Golf Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy PGA Picks and Betting Guide for DraftKings & FanDuel – Sony Open
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Waialae Country Club
Par 70 - 7,044 Yards
Greens - Bermuda
**Click the image above to see a hole-by-hole breakdown from PGATour.com**
Previous Five Winners
- 2022 - Hideki Matsuyama(-23)
- 2021 - Kevin Na(-21)
- 2020 - Cameron Smith(-11)
- 2019 - Matt Kuchar(-22)
- 2018 - Patton Kizzire(-17)
Welcome back golf fans. This week the PGA Tour stays in Hawaii and heads from the Plantation Course at Kapalua over to Waialae Country Club in Honolulu for the 2023 Sony Open. The quality of the field drops significantly from last week but still includes seven of the Top 25 players in the world including defending champion Hideki Matsuyama.
While the views are similar, the course is much different from last week's wide-open fairways and large greens. Waialae CC is a much smaller Par 70 setup that is 7,044 yards on the scorecard. Wide open is also not on the menu this week as the course is much more of a positional course, especially off the tee. This has accuracy much higher in my off-the-tee model than distance. Strokes Gained: Approach and Par 4 Scoring are going to be 1A/1B in my stats model this week. On the approach side, I will look at mid-iron Proximity ranges(125-150, 150-175) and with the need for accuracy, I will also look at Fairway Proximity. With the field accuracy below average at this event and word the rough has been grown out to around 3" the average GIR should remain low which is also going put more emphasis on Strokes Gained: Around the Green and as always, a hot putter can help solve deficiencies in any of those areas. Hideki is a great example as he ranked 26th in SG: Approach last year but gained a whopping 7.3 strokes putting to lead the field in that area.
Outside of the very windy 2020 Sony Open, the winning score is usually right around -20 with a cut in the -2 to -4 range. Looking at the early forecast this year, it appears very calm so I am expecting another winner in the -20 range. With that said, let's jump in and look at some picks.
Course History Targets
Leading off is Conners who checks almost every single box in the model this week but it's course history I am most interested in here. He returns to the Sony Open with three straight finishes of T12 or better, has made the cut in all four trips, and is second in Strokes Gained: Total over the last 24 rounds at Waialae CC. He hadn't played since posting back-to-back Top 25 finishes at the Zozo Championship and CJ Cup but picked up where he left off finishing T18 at the Tournament of Champions last week. He is an elite ball striker who has a terrific feel for this positional golf course and is a core play for me in all formats.
Killer Keith has been the epitome of boom or boost lately but it's the course history that grabs my attention. He returns to Waialae CC and the Sony Open with Top 25 finishes in four of his five trips including a career-high T7 last year. The correlation to his success at this event comes down to his Total Diving as he is in a class of his own as the only player in this field to rank Top 10 in both driving distance and accuracy and one of just two(Webb the other) ranked Top 25 in both. There is always the risk the putter lets us down in a big way but that hasn't been an issue here. I won't have Mitchell in my cash game builds but he is most definitely a part of my GPP core.
Highly consider: Hideki Matsuyama who won here last year and has a T19/T12 in 2021 and 2020 or Russell Knox who has made the cut here in six of his last eight trips including four Top 15 finishes and a T7 last year
Current Form Targets
Harman is another player who checks all the boxes this week but it's the form that jumps off the page. He is coming off a T16 at the Sony Open last week and going back to the Tour Championship, enters this week with six straight Top 25 finishes including two runner-ups in the fall swing at Mayakoba and the RSM Classic. He is very accurate off the tee(6th in driving accuracy on sheet) and statistically is 6th in this field tee to green over the last 24 rounds. The course history is up and down but the good news is that he has made three straight cuts here at Waialae CC and had a stretch of four straight Top 20's from 2015 to 2018. All things considered, Harman is one of my top overall DFS plays this week.
We definitely can't have the current form conversation without highlighting, bolding, and locking in Tom Kim. He was a relative unknown last season but started to draw people's attention after a T23 at the U.S. Open last summer. He has made 11 straight cuts since including two wins(Wyndham Championship, Shriners Open) and this season specifically, he has yet to finish outside the Top 25 in five events. Statistically, he leads this field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and DraftKings scoring over the last 24 rounds and while he is the most expensive player this week, I will have plenty of exposure in my stars and scrubs builds.
Also Consider: Taylor Montgomery who has made all seven cuts as a rookie including six Top 15's and two Top 10 finishes or Ben Griffin who has made six straight cuts on the back of a strong iron game
Stats Model Targets
Top stats in model: SG: Approach, Driving Accuracy, Par 4 Scoring, SG: Around the Green
World Golf Ranking (#165)
Vegas Odds (140/1)
The value range is full of players who stand out in the stats model this week with Shelton standing out among that group. He provides above-average accuracy off the tee, is 28th in SG: Ball Striking, 11th in SG: Around the Green, and 26th in Par 4 Scoring in my cheatsheet model. Digging deeper, he ranks(in this field) 6th in my Fantasy National model looking at the last 24 rounds. That has propelled him to a great start to the 2022-23 season making six of seven cuts and coming off a season-high T10 at the RSM Classic. Shelton is my top value and in play in all formats.
World Golf Ranking (#203)
Vegas Odds (66/1)
Buckley checks almost all the boxes this week and is one of my top PTS/$ value plays. I highlight him here in the stats model as he comes into this event ranked 6th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking in this field and that is heavily weighted to his Driving Accuracy which is Top 20 in this field. It is also hard to ignore the form as he has not only made five straight cuts since missing at the season-opening Fortinet, he has tallied three Top 20's and a Top 5 in that stretch. Combine all that with a tremendous T12 here last year and you have a player who can crush his salary this week.
Also consider: Keegan Bradley who is an elite ball striker and Top 10 in the stats model or K.H. Lee who is 6th in the stats model, has made the cut here both trips(T48, T19), and has Top10 finishes in two of his last three events