Tournament: Sony Open, January 14-17
Course: Waialae Country Club, 7,044 yards, par 70.
Defending Champion: Jimmy Walker, seeking his third consecutive Sony Open trophy.
Television: Thursday-Saturday, 7-10:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Sunday, 6-10 p.m. (GC).
Fun Fact: This is the course, and the tournament, where Michelle Wie missed the cut by a single stroke. As a 15 year old.
Former 'Dawgs in the Field: (Eight) Erik Compton, Harris English, Brian Harman, Russell Henley (2013 champion), Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Hudson Swafford, Brendon Todd
Speaking of 2013 champion Henley, here is video of his final hole. It was his first start on the PGA Tour, and he finished it in grand fashion, breaking the tournament scoring record by 4 shots.
The PGA Tour stays on the Hawaiian Islands this week, but moves to the big island near Honolulu. The Sony Open has cemented its place on the schedule by being in a warm locale in January, and right after the nearby Tournament of Champions. This is the 51st year the course has hosted a PGA event. And while you think attracting pros to Hawaii wouldn't be a hard thing, the jet lag is sometimes not worth it for multi-millionaires who can wait a week and play in the desert or southern California. So no Spieth, Day, McIlroy, or Bubba - you'll likely not see them again for a few weeks, probably at Pebble Beach or Phoenix. Adam Scott, world #11, is actually the highest ranked player in the field. But they do attract a full field, and it's pretty solid.
Not only is the field different than last week, but so is the course. Whereas Kapalua is built into the side of a mountain and has huge elevation changes, Waialae is shorter, tighter, and is completely surrounded by
tourist traps civilization. And by tight, there isn't thick tree lines along each fairway, but the trees are well placed and certainly get in the way. So ball-striking is key, thus why Russell Henley and Jimmy Walker have succeeded here recently.
We have a full complement of UGA golfing alumni in attendance, and this will be the first time this many have been entered since the first round of the FedEx playoffs last September. Erik Compton has fallen to 226th in the world - only one top 10 last season and only $700k in winnings pushed him down the ranks. He'll need to play well early and often to keep his Tour card. Harris English is 103rd in the world, but mostly because other players passed him rather than poor play. He can easily get back into the top 70 with some strong showings. Brian Harman is just ahead at 101st in the world and is in the same situation. Russell Henley is 66th in the world, and though winless last year, had a very steady campaign.
Chris Kirk is 49th in the world, won a tourney last year, and is looking to play well now that his broken hand is healed. After last week, Kevin Kisner climbed one spot to 16th in the world, and is still #1 in FedEx points thanks to his victory in November on St. Simons. Hudson Swafford fell to 269th in the world. He only made 18 of 30 cuts, and had 6 top 25s of those 18 with a single top 10. Brendon Todd is 89th in the world - though winless in 2015, he made 21 of 27 cuts and had 4 top 10s. That equates to $1.8M.
There will be (literally) Pacific vistas, plenty of typical Hawaiian culture on display, and some pretty good golf. So tune in and root on your favorite, and leave any questions in the comments below.
and GO 'DAWGS!!!!