Tides’ Takes – PGA Tournament Matchup Picks, Props & Outrights: 2023 Sony Open

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ScoresAndOdds analyst Timothy Buell gives free expert advice and betting picks for every PGA event.  

For the purpose of this column, I will be focusing mostly on H2H matchup, outright tournament winners, and live bets! 

Make sure to use our tools at ScoresAndOdds to find the best lines at your favorite legal sportsbook.  

2023 Sony Open

Last week was the official restart of the 2023 PGA Tour season with the short-field event at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

Congratulations to Jon Rahm, who took advantage of a colossal blow up by Collin Morikawa on the back nine. This week is the first full-field event for the calendar year, which 144 players will compete in, while top-65 make the cut. We are back! Let’s break down the course and make some picks for the betting card!

The Tour stays in Hawaii and heads to Waialae Country Club located in Honolulu. The PGA Tour has played at this course every year since 1965.  It is the fourth-longest tenured course on the Tour, trailing only Augusta National, Colonial Country Club and Pebble Beach.    

Course breakdown

Waialae Country Club is a par-70 and plays 7,044 yards from the tips. It is a much shorter golf course than Tour average and plays the polar opposite of what we saw last week. The narrow fairways and tight landing areas should reward more accurate players. The greens, fairways and rough are all bermudagrass. There are only five holes where water hazards come into play.

The past five winners include: Hideki Matsuyama (-23), Kevin Na (-21), Cameron Smith (-11), Matt Kuchar (-22) and Patton Kizzire (-17).

In 2020, the wind made a major impact, which is not usually the case at this course. I would anticipate the winning score to eclipse the -20 mark this week. Looking over the names of these past winners, I certainly noticed that bombers don’t excel here. Instead, it’s accuracy off the tee, approach, and a hot putter.  Another interesting note – eight out of the last nine winners had played the week before at the Tournament of Champions. The one exception was Smith.  

Tom Kim is the current betting favorite and is somewhere between 11-1 and 14-1, depending on which book you shop at. He is a true rising star, with a really good course fit, but I will pass in the outright market. This course is too short and trends on the easier side of scoring, so I think there are ultimately too many golfers that can win. Betting the favorite in a spot like this is ultimately a negative expected value.  

2023 Sony Open: Free PGA Betting Picks

Short accurate strikers of the golf ball is what we want this week and Russell Henley fits that exact mold. The four-time PGA Tour winner has impressed throughout his career and is often in contention on Sunday. Henley admitted to having a bit of a nerves problem when playing with the lead on Sunday, but that has not prevented him from closing the door on events.

He absolutely dominated the field at Mayakoba, which is a course that is similar to Waialae. I feel very confident that Henley will at least be on the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday. If he can make putts, he’ll have a serious shot at an outright. 

Montgomery was all of the hype during the fall swing, where he earned six top-15 finishes in seven of his first professional starts since earning his PGA Tour card. For those of us that followed him on the Korn Ferry Tour, it wasn’t that surprising to see him succeed at the PGA level.

He is going to get a win. The question is when? You’ll hear a lot about Kim this week, but it’s actually Montgomery who leads this field in total strokes gained in the last 36 weighted rounds. At times, Vegas was posting Montgomery around 20-1 in certain tournaments, but now it feels like he isn’t being talked about as much. His number has fallen considerably.  

Continuing our theme of short knockers that can get scorching hot with the putter, I bring you the Canadian, Mackenzie Hughes.  He is another guy that played last week and has winning upside when things break his way. 

Hughes played extremely well during the fall swing, including a win at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He doesn’t have the best course history, with a T27, followed by three missed cuts. However, last year he did finish T19. Hughes has the experience and skill set to justify a wager at this number

Official Betting Card