Sony Open: Inside the Numbers

January 13, 2016


The two par 5s at the Sony Open played to a scoring average of only 4.39 strokes in 2015 – the easiest course scoring average for par 5s on Tour last season. This is consistent with the numbers from prior seasons too; the scoring average on those holes from 2011-14 also averaged 4.39 strokes. The low scoring is understandable when you consider the 9th hole played 503 yards on average in 2015 and the 18th typically stretches just 542. The average length for par 5s on Tour is more than 560 yards.


Those two par 5s are extremely easy to attack in two shots for the entire field. In 2015, 94% of second shots on those par 5s were aimed at or near the green. The average for the Sony Open in 2015 was neck-and-neck with the par 5s at the Wyndham Championship as easiest holes to get home on in two shots on the PGA Tour. While bombers will still have an advantage in terms of playing second shots from closer to the green, everyone in the field this week will have the chance to play par 5s aggressively.


The field hit driver on 62% of par-4 or par-5 holes in 2015 – the fifth-lowest total on Tour. The Tour in general hit driver on about 72% of par 4 and par 5 holes in 2015 – meaning the average golfer hit driver on about 1.5 fewer holes per round at the Sony. As the better and longer hitters gain a larger advantage when hitting driver versus hitting three wood or less, the Sony stands out as unfavourable to the type of elite drivers like Adam Scott who can hit driver straight and long.


Charles Howell III has bested the field average at the Sony Open by 2.0 strokes per round since 2008, the second behind Russell Henley for best total of anyone with at least three appearances in that time. Howell joins Jimmy Walker (6th best) and Marc Leishman (8th) as very inaccurate drivers who have found success at Waialae.


In last year’s Sony Open, golfers hit only 52% of their fairways – the sixth worst performance in terms of accuracy of the season. However, missing the fairway was not particularly penal – ranking at almost exactly average in terms of strokes lost when missing the fairway.