Expert Picks: 2014 Sony Open


This week marks the eighth event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season as Waialae Country Club plays host to the Sony Open in Hawaii. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributor John Hawkins; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; staff writer Ryan Lavner and defending fantasy champion Charlie Rymer.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Zach Johnson: The fairways-and-greens specialist is back to his machine-like ways and the tight, windy confines of Waialae are an even better fit for his game than Kapalua as evidenced by his Sony Open victory in 2009.

Group 2: Harris English: Any concerns over the third-year PGA Tour player's transition to a new equipment company this year were mitigated by his tie for 11th at Kapalua.

Group 3: John Peterson: One of the most consistent performers on the Tour last year has all the markings of this year’s breakthrough talent.

Group 4: Scott Langley: He kick-started his rookie year on Tour with a tie for third at the Sony Open. Although he cooled as the season progressed, Hawaii is the perfect place to start over.

Will Gray

Group 1: Jordan Spieth: Picked up right where he left off with a runner-up in Maui to follow his Rookie of the Year showing in 2013. The first of many high finishes for the 20-year-old.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: There's "horses for courses," and then there's CH3 at Waialae. Playing a venue that clearly suits him, Howell will look to earn valuable world ranking points this week as he eyes a return trip to Augusta National.

Group 3: John Peterson: Peterson thrived in the inaugural Tour Finals, and as a result is fully exempt this season on the PGA Tour. The former NCAA champ is poised for a big year.

Group 4: Sean O Hair: Still on the comeback trail, O'Hair is returning to Waialae for the first time since his T-2 finish in 2012. Has shown promise already this season with a pair of top-30 finishes in October.

Ryan Lavner

Group 1: Zach Johnson: Not a great track record at Waialae - win in 2009, just one other top 30 in eight trips - but big, brawny Kapalua wasn't supposed to fit his game, either. With three wins in his last six starts, he's too hot to pass up.

Group 2: Charles Howell III: Annual pick at the Sony, and he rarely disappoints. Second in all-time earnings here with seven top-five finishes, including four in the past five years.

Group 3: Jeff Overton: Ten of his last 12 rounds at Waialae have been in the 60s, and he was eighth a year ago. Four top 25s to kick off the 2013-14 season.

Group 4: Will MacKenzie: In a weak group, take a flier on the guy who has three top-15 finishes in four starts this year.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Zach Johnson: He's riding a nice wave, so we'll ride his game like a surfboard in Hawaii.

Group 2: Tim Clark: Knock, knock. He's always at the door here, with two runner-up finishes in his last two Sony Open starts.

Group 3: Mark Wilson: After winning Sony in 2011 he has missed the last two cuts there, but the mojo will return.

Group 4: Sean O Hair: A lot of talent ready to come back out again.