Horses for Courses
Based on their play over time on this course and the history of previous winners, these players deserve a thorough look this week.
Brian Gay: He’ll be teeing it up here for the 14 time in the last 15 years. He’s made 11 consecutive cuts after MC in his first two appearances. In those 11 years where he’s made the cut, Gay has finished in the top 25 six times including the last four years running. His last four years have seen Gay finish T5, T25, T13 and T6 last year. His streak would have been even better if it wasn’t for final rounds of 74 in 2007 (T54) and 75 in 2008 (T40). Gay has three career victories and fits the “past champions” profile.
Jerry Kelly: The 2002 champion has played in 15 of these so 2013 will be sweet 16. None have been sweeter than his 2002 title, his first on TOUR, but he’s had plenty of close calls over the years. He has six top 10s and four of those are top 5s. He’s only MC twice (1996, 2005) and in his last 24 rounds here, he’s been over par TWICE (not including WD in 2010). Fill up those saddlebags and giddy up!
Chad Campbell: He’s nine out of 10 at Waialae and has played in every event except the 2009 edition. His streak of T13 or better was broken up last year by MDF T71. In his 37 rounds here, he’s broken par in 20 of them. Campbell made six of his last 12 cuts of 2012 and was T3, T4 and T7 in three of them after a slooooooooooooooooooooooow start to 2013. This course should help get him started this season.
Mark Wilson: He’s playing in his sixth straight Sony Open and in that stretch Wilson has won in 2011 and was T20 in 2010 and T25 in 2008. He MC last year and in 2009. Fantasy gurus will know that this is the time of year to place your faith in Mark Wilson. His last three victories have been the Sony Open, the Humana Challenge and the Waste Management Phoenix Open. In his victory here in 2011, he didn’t make a bogey on his final 36 holes. He’ll be hoping to find that form again this week after a very quiet close to 2012.
Rory Sabbatini: When you look at his record here, you’ll wonder why he’s not in the top 10. When you look at how he finished 2012, you’ll understand why. After finishing June with T2 at the Memorial and T18 at the Travelers, Sabbatini made the cut in three of his last 12 starts (one WD). His record at Waialae is amazing so he can’t be completely dismissed this week. In six starts, Sabbatini has finished second (2001), 25th (2004), T13 (2007), 17th (2008), second (2010) and T9 last year. That’s quite impressive.
Davis Love III: The 2012 Ryder Cup captain is back to his playing ways with the weight of the golfing world off his shoulders. Hawaii is a great place to recharge the batteries and the golf game and DL3 should be excited and ready to go. He’s made 10 of 13 cuts here. In his last four years, he was MC, T5, T9 and MC last year. He has seven top 10s here in those 13 starts. Captain!
I had to dig a little for these guys but they have enough game to come from off the pace and surprise this week.
Steve Marino: His 2012 was ruined by a knee issue that never could heal properly but he’s back to kick off 2013 in a place where he’s been awfully good over the last few years. If he knee is healthy (I said the same thing last year and it still holds), he’s worth a shot in deep fields because he has finishes of T4, T7, and T2 in three of the last five trips to Hawaii. Last year he MC with 74-69.
Marc Leishman: The Aussie secured his first TOUR win with a victory at the Travelers but the 10 events after that win, Leishman’s best finish was T18 in November. In three events here he’s finished T12 (2009), T20 (2010) and T27 in 2011. He fits winner profile and is playing at Kapalua.
John Rollins: He made half of his money in the first four events of 2012 so Rollins will be looking to the trade winds again to get off to a good start. In his last two appearances here he’s finished T8 (2010) and T10 last year after closing with a final round 64.
George McNeill: In five starts since 2007, McNeill has quietly finished T13, T17, T7, MC and T19 last year. His last top 25 in 2012 was at the Wells Fargo Championship in May so his form hasn’t been great but it’s impossible to argue his record here.
Vijay Singh: The 2005 champion is 15 for 15 at Waialae. He’s made 12 cuts in a row on TOUR. He’s 49 for one more month…
Graham de Laet: He finished T25 in 2010 and T29 last year. In 2012 he led the field in GIR, he was T2 in driving accuracy and T18 in putting. Three doubles on top of seven bogeys didn’t help but it’s obvious he’s close.
Excuse Me Sir, Where’s the First Tee and What’s the Course Record?
“Rookie Watch” If any of them are going to make noise, I would suggest these few.
Luke Guthrie: His first three starts on TOUR last summer saw him finish T19, T5 and T18. His fourth event was in October at the Frys.com where he MC. He played 10 events on the Web.com Tour where he made eight cuts, including a third, a second and two firsts. Oh, and he hit the top 10 in seven of those eight events. He can really putt!
Russell Henley: He also had seven top 10s including two wins on the Web.com Tour last year but in 26 events. His last four events were P1, third, P1 and T6. Excellent ball -striker.
Morgan Hoffmann: In 13 events on the Web.com Tour he made 12 cuts with seven top 10s that included a second and a third. In his last six events of 2012, his worst finish was T30; the other five were T9 or better. Another big putter.