Tournament: The Sony Open, January 12-15, 2017
Course: Waialae Country Club, 7,044 yards, par 70
Purse: $6,000,000 (I see you 05movingalum)
Defending Champion: Fabian Gomez. He forced a come-from-behind playoff with Brandt Snedeker on the final day, and won in sudden death. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Fun Fact: This course has been in continuous use since 1952, which makes it the 3rd oldest course (in continuous use) on the PGA Tour. The course itself opened in 1927 as part of a hotel resort, and it is slap in Waikiki. Though the course doesn’t sit on the ocean, the ocean is visible from many of the hole as is Waikiki Beach.
Television: Thursday-Saturday, 7-10:30 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Sunday, 6-10 p.m.(GC).
Former 'Dawgs in the Field (Six): Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Russell Henley, Harris English, Brian Harman, Hudson Swafford.
A quick note on last week’s SBS Tournament of Champions (winner’s only tourney, a preview here). Bubba shot a consistent but boring 72-72-71-71, good for T25 and $70k. As if Alabama didn’t have enough going for it, program alum and young Tour flat-belly Justin Thomas took the crown for his 2nd Tour win. He’s no Trent Richardson, he’s more Amari Cooper.
This week the Tour moves south, only by hopping some islands down to the Big Island of Hawaii and Waikiki Beach. This is one of the oldies but goodies. If you can imagine golfers swilling whiskey in plaid pants with those crazy little golf hats (see: Al Czervik/Judge Smails – “But it looks good on you”), then that’s what this tourney conjures up.
The thing is, it’s in Hawaii. In mid-January. So the field will be a mix of the following:
1) Tour newbies who will play anything in order to try to tally enough points/earnings to secure their Tour card for next season.
2) Former tournament champions of all flavors, such as recent winners Russell Henley, Brandt Snedeker, Jimmy Walker, and older champs like Fred Funk, Vijay Singh, and Jerry Kelley (who are all over 50).
3) Sponsor’s exemptions including guys from the relatively-nearby Asian and Japan Tours (I said relatively nearby).
4) Established Tour pros who have kids young enough to not be in school, or old enough to be out of school thus the parents come to Hawaii for a winter vacation.
5) Pros who want to go to the trouble to travel and are looking to get into top 100 or top 50, knowing that most of the world’s top 30 are not present, and thus they have a greater chance to make a move. Most of our boys fall in these last two categories.
But we do have a past champion in Russell Henley, and Harris English has made all five cuts in his experience at this tournament. In fact, he’s had two top 5 finishes the past two years. And to top that off, he’s returned to playing PING clubs after a 3 year stint with Callaway. His 2 career Tour wins were with PING, and he joins fellow Bulldog Bubba Watson on repping the quirky boys from Arizona.
The college football be over, so unless you really like the NFL or NBC’s ice skating coverage, flip it on over to Golf Channel and let’s root on our boys as they take on golf in Pineapple Country (I don’t think they really call it that. But maybe they should).
And as always….