After our close call last week with Collin Morikawa, who played in the penultimate pairing Sunday and entered the final round trailing by one shot, it's time to turn the page to the Sony Open.
The second leg of the PGA Tour's Hawaii swing will take place at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. It features a full 144-man field with a traditional cut following Round 2.
2020: Cameron Smith (-11) in a playoff over Brendan Steele
2019: Matt Kuchar (-22) over Andrew Putnam
2018: Patton Kizzire (-17) in a playoff over James Hahn
2017: Justin Thomas (-27) over Justin Rose
2016: Fabian Gomez (-20) in a playoff over Brandt Snedeker
2015: Jimmy Walker (-23) over Scott Piercy
2014: Jimmy Walker (-17) over Chris Kirk
2013: Russell Henley (-24) over Tim Clark
Seven of the past nine Sony Open winners played in the Tournament of Champions the week prior.
The group of favorites this week is really strong, based on reasonable odds and their ability to win at a course like Waialae.
Simpson - the favorite at +1100 - historically dominates short par-70 courses on Bermuda grass. His history at the RBC Heritage proves that, as do his two top-five finishes in his last three appearances at the Sony Open.
Morikawa was in contention at Waialae last year and is coming off of a strong showing at the Tournament of Champions. Harris English won last week and also has a win at Mayakoba in his career, which is a comparable venue.
However, from the favorites, you'd be safe taking both Sungjae Im and Daniel Berger and going on your way. These two ranked inside the top 10 in strokes gained: tee to green in Maui last week and tend to do their best work on Bermuda grass.
Abraham Ancer pops as a player who could easily claim his first PGA Tour title this week. He didn't get off to a great start in Maui but finished with a final-round 66 where he gained 3.3 strokes through approach shots. Look for him to carry that momentum to Honolulu.
Joaquin Niemann is very fairly priced at +2800 after his tough playoff loss to English. The same goes for defending champion Cameron Smith and Kevin Kisner, who has three top-fives in his last five trips to Honolulu.
With that said, Russell Henley at +3500 is the one player from this range who offers a ton of value. More on the former Georgia Bulldog in a bit.
The Sony Open is an excellent week for long shots considering the course tends to level the playing field a bit and there's not a ton of top-tier players scooping up all of the win equity.
Here are a few to consider:
Sebastian Munoz (+6500): The Colombian had a sneaky-good week at the Tournament of Champions and tied for 10th at the 2019 Sony Open.
Marc Leishman (+7000): He's never missed the cut at the Sony Open dating back to 2009 and has four top-12 finishes over that span. Leishman was 10th in strokes gained: tee to green in Maui last week thanks to strong iron play. If his putter heats up, look out.
Russell Knox (+9000): The Scot made some noise during the fall season as it appears he has regained some of his elite ball-striking form. He finished inside the top 15 in three of his previous six starts at Waialae and has a number of quality results at Mayakoba during his career.
Sungjae Im (+1600)
Im led the Tournament in Champions in strokes gained: tee to green while losing 3.2 shots on the greens en route to a tied-for-fifth showing. Historically, he's very good with the flatstick on Bermuda grass and gained over 2.5 strokes putting in his two previous appearances at the Sony Open, placing inside the top 25 both times.
If you project his putter to rebound at Waialae and for him to continue hitting the ball as he did in Maui, the 22-year-old is in for a big week and definitely worth consideration at +1600.
Russell Henley (+3500)
The knock against Henley this week is that he didn't play in the Tournament of Champions. However, Smith proved last year that competing in the year's opening event isn't a prerequisite to winning in Honolulu.
The case for Henley is that he's a former Sony Open winner who was playing very well at the tail end of 2020. He ranks first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green over the past 50 rounds and finished inside the top 10 four times in his previous 10 starts. Bermuda grass is also his preferred putting surface, helping him gain nearly 0.4 strokes on average per event.
Sebastian Munoz (+6500)
Munoz stumbled out of the gate last week with a 75 but fired 66-67-68 to climb inside the top 20. His final three rounds all ranked inside the top 10 in terms of strokes gained: total, so his end result appears much worse than he actually played for the majority of the week.
Additionally, Munoz came 10th at Waialae in 2019, indicating his game suits the course. Like the other two picks, he's a much better putter on Bermuda grass than other surfaces, and if he continues to play as well as he did to finish the week in Maui, Munoz is a no-brainer selection at +6500.