Sony Open in Hawaii – Fantasy Golfanac

Course Details

Waialae Country Club in Honolulu, Hawaii
7,044 yards – Par 70 – Bermudagrass Greens

Tournament Stimpmeter: ~11.2 feet. … Slower than Average Green Speeds
Green Sizes: 6,500 sq. feet … Average Green Sizes
Strength of Field Rating: ~250 OWGR … Weaker Field Strength

Driving Distance (Field Average): ~286 … Driver-Heavy Course
Fairways Hit (Field Average): ~51% … Difficulty Fairways to Hit
Greens in Regulation (Field Average): ~66% … Average Greens to Hit

Tournament Angles

#1 Coastal Courses
#2 Par 70 Courses
#3 Slow Greens
#4 Bermudagrass Greens
#5 Performance in the Winter
#6 Windy Rounds

Previous Winners

2017: Justin Thomas -27 over Justin Rose -20
2016: Fabian Gomez -20 over Brandt Snedeker in a playoff
2015: Jimmmy Walker -23 over Scott Piercy -14
2014: Jimmy Walker -17 over Chris Kirk -16
2013: Russell Henley -24 over Tim Clark -21
2012: Johnson Wagner -13 over four others at -11
2011: Mark Wilson -16 playoff over Tim Clark & Steve Marino -14
2010: Ryan Palmer -15 over Robert Allenby -14

54-Hole Leaders

2017: Justin Thomas (-22)
2016: Zac Blair, Brandt Snedeker (-16)
2015: Jimmy Walker (-16)
2014: Chris Kirk (-12)
2013: Russell Henley, Scott Langley (-17)
2012: Matt Every, Jeff Maggert (-12)
2011: Mark Wilson (-13)
2010: Ryan Palmer, Robert Allenby (-11)

36-Hole Leaders

2017: Justin Thomas (-17)
2016: Brandt Snedeker (-12)
2015: Matt Kuchar, Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson (-12)
2014: Brian Stuard (-10)
2013: Russell Henley (-14)
2012: Matt Every (-10)
2011: Shigeki Maruyama, Stuart Appleby (-10)
2010: Ryan Palmer (-9)

Important Interview Quotes

Q. What’s the difference putting these greens compared with last week?
Last week’s were a good bit slower. These greens are always so good here. I grew up on this kind of Bermuda. I like the way it looks. -2018

Q. Why do you specifically love it here?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, it just fits my game. This is a course that you’ve just got to keep it in front of you. You can’t — outside of a couple tee shots, if you can really mull it, you can’t really force it. And I’m familiar with the greens. I like a good Bermuda like this. You have to hit it straight. I mean, if you hit it in the rough, it’s just hard to control shots, and it’s hard to get it close. -2018

Q. Shooting 61 here a couple years ago, did that give you an idea that this was possible coming out here?
Yeah, that same round, I was driving it well. And I know this course, if you drive it well, you can play it really well. It’s the hardest fairways to hit on TOUR I think, and the greens aren’t big, and the rough is kind of that length to where you can get some flyers or it can come out dead.

The biggest thing is just getting it in play, because I can just hit a lot of 2-irons out here and then I’m having short irons in, and I felt comfortable enough with those that I could hit my numbers. It wasn’t windy. -2017

JUSTIN THOMAS: I love this course. A few years ago, I played my rookie year, I said that I love it. It’s just a course that I like when it’s firm fairways. Fairways are a premium. You’ve got to shape it to kind of match the fairways. It’s a lot of grinding. The greens weren’t as firm this year. I wouldn’t have shot 27-under if the greens were firm, that’s for sure.

