After a nice warmup event on Maui, we hop over to Oahu this week for the first (mostly) full-field event of the calendar year.
With 144 golfers lined up to take on Waialae Country Club, we will have our first cut sweat of the new year. The top 65 and ties will advance on to play the weekend at the Sony.
Waialae Country Club has been hosting this event for decades so we have loads of history to lean on. We also want to layer in some more recent stats to build on our research foundation.
First, we'll see who can dial in their approach game with adjusted GIR Percentage.
Then we will see who can get hot with the putter, focusing on performance on bermudagrass greens.
Irons and Wedges
Waialae Country Club is not a course that favors the bomb-and-gouge approach.
There are many holes where you will see big hitters and short plodders hitting their second shots from the same general area. It's a position-off-the-tee course.
With that in mind, we want to focus on steady iron play, not getting too caught up with driving data.
Here are the top performers (GIR Gained compared for the field average) over the last six months:
Charles Howell III ($27): He doesn't sport a lofty price tag due to his ho-hum performance over the last year or two. However, he still finds greens at a high clip, as evidenced by his appearance near the top of the list above. On top of that, he has secured top 10s in half of his 20 starts at the Sony. Other than trying to get contrarian, I see no reason to avoid Howell in weekly formats this week.
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Waialae Country Club features grainy bermudagrass so golfers that grew up or reside in the Southeast are often licking their lips when they arrive on property.
"It kind of reminds me of growing up in South Georgia, playing on Bermuda grass, firm and fast greens." -Harris English
Chris Kirk had this to say when asked why so many golfers from Georgia play well here, "Bermudagrass is probably about it. And there’s a lot of good players from Georgia."
Here are the top performers (strokes gained putting per round) on bermuda greens, since the start of the 2020 season:
Webb Simpson ($46): The list above is really the who's who of bermuda speciallst. Not many names missing. Simpson has been a part of this club for years, basically his entire career. Sure, he's had success on other grass types as well, but for as long as I can remember his performance on bermudagrass has exceeded his overall baseline when looking at any reasonable time frame. Not a bad option to anchor your teams this week.
Hopefully, these stats will give you some names to dive into when it comes to researching your final selections this week over at Yahoo!