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


3JACK'S FAVORITES

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


3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS

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





3JACK

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


3JACK’S FAVORITES

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


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

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





3JACK

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.

PROJECTED WINNING SCORE: -20


3JACK’S FAVORITES

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


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

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




3JACK

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

3JACK'S FAVORITES

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


3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS

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.


3JACK'S FAVORITES

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

3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS

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






3JACK

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


3JACK'S FAVORITES

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


3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS

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








3JACK

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

3JACK'S FAVORITES

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


3JACK'S DARKHORSE PICKS

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





3JACK

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 PGA Championship

After a nice vacation in Southern California, I’m back to doing my weekly picks. This week…the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.



A shout out to all of the people that made for a great time in SoCal. I got to see the awesome people at Fujikura and we got squared away on some new shafts and clubs fitted for me. I won’t give away what they are until I do my next WITB post. Hopefully, that will be in about a week or two.

Fujikura is now in a new facility in Carlsbad, coming from nearby Vista. This puts them next door to OEM’s like TaylorMade, Cobra, EVNROLL, etc. It’s really fascinating to see so many manufacturers in one small place. I got on their ENSO machine, the top of the line 3D motion capture for fitting golf equipment.

One of the gazillion things they measure with ENSO is the hand speed and the club head speed throughout the entire golf swing. We talked about some of this last year, but I had some of the numbers mixed up…

The hands for every golf reach max speed when the trail elbow connects with the body in the downswing. This can also be called P5.5


After the hands reach this point, the hands slow down into impact. On the other hand, the club head continues to accelerate into impact (once the head hits the ball, it quickly decelerates).

They compared my swing to JB Holmes’ swing into impact. The good news is that my hand speed and club speed was slightly faster than JB’s at this p5.5 location. However, Holmes decelerated the hands less and accelerated the club head much more into impact. If I recall correctly the numbers looked something like this:



I relate it to two hot rods taking off and me slightly winning the race, but at the very last second I slow down way more than JB. And that leads me to the next day and my lesson with George Gankas.


***

Kind of a big swing update here. I had an in-person lesson with GG about a year ago. After that, I struck the ball really well for a month, then struggled badly the next month. Then I hit it really well for about 6 weeks and then struggled for about 3 weeks. And so on and so forth until about November when I started to really get p1-p5 down quite well



The problem was that I still had some issues in the downswing. In mid-March I started to work on them only to find that all of the stuff I worked on from p1-p5 went to hell. The biggest issue was my hand were not getting deep enough at the top of the swing (p4). I was still shallowing out the club, but not as much as I would like to because of the left arm being jutted out too much at the top of the swing.

So for a month before my lesson with GG, I worked like a dog on my swing. I would get it the hands deeper at p4 here and there, but nothing substantial. In the meantime, I was hitting the ball pretty well and shooting good scores. But, I felt like it was hanging by a thread.

GG first saw me hit balls and while my swing was not what he typically prescribes, he said that the matchups are very good and that’s why I was hitting the ball well. In fact, he compared my swing and matchups to Brooks Koepka’s.

One of the many things I’ve learned from GG is that I do believe if your hands are not deep at P4…you’re better off playing a fade. Unfortunately, I play a draw and that’s how things go a little haywire at times. If I was younger and had GG as a coach, I would favor a fade since my tendency is to not get the hands deep enough. But at this age and with less time to work on my swing, I think it’s better to work on my backswing to get the hands deeper than trying to ingrain a fade.

GG told me that he thought that while I was hitting the ball well, I’m not quite reaching my potential. I agree with GG on that point, but knowing my swing as I do the bigger issue is that I felt that while I was hitting it well…my ballstrikign was basically hanging by a thread and it was going to get very bad, very soon unless I changed some things.

***

My issue with the golf swing is that while I’m good at spotting the major issues, figuring out the minute stuff that is causing those issues tends to elude me.

I knew from my MORAD days that if the hands are not getting deep enough at p4 that there is some type of rotational issue. Once you stop pivoting in the backswing and you have range of motion left in your arm swing…your arms will go more vertical instead of more around your body.

But the big thing GG worked on was my lack of left lateral bend/tilt in the backswing. That was causing me to not be able to turn more from p3-p4. I actually contemplated the lack of left bend/tilt in the backswing before my lesson, but only found success with it getting my hands deeper for 1 range session. What I didn’t recognize is that I had too much extension of my left hip and my left knee in the backswing, so even when I tried to get left tilt/bend I was not doing it properly.

We also worked on some downswing drills, but that will be saved for later when I get my backswing more in line with where I want it.

I knew a lot of people would ask me what a lesson with GG is like and what he does that other teachers don’t do.

Probably the biggest thing I noticed was that GG doesn’t deal with ‘feels’ in his lessons. He demonstrates the motions he wants, what it looks like, gives checkpoints so the student can make sure they are doing it right, gives them proper drills to attack the issue and how to troubleshoot the issue along with demonstrating and explaining how everything works together in the golf swing.

He doesn’t even try to get the golfer to develop their own feels. And I greatly appreciate that with his teaching because feels are so subjective and if you get into feels too much…you end up chasing them.

