Course records and some ridiculously low scoring defined the first tournament of 2022 as Cameron Smith claimed the Sentry Tournament of Champions. In a thrilling finish to the final day, the Australian needed an aggregate of -34 to edge out Jon Rahm by just one shot.
The pattern of play could set the tone for the new year as the PGA Tour moves on to the Sony Open 2022. The Waialae Country Club in Honolulu provides the spectacular scenery and let’s see if we can pick out some winners with our predictions and picks for this Sony Open preview.
Following his stunning win in the Sentry Tournament of Champions, Australia’s Cameron Smith heads up the market for this week’s Sony Open. The form is clearly there and he’s also a former champion of this event. The Man with the Mullet edged out Brendan Steele in a playoff two years ago and he is available at 11/1 for a repeat performance in 2022.
It’s not surprising that Smith has good stats after an impressive start to the season. He leads the Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and that could be relevant this week.
With Bryson DeChambeau having withdrawn from the tournament on Monday, there are new second favorites with Webb Simpson and Sungjae Im both on offer at best odds of 15/1. Simpson ranks highly this week thanks to seven consecutive top 20 finishes at the Sony Open and 11 Made Cuts from 11.
Im also has an impressive record in this event, albeit with just three appearances to date. He’s made the Top 25 twice and has a scoring average of 67.83.
This week’s chasers are headed up by Hideki Matsuyama who is available at best odds of 18/1. The reigning US Masters champion has two consecutive Top 20 finishes in the Sony Open but he has been rested since October.
Next up are Marc Leishman, Corey Conners and Kevin Na who can all be backed at 20/1 in places. Na is our defending champion this year while the other two are rated very highly by the Power Rankings.
Conners is at the very top of those rankings thanks to solid stats and a tie for third in 2020 followed by a tie for 12th last year. Leishman is one place behind with four top tens in this event. As for Kevin Na, he arrives in decent touch following a tie for 13th at the weekend.
Other golfers to consider from among the chasing pack include Abraham Ancer at 28/1, Talor Gooch at 30/1 and Kevin Kisner at 30/1.
Heading up the outside bunch this week is another former champion. Russell Henley’s win at the Sony Open came back in 2013 and he is out to an industry best of 40/1 for a belated repeat. Since then, he has added three Top 20 finishes and is in reasonable form at the start of the season.
Also available at 40/1 are Harris English and Matt Jones: There will be some serious interest in Jones in particular after his solo third on Sunday. Low scores of 62 and 61 suggest this could be a big year for the veteran Australian.
Other names in this section include Seamus Power and Billy Horschel at 45/1, Jason Kokrak at 50/1, Brendan Steele and Ryan Palmer at 70/1 and Chris Kirk at 80/1. Kirk has been a runner up twice in this tournament and was one of two players to finish a shot behind Kevin Na last year.
Steele was the man to be edged out in a playoff by Cameron Smith in 2020 and clearly there is some real depth of quality to this year’s field.
Our Preview’s Sony Open Predictions & Picks Verdict with Course & Betting Trends
In stark contrast to last week’s monster course at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, this week’s venue is far more modest. The Waialae Country Club in Honolulu is a mere par 70 with some 7,044 yards in play so there shouldn’t be too many advantages for the distance hitters this week.
The tournament itself was incepted in 1965 as the Hawaiian Open before Sony added their name as sponsors back in 1999. The Waialae Country Club has been the permanent host throughout this event’s history so the field should be very familiar with its challenges by now.
Record low scoring was achieved last year and benign conditions should see similar returns this time around. With long primary rough, accuracy will be essential so stats such as Greens in Regulation and Strokes Gained: Tee to Green will come into play.
There is a lot of support for Marc Leishman this week and it’s justified. The Australian has the game, and the form, to succeed and he has come close in previous visits. He has a perfect record of 12 cuts made in 12 visits and finished tied for tenth on Sunday.
Based on those figures, Leishman for the win is the main one of our Sony Open predictions for this preview. Another man we considered strongly is Abraham Ancer so we’ll leave the Mexican as one of three Top Ten picks, along with Billy Horschel and defending champion Kevin Na. So these are the selections, at best odds from the top rated stateside bookmakers:
- Marc Leishman to win at +2200 (22/1) with EveryGame (was called Intertops). He is 18/1 with Bovada and BetOnline.
- Top 10 Finish picks (best odds in brackets): Leishman (+225 BetOnline), Abraham Ancer (+275 EveryGame), Billy Horschel (+400 BetOnline, EveryGame) and Kevin Na (+275 BetOnline, EveryGame).
Matt Harris is a golf and soccer expert for USA Betting. His other area of specialist knowledge is cricket. He is well known in sports journalism and contributes articles to a plethora of big-name websites and media outlets. Titles that he writes or has written for include: Betfair, BetVictor, Unibet & Just Bookies.