Mike Glasscott

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The Gathering Place

Tuesday, January 07, 2014


 

Sony Open

Waialae Country Club

Honolulu, Hawaii

 

Waialae Country Club

 

Yards: 7,044

Par: 70 (35-35)

Greens: Bermudagrass (6,500 square feet on average)

Rough: Bermudagrass at 2.5”

Stimpmeter: 11’

Bunkers: 78

Water Hazards: 4

Course Architect: Seth Raynor (1927)

Purse: $5,600,000

Winner’s Share: $1,008,000

FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner

Defending Champion: Rookie Russell Henley smoked the field by firing a tournament record 256 as he defeated Tim Clark by three shots. There was no wind in 2013 hence the scores being so low.

Dates:  January 9-12

Format: The first full-field tournament of 2013 that will feature stroke play for 72 holes with the top 70 and ties advancing to the weekend.

Notes: The course is inverted for TOUR play and was completely renovated for play in 1999. Any historical data from last century is probably not necessary. Only two par fives on this par 70 layout. Heck, the official website doesn’t have any winners listed before 1999.

 

 

History Lessons

 

After winning the first six tournaments of 2013-14, the American contingent rolls on as Zach Johnson makes it seven-for-seven. He adds his name to Jimmy Walker, Webb Simpson, Chris Kirk, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson and Harris English as the race for Ryder Cup points heats up stateside. Johnson is a no-brainer from this list.

 

After racking up 12 first-time winners in 2013, only Jimmy Walker has broken his maiden in the first seven events of 2013-14. Don’t worry; there are still 38 more to go!

 

The Young Guns are led by Johnson, 29, who has more wins than anyone under 30 on TOUR, Simpson, 28, Kirk, 28 and English 24. The Prime Timers have Jimmy Walker, 34, Ryan Moore, 30, and Zach Johnson, 37, waving their flag. The Old Folks, the 40-and-over crew, are waiting for their first trip to the winner’s circle this season.

 

Pay Attention: It’s FREE

 

Russell Henley taught gamers a very important lesson last year. Tim Clark and Charles Howell III reinforced another. Henley, fresh off the Web.com Tour, destroyed a wind-free Waialea as he fired 24-under-par 256. He fired three rounds of 63 and made five consecutive birdies to secure his first TOUR win. He was the first player in his 20s to win since Paul Stankowski in 1997 and was the first player to win in his first on Oahu since Jerry Kelly in 2002. He also joined Bruce Lietzke (1977) as the only other first-time winner. Those are some pretty strong trends that were trampled last year because of one important factor: there wasn’t any wind. He was also one of the few (nine of the last 15) not to play the previous week at Kapalua in the winner’s only tournament.  As for Clark and Howell III, they reminded gamers that horses-for courses can be a very powerful tool when assembling your line ups for the multiple formats we all play.

 

If you have any ideas about back-to-back champs, Ernie Els is the only player to win the HTOC and the Sony Open in the same season. Ernie Els is also the only player to defend his Sony Open title since the course was renovated in 1999. Els is not in the field this week.

 

Past Champions in the Field with Winning Score in Parentheses

 

2002: Jerry Kelly (266)

2005: Vijay Singh (269)

2007: Paul Goydos (266)

2008: K.J. Choi (266)

2009: Zach Johnson (265)

2010: Ryan Palmer (265)

2011: Mark Wilson (264)

2012: Johnson Wagner (267)

2013: Russell Henley (256)

 

Hawaiian Double Duty

These are the players who teed it up last week on Maui:

 

Zach Johnson (WIN)

Jordan Spieth (2nd)

Jason Dufner (5th)

Matt Kuchar (T6)

Adam Scott (T6)

Harris English (T11)

Woody Austin (T13)

Brian Gay (T13)

Ken Duke (T16)

Chris Kirk (T16)

Michael Thompson (T16)

Sang-Moon Bae (T21)

Jimmy Walker (T21)

Scott Brown (T24)

Boo Weekley (26th)

Russell Henley (27th)

D.A. Points (T28)

Derek Ernst (30th)

 

 

Inside the Ropes

 

In 1927, Seth Raynor was commissioned to design a track to attract tourists to Honolulu and he responded with a design that featured some holes from the greatest courses in the world. The Hawaiian Open made its debut in 1965 and has been played at Waialae ever since. Dog-legged fairways that move right-to-left and left-to-right keep the players on their toes from the tee box. The rough, around 2.5 inches of Bermudagrass, will keep the players attention but it will be the greens where the tournament is won and lost. For example, CH III was T66 in fairways last year but was T8 in GIR so the rough off the fairway isn’t as penal as we think. The greens at Waialae are over 6,500 square feet and have plenty of undulation that will test even the strongest of putters. Keeping the ball on the proper part of the green will reward those accurate with iron play and those who don’t hit GIR must be able to get up-and-down to keep bogeys off the card.

 

All of that said, the average winning score since 1999 is around 15-under par so there will be chances to make birdies. Both the five pars are gettable and if the wind cooperates, multiple chances for birdie are out there. Johnson Wagner, in 2012, didn’t make a bogey on the back nine en route to his victory; Russell Henley, granted there wasn’t any wind, made only two bogeys on the WEEK last year. Waialae annually ranks in the easier half of the courses played on TOUR but it has produced quality winners over the years. Experience on the undulating greens and having patience with the trade winds are qualities that I’m looking for this week. Seth Raynor also designed The Old White Course at Greenbrier so players get a couple chances a year to navigate his work.


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Fantasy Golf columnist Mike Glasscott joined Rotoworld in 2012. He can be contacted via email at RotoworldGlass@gmail.com or on Twitter.
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