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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Still in Hawaii

The first full field PGA Tour event of 2019 is the Sony Open, held this week at the Waialae Country Club on the island of Oahu.

Defending champ Patton Kizzire

Waialae isn't particularly long, a mere par-70 measuring 7044 yards. But it's known for its winds and for often becoming a putting contest. For example, Patton Kizzire won last year with a birdie barrage in his playoff with James Hahn, and who could forget Justin Thomas posting a 59 the year before? And since this is the only home the Sony Open has ever had, we can be pretty sure that past performances are something of a guideline in choosing favorites.

So, emboldened by good fortune (and no small amount of foolhardy confidence) when I picked Xander Schauffele to win last week, I'm going to tempt fate and try again this week. For those of you who are looking for help, perhaps for a fantasy team, the Tour posted their own power rankings at this link. As with last week, although I'll pick a winner, I'll also pick a second player who I think should finish well and could even win.

My pick to win is pretty simple. Since the Sony Open winner usually putts extremely well and the best putter in Hawaii last week was Bryson DeChambeau, I like his chances to put up a good showing this week. Despite all the wind at Kapalua, Bryson shot par or better every round; if he can keep up the good work on the greens, I like his chances.

And I'm going to pick Charles Howell III to put up another strong tournament. Why do I say another? Because he has two seconds, two thirds and two fourths in 17 trips. When you add in the confidence he must have after his win at the RSM Classic late in 2018 and his T14 at Kapalua last week -- that's not a course I would expect him to play well at -- I think this is an opportunity for him. He just needs a good putting week to match up with his ballstriking.

Because of the time difference, we've got prime time golf again this week. GC's live coverage is listed to start at 7pm ET on Thursday night, and I suspect the Pre-Game Show will start perhaps an hour earlier. With Spieth back in action, as well as Vijay Singh, this could be a very entertaining tournament.

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