Tuesday, August 8, 2017

What To Look For: 2017 PGA Championship

The 100th PGA Championship will take place at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte. Quail Hollow is a routine Tour stop for the Wells Fargo Championship, but has made some alterations to suit the PGA Championship.


The course was originally designed by George Cobb in 1961. Cobb has a lengthy list of courses he designed, but almost all of them were relegated to the Mid-Atlantic states of Virginia, North and South Carolina. His most prominent design is actually the par-3 course at Augusta National.

Arnold Palmer made modifications to Quail Hollow in 1986 and then Tom Fazio made alterations in the course in 1997 and 2003. The main changes for the PGA Championship is that Quail Hollow is going from rye grass to Bermuda which they feel will likely make the course play firmer. They also altered the 1st hole, turning it from a 418 yard par-4 into a 508 yard par-4. They also changed the par-5 5th hole into a par-4.

Over the years most players I’ve talked to like the layout of Quail Hollow, but aren’t always nutty about the conditions and generally dislike the green contours. While I think Arnold Palmer may be the most underrated golf course designer of my generation, if there’s one attribute to his designs it’s that he was very insistent on keeping the ball below the cup and often times used some extreme contours on the greens to get that point across. But, this is still a George Cobb design and given it was built in 1961, that’s an era when green contours were much more severe so I don’t think Mr. Palmer wanted to change that too much.

Despite the recent renovations, I do not expect the course to change that much. It will still be a ballstriker’s course and the 3-wood will be more important here than it is on most other Tour courses. It still favors the longer hitter, but if the course plays firmer with the Bermuda grass, it will allow for more shorter hitters to have a chance.

While I’m not overly nutty about the course itself, I think we could have the makings for a fantastic tournament with all of the top-10 players in the world starting to play fairly well, Spieth chasing for the career Grand Slam, the possible rise of Matsuyama in making claim to the #1 player in the world and Rory starting to heat up again. And I still project that the final critical hole on the course will be the par-4 18th hole.

PROJECTED WINNING SCORE: -11


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Rory McIlroy +700
Jordan Spieth +850
Dustin Johnson +1,100
Hideki Matsuyama +1,200
Rickie Fowler +1,600
Jon Rahm +2,200


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Paul Casey +4,500
Daniel Berger +5,500
Zach Johnson +6,600
Brendan Steele +20,000


EXTREME DARK HORSE PICK

Luke List +35,000






3JACK

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What To Look For: WGC-Bridgestone Invitational



The last leg of the World Golf Championships takes place at Firestone Country Club. The WCG-Bridgestone Invitational is considered to be founded in 1999, but the Tour has actually been playing at Firestone since 1954 at the Rubber City Invitational.

Firestone CC consists of three different courses, the North, South and the West. The PGA Tour events have almost exclusively been played at the South Course. They did play the North course in 1976 and 1994, but it was generally disliked compared to the South course.

The South Course plays to 7,400 yards flat and a 75.1 handicap index. However, it is only a par-70. The general consensus from Tour players on Firestone is very positive. It’s not impossible, but it’s still a very strong ballstrikers course that is in superb condition, isn’t tricked up and usually has fantastic crowds. It also helps that it has one of the biggest purses on Tour and there is no cut line.

In order to qualify for the event, a player must meet one of the following criteria:

• Playing members of the last named Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup teams (whichever was played last).

• Players ranked among the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking (one week and two weeks prior to event).

• Tournament winners of worldwide events since the prior year's tournament with an Official World Golf Ranking Strength of Field Rating of 115 points or more.

• The winner of one selected tournament from each of the PGA Tour of Australasia, Sunshine Tour and Asian Tour and two selected tournaments from the Japan Golf Tour.

Most of the strokes lost/gained here will come off the tee and approach shots from mid-to-long range. What I like about Firestone is that while it’s a ballstriker’s course, it’s not necessarily a long ball hitter course as Craig Parry and Hunter Mahan have won here.

What I don’t like about the course is the Critical Holes are all on the front nine and the last critical hole is on the 494 yard par-4 9th hole.

Projected Winning Score: -13


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Jordan Spieth +800
Rickie Fowler +1,600
Hideki Matsuyama +1,800
Jon Rahm +2,200
Paul Casey +3,300
Matt Kuchar +3,300


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Gary Woodland +5,500
Charley Hoffman +5,500
Russell Henley +8,000
Bryson DeChambeau +12,500





3JACK