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PGA Tour: Aussies ready to strike Hawaii double

The PGA Tour remains in Hawaii this week after the birdie-blitz that was the Tournament of Champions last time.

Cameron Smith's tally of 34-under par was an incredible effort at Kapalua, but what can we expected from the Sony Open - Steve Palmer delivers his verdict on the week ahead.

Sony Open in Hawaii

The second leg of the PGA Tour's Hawaii Swing starts at 5.10pm UK and Ireland time on Thursday - and Cameron Smith is gunning for more glory.

Smith won the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Maui on Sunday and has hopped islands to Honolulu seeking another trophy in the Sony Open.

Smith reached 34-under-par to triumph in the Sentry, bravely repelling the challenge of world number one Jon Rahm, and scoring should be low in the Sony as well. Smith won the Sony in 2020, so his record in Hawaii has quickly become fantastic.

Bryson DeChambeau was originally in the Sony Open field, but the Californian slugger withdrew on Monday with a sore wrist, leaving Smith dominating the betting. The Sentry champion is 10/1 to complete the Hawaii double.

Ernie Els and Justin Thomas have both won the Sentry and the Sony in the space of a fortnight, so Smith knows it is entirely feasible.

It may be a question of whether he can get himself physically and emotionally ready for another leaderboard scrap, having spent a weekend battling with Rahm.

Last year, Smith could finish only 62nd in his title defence, so the rest of the field will be hoping he has one of his off weeks. Kevin Na is the defending champion - and the little grinder is a 28/1 chance to keep his crown.

Former US Open champion Webb Simpson is 16/1. Simpson missed last week's Tournament of Champions - because he failed to win anything in 2021 - so the Sony will be his first start of the year. It is worth noting that 16 of the last 23 Sony Open winners played in the Sentry the week before.

Each-way terms of a quarter the odds, the first five, are available for the Sony.

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Sony Open in Hawaii course winners taking part

Jim Furyk, Jerry Kelly, Zach Johnson, Ryan Palmer, Russell Henley, Jimmy Walker (twice), Patton Kizzire, Matt Kuchar, Cameron Smith, Kevin Na

Sony Open in Hawaii course details

The Sony Open is staged at Waialae Country Club - a 7,044-yard, par-70, which has only two par-fives. Waialae, a PGA Tour host since 1965, contrasts with the wide-open Plantation Course in Maui where Cameron Smith won the Sentry Tournament of Champions last week.

The Waialae fairways are thin, the greens are small and accuracy is the key to success.

The Hawaii turf and trade winds are similar, though, and history suggests a Sentry warm-up spin is beneficial for Sony success.

The most difficult holes are the 488-yard par-four first and the 478-yard par-four 13th. Sunshine and warmth is forecast for all four days of the event, with winds peaking at 13 mph on Sunday.

Three to follow

Marc Leishman

Australia could be in for another glorious golfing week in Hawaii, with Marc Leishman well equipped to follow his mate Cameron Smith into the winner's enclosure.

Leishman is 20/1 for the Sony Open, which seems a price worth considering given how well he has been performing in the last few months.

Leishman was fourth in the Fortinet Championship in September, third in the Shriners Open in October and third again in the QBE Shootout, alongside Jason Day, just before Christmas.

Given he has never missed a cut in 12 Sony Open starts, it is reasonable to expect Leishman to be a factor over the weekend at Waialae.

Leishman has won five PGA Tour titles as an individual - and he has posted three top-five finishes in the Sony Open. Last week's share of tenth place in Maui, where he carded four rounds in the 60s, seems like the perfect warm-up for the Sony.

Sungjae Im

The Shriners Open in October provided an exhibition in how good Sungjae Im can be - and the classy Korean youngster can threaten a third PGA Tour title on Sunday night.

Im won the Shriners by four shots, firing a final-round 62 to destroy his leaderboard rivals, and the 23-year-old looks ready to penetrate the top ten of the world rankings in the months to come.

He has no obvious weakness and is one of the most consistent operators on the Tour.

Im has finished in the top 20 in his last four tournaments - and he has two top-25 finishes to his name in three Sony starts. He loves putting on Bermuda greens and seems a likely contender at 16/1 this week.

Brandon Wu

The 300/1 against the name of Brandon Wu this week may be worth a second glance.

Wu has not made a great start to life on the PGA Tour, but the rookie is blessed with immense natural talent and should start contending for titles once he has settled on the circuit.

Wu, who won the 2020 Korn Ferry Tour Championship, is good friends with Collin Morikawa and they play the game in a similar style.

Morikawa has made an incredible start to his PGA Tour career, but it may not be long before his fellow 24-year-old Californian, Wu, starts making waves too. Waialae plays to Wu's strengths and he could prove a lively outsider. He can be backed at 7/1 to post a top-20 finish this week.

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