Who wants low scores? This week there will be some low scores, as a better-than-expected field congregates in Maui for the Sony Open. For most of the field, this is their 2019 debut, but some players are better equipped to thrive after a layoff than others.
Here are the 15 players we like in the field most at Waialae Country Club.
15. Chez Reavie
A man who rarely misses a fairway, Reavie has played Waialae well the past two years, with finishes of T8 and T18. What really stands out about the course history for the 37-year-old is that when he goes low, he goes very low; which was most on display with a final-round 61 in 2017 and a second-round 63 in 2016.
Reavie is still looking for his first victory since 2008, but had his closest calls in a decade last year, finishing runner-up in back-to-back events in February.
World Rank: 63rd
Last Six: 26, 35, 7, 43, 33, 38
Median Finish: 34.0
14. Patrick Reed
The reigning Masters champ has next to no history in this event, but is too good to ignore in this field. As much talk as there was about his later season troubles, he does have a recent runner-up in Dubai and a T7 in China.
Reed will be exceptionally motivated to get his new calendar year off to a good start. He gets a huge advantage on the greens and played well off the tees at Kapalua last week.
World Rank: 15th
Last Six: 25, 11, 45, 2, 7, 28
Median Finish: 18.0
13. Zach Johnson
The 2009 champion has Waialae rounds of 61, 63, and 64 in the past three years, so he still knows this event. It is concerning that he had just two top 10s all of last season, but on the flip side, he also missed just two cuts and 14 top 25s.
Johnson is a near lock to at least be on the periphery of contending. He was the 18-hole leader a year ago.
World Rank: 68th
Last Six: 7, MC, 33, MC, 40, 19
Median Finish: 36.5
12. Kyle Stanley
He finished last season on Tour in the top-7 of both driving accuracy and greens in regulation, so he should be confident that he can stay out of trouble at a course that is not particularly penal to begin with.
Can he score enough? Maybe, he did well enough to post two runner-up finishes last year (The Memorial, WGC-Bridgestone), and he was just two strokes off the 54-hole lead in this event last year, leading to a 10th place finish.
World Rank: 34th
Last Six: 22, 66, 13, 15, 45, 12
Median Finish: 18.5
11. Bubba Watson
Bubba has been the epitome of “hit or miss” over the past year, although when that “hit” column includes three PGA Tour victories, he has to be considered a serious threat anywhere.
He finished well at Kapalua last week, with a Sunday 4-under par, but was so bad, particularly with the putter, in the early going that he still finished just 31st in the 33-man field. As usual, he killed it off the tees, and that long game could very well help him go low in his first attempt at this event since 2010.
World Rank: 16th
Last Six: 31, 12, 29, 16, 7, 34
Median Finish: 23.5
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