stick shows up this week look out. It also doesn’t hurt that he has a decent track record at Waialae, which suggests he may feel more comfortable on these greens than at other venues. He’s 6-for-8 in made cuts here, with a pair of top-13 finishes. With how well he struck the ball to close out 2020, I like taking a shot at him to crack the top-10 this week.

Pick: Keegan Bradley Top-10 Finish (+550)

Going Hollywood

Last but not least, is Tom Hoge. “Hollywood” Hoge, as he’s affectionately known around the fantasy golf circles, has finished 12th and 3rd here over the past three years, and finished 3rd at the OHL in his previous start.

He’s actually finished inside the top-19 in each of his last two events, gaining 10.1 total strokes at the OHL and 5.9 at the RSM. He’s missed just one cut in his last 11 starts, gaining strokes on approach in every one of those tournaments that supply strokes gained data.

Pick: Tom Hoge T-20 Finish (+400)

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