But it’s just the place I like off the tee. There aren’t very many shots that aren’t comfortable to my eye. And I played well. It all worked out well. -2017

Q. Is this a golf course you like?
I guess I like that it’s firm. I like that the greens are bermuda, just like I practice on at home. I like that it’s not a super long course, but you have to be precise where you hit it. I feel like that’s not really the trend these days in making these golf courses. They are real long, and you can hit it — if you hit it really far, you can hit it kind of, not everywhere, but you can spray it a little bit more if you’re long. I don’t think I hit it short, but I don’t hit it as long as Bubba or Dustin or those guys. You’ve got to be precise off the tees here and I think that’s just what makes it fun. It’s more placement golf, and I enjoy that. -2017

Q. The fall was solid, if not spectacular. Anything special change over the break to bring out this good form early in the season?
I don’t think so. I’ve been working hard on it. Been playing a lot of golf the last few weeks. But no, I’m comfortable here. I love playing this golf course. I’ve come every year except once since 2009. I love Waialae, I really do. -2017

Q. You were patient off the tee, using some irons. How often did you think: You know what, maybe I’m going to pull out the big stick.
I want to pull it out every hole but it just doesn’t set up. I did that my first couple times here and that didn’t work out for me. I’m very comfortable with where my game is.

Driver feels great. I just don’t get many opportunities out here. I’m not complaining about being in the fairway either. -2017

Q. Is this a golf course you feel like you have to dial back on as far as off the tee?
I would say that more about Harbour Town than this place. I’m not hitting driver everywhere, don’t get me wrong, but I hit it more than, like, say, Harbour Town, or a couple other courses like that. So I kind of like that. You can be as aggressive as you want. You can kind of lay back. You know, the rough’s kind of penal. You’ve got to play to the front of the greens, but growing up on bermuda, I feel like I have a good understanding kind of what it does.

Yeah, you’ve got to dial back a little bit, but you can also — you can pick your spots. I feel like you can be a little more aggressive here than, say, Harbour Town. -2017

Q. What was the thought to next week?
JORDAN SPIETH: Michael has told me for the last couple years, I think, what is it, Waialae? I think he goes, Waialae is one of the best courses on TOUR for you. It’s almost like your Hilton Head, your Colonial, you have to kind of strike it around both ways and play in the wind, and we feel like that kind of plays to our strength, kind of trickier reads on the greens. You can make putts from mid-range and off a bunch of ridges.

Last year I didn’t play it because I was going overseas, and that was just going to be a really tough four-week stretch to go from there to Abu Dhabi to Singapore. But I think this could be a stop that we’ll continue to make as long as we can get into this event. -2017 Tournament of Champions

Q. Is there something about the golf course that you like in particular? Obviously you’re playing well.
You’ve got to hit it straight, so that’s what I’m doing, and the putter, I’m doing really well with the putter, so that’s what I like about the golf course. -2016

Q. 7-under par opening round on a course that you told Steve Sands doesn’t fit your eye. How do you explain today’s success?
I must have gotten better since the last few times I played here. I’ve always struggled at this course, coming over, being a little rusty from the East Coast and cold weather and trying to adjust. But this year I got to go to Maui and get kind of the rust off and the game feels good. -2016

Q. The greens, obviously, most guys talk about the greens here. How were they for you?
I love these greens. They were a little less grainy than last week and more like what I grew up on, so I feel very comfortable with them. -2016

Q. What kind of golf courses do you prefer, if any, if that makes sense?
I guess generally the ones that have a little more space off the tee. This one all the holes kind of go right to left, which is good for me. Courses that have a lot of left to right I don’t generally prefer. Usually if I can get a little space off the tee, I can see them a little better. -2015

Q. It’s a really good golf course to go into next week, because you know you gotta go low going at Humana.
Yeah, it is. It’s two totally different golf courses. Playing at Waialae is one of my favorite golf courses. It kind of reminds me of growing up in South Georgia, playing on Bermuda grass, firm and fast greens. It’s a lot of fun, but you gotta kind of regroup for the next week and start hitting the ball a little higher and start taking dead aim. -2015

