Westerville resident Jason Day (#37 in World Golf Ranking), Xavier University alum Jason Kokrak (#64 in WGR) and Akron native Harold Varner III (#125 in WGR) are the only Ohio connected PGA golfers not teeing it up this week.
January 8, 2020
HONOLULU, HI – The Sony Open in Hawai’i, the first big-field PGA event of the new decade is upon us and is being held at the famed Waialae Country Club that sits just blocks east of the iconic Diamond Head Crater on a dead flat piece of property in one of the best neighborhood’s on the island of Oahu.
The course features Bermuda grass from tee to green, 83 bunkers, and four relatively benign water hazards, spread across the 7,044 yard (par 70) layout. The course was designed by the legendary architect Seth Rayner in 1927 and most recently had it’s lone renovation in 1992 by Desmond Muirhead (co-designer of the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin).
After last week’s three-hole playoff victory at The Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua Resort on the island of Maui, PGA superstar Justin Thomas (the grandson of long-time Head Professional Paul Thomas at Zanesville Country Club) is poised to pull off the “Aloha Slam” (winning the Tournament of Champions and Sony back-to-back) for the second time in the last four seasons after accomplishing the feat in 2017.
He joins a list of favorites at the event that also includes defending champion Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Hideki Matsuyama and last week’s Sentry TOC runner-up Patrick Reed.
Ohio Golfers in the field:
Ryan Armour: #190 in World Rankings
Best Sony Open finish: Tie for 22nd in 2019 at ten-under-par.
Armour, after a journeyman career of drifting back and forth between occasional status on the PGA Tour and the minor-league tours, he now has assumed a more consistent position in his career. The 43-year-old former Ohio State golfer who hails from Akron and starred at Walsh Jesuit High School is playing the best golf of his career since 2016. He seems fairly secure to continue his improved play and could be a factor before the week is done here in Honolulu.
Corey Connors: #58 in World Rankings.
Best Sony Open finish: Tie for 3rd in 2019 at 17-under-par.
Connors is one of two Ohio connected golfers who qualified for last week’s Sentry TOC where he shot two-under-par for the week to tie for 19th place. The Kent State graduate who hails from Canada is just starting his recent two-year exemption after winning the 2019 Valero Texas Open. Connors who is amongst the straightest drivers on tour was left off the International Team during last month’s President Cup, but will be a threat to qualify for the 2021 team and possibly a spot on the 2020 Canadian Olympic team in Tokyo if he can continue his inspired play.
Jason Dufner: #256 in World Rankings.
Best Sony Open finish: Tie for 9th in 2016 at 13-under-par.
A couple years back Dufner seemed like he was going to be a near constant threat to challenge for spots on both the U.S. Ryder Cup and President’s Cup teams. However, the putter and his ability to consistently gut short putts continues to struggle. His ball striking remains consistent. Wet, windy conditions and slower than normal greens might aid him this week at Waialae.
Jim Herman: #275 in World Rankings.
Best Sony Open finish: Tenth place in 2017 at 15-under-par.
Just when you thought that Hermie was down and out and on the verge of perhaps of a trip to the Korn Ferry Tour, he defied the odds and pulled out a huge come from behind win at the Barbasol Classic in Lexington last summer. This coming off a bad bout with plantar fasciitis that saw him get a medical exemption, before getting his tour exemption through the 2019-20. The University of Cincinnati grad will have to make putts to contend this week.
Bo Hoag: #335 in World Rankings.
The rookie. Hoag comes from one of the most popular golfing families in central Ohio. The Ohio State University alum broke through with a big end of the year win at the Winco Foods Portland Open on the Korn Ferry Tour to earn his tour card and step into the PGA spotlight. The Upper Arlington native hopes to build on his late season 2019 success and make a name for himself here in Honolulu.
Mackenzie Hughes: #263 in World Rankings.
Best Sony Open finish: Tie for 27th in 2017 at 11-under-par.
Kent State graduate and Canada native Mackenzie Hughes has remained steady but unspectacular since his early career win at the RSM classic in 2016. It came in only his fifth start on the PGA Tour.
Colt Knost: #1334 in World Rankings.
Best Sony Open finish: Tie for 17th in 2015 at ten-under-par.
The former U.S. Amateur Champion and Walker Cup team member is currently playing on a medical exemption that got him in the field at the Sony. The one-time winner on the Web.com tour is currently residing in the “Where are they now?” files. He is a native of Garrettsville, Ohio.