Tuesday, October 1, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 Shriners Childrens Hospital Open

The Tour comes back to Las Vegas for the Shriners Childrens Hospital Open.

TPC Summerlin was designed by Bobby Weed in 1991.  It plays to 7,255 yards at a par-72 with a course rating 74.4 and a slope of 137.

The course is fairly well received by the players as Weed is a solid course architect who also designed TPC River Highlands and TPC Tampa Bay.  I've never been to TPC River Highlands, but the course is very well liked on Tour.  TPC Tampa Bay gets more criticism, but I really enjoy the course and I think the shaky conditioning with the expensive rates tend to turn people off to it.

Summerlin is one of the toughest, if not the toughest, course on Tour on shots around the green.  It's a high GIR % course where players need to make birdies.  Most of the strokes gained/lost will be from 150-175 yards.

The last critical hole is the 444 yard par-4 18th hole.

The tee shot and the putting are what lead to the deviation in scores being so high on #18. 

The pros will hit the fairway about 78% of the time, but the misses are either in the waste area on the left, the fairway bunkers or even the water (about 3% of tee shots find the water).  They'll hit their average approach shot to 27-feet, but this is the 6th most difficult green to putt on.

Based on the data having the average drive here at 296 yards, most pros will want to have a target just left of the fairway bunkers on the right.  The longer hitters can have a target more left of those bunkers and the shorter hitters will have a target more directly at the bunkers.

Projected Winning Score: -20


Patrick Cantlay +1,000
Bryson DeChambeau +1,600
Adam Scott +1,800
Tony Finau +2,200
Hideki Matsuyama +2,500
Collin Morikawa +2,500


Adam Hadwin +4,000
Jason Kokrak +4,000
Matthew Wolff +5,000
Jhonattan Vegas +10,000


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 Safeway Open

The Tour is back at Silverado Country Club for the Safeway Open.

Let’s see how the top-5 and anybody within 3-strokes of the lead last week’s odds to win:

1st – Sebastian Munoz (+6,600)
2nd – Sung-Jae Im (+1,600)
3rd – Byeong-Hun An (+2,200)
t-4th – Kevin Streelman (+8,000)
t-4th – Carlos Ortiz (+12,500)
t-6th – Dylan Fritelli (+5,000)
t-6th – Bronson Burgoon (+6,600)
t-6th – George McNeill (+50,000)
t-6th – Dominic Bozzelli (+20,000)
t-6th – Harris English (+6,600)

Silverado was re-designed by Johnny Miller. Miller has stated that he’s not that great of an architect, but I’ve always found his courses very enjoyable. Most of the Tour pros I’ve talked to like the course, although the greens can be a little frustrating as there are a lot of saddles and crowns which are always tough reads.

Most of this course is about ballstriking, particularly from 175-200 yards. Driving is a factor, although not a huge one. But, you don’t have to be long off the tee to be effective off the tee at Silverado.

Unfortunately, the last critical hole is the par-4, 465 yard 13th hole. There’s not much to the hole, but it’s fairly birdie-able and bogey-able. The biggest difficulty of the hole is the length combined with only about 52% of the field finds the fairway.

Projected Winning Score: -16


Justin Thomas +650
Patrick Cantlay +1,000
Hideki Matsuyama +1,400
Sung-Jae Im +2,000
Bryson DeChambeau +2,000
Byeong-Hun An +2,800


Kevin Streelman +5,000
Charles Howell III +6,600
Adam Hadwin +8,000
Sung Kang +12,500


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

What to Look For: 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship

Here’s a new feature I wanted to add…looking at any player that finished in the top-5 last week and/or 3 shots from the lead…along with their odds to win at the beginning of the week:

1st - Joaquin Niemann (+2,200)
2nd - Tom Hoge (+15,000)
t-3rd - Brian Harman (+5,000)
t-3rd - Nate Lashley (+12,500)
t-3rd - Harris English (+15,000)
t-3rd - Richy Werenski (+20,000)

This can help explain why Niemann won by so many shots as the rest of the contenders were mostly massive long shots (sans Harman). And Niemann was one of the favorites to win.

