The PGA Tour is staying in Hawaii for another week, moving on to Honolulu and the Waialae Country Club for this weekend’s Sony Open. Many of the golfers who were here last weekend are back, with a few very notable exceptions at the top. Without options like Day and Spieth there it becomes much easier to ignore the guys with the biggest price tags, but they are pricey for a reason. No matter which way you go, there are plenty of decisions to be made.
Jimmy Walker ($12,200) – Well, he is the two-time defending champ. So there is that. There is also the fact that he hasn’t shot a single round over par in his two most recent tournaments (the Hero World Challenge in December and the Hyundai last weekend). He also managed to drop a 64 on Saturday last weekend, the day that led to his 100 DK FP performance. If I am choosing between him and Adam Scott – and as the two most expensive options, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing – it’s all enough to tilt me towards Walker.
Kevin Kisner ($11,700) – He’s made all five cuts this season, including four top-25s. He finished off 2015 with a solo second and a win, and got back in action last weekend with a 16-under T10. He’s played himself up to 16th in the world by virtue of ten top-25 finishes in the 2015 season, and if anything he’s only picked up the pace this season, with his first win and three top-tens. It was nice to see him starting off the year with that same momentum.
Matt Kuchar ($11,500) – He has been inside the top ten in each of his last four trips to Waialae – it never hurts to have a guy on your team who just keeps scoring at least ten strokes under par every time he shows up at the course. Can’t hurt, anyway. He hasn’t had any really great performances for a couple of months, so there will definitely be some hesitation, but if there is a track that can get him back on course, it’s likely this one.
Justin Thomas ($10,800) – He shot back-to-back 69’s over the weekend at the Hyundai to finish T21 and with 90 DK FP. With twenty birdies, he did plenty to help your fantasy roster, and if he can limit the bogeys for the whole tournament the way he did on Saturday and Sunday, he could end a bit higher up the leaderboard this upcoming weekend.
Russell Knox ($9,800) – He finished up his 2015 in style with a win at the WGC-HSBC and a T2 at the OHL Classic, both back in November. He played well in an appearance in South Africa in December, and then, after a break, returned last weekend with a solid -8, with no rounds over par. In fact, he only had five holes over par, the kind of consistency that keeps him in tournaments but doesn’t necessarily create huge fantasy value. But in those November tourneys, he had 20+ birdies, and if he can get back into that form while also limiting his mistakes the way he did last weekend, he could end up being one of the best values on the board.
Charles Howell III ($9,700) – For Howell, it’s simple really: four top-20 performances in five tries so far this season, and a total of seven career top-5 finishes at Waialae. He’s never won here, but he clearly feels comfortable, and with the way he was playing in October and November, this could be the year.
Emiliano Grillo ($9,300) – Grillo had a fantastic 2015 on the PGA Tour, with two top ten finishes in five appearances. In between the HSBC and the Hyundai, his last two PGA appearances, he had three top-25 performances in Europe, including a T4 at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai and a T11 at the Netbank Golf Challenge. Last weekend in Hawaii, he earned his T18 with a final-round 66 on Sunday, the kind of upside that makes for a valuable fantasy commodity.
Scott Piercy ($8,500) – He has made the cut in every event he’s entered this season, from the end of last fall through last weekend. After the HSBC, where he finished T35, he ended 20th in South Africa and then came back strong with no rounds over par and one round of 69 last weekend. He has been consistent enough to make a great option in a cash game, and a guy who has the potential to flash the upside you need for success in a GPP.
Tony Finau ($8,300) – Finau was the kind of powerful player who is just fun to watch in his first season on Tour last year, and while he went through some ups and downs, he started the 2016 season off on an uptick. He had two top-20 finishes in October, including a ninth place performance at the CIMB that featured consecutive rounds of 66 to close out the tournament and propel him up the leaderboard.
Francesco Molinari ($8,100) – He hasn’t logged any results on the PGA tour yet this season, but has played well in Europe recently, with two top twenty finishes in November, at the BMW Masters and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. He opened his 2015 season here at the Sony Open as well, and shot four rounds in the 60’s. He may never have won in the U.S. before, but he definitely has the ability to play himself close to the top of the leaderboard and turn in a useful fantasy performance.
David Lingmerth ($7,600) – He ended up T15 at the Hyundai on a weekend highlighted by a 66 on Saturday, the kind of round that propels a guy from middling fantasy performer to excellent selection. Those kinds of rounds obviously bolster a guy’s spot on the leaderboard, but they also are the source for the holes under par and the birdie runs and the bogey free rounds you need to pile up great fantasy performances.
Peter Malnati ($7,500) – Malnati is putting well right now. It’s why I suggested him last weekend, and it’s why the pick paid off. You putt to score, of course, and he is hitting the ball well enough to put himself in position to do just that. He had 23 birdies on his way to a T6 last weekend, just the latest in a string of good performances going back to a win at the Sanderson Farms Championship in November.