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The start of the year is always a tough time to make serious decisions about betting strategy on the golf, form is scarce on the PGA Tour and the first couple of events in South Africa on the European Tour can be a little uninspiring. I’ve always found the Sony Open tough to seek out value and that hasn’t particularly changed this year. However, I do have a few picks that have caught my eye and we’ll get things started with some of the main stats and trends we’ll be looking at to lead to our picks.



Driving distance isn’t a priority, the winner hasn’t featured in the top five of driving distance in the last five years.


To a slightly lesser degree, the same could we said about driving accuracy. Of the last 29 players to finish in the top five for driving accuracy that week, only two actually finished in the top five.


However, the green in regulation leader has won two of the last five renewals and since 2011 the winner or runner up has featured in the top five of GIR, the same can be said for scrambling.


Putting average looks important, a large majority of putting average leaders for that week featured high on the leader board.

Par 4 scoring should be high on the list; the winner of the event has been in the top five for par 4 scoring that week. To a slightly lesser extent, the same could be said for Par 5 scoring.


Experience on the course looks fairly important, Russell Henley arrived on debut and shot the lights out but other winners have had previous here and there seems to be a trend that players who played the week before at the tournament of champions go well



I’ll be honest, the shortest price player on our list the week was the last I settled on. Brandt Snedeker and Marc Leishman were two of the first names to make my list but I couldn’t quite come round to their price and felt they were a little short all things considered (Leishman opened at an acceptable price but shortened very quickly) so I have decided the 40/1 for Harris English to keep improving in this event and take the win. I’ve long been a fan of Harris’ and although his relatively short career to date has produced two wins I don’t think there is any doubting he could already have more as he’s an incredibly talented golfer. Although last year didn’t produce a win like the two years before it he did record three top 5’s, didn’t finish outside the top 30 in the play-offs and ended the year by starting the 2016 season with a 25th finish at the RSM Classic and was 2nd at the Frankling Templeton Shootout. He has the sort of strong all round game that should go well here at Waialae CC in Hawaii and it shows with his recent results here reading 3rd, 4th, 9th and with him being 10th for putting, 36th for scrambling, 26th for Par 4 scoring and 28th for Par 5 scoring last year, I make the 40/1 with six places very good value.




Harris English – 1.5pts Each-Way – 40/1 (Paddy Power 6 Places)



Will Wilcox is a player I have followed for a little while now and I’ve backed him at big odds in the past to no avail. However, it’s obvious to see his hard work is paying off and the improvements he has made over the last couple of years means he is edging closer to that winner’s circle on the PGA Tour. 2014 was something of an inconsistent year but he really pushed on last year and recorded results such as 18th at the AT&T Pebble Beach, 6th at the Puerto Rico Open, 12th at the St. Jude, 8th at the John Deere, 2nd at the Barbasol and 10th at both the Barracuda and Frys.com Open. It was a really successful year for the American and 2016 will most definitely be the year he’ll expect to cross the line. His experience here is scarce with only one start two years ago but he did finish 8th that week which not only suggests this is a track that suits his game but also that he can go well off of a break. Over the last six months on the PGA Tour he is 2nd for ball striking, 7th for GIR, 2nd for Par 4 performance, 43rd for Par 5 performance and 3rd for overall scoring average. It’s a really impressive range of statistics over the last six months and I think the 50/1 about him carrying on that good form provides some decent value.




Will Wilcox – 1pt Each-Way – 50/1 (Paddy Power, Stan James and SkyBet 6 Places)



Although I can understand why William McGirt is being overlooked this week (his best finish here to date has been 19th and although he doesn’t have many starts at this event, it’s not the sort of form that stands out from the crowd), I do feel like he has a very good chance this week. Over the last six months he has been in really good touch and I think he’ll be looking to get 2016 off with a bang. Towards the end of the 2015 season he finished 14th at the Wyndham and 12th at the Deutsche Bank Championship and started the 2016 season by finishing 30th at the Frys.com, 8th at the Shriners and 2nd at the Sanderson Farms, it’s a really encouraging run of form but it’s when I delved further into his actual performances that made me believe he provides us some value. Over the last six months he is 19th for Par 4 performance, 52nd for GIR, 31st for scrambling and 21st for all round ranking and the 80/1 for him to carry on his recent form into the New Year is too good to pass up. He has a few runner-up finishes to his name in his fairly short Tour career so far and he looks ready to get that first win.




William McGirt – 1pt Each-Way – 80/1 (Paddy Power 6 places)



Despite the fact that a little experience here seems to go a long way, we have seen outsiders at big odds prevail, most notably Russel Henley, and I can’t pass on the chance of backing Australian talent Cameron Smith at the juicy price of 125/1. The youngster arrives here in good form having put together two performances that saw him finish 5th at the Australian PGA and 13th at the Australian Open before the New Year and he proved his quality last year when finishing 4th at the US Open, 25th at the PGA Championship and 18th at the Wyndham. He didn’t play enough rounds last year to warrant a ranking on the official Tour stats but over the last six months he would rank 8th for putting average and 19th for par 4 performance, two stats that look important this week and although a win would be a tough ask, 125/1 for such an emerging talent that knows where the bottom of the cup is when on the green is too good to miss, especially when a few of the more experienced players may be a little rusty.




Cameron Smith – 0.5pts Each-Way – 125/1 (Stan James 6 Places)

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