The Sony Open


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Just a few weeks ago I heard a local meteorologist talk of a “temperature anomaly” along the equator that was driving mild weather to the east coast of the United States. Now they’re calling it el Nino. Happens from time to time. Right.

Not that I’m complaining anyway. Usually this time of year the irons in my trunk are out and a snow scraper is in. I’ve been hitting balls at my local park (which is getting harder to do because they’re putting in a skate ramp, which I’m all for, it’s just I’m going to need to find a new place to take my short irons if I don’t want to brain a kid by accident with a stray approach to the tree I aim for) all this time.

This means that I didn’t look forward to last week’s season-opening Mercedes Championship as much as I have in non-Nino years. Usually by now I’ve had enough of snow, my hands are purple, etc. , etc. Last Saturday it hit 70! Shattered the record. What do I need with those nice cutaways of waves in Hawaii?

I actually broke a sweat playing Frisbee golf Saturday afternoon, though that was because I was trying to find a stray shot in the woods. By the evening it was back down to 50 degrees but a day like that will carry me until April. No Hawaii envy here thanks to Baby Jesus!

Last week: So the new year’s off to a good start for me. No major dental problems yet and I had a winning week based on picking Vijay in the head-to-head against Davis Love III. It would have been nice to have picked him in the outright, too, which is what I usually do-my head-to-head choice usually also one of my three outright choices. As it is, at 8-11 odds, 1 unit, I made $727. Subtract half a unit for the outrights and I netted $227.

At this week’s Sony Open in Honolulu …

Take Bubba Watson (125-1), 1/6 unit: I considered taking Geoff Ogilvy again but he’s missed the cut every time he’s played the Sony Open. So I’m going with big Bubba. Too tempting not to put $166.66 on the guy who broke out with a fourth place finish last year at the Sony. Yes, he’s rough around the edges and plays a little too much like another certain lefty. Yes, he had a rough patch after the two early top-10s to start 2006, but he finished the year solidly. Do I think he’s going to win? No. But I think he’s better than 125-1 to win. Probably more like 75-1. I’ve gone conservative with the other two outright picks anyway (see below).

Take Vijay Singh (5-1), 1/6 unit: He’s won back-to-back before. It’s impossible to imagine him phoning one in on the heels of a win. If he keeps putting like he did in Maui, he’ll win a slew this year. Says he worked hard in the offseason. That's not an anomaly, of course, for Singh. It's all about the putting.

Take Luke Donald (16-1), 1/6 unit: Donald is coming off a good week at Kapalua (seventh place, helped by a 67 on Sunday). He’s played in Honolulu four times, dating to 2002. His results from 2002-2005: T13, MC, T20, T13. I’d say he’s got a feel for the course.

In the head-to-head, take Donald to finish higher than Trevor Immelman (30-29), 1 unit: Donald isn’t going to out drive many people on Tour. His game is control. He has shown the ability to hit greens and he’s shown he can putt. When he puts both together he can compete with just about anyone. Last year’s Sony Open winner, David Toms, has a similar game. I’d say Immelman does, too, but I haven’t seen enough of him to say for sure. He appears to be out of that mold, though he hits it longer than Toms and Donald, and he appears as mentally poised as the aforementioned. The edge goes to Donald on the experience front.

(Odds from

Jeremy Church is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at


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