Second stop Honolulu, as a decent field assembles for part two of this years Hawaiian adventure where Waialae Country Club is once again the focus of attention. As ever, while last week in Kapalua may have been a good way to shake off the rust, the leaderboard there may or may not prove to be a good indicator of what to expect this week, given the contrasting tests.
Jason Day - fresh off the back of a final round 62 (-11) on Monday at the Plantation Course has been installed as the market leader at 13.00 but he wasn't the only one to go super low that day. A slow middle two rounds for Chris Kirk - 17.00 - saw him out of contention but the American also wrapped it up with a 62. Unlike Jason, this is a course where Kirk has form and indeed has challenged strongly for the win in each of the last two years. In fact, only a snowman (8) on a par five late Saturday in 2013 cost him his chances and he went oh so close last year finishing runner up. Chris could prove the man to beat in Honolulu.
The course - Waialae Country Club
Waialae has just two features in common with Kapalua, the main one being the coastal winds which provide a serious test if they blow. It's also worth noting the players who performed with the flat stick last week as once again, tricky and grainy Bermuda greens await. The more experienced, accurate A to B type "plotters" are the ones worth profiling as the tight, palm tree lined par 70 track is also equipped with numerous dog legs. Rough can be sticky in places and greens are under the average in surface area. Greenside bunkers play a key part around Waialae but the premium will be on solid ball striking and holing out from around the 5' - 15' range. Scoring is generally low.
Three from the pack
Russell Henley - 26.00 or 6.00 - went super low and blitzed the field on his PGA Tour professional debut en route to victory in 2013. Key that week was the putter as the Bermuda grass specialist got his eye in on the greens. Henley has been making some swing changes and finished 7th in ball striking at Kapalua, missing out on the win by just a shot. Again Russell was superb on the greens and he sits 3rd in the all round this year so far. The 25-year-old picked up a huge win at the Honda Classic last season and has really stepped it up a notch since. Anyone who saw the American take apart this track in 2013 will want to be aboard again.
Brendon Todd - 26.00 or 6.00 - is a strong fancy of mine to go well this week. Flashbacks to Todd's win at the Byron Nelson in 2014 where he mentioned his game plan down the stretch was to tee it low and therefore keep it low under the wind, and in play. Similar requirements are needed at the Waialae Track and no coincidence then that 7 of Todd's last 8 rounds here have been under par. The American sits 17th for driving accuracy this season while in 2013 he ranked 6th in scrambling, 5th in total birdies and most importantly, 4th in total putting and putting from 5-15'. The stats fit well for the 29 year old and throw in 15th (2014) and 1st (2015) in sand saves and it adds even more fuel to the fire.
Boo Weekley - 81.00 or 17.00 - is another player known to occasionally perform on Bermuda grass and when you combine it with a ball strikers track, he's always on the radar. It's no coincidence that Boo's three wins have come at Harbour Town (2) and Colonial, arguably the two tightest tracks on tour and Waialae falls under the exact same category. Harbour town in particular is exactly the same sort of test as the ball must be flighted under and against the wind to find the right part of narrow fairways for optimum approach angle. Weekley is a ball striking supremo (12th in 2014) who found top form the other side of Christmas with figures reading 6 - 15 - 15 - 2.
A man that's generally eager to get going at this time of year is Rory Sabbatini - 151.00 or 26.00 - and he often gets out of the blocks fast. Rory owns two runner-up finishes at Waialae and his form here in general is very consistent. Eight top 10s from his last 52 events say he still has what it takes to win, especially around one of the shorter tracks, and he may be worth siding with in the sub markets if not the main ones. T9 in each of the last two seasons at the aforementioned Harbour Town Links is a highly relevant stat. T3 at the not too dissimilar Mayakoba late 2013.