The PGA Tour shifts from Maui to O'ahu for this week's Sony Open at Waialae Country Club. 

By Daniel Rapaport
January 09, 2019

After a compelling first tournament of 2019—which saw Xander Schauffele announce himself with a remarkable final-round 62 to win the Sentry Tournament of Champions—the PGA Tour island hops from Maui to O'ahu for this week's Sony Open. 

This will be the first full-field event of the year, as only 33 players teed it up last week at Kapalua. Last year's Sony Open featured more than its fair share of drama. On Saturday, the tournament was disrupted after all cellphones in the area received a push notification warning that erroneously said that a ballistic missile was on its way to Hawaii. Then on Sunday, amid a union dispute, some of Golf Channel's audio and video producers staged a walk-out, leading to diminished final-round coverage of Patton Kizzire's victory. Tournament organizers will hope this year's event assumes the character of its tranquil Hawaiian surroundings and avoids incident. Or, at the very least, that 72 holes can be completed without an apocalyptic scare. 

RAPAPORT: With Performance at Kapalua, Schauffele Establishes Himself Among World's Elite

A number of players who competed in the Tournament of Champions have braved the treacherous 45-minute flight from Kapalua to Waialae to complete the Hawaiian two-step, while a bunch of guys who weren't eligible last week will make their 2019 debuts come Thursday. Reminder that this is the last chance you'll get to watch golf in true primetime—Hawaii is five hours behind the east coast, and Sunday's final round will wrap up at around 10 p.m. eastern—as the Tour returns to the lower 48 beginning with next week's Desert Classic. 

Here's everything you need to know about the Sony Open. 

The course

Unlike Kapalua, which opened as part of a resort in the early 90's, Waialae is an old, private, Seth Raynor-designed track that opened in 1927—a description more befitting a course in the Northeast than southeastern Oahu. For those keeping score: that's a full 32 years before Hawaii joined this wonderful union as the 50th state. It underwent significant work in the 1960s when part of the course was sold to build a resort.

Also unlike Kapalua, Waialae doesn't feature runway-wide fairways and dramatic elevation changes; it's relatively flat and tree-lined, though it does also run alongside the Pacific Ocean. Though it's a par 72 for members, Waialae will play as a par 70 this week and measure just over 7,000 yards. Length won't be as much of an advantage as it was last week, as a number of dogleg holes will force players to strategize and pick their spots off tees, and both par 5s will be reachable for virtually the entire field. That explains how a number of different players have won there: bombers like Justin Thomas and Ernie Else, but also accuracy-first guys like K.J. Choi and Zach Johnson. 

It's Hawaii, so expect a bunch of these shots, which make you seriously question why you live somewhere that doesn't look like this. 

Stan Badz/Getty Images

For a detailed discussion on the architecture of Wailae, the Fried Egg has you covered. On a funky retro note, the club is also the subject of the Nintendo 64 game Wailae Country Club: True Golf Classics

The field

A really solid follow-up to the TOC, which featured eight of the top 10 players in the world. Drawing the most attention will be Jordan Spieth, who is making his first 2019 start and first start as a married man, after wedding his longtime girlfriend in November. After a winless 2018 that saw him drop all the way to world No. 17, Spieth's redemption tour begins Thursday. His good buddy Justin Thomas is also playing. He'll have wonderful memories to draw from, having shot 59 en route to winning the tournament in 2017. Other U.S. Ryder Cuppers in the field: Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau. Gary Woodland, fresh off a heartbreaking loss to Schauffele despite shooting a bogey-free five-under round, is back in action. Long-hitting phenom Cameron Champ will be there, as will Ian Poulter, Hideki Matsuyama and Paul Casey. Peter Jung, a 16-year-old junior, gets to play alongside the big boys after winning a qualifying event. One last player to follow: Jose de Jesus Rodriguez, the subject of this absurdly compelling Golf.com profile by Alan Shipnuck. 

Tee Times

Here are some notable groupings. All times are eastern, which is five hours ahead of Hawaiian time. For a full list of tee times, click here

Bubba Watson, Patrick Reed, Patton Kizzire - 12:50 p.m.* Thursday/5:30 p.m. Friday
Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth, Gary Woodland - 1:00* p.m./5:40 p.m.
Cameron Champ, Paul Casey, Si Woo Kim - 5:20 p.m./6:20 p.m.*
Marc Leishman, Hideki Matsuyama, Ian Poulter - 5:30 p.m./12:50 p.m.*
Matt Kuchar, Justin Thomas, Charles Howell III - 5:40 p.m./1:00 p.m.*

* denotes 10th-tee start

Past Champions

2018 - Patton Kizzire (-17)
2017 - Justin Thomas (-27)
2016 - Fabian Gomez (-20)
2015 - Jimmy Walker (-23)
2014 - Jimmy Walker (-17)
2013 - Russell Henley (-24)
2012 - Johnson Wagner (-13)
2011 - Mark Wilson (-16)
2010 - Ryan Palmer (-15)
2009 - Zach Johnson (-15)

Odds

Justin Thomas +600
Bryson DeChambeau +1200
Gary Woodland +1400
Jordan Spieth +1600
Marc Leishman +1800
Cameron Champ +2800
Cameron Smith +2800
Charles Howell III +2800
Patrick Reed +3300
Hideki Matsuyama +3500
Abraham Ancer +4000
Matt Kuchar +4000
Patton Kizzire +4000
Paul Casey +4000
Emiliano Grillo +5000
Kevin Kisner +5000
Kyle Stanley +5000
Scott Piercy +5000
Si Woo Kim +5000
Zach Johnson +5000
Adam Scott +5500
Andrew Putnam +5500
Brandt Snedeker +5500
Brian Harman +5500
Keegan Bradley +5500
Bubba Watson +6600
Chris Kirk +6600
Ian Poulter +6600
Kevin Tway +6600
Pat Perez +6600

The pick

It was a heartbreaking loss last week when our sleeper special, Gary Woodland at +2500, entered the final round with a three-shot lead, didn't make a bogey, shot five under ... and lost. Right back on the horse this week, though. Thomas is a deserving favorite here given his course history, overall stature within the game and a solid third-place finish at Kapalua. I'm looking a little further down the list, though, at Matt Kuchar. He hasn't played this event since 2016, but his last three finishes at Waialae are T8, T3 and T13. He's finished in the top 25 in each of his past three events, including a win in Mexico. The course fits his game perfectly, and at 40-1, he offers tremendous value. Look for Charles Howell III, Gary Woodland and Andrew Putnam to have solid weeks, as well. Howell III has six top-four finishes at this event; Woodland is playing like a top-10 golfer in the world at the moment; and Putnam quietly has a streak of 12 straight made cuts.  

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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Eagle (-2)
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