Last week I spent more time covering the weather in Hawaii then the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. It was a frustrating weekend for the PGA Tour, the fans, and the players minus Dustin Johnson (who I predicted would win a rain shortened event)
This week the Tour season really kicks off with a full field and winners and non-winners at the Sony Open. Welcome to the fold rookies; your post-graduate work begins this weekend. The tournament is held at the Waialae Country Club on the island of Oahu. The course plays to a par of 70 at 7,068 yards.
This is a course that requires the players to show a little restraint and not just fire away. Although not the tightest tour stop, players cannot take a no holds bar approach with them to the first tee.
Dustin Johnson, off the heels of a win at the Tournament of Champions, is the favorite this week but there is a full field looking to take home the title. The field is littered with past winners like defending champion Johnson Wagner, Zach Johnson, K.J. Choi, Ryan Palmer and Vijay Singh.
Can Johnson go back-to-back to start the season? He definitely has the game to do it and this writer believes Johnson is destined to win three to five tournaments this year including possibly his first major (which I will address in a couple of months). It would behoove Johnson to leave the driver in the bag a few times this week to avoid some errant tee shots that could have cost him last week. I expect that he will do just that as he is long enough without driver. I believe Johnson is destined for a top-10 this week but not the victory, which is still a great start to the season.
There are a couple of players I like more this week. Zach Johnson is one. He has won here before in 2009. He is not the longest hitter on tour but Waialae doesn’t require the player to be. He excels on shorter tracks and was 14th on tour in fairways hit last year. I know he did not play great last week but I am willing to give a pass to almost the whole field given the circumstances.
Keegan Bradley is another that has a good chance at the Sony. He played fairly well, in horrible conditions, last week and led the PGA Tour in all-around last year. He is up and coming and finished in the top-15 here last year.
And Davis Love is from the clouds! Okay maybe not but as a long shot I think there is a shot here. he is coming off a poor showing as Ryder Cup Captain last year, which distracted him all year preparing for the battle with Europe. Now he seems rejuvenated and ready to focus on his game. In 13 starts at the Sony Open Davis Love has seven top-10’s. I would not rule him out.
This week I can see Zach Johnson coming out on top with Bradley and Johnson finishing in the top-10 or possibly top-5. Don’t sleep on Davis Love.
Tournament of Champions
Prediction: Dustin Johnson
Winner: Dustin Johnson