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Kramer Hickok
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Odds and Ends

Sony Open: Steer Clear of these Former Georgia Bulldogs

by Patrick McDonald
Updated On: January 15, 2022, 10:29 am ET

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While the 2021 Sony Open Champion, Kevin Na (-8), went the wrong way in Round 2, the 2013 winner shot up the leaderboard. That would be Russell Henley who finished one-stroke worse than Na in Round 1 and appeared to be on the same trajectory for much of Friday. 

Saying, “Yeah, started out with a nice, two great shots on 10 to about three feet with a wedge for birdie. Really made some nice par saves. Hit a couple wrong clubs off the tee. Made good swings, but on the doglegs had to hit it through the dogleg and be in the rough, and from there you play defense out here. Hit some poor chips and made some good par saves as well. Putter kept my round going on that side.” 

The putter was not the only club to keep his front-nine going as the former Georgia Bulldog was even-par through his first eight-holes when he holed out from the greenside bunker on the par-5 18th for an eagle-3. Immediately dropping a shot on No. 1, his 10th hole of the day, Henley arrived at the par-3 fourth 9-under for the tournament. 

Playing his next six holes in a 6-under fashion, the 32-year-old reached 15-under for the tournament and captured a three-stroke lead heading into the weekend. Punctuated by yet another eagle-3 on the par-5 ninth, Henley commands the 36-hole lead for the seventh time in his PGA Tour career. 1-for-6 converting these leads into victories, Henley can take solace in knowing his lone successful attempt came at Waialae Country Club nearly a decade ago.  

He was not the only player to make a move as Haotong Li (-12), Matt Kuchar (-11), and Michael Thompson (-10) round out those to have reach double-digits under-par by the halfway point. Despite Henley being listed at +140 at PointsBet Sportsbook, these three have a great opportunity to capitalize on any missteps at the top – which unfortunately have been common on the weekends for the leader. 

As for us, Stewart Cink (-9) took it to Corey Conners (-9) in Round 2 as the Canadian never really had a chance. With three players a touchdown behind in Billy Horschel (-8), Charles Howell III (-8), and Jason Kokrak (-8), we will likely need some help from Henley over the next 36-holes. Only four-strokes off the second-place pace, we will stick with this trio and look to a couple of matchups to kick off wild card weekend. 

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Updated Odds to Win (Odds Via PointsBet):

+140: Russell Henley 

+1200: Hideki Matsuyama 

+1600: Corey Conners, Matt Kuchar 

+2200: Haotong Li 

+2500: Seamus Power 

+3000: Michael Thompson 

+3300: Chris Kirk, Kevin Na 

+4000: Billy Horschel, Jason Kokrak, Kevin Kisner, Maverick McNealy, Patton Kizzire 

+5000: Brandt Snedeker 

+6000: Cam Davis, Charles Howell III 

+6600: Davis Riley, Harris English, Ryan Palmer, Talor Gooch 

+7000: Adam Svensson 


Round 3 Plays: 

Kramer Hickok +115* over Brian Harman (1.00 unit): 

We had Hickok in our first-round leader selections and for many of the same reasons, we will look for him to start the weekend on a high note. Hoping he will carry the momentum from his eagle on the 36th-hole to make the cut on the number, the Texan should revert back to the tee-to-green play which carried him to a strong opening round. 

Finishing 16th in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green on Thursday, Hickok gained strokes in each statistical category with the exception of putting. Ninth in Driving Accuracy up to this point, if the 29-year-old can continue to pepper fairways, he should set the rest of his game up for success.  

Yet through two days of play, Harman has hit only 10 fairways and 23 greens in regulation, ranking last in the field in both categories. Getting by with an exquisite short-game (+1.45 SG: Around-the-Green and +6.89 SG: Putting), the magic is bound to run out for the two-time PGA Tour winner.

Losing nearly three-strokes off-the-tee and an additional four-plus strokes on approach, Harman’s ball-striking woes have clearly continued into the new year. While a fantastic putter, there is room for some regression with the flat stick, which should aid Hickok in his effort to better him in Round 3. 


J.T. Poston +175* over Harris English (1.00 unit): 

Some were high on Poston after a strong opening round of 6-under 64 as his ball-striking has emerged from a deep slumber. Missing eight consecutive cuts dating back to last season, this will be the first time in Poston's 2021-22 campaign that he will see a paycheck.  

While he was unable to follow up his Thursday play with a similar round on Friday, his rudimentary ball-striking numbers suggest Saturday could be the day in which he does. 11th in both Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation, Poston’s short-game has been the area of his game holding him back. Typically, the strength – especially on Bermuda grass – if able to marry the two, he could be in line for a nice third round.

Next to Poston on the leaderboard, English has gotten to 7-under in a completely different manner. 44th in Driving Accuracy and 61st in Greens in Regulation, one would suspect English of being lights-out from around-the-green. However, this has not been the case, ranking 49th in SG: Around-the-Green through 36-holes.

Fourth in SG: Putting, it appears Monday night's blackout has trickled into Harman and English's play on the greens. Playing poorly for most of the fall and battling some inconsistencies at the Tournament of Champions, I am more than comfortable in siding with the heavy underdog in this one. 


*Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook 

2/3-Balls YTD: +1.05 units, 24.42% 

Total YTD: +30.16 units, 311.09% 

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Patrick McDonald

Patrick McDonald joined NBC Sports EDGE in the spring of 2021. When he’s not chasing longshots, he’s chasing his golf ball around the local muni. You can find Patrick on Twitter @AmateurStatus.