Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: Sony Open in Hawaii

The PGA Tour tees up its first full event of the season at the Sony Open in Hawaii. What can you expect from Waialae Country Club?

The PGA Tour stays in Hawaii this week for the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club, the first full field event of 2019.

Waialae is a 7,044-yard par 70 track, a stark contrast to the wide open bombers' paradise several of this week's contestants enjoyed this past weekend at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. While the Plantation Course at Kapalua featured some of the widest fairways on Tour, this course rewards accuracy off the tee and features far fewer birdie and eagle opportunities. Like Kapalua, Waialae is on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, but the early forecast looks clear of any gusty conditions.

Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.

Course and Tournament Info

Course: Waialae Country Club
Par: 70
Distance: 7,044
Tees/Fairways/Rough: Bermudagrass
Greens: Bermudagrass

SeasonParYardageAverage ScoreAvg O/U ParRank

Waialae offers some Hawaiian hospitality to those it favors, with the winning score at or better than 20-under par in three straight seasons before tightening up last year to just minus-17. The greens are slow Bermudagrass that even the duds can manage, and the rough is not a threat so most of the big hitters will fire at will. Golfers will be aggressive and it usually makes for some very entertaining golf.

Key Stats

These stats have proven vital to success at the Sony Open in Hawaii.

Key Stats for the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae CC
Strokes Gained: Approach
GIRs Gained
Birdies or Better Gained
Strokes Gained: Par 4s

Strokes gained: approach stands out even more than normal this week. Driving accuracy is among the worst of the season, at just 51.9% compared to a Tour average of 61.3% according to Fantasy National Golf Club. That Waialae still rates out as one of the 10-15 best scoring environments of the season highlights how important the approach and putting will be. Putting can factor in every week, but even poor putters have had success on these slow greens, so it doesn't pay to give putting much additional weight.

Greens in regulation gained is the cousin of strokes gained: approach but worth looking at separately as they can sometimes offer a different look at a golfer's game. For example, Keegan Bradley is first in the field in strokes gained: approach over his last 50 rounds but just 48th in greens in regulation gained, per Fantasy National.

Birdies are a must here, with particular emphasis on birdie rate on par 5s. The two par 5s at Waialae (the 9th and 18th holes) each boast a birdie percentage of more than 50%. Strokes gained on par 5s can factor in, but on a course where most golfers are birdieing the par 5s anyway, finding golfers who make up strokes on par 4s is a key to gaining ground on the field.

Course History Studs

Jimmy Walker has missed the cut twice in a row, but he still has positive vibes here with a T13 in 2016 and back-to-back wins in 2015 and 2014.

Gary Woodland has finished 13th or better in each of the past four years at the Sony. Woodland is made for any course where he can uncork it off the tee without fear of being penalized for wayward drives and where poor putters have a shot on the greens. Waialae checks both of those boxes.

Justin Thomas won this event in 2017 while on an all time hot streak, but he has other historical success here as well, including T14 in 2018 and T6 in 2015. He did miss the cut in 2016, but Thomas is a world class player in a field that type of talent is in short supply.

Zach Johnson has four finishes of T14 or better over the last five years.

Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.