The Tour comes back to Mississippi and the CC of Jackson for the Sanderson Farms Championship:

Typically the Sanderson Farms Championship has one of the weakest fields on Tour and has been mostly reserved for rookies and players with partial exempt status or guys that were in the 100-125 ranking in FedEx points in the previous season. Due to the change of the scheduling the field is stronger this year that it has been in the past. The course has typically favored the players that are best at longer approach shots. However, this comes with the preamble of the event typically having weak fields and weaker fields typically mean weaker long approach shot play. Thus, if the field was as strong as say the field at the Memorial where more players are adept on long approach shots, the course might yield more strokes in a different part of the game.

The last critical hole of CC Jackson is the 330-yard, par-4 15th hole.

The hole is certainly drivable although there are quite a few layups. Birdies (red dots) were made from everywhere regardless if the player layed-up or went for the green. The data shows that going for the green is the correct play as a higher percentage of birdies went to those that went for the green and it puts eagle into play.



Joaquin Niemann +1,400
Sung-Jae Im +1,600
Byeong-Hun An +2,200
Lucas Glover +2,500
Corey Conners +2,800


Emiliano Grillo +4,000
Sepp Straka +10,000
Sam Ryder +12,500
Adam Svensson +17,500
Tyler Duncan +25,000


Wednesday, September 11, 2019

What To Look For: A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier Classic

The Tour comes back to the Greenbrier to play Old White TPC.  Here's a cool preview from Steve Elkington on his Secret Golf YouTube channel.

Old White TPC is an old school course as it was designed by CB McDonald and not by coincidence it is a well respected course by the players.

It's a par-70 playing to 7,286 yards but is fairly wide open and forgiving off the tee.  Expect low scores and most of the strokes gained or lost coming off Red Zone play and wedge play.

Projected Winning Score: -17


Joaquin Niemann +2,200
Marc Leishman +2,200
Sung-Jae Im +2,200
Byeong-Hun An +2,800
Russell Henley +3,300


Russell Knox +6,600
Kevin Streelman +6,600
Andrew Landry +8,000
Nick Watney +10,000
Tyler Duncan +20,000

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 Travelers Championship

Coming off Gary Woodland's big win at the US Open, the Tour moves onto the Traveler's Championship at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut.  It also marks the pro debut of this guy:

A lot has been speculated towards Wolff's future pro prospects.  Statistically speaking, the college phenoms that have not lived up to the hype have usually been cases of players that were not very long off the tee and dominated the college game thru superior putting and short game play and likely being more mentally mature than their counterparts (i.e. Knost, Wittenberg, Molder). 

Even with Matt Kuchar's overall success on Tour (including his fantastic 2019 season) his pro career did not start off all that great.  Kuchar had one Tour victory in 2002, but basically went in a drought afterward as he lost his Tour card after the 2005 season and didn't become an upper tier PGA Tour player until 2010.  Kuchar was another example of a dominant collegiate player that did it thru his putting, short game around the green and guile.

Lack of distance and ballstriking prowess is not an issue for Wolff.  He'll keep his ball speed in the 185 to 190 mph range and he will do it with 11* launch and 2,500 rpm spin.  He just absolutely bombs.

He putted pretty decent at Scottsdale (+0.373 strokes gained per round) and that's a course with greens that are much trickier than they appear. 

I liken Wolff to Magic Johnson.  If there was a PGA Tour draft, Wolff would easily be the #1 overall pick like Magic was 40 years ago.  Magic wasn't a prodigy, but an incredible high school player that dominated the college game in 2 years and left for the NBA where he quickly dominated as this freakish 6'9" athlete that could handle the ball like a point guard, rebound like a power forward and score like a swing forward.  Watching Wolff smash 340 yard drives that don't move an inch offline and are at the perfect trajectory and spin is roughly the equivalent.  And if Wolff can have the PGA Tour equivalent career that Magic had int he NBA, it's going to be a real fun ride.

