Lowdown:
The PGA Tour remains in Hawaii this week for the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. Ryan Palmer defends the title but will face stiff competition from a strong field.
The Hawaiian Open has been contested at Waialae CC since 1965 and the list of winners is impressive – Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, Ernie Els and Vijay Singh have all lifted the trophy.
Opened for play in 1927, the course has a long and distinguished history. The layout was originally by Seth Raynor and Charles Banks though Desmond Muirhead completed a redesign in 1990. It’s a course where the wind is often a significant factor and the forecasts suggest this year will be no different.
In last year’s event Ryan Palmer was the narrow victor over Robert Allenby. Palmer looked to be in trouble on the final hole when he overhit his short pitch to the green. But, luckily his ball struck the flag and ended just inches from the cup rather than several feet past. He tapped in and, when Allenby missed from eight feet, the tournament went to Palmer.
A strong field has assembled for this week’s event with nine Major champions teeing it up including Ernie Els, John Daly and Vijay Singh. Last week’s winner Jonathan Byrd is on the start sheet as are Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Tim Clark, K.J. Choi and Camilo Villegas.

Venue: Waialae Country Club, Hawaii
Date: Jan 13-16
Course stats: par 70, 7,068 yards
Purse: $5,500,000 Winner: $990,000
Defending Champion: Ryan Palmer (-15)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 13 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from midnight
Friday 14 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from midnight
Saturday 15 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from midnight
Sunday 16 – Live on Sky Sports 4 from midnight

Player Watch:
Robert Allenby – The Australian was second in this event last season and has finished in the top-10 three times in his last five starts.

Steve Stricker – Another man who clearly enjoys this course, he‘s finished in the top-four three times in his last four starts at Waialae. He held the lead after three rounds last week but faded over the final 18 so will be looking to make up for that disappointment this week.

Ernie Els – Els already has a victory this year, in the South African Open, and looks to be back to something approaching his best form. If he can find it this week, he’ll be tough to beat. He’s won this event twice before (2003 and 2004.)

Key hole: 1st. Modelled by course architect Seth Raynor on the Road Hole at St Andrews, this hole used to be a par 5. At 480 yards to a shallow green protected by a huge bunker, it now plays to an average of almost 4.5. In 2009.

Skills required: Solid all round game. Of the courses played on the PGA Tour, Waialae generally ranks somewhere in the middle for difficulty (21 of 52 in 2010.) It’s not a brute but it’s also not a layout that can be taken apart. Expect to see a winning score around the 15-under mark. The winner will play strategically from tee to green but will have to enjoy a good putting week on the course’s notoriously tricky, quick greens.