Adam Scott will kick off his year at Waialae Country Club for the first time since 2016. Although he didn’t feature in that edition, he went on to tie second at the LA Open and then win back-to-back events in his next three PGA Tour starts. Scott is coming off an 11-week break that saw him miss the Australian summer of golf, but it was only his second competitive absence at home in 18 years. The earlier off-season and US start was designed to get more reps in before the Masters, particularly with the PGA Tour schedule being brought forward a month in 2019. “(Skipping the Australian summer) was the right decision for me; I didn’t feel good about not playing (in Australia),” Scott told AGD at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.
Leishman is coming off a share of fourth at last week’s Tournament of Champions at Kapalua on Maui, where the world No.20 showed enough potency to win at Kapalua save for an uncharacteristic double and triple bogey. Leishman’s only achilles heel on tour has been the driver and since he has put Callaway’s new Epic Flash driver in the bag, he admits he is driving it as well as he ever has. “I’m pretty excited about this year with this new driver. My mis-hits are going straighter and longer. When I drive it well, I give myself more aggressive iron shots and I feel irons are the strength of my game,” Leishman said at Waialae. Leishman has been a consistent performer at the Sony, with two top-10s among five top-25 results from nine previous starts.
World No.29 Smith had an incredible Australian summer where confirmed to fans he is a star to watch for years to come. He tied 10th at the Australian Open without his A-game, then shared second alongside Leishman at the World Cup in Melbourne before successfully defending his Australian PGA Championship title on the Gold Coast. He enjoyed Christmas back home in Queensland but visited swing coach Grant Field multiple times to keep sharp while on holidays. Look for a refreshed and in-form Smith to play well at the Sony – and start 2019 with several good results.
The past champ
Justin Thomas is the 2017 Sony Open champion who opened that edition with a 59 en route to a dominant, seven-shot victory. Thomas lurked ominously last week at Kapalua, finishing solo third, five shots back of a sensational Xander Schauffele. He appears primed for another victory at Waialae.
The old rookie
American Chris Thompson is the feel-good story at Waialae this week. The Kansas native is a 42-year-old US PGA Tour rookie. After three decades scrapping around on mini-tours in the US, Thompson finally broke through last season on the Web.com Tour to earn a PGA Tour card. After 18 trips to Q-School and 10 years on and off the Web.com Tour, Thompson posted three consecutive top-five results on the Web to earn his promotion. The Sony is Thompson’s fourth start on the PGA Tour this season, having missed two cuts and was tied 45th at the Sanderson Farms Championship.