photo courtesy the PGA
The Sony Open in Hawaii begins this Thursday at Honolulu’s beautiful Waialae Country Club. The event is the PGA Tour’s first full field event of 2019 and follows last week’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, also held in Hawaii. Over half the field from that exclusive event is expected to compete at the Sony Open, make the tournament especially competitive. Waialae has provided dramatic entertainment in the past 2 years and fans will be hoping the tournament can deliver again in 2019.
2018 Champion Patton Kizzire
photo courtesy Titleist
Last year’s tournament saw a herculean fourth round rally as James Hahn shot a 62 to close a 6 stroke gap on Patton Kizzire, himself trailing Tom Hoge. With 3 holes to play, Hoge would find his approach shot in a greenside bunker and suffer a double bogey, a score that he could not recover from. The end of regulation would see Hahn and Kizzire tied with the championship going to a playoff. Both Hahn and Kizzire matched pars and then birdies on the 18th hole, before matching pars again on the 17th hole. The pair then moved on to the par-3 hole 16 where Hahn’s 8 foot putt would catch the lip of the cup and hand the tournament to Kizzire. It was the longest playoff on the PGA Tour for over 5 years. This year, Kizzire returns to the course as he looks to defend his title.
In addition to Patton Kizzire, the field includes numerous heavyweights including Justin Thomas. Thomas, currently ranked world number 4, previously won the tournament in 2017 when an opening round 59 turned into a new tournament record low score of 253, 27 strokes under par. Other contenders include Webb Simpson and Bubba Watson, while a sentimental pick might be former Sony Open champion Vijay Singh. Singh, at 55, spends most of his time on the PGA Tour Champion and is making a rare appearance on the PGA Tour. Bryson DeChambeau is another favorite after an electrice last 6 months, including 4 wins and last week’s 7th place finish. Fellow professionals Hideki Matsuyama, Shugo Imahira and Yuta Ikeda will seek to emulate Isao Aoki’s 1983 win, the first by a Japanese golfer on the PGA Tour. The 16 year old Peter Jung will be the local favorite as the Hawaiian amateur earned a tournament exception through a local qualifier. Fans unable to catch the action in person can enjoy television coverage provided by the Golf Channel. Coverage is Thursday-Saturday, 7-10:30pm ET and Sunday 6-10pm ET.