Dan Roebuck’s Sony Open preview – Johnson to begin 2014 in style

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The PGA Tour island-hops from Maui to Oahu for the first full field event of 2014 – the Sony Open in Hawaii at Waialae Country Club.

The layout, at 7,044 yards with a par of 70, couldn’t be more different to what we saw at Kapalua, but that hasn’t stopped nine of the past 15 Sony Open winners claiming the title having played in the Tournament of Champions the previous week.

Given those that teed up on the Valley Isle were all winners over the past 12 months it stands to reason that the best golfers will do well the following week but that’s not to say those making their yearly debuts should be ignored – especially after Russell Henley’s 80/1 victory in 2013. The rookie won on his first start on the main tour as a professional – so no one can be ruled out.

The best bet though is to surely take the hint from last week and back Zach Johnson to win again, which would see him become the first player since Ernie Els in 2003 to win both legs of the Hawaiian swing.

The US Ryder Cupper spends a month on the Pacific Islands with his family and after a wobble in round three on Maui came roaring back on day four with some brilliant iron play, that set up birdie after birdie opportunity, to claim success by one stroke from Jordan Spieth. His game is much better suited to Waialae than Kapalua, where his form prior to last week was woeful (and put many punters off backing him).

The last time he ranked outside the top ten of driving accuracy was back in August and his straight-hitting game is ideal for the tight fairways of the Honolulu layout, where he was victorious in 2009.

Charles Howell will be overbet this week but I’m loath to leave him out of the staking plan given his brilliant record at Waialae. He made his debut on Oahu back in 2002, when his finished fourth, and has subsequently gone on to finish in the top five on six more occasions making him an each-way steal. Top seven efforts in three of his last four starts is another tick in the right box.

Lastly, Will Mackenzie is my best triple figure odds hunch. The Web.com Tour graduate started the wraparound season in solid form (three top 15s from four appearances), and has the accurate game for Waialae.

My three off the tee – Johnson, Howell and Mackenzie.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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