10 Historical Things To Know: Sony Open

Zach Johnson

The Sony Open starts on Thursday at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. It’s the second tournament of the 2018 calendar year, and the second leg of the PGA Tour’s Hawaiian swing.

The event has been part of the Tour’s schedule for over 50 years now – with the first tournament played in 1965.

Here’s 10 other historical nuggets to know about the Sony Open.


Gay Brewer won the very first tournament back in 1965, then called the Hawaiian Open. Brewer beat Bob Goalby in a playoff and took home a $9,000 check.


There have been five multiple winners of the tournament, all two-time champions: Hubert Green, Corey Pavin, Lanny Wadkins, Ernie Els, and Jimmy Walker. All have won major championships.


The Sony Open is also known for having the most impressive list of runner-ups, including a mind-blowing 17 major winners: Jack Nicklaus, Larry Nelson, Lee Trevino, Billy Casper, Orville Moody, Tom Watson, Hale Irwin, Fuzzy Zoeller, Paul Azinger, Craig Stadler, Davis Love III, Mike Reid, Tom Lehman, David Toms, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, and Adam Scott.


The event is over 50 years old, but it has had only four tournament names over the years, and only two title sponsors. This is the exception and not the rule of a PGA Tour event.

Four Tournament Names
1965-1990 Hawaiian Open
1991 United Hawaiian Open
1992-1998 United Airlines Hawaiian Open
1999-Present Sony Open

As proof of its continuity, the Sony is one of the longest running title sponsors on the PGA Tour schedule. The Longest Running Five are: The Honda Classic 1982, AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am 1986, Shell Houston Open 1992, John Deere Classic 1999, Sony Open in Hawaii 1999.


Continuing the continuity angle, the tournament has been contested at the Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii, since the event’s modern-day inception as the Hawaiian Open in November 1965. Only two other courses have had a longer run as a PGA Tour host course: Colonial Country Club (1946, currently hosting the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational); Pebble Beach Golf Links (1947, currently hosting the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am).


The Sony Open gained attention for granting four consecutive sponsor invitations (PGA Tour Exemption #11) to Michelle Wie – the first in 2004 when she was age 14. She missed the cut in all four appearances, and did not receive one of the four available sponsor exemptions in 2008. One of the invitations went to Alex Ching, a 17-year-old former high school classmate of Wie.


Originally a fall event for its first five editions, the then Hawaiian Open was moved to its winter slot, starting in 1971. The event was played in the fall of 1969 and so it could not play again four months later in early 1970, so it was skipped until the following year, 1971.


Nine players have made the Sony Open their first PGA Tour win: Ted Makalena (1966), Grier Jones (1972), John Schlee (1973), Gary Groh (1975), Isao Aoki (1983), David Ishii (1990), John Morse (1995), Jerry Kelly, (2002), and Russell Henley (2013).


Ten players have won each of the PGA Tour’s Hawaii events at least once: Jim Furyk (1996 Sony; 2001 Tournament of Champions), Jack Nicklaus (1974 Sony; 1963-64, 1971, 1973, 1977 TOC); Lee Trevino (1968 Sony; 1981 TOC); Lanny Wadkins (1988, 1991 Sony Open, 1982-83 TOC); Paul Azinger (1991 Sony; 1990 TOC); Mark O’Meara (1985 Sony; 1996 TOC); Ernie Els (2003-04 Sony; 2003 TOC); Vijay Singh (2005 Sony; 2007 TOC), Zach Johnson (2009 Sony; 2014 TOC), and Justin Thomas (2017 Sony and TOC).

Only Els and Thomas have won the two titles in the same year.

Zach Johnson


At 59 years, 7 months, 1 day, Fred Funk became the oldest player to make the cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii, doing so in 2016 to eclipse the previous mark held by Tom Kite (55 years, 1 month, 7 days). This week will mark Funk’s 24th start at the Sony Open.

Credit/Sources: Getty Images, PGA Tour Media, Sony Open Communications, Wikipedia

Note: This content was published in 2017, and updated to reflect current topics.


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