This week the Tour island hops over to Honolulu for the first full-field event of 2018, the Sony Open. Headlining the event is defending champion Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth. The Sony serves as the first start for the majority of players with full-status on Tour. Full field
Justin Thomas smashed his way into history, shooting an opening round 59 and setting records for lowest 72 and 36 hole score in PGA Tour history (253 and 124), tying the lowest 54 hole score (188). Thomas ended the tournament at 27-under par, seven shots better than runner-up Justin Rose. The win completed the Hawaiian sweep for Thomas and set the table for his 5-win 2017 which included a PGA Championship, FedEx Cup win and Player of the Year honors.
In our latest edition of The Yolk with Doak, we cover this week's host site Waialae extensively. Listen here
The short and sweet story of Waialae is it was one of legendary architect Seth Raynor's last designs. The original design was dramatically altered in the early-1960s when the club sold off a portion of its ocean front land to the Kahala Hotel. The construction of the hotel forced the club to dramatically alter the original design of the course and reroute and build new holes. Recently, Tom Doak was brought on to restore the original holes and recapture the Raynor spirit and feel on the new holes. To see all the changes over the years, check out this article on the site.
For the Tour pros, Waialae is a test of precision. It's many doglegs force players to play to a specific place. Firm and fast conditions make it easy to run balls through fairways. Good approach shots reap the reward of flat putts and great birdie chances. Waialae only has two par 5's the 9th and the 18th both of which are reachable for every player in the field.
Xander's new sticks
As mentioned in a previous newsletter, after his rookie of the year campaign, Xander Schauffele switched equipment sponsors from Taylormade to Callaway. Equipment changes can have an adjustment period and it's rare to see a young player make a switch after so much success. In his first event since the switch, Schauffele finished t22nd in the 34 man field.
For Web.com Tour graduates, the start of 2018 is crucial to their season success and chances of retaining their membership. The fall is an indicator, but the fields are far weaker to the "real" events that run from January through the end of the FedEx Cup.
Waialae has been the longtime host of the Sony Open which leads to a great deal of course history. Paulie has found a few key factors that have bred winners, here's who he likes.
A preview podcast
To go along with Paulie's picks this week, Paulie joined the podcast to discuss the start the Sony Open and the start of most fantasy leagues. We talk about picks for all formats at Waialae, breakout players for the season and strategy for your leagues. Listen to the podcast on the website, iTunes or Stitcher.