HONOLULU – Waialae Country Club is very much a friendly confines stop for many players like Zach Johnson, who won the Sony Open in 2009 and has missed just two cuts in 12 starts.
Some contend the layout’s tight, tree-lined fairways favor shorter hitters with above-average short games, like Johnson, but history suggests there’s more to it than that.
“I mean, Jimmy Walker has won here [2014 and ’15] and he hits it pretty hard. Ernie [Els 2003 and ’04] has won, Vijay [Singh, 2005] has won. I think it favors a guy that's just on with his ball-striking or a consistent ball-striker,” said Johnson, who is alone in second place at 15 under. “Guys that can control their ball flight, certainly hit the ball in the fairway, that's the qualities of this golf course, it requires those shots.”
Johnson’s statistics would back up that assessment. He’s hit 44 of 54 greens in regulation and 23 of 42 fairways through three rounds in Hawaii.