Q. You always seem to play well here. Any particular reason?
There’s not a lot of hit it high and land it. It’s scoot-it golf, and I’m pretty good at scooting it golf. My miss is usually a good clean miss, and I keep the golf ball in front of me and keep it bouncing towards the pin. I don’t play the sky-ball, land-it-soft shots. It plays to my game. It’s nice when it’s firm. It’s been pretty wet the last bunch of years. Hopefully we don’t get too much from that tonight. -2014

Q. Are there a lot of Bermuda greens in Madison, Wisconsin?
Luckily my parents spent some winters down in Florida that I could come down when I first started, when I turned pro, and really learn the grass down there. It was key. Through college I was putting a lot of Bermuda, which helped me a lot when I turned pro. -2014

Q. Talk a little bit about you’ve won at Hilton Head, you’ve won at Colonial. Does this course remind you a little bit of those just in terms of the tightness of the fairways?
It does. I mean, I’m glad I ain’t near one of them right now the way I’m hitting it, but it’s very similar. The greens are good, I mean, it’s just, like I said, I’m missing in the right spots right now, thank goodness. I’m missing it where I can get it up-and-down or I’m missing it in the bunkers where I’m drawing the good lies out of the rough, and I’m in the bunker but I’m not against the lips. -2014

Q. Looking at some of your results, do you think this is the most comfortable course you have played out here on TOUR?
Yeah, it kind of seems that way. I enjoy the layout. It’s nice to have to hit some shots off the tee, and I enjoy doing that. And like I said, something about the greens that I feel good about. -2014

Q. For people who haven’t seen you play a ton, what kind of shot shape do you play? What kind of style is your play? Are you a draw player?
Yeah, usually when I’m playing well and feel comfortable, I usually hit a draw. It sets up nice. There’s a lot of tee shots where a draw seems to be the shot. -2014

Q. I took one for you there on the par-3 4th. I lost it in the sky, but it dropped and hit my hand but you got it up-and-down there. You made a couple putts to save par there and kept it going?
Well, you have to around here. I just don’t think anyone can get it around this course consistently without scrambling. It is really tough to keep it in play all day and under holes and not be in this gnarly rough. -2014

Q. You tied for 9th last year at Waialae. Anything about the course that suits you?
I like how firm it is. You’ve got to judge how far the ball is going to run. It’s always windy, as well. I grew up in the wind and enjoy playing in the wind. Those things along with the course, as well, it’s not a course that you can really overpower. You have to think your way around. I think if you play well you can score well, and if you’re not playing good, there’s not big numbers out there. I like that about it. -2014

Q. You played well in the middle of the round there, but a solid finish on the back nine, heading into the weekend at 5-under par.
Yeah, I made a couple birdies there at 15 and 16 to kind of get a decent number, but I struggled to get the ball in the fairway, which is key out here. It’s really hard to control your ball out of the rough and give yourself birdie looks. Next two days I’ve got to find some fairways. -2014

Q. At what stage did you kind of figure out those greens and start rolling it in the hole?
Like I say, not to say focus was more or anything today, but you’re seeing lines and they looked good and they felt good and reading the grain is the hard part out here. You’ve got a lot of putts that look like they’re going to break left but they end up going right because of the grain. It was really a lot like that last week, too, over in Maui. It was good prep for this week, too. -2014

Q. It doesn’t play to any of your strengths, does it?
No, no, it’s there for the guy who gets it around the best sometime and probably makes a lot of putts. I had a bit of a rough week on the greens this week. -2014

Q. Do you wish you’d see more of these kind of venues on TOUR? You’re a long hitter but it seems like it creates a situation that’s more interesting in some ways.
Potentially, yes, and no. I think I like seeing firm and fast, and this is maybe slightly shorter than what we’re used to on TOUR. But any firm and fast course is a good golf course, much better than the other way where the ball just doesn’t run out at all. You really need to control your golf ball around here. I’m happy not to see this rough for another year, though. It is crazy. -2014

Q. I brought up the thing about Georgia earlier. Is there anything, any common denominator that this place has that helps at all?
Bermudagrass is probably about it. And there’s a lot of good players from Georgia. -2014

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