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Kisner can turn the tide on triumphant Thomas

Wounded Bulldog looks dangerous in Hawaii

Kevin Kisner has the perfect game for Waialae Country Club
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Sky Sports Golf, midnight Friday

American football will be a thorny subject when Kevin Kisner and Justin Thomas tee off alongside each other in the first round of the Sony Open – the rival fans have been at loggerheads this week – but the golfing glory at Waialae Country Club can go to the older man.

Georgia Bulldogs, Kisner's college side, started well in the National Championship finale on Monday night before losing in overtime to Alabama Crimson Tide, Thomas's team. The pair had struck a bet beforehand which meant the losing supporter had to wear opposition colours on the 17th hole of the Sony Open.

Kisner must go through the embarrassment of donning an Alabama shirt in round one, but he can regain his pride through a prominent position on the leaderboard and a threeball success.

Sony Open outright preview

Waialae is a perfect course for Kisner to show off his talents, namely precise tee-to-green work and razor-sharp putting. He has finished fifth and fourth in the last two Sonys.

Defending champion Thomas obviously likes Waialae, too, and was rampant there last year, but a poor performance in the Sentry Tournament of Champions last week and the loss of caddie Jimmy Johnson to injury suggests similar fireworks are less likely this time.

Thomas is linking up with Jim 'Bones' Mackay, former bagman to Phil Mickelson, for the first time this week. Bones is a well respected caddie, but he is coming out of retirement and has been employed at Waialae only once before, 28 years ago. Thomas will miss Johnson and could be unsettled.

Jason Dufner, the third member of this threeball, uncharacteristically holed a few putts at Kapalua last week, but the 40-year-old plodder is likely to revert to type. A lack of wind is set to make for a low-scoring week and Dufner should be left behind. Kisner looks a bargain at 2-1 for the 10.40pm (UK & Ireland time) contest.

Two other threeballs options appeal, along with two 72-hole match bets. Ollie Schniederjans showed a liking to this sort of course with third place in the Heritage last year and the talented youngster can be fancied to account for Mark Wilson and Harold Varner in the 5.10pm gathering, while Brian Gay is worth chancing against Gary Woodland and Aaron Baddeley (10.10pm).

There are a handful of tracks where the short-hitting Gay can be ultra-competitive and Waialae is one of them. Driving accuracy and putting ability make the veteran a title contender on this layout and he was fifth in 2009.

The in-form Brian Harman, who finished third in the Tournament of Champions on Sunday behind a buzzing Dustin Johnson and brilliant Spanish youngster Jon Rahm, has finished in the top 20 at Waialae the last three years. The US Open runner-up can outscore Tony Finau, who gets precious little advantage from his power at this venue.

Cameron Smith can defeat Xander Schauffele, who is adjusting to new equipment after his shock New Year departure from TaylorMade. Tournament favourite Jordan Spieth is due off at 6pm, with Schauffele and Daniel Berger for company.

K Kisner to win threeball
2pts 2-1 Betfred, Coral, Ladbrokes
O Schniederjans to win threeball
2pts 13-10 Betfair, Paddy Power
B Gay to win threeball
2pts 15-8 bet365, Hills
B Harman to beat T Finau
2pts 4-5 Betfred
C Smith to beat X Schauffele
2pts 5-6 Sky Bet

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Thomas will miss Johnson and could be unsettled
E.W. Terms
Sky bet