Wednesday, August 8, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 PGA Championship

The 100th PGA Championship occurs tomorrow at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.


What many people do not realize is that the PGA Championship was originally a match play format before moving to stroke play in 1958. 

There's always the contention that the PGA Championship isn't really a 'major' from small factions of people.  I get the idea as it lacks some identity.  With the Masters you have the 1 course played each year and you have those Augusta greens.  The US Open was about the brutal rough and the British Open is about the links design and in particular, the wind.  But with the PGA you really lack that identifiable trait.  That's why I propose that they make this a global event with the tournament being held at a different course in the world each year.

This year the venue is Bellerive Country Club.  It plays to 7,547 yards at a par-71 that is 530 feet above sea level.  It's a Robert Trent Jones design.  I grew up playing a lot of RT Jones designs as he graduated from Cornell University and got his start in the Central New York area.

Jones' calling card is somewhat wide fairways and very long holes.  You can gain some strokes off the tee, particularly if you're long and somewhat straight off the tee.  But most of the strokes will be lost/gained from the Red Zone in Jones' designs.

Here were the '94 top finishers:

1st - Nick Price
t-2nd - John Cook, Nick Faldo, Jim Gallagher, Jr. and Gene Sauers
6th - Jeff Maggert

Peter Jacobsen, a very underrated ballstriker, won the 2004 US Senior Open there as well.

Nick Price was one of the best drivers of the ball on Tour since 1980.  In fact, when I wrote about the players that accomplished the feat of being 1 standard deviation above the mean in both driving distance and driving accuracy in the same year since 1980 (2011 Pro Golf Synopsis) Price was one of the few players to have done it in two different seasons (so did Nicklaus, Lietzke and Duval).

But, Price was also a superb Red Zone player.  John Cook's data follows the same suit, but Faldo and Maggert were more excellent Red Zone players than great drivers of the ball.  Combine that with Jacobsen's victory, I would look out for quality drivers and Red Zone players of the ball. 

The players are believing that this is a low scoring course, but you never know when the tournament flags go up.  What would concern me is that the top finishers in '94 were mostly very accurate off the tee.  That likely means firm and fast fairways.  However, St. Louis has had a lot of rain recently.

3JACK'S FAVORITES

Dustin Johnson +800
Rory McIlroy + 1,200
Justin Thomas +1,400
Brooks Koepka + 1,800
Justin Rose +2,000
Jon Rahm +2,500
Tommy Fleetwood +2,500



3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS

Francesco Molinari +3,000
Gary Woodland +10,000
Kiradech Aphibarnrat +20,000






3JACK

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

What To Look For: 2018 WGC - Bridgestone

The Tour comes to Firestone Country Club for the last time for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.



The original tournament at Firestone was the NEC World Series of Golf which was originally a 4-man event, taking each of the 4 major championship winners to play in the event. Eventually in 1999 it turned into a WGC event.

The south course was originally designed by Bert Way in 1929 and then re-designed in 1960 by Robert Trent Jones. Jones was once the premier designer, particularly for major championship courses, on Tour. Having grown up playing numerous RT Jones designs (he was a graduate of nearby Cornell University) his courses are very long and fairly wide open. But, he does stress quality driving…it just tends to be more distance biased than accuracy biased.

To my knowledge, Firestone – South is the only RT Jones design left on Tour. Most of the current Tour courses have more dogleg that have sharper bends to them. If the rough is short and the conditions are soft, it generally gives an enormous advantage to the long hitters. If the rough is long and the course is firm, it favors short, but accurate hitters off the tee. With RT Jones designs, it should favor longer hitters, year after year.

Watch out for some big drives here as last year Rory McIlroy was hitting speed rams and routinely pumping 370+ yard drives. But, this should mostly come down to longer approach shot plays and who can make some mid-length putts.

PROJECTED WINNING SCORE: -13

3JACK’S FAVORITES

Dustin Johnson +700
Rory McIlroy +1,000
Justin Rose +1,200
Jordan Spieth +2,000
Jon Rahm +2,000


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Henrik Stenson +4,000
Patrick Cantlay +6,600
Bryson DeChambeau +6,600
Kyle Stanley +12,500
Gary Woodland +20,000





Rich