Forelinx DFS Tournament Preview ⏤ Sony Open in Hawaii

Fantasy Golf


The PGA TOUR's Aloha Swing enters its second of two consecutive weeks as the schedule rolls on to the Sony Open in Hawaii staged at the beautiful Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, HI. The old school Seth Raynor design has played host to this event since its inaugural staging in 1965 and has seen its fair share of storied past champions come and go. Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw, Hale Irwin and Ernie Els are just a few of the marquee names that have won this event and the quality field of players assembled this year will look to join them as Sony Open champions.

The Sony Open will also mark the first full-field event of the calendar year. While the PGA TOUR did kick off its 2021 schedule last week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, that field was limited exclusively to 2020 PGA TOUR winners as well as anyone inside the top 30 at the end of last year's Fedex Cup points race. This week, we'll get to see the up-and-coming next wave of potential stars in action as well as some blast from the past former PGA TOUR marquee names who view this week as a chance to compete on a golf course that doesn't play into the hands of exclusively the longest hitters.

The Field and the Favorites

We had hoped that the expanded roster of players that made it into last week's Sentry Tournament of Champions might result in a few more sticking around for the second week of the Aloha Swing, but a number of the big names from last week have opted out this week. Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas are all first-tier players that played last week but opted to head back to the mainland to prepare for the upcoming West Coast Swing. 

However, two big names from the Sentry field have opted to stick around and they represent the two favorites going into the week. The leader among them is Webb Simpson (+1100) who is coming off a strong 2020 campaign and a reasonably solid fall season that featured a run of top-20 finishes starting with an 8th-place finish at the U.S. Open Championship and a 10th-place finish in the fall edition of the Masters Tournament. The golf course certainly suits him and while he had a pretty mediocre week at Kapalua we wouldn't be surprised to see him play his way into shape at Waialae. He won't need to make nearly as many birdies as it took to win last week and his fairways and greens game is a perfect fit for this golf course.

Reigning PGA champion Collin Morikawa (+1200) comes in as the second favorite and is a darling of quantitatively-focused fantasy players. His Strokes Gained: Approach statistics clocked in as second overall on the PGA TOUR last season behind only Justin Thomas and this old-school track in particular is likely to feed right into the hands of quality iron players. He played very well through three rounds last week, but shot a final-round 73 (even par) that dropped him back to a 7th-place finish that was five shots short of the English/Niemann playoff.

It's hard to ignore Harris English (+1400) coming off his playoff victory last week at the Plantation Course. English is quietly one of the hottest golfers on the planet as he's posted four top-ten finishes in his last five weeks including the win at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. His previous two outings were a fifth-place and sixth-place finish at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and the RSM Classic and he can add the fourth-place finish back in September in the U.S. Open at Winged Foot to his list of recent high finishes. He may not have been a household name a year ago, but if he keeps on playing the way he has these last few months he's going to find himself among the favorites irrespective of how good the fields get when the TOUR returns to the mainland.

The Golf Course

Seth Raynor laid out the design at Waialae Country Club back in 1927 and so, predictably, it has a lot of the characteristics of the old school Golden Age golf courses. The course is relatively narrow with fairways that meander through the palm trees scattered across the property. This, like many other courses of its time, will give a sizable advantage to the player who can shape the ball into the best sections of the fairways from which to access some of the trickier hole locations on these smallish greens. Those greens are part of what makes this course a great fit for strong Strokes Gained: Approach players who will be required to hit quality iron shots to access those hole locations tucked into the corners of these green complexes.

Like many of the Golden Age designs, Waialae features a number a template holes replicated from classic concepts found in the British Isles. The par-three fourth hole is a classic Biarritz with two tiers in the front and back and a large swale that separates them out. Hole locations in the swale are hyper accessible while those in the front and back sections are a lot more difficult to access. The opening hole has some Road Hole qualities and is a converted half-par hole from a five to a four that should play as one of the harder holes on the golf course. The penultimate hole is the classic Redan par-three with a green wrapping from the front-right to the back left around a diagonal bunker. Architecture buffs should recognize these holes as their templates are used at many of the most famous golf courses in the world.

Unlike last week, wind is not expected to be too much of a factor this week. It won't be completely still, but the winds topping out around 10mph shouldn't prove to be too difficult to handle. While past years at Waialae CC might have rendered the ability to play in the wind a key factor, we wouldn't recommend fantasy players to factor that in too heavily as we'd put it well below the ability to hit the fairway in terms of key qualities this week.

Our selections for this week's Pick Em' and Parlays will be made available tomorrow afternoon.