The Sony Open is the first full-field PGA Tour event of 2015, and it’ll be nice to watch so many familiar faces teeing it up in sunny Honolulu as the current temperature in the Northeast hovers defiantly in the teens. I like these Hawaii tournaments because it’s the only time I get to watch live golf without my kids competing for my attention. For those of you without children, it’s very difficult to analyze Russell Henley’s ball flight when you have a 3-year-old whacking you in the shins with a wooden piece of train track.
Ahh, kids are the best. Speaking of progeny…
Group Most Likely Related to Arnold Palmer: Sam Saunders, Scott Pinckney and Kyle Suppa
This could be the year that Sam Saunders finally breaks free of his grandfather’s omnipresent shadow and starts to establish his own legacy in golf. After several seasons of slogging through golf’s minor leagues, Saunders earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour Finals in September. He would also understandably like people to stop talking about the influence his grandfather has had on his golf game, even if being related to the King has had its fair share of perks, Saunders including a standing invite to the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Regardless, after a while it must get pretty old having people asking you for the proper ratio of iced tea to lemonade.
Group Most Likely To Have Burned A Piece Of Furniture Following The Ohio State’s Victory In The College Football National Championship: Jason Day, Harris English and K.J. Choi
Jason Day lives in O-H...I-O, therefore, according to the state charter, he must root for the Buckeyes, even if he is not a college football fan. And who can blame him really after OSU did every thing short of stuff the Oregon Ducks' collective carcass full of fresh herbs and spices on the way to an impressive 42-20 victory in the college football national championship? I’d have a problem with Day jumping on the Buckeye bandwagon if he came from some other part of the country or went to a different college but, as a native Aussie, all can be forgiven. Now, if he ever starts cheering for an American cricket team, then we might need to have a few words.
In regards to the celebrations that occurred in Columbus after the game, I for one have never understood the impulse to light furniture on fire. Maybe it’s because I’m older now and my pyromania phase has long since passed, or it could be that I would rather choose to sit on a sofa than inhale its noxious pleather fumes. Whatever the case may be, for smart people, college kids act real stupid some times.
Last week in my Hyundai Tournament of Champions preview I mentioned how I was picking Jason Day to win the 2015 Masters. According to oddsmakers Day is a 25-to-11 to win the Masters. Rory is 6-to-1 while Tiger Woods is second at 15-to-1. I’m no shark but those odds for Day are right in the gambler's sweet spot. If you’ve got a few extra dollars to spare you might want to plunk a little something down on Day. Or maybe Bubba to repeat. Matt Kuchar at 30-to-1 looks good, too.
Group Most Likely In Need Of A Bounce-Back Season: Luke Donald, Webb Simpson and Matt Kuchar
Luke Donald and Webb Simpson had really disappointing seasons in 2014 culminating with Donald being left off the European Ryder Cup team and Simpson practically begging his way onto the American side. To make matters worse, Simpson’s performance at Gleneagles was less than inspiring, just like all the other Americans save for Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed, to the point where one has to wonder if other golfers now resent him for campaigning Tom Watson so hard for that final captain’s pick. Does Chris Kirk carry on a grudge this year to the point where when playing with Simpson he refuses to mark his ball on the putting surface or stop talking during one of Webb’s backswings? Something to watch out for at least.
As for Luke Donald, I’m rooting for him to have a good season if only because he looked so short standing next to Michael Jordan and Derek Jeter on New Year's Eve. Although, come to think of it, he gets to play golf and hang out with Michael Jordan and Derek Jeter so maybe he doesn’t need our sympathy after all.
Group Most Likely To Have A Successful Second Career As A Radio Broadcaster: John Daly, Kevin Kisner and James Hahn
I haven’t listened to John Daly’s radio show on Sirius/XM, but I imagine it is highly entertaining. I wonder if Fox would ever consider putting J.D. up in a tower to call this year’s U.S. Open from Chambers Bay. Think about it: new network to golf, trying to attract an audience hires the ever popular/controversial Daly to describe the action on one of the closing holes of a major championship. He would be honest and refreshing. Heck, get a few Diet Cokes in him and he may start spinning yarns about that time(s) he played golf without shoes or a shirt. It’s a slam dunk. If you need a press agent, Mr. Daly, you can always find me hiding behind my keyboard.
Regarding Fox’s coverage of the U.S. Open, I’m not one of those Joe Buck haters who wants to smack that smug grin off his face. In fact, I find his football and baseball schtick to be totally palatable. Golf, however, is a different story as we have all grown accustomed to the smooth, melancholic monotones of Jim Nantz and Dan Hicks as they serenade our ears with pithy anecdotes. Joe Buck does not have a lot of experience calling golf, so I worry that there will be times this June when he gets so caught up in the action that he makes a Justin Rose putt for par sound like Dez Bryant’s catch against the Packers. (That was totally a catch, by the way!) I understand we need to give Fox a chance but if they decide to include Mike Pereira in the booth alongside Buck and Greg Norman then all of Texas might start twitching.
Group Most Likely To Win The 2015 Sony Open: Hideki Matsuyama, Angel Cabrera and Robert Streb
It’s only a matter of time before the 22-year-old Matsuyama wins a major -- he’s that good. A win at the Sony Open and we might start talking about him like we do Jordan Spieth, and maybe Patrick Reed, as the greatest long-term threat to the Reign of Rory.