TPC River Highlands should be a good fit for Wolff.  It's pretty wide open and generally favors driving.  Mid length approach shots are big here as well.


Brooks Koepka +700
Patrick Cantlay +1,000
Paul Casey +1,600
Justin Thomas +1,800


Emiliano Grillo +5,000
Byeong Hun-An +6,600
Adam Hadwin +6,600
Jason Kokrak +6,600
Matthew Wolff +10,00
Abraham Ancer +12,500


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 US Open

The US Open...Pebble Beach

The course will play to 7,075 yards at a par-71.  The 2nd hole is typically a 516-yard par-5 and they are making it par-4.  In Tiger's historic win in 2000, the course was played as a par-71, but the yardage was 'only' 6,846 yards.

Generally, Pebble Beach is liked by the pros, but the AT&T Pro-Am is often not on the tops of Tour players' list because of the long rounds and questionable weather.

Pebble Beach has usually been the ranked the #1 public course in the world consistently over the past 25 years.  I've never played Pebble, but over the decades I have heard that it was underwhelming.  The typical response is that the great holes live up to the hype, but the other holes are very bland.

The good news is that Pebble's conditioning has improved tremendously over the years and it's probably at the best condition it has ever been.  It's far more plush than say in '92 when Tom Kite won:

Or in the 2010 US Open when McDowell won:

That's probably going to be the story here.  The fairways will be soft and the greens should be receptive with all of the rain they have gotten in California this year.

And that favors the longer hitters more.  But, based off the data of past US Opens it's still an approach shot course.

The 14th hole is going to be a Critical Hole.  Here's a video showing the difficulty and strategy of the 14th hole where most of the difficult is on the 2nd and 3rd shots along with a difficult green to putt on:

Projected Winning Score: -9


Brooks Koepka +850
Dustin Johnson +850
Rory McIlroy +850
Tiger Woods +1,100
Rickie Fowler +2,500
Xander Schauffele +2,500


Hideki Matsuyama +3,300
Tommy Fleetwood +3,300
Bryson DeChambeau +5,000
Paul Casey +5,500


Thursday, May 23, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge

The Tour returns to Colonial Country Club for the Charles Schwab Challenge:

Colonial CC was created by Marvin Leonard in 1938.  Leonard was infatuated with bringing bentgrass greens to Fort Worth and managed to do so thru spending a ton of money with a lot of upkeep and a designing of the greens by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell to make them very flat in order to preserve the grass.

Now with modern bermuda grass strains like Championship Bermuda and TifEagle, that's not necessary as they can withstand the heat and still roll exceptionally well.

Colonial is fairly well liked on Tour except for the bombers as the course is so tight and treelined that many bombers will have to keep the driver in the bag throughout the week and lose their advantage of distance off the tee.  That's why many bombers avoid Colonial altogether.  And the event doesn't have the purse size nor the amenities of more of the top tour events.  Combined with the re-scheduling of the PGA Championship, the event just doesn't draw as much interest these days which is a shame.

The course is mostly about quality, accurate driving but more importantly Red Zone (175-225 yards) play.

The final critical hole on the course in the 17th.

It's only 375 yards and most players will hit a tee shot that is roughly 230 yards off the tee.  Below is how to play it off the tee assuming 250 yards of carry.

However, the real key to this hole is finding the fairway more than having less club into the hole as players that miss simply do not make birdie on this hole.  And there may be a lack of confidence in hitting a 3-wood with accuracy compared to a long iron/UDI/Hybrid off the tee.  And the front left and back right pin locations are very difficult locations to putt to.

Projected Winning Score: -15


Jon Rahm +1,100
Jordan Spieth +1,100
Justin Rose +1,100
Rickie Fowler +1,200
Paul Casey +2,000


Emiliano Grillo +5,000
Matthew Fitzpatrick +5,000
Abraham Ancer +7,000
Sung-Jae Im +7,000
Andrew Landry +12,500