Other than that, he gives a metric ass-ton of lessons. He’s very self aware of his teachings and what works, doesn’t work and everything in-between. He had the knowledge of golf mechanics, but also the understanding of how to develop golfers. As I wrote about in a GolfWRX post not too long ago…while it’s great to see golf instructors get with credible scientists to research the swing, the big concern I have for the golf instruction industry is that many of these instructors are giving very few lessons and thus the application of the research in teach can fall flat.

For instance, one of the things I first found in research of statistics and the game was how strong of a correlation there was between driving distance and par-5 scoring average. Thus, my conclusions were that golfers should not only go for par-5’s in two more often, but be unafraid to hit the driver as long as they possibly can on par-5’s.

It wasn’t until a couple of years later of working with various Tour players and mini-tour players and some low handicap amateurs that while the research data had merit, the conclusions were flawed. I then started to research expected score values from the rough vs. the fairway from different distances to the hole.

The end result showed that expected scores rose dramatically when a player was in the rough vs. being in the fairway on shots from 175+ yards. I then tried to apply the difference of hitting a 3-wood off the tee on par-5’s vs. driver and found that swung the balance more towards hitting it longer instead of hitting it shorter and finding the fairway. In the end, I found the best balance on par-5’s to hit driver and be fairly ‘aggressive’ in going for par-5’s in two. But, the driver swing should be the ‘stock swing’ with a focus on making good contact and finding the fairway instead of ‘letting the shaft out.’

None of this would have been possible if I had not tested this on players and was not self aware enough to see that there was some issues with my original conclusions.

Anyway, here’s a drill GG prescribed that I worked on this weekend:


I also got to see Jake Leadbetter and Johnny Ruiz (who just made it to sectional qualifying for the US Open). Johnny hits it very long and very straight. He had a rough season on the Web.com last year, but he has the potential to be a winner on Tour.

***

Saturday thru Monday I played golf and played fairly well despite coming off a lesson. I got to play Rustic Canyon with friends Jason Pettersson and then Preston Combs (www.prestonputting.com). Rustic Canyon is in the Simi Valley and was designed by Gil Hanse and Geoff Shackelford.



I’m more of a parkland design fan. Links and ‘dunes style’ golf usually has too ridiculous of green contours for me and the open air tends to lose the acoustics of a crushed driver or flushed iron shot that you get with parkland golf. But, Rustic is a solid track. And it’s also very peaceful and serene. The greens were completely different than what I’m used to coming off playing Orange Tree for the past year and you really have to play it a few times to get a feel for it.

Wood Ranch is more to my liking and the type of course that makes me such a fan of SoCal golf. Rolling hills with nice sightlines and fair, but compelling shots. Georgia is just as hilly as SoCal, but the designers there fail to use the land like the designers in SoCal (most prominently William Bell).


***

Now onto the PGA Championship.

Bethpage Black plays to 7,468 yards at a par-71. It has a slope of 155 and an index of 77.5. This would make it one of the most difficult courses in the country. From my experience, Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course plays noticeably more difficult. There also used to be a course in Canton, GA called Laurel Canyon that played tougher although it’s a ridiculous design. Kiawah can be a ridiculous design as well given how hard the wind blows there frequently. That’s what makes Bethpage such a great design and I don’t think you’ll see players bitch about the course. It’s cruel, but it’s fair.

This is a driving course first and foremost. The median fairway width is only 25-1/2 yards. And with the long rough nearby, missing too many fairways is too problematic. So, that’s why I don’t think the more effective drivers on Tour that do it by hitting the ball obscenely long and don’t hit many fairways are more likely to struggle this week (i.e. Cameron Champ).

The course should be soft. On most courses this favors the long hitters. I think it will favor the long hitters here given how the course has favored long hitters in softer conditions before. The one course where soft conditions tend to help out shorter hitters in Augusta, but that’s because the greens are reachable and it’s more about the greens being soft enough to receive lower landing angle approach shots. But here at Bethpage, the length of the course and the elevated greens tend to make for a different situation.

Will that help more erratic drivers of the ball like Tiger?

I tend to not thing so. The fairways being so narrow it’s not an issue of the ball rolling out of the fairway but more of an issue of the ball starting offline. In essence, if Tiger drives it pretty well he’s got a great chance to win. But, it’s hard to rely on him driving it well. He won’t get the opportunities he had at Augusta to miss the fairway badly and still have a good look at the green on the approach.

The 16th hole, a 490 yard par-4, is the last critical hole on the course.



16 doesn’t look overly daunting other than it’s a very long par-4. However, the fairway is only 25 yards wide. The diagram above shows where a player with 280 yards of carry should have their target; roughly at the corner of those trees. Those longer than 280 yards of carry will need a target that is further left and those short of 280 yards carry will need a target further to the right.

From there, the green is only 69 feet wide. For the average Tour player that has roughly 200 yards into the hole from the fairway, they’ll hit the ball to roughly 36-feet to the hole on average and be roughly in the neighborhood of 29-feet offline (left or right of the target, so a total of 58-feet of range). Thus, it’s a hole where finding the middle of the fairway and the middle of the green is generally the best strategy regardless of pin location. Players just have very little room to use targets that are further away from the center of the green.

BTW, I like the move of the PGA Championship to May. It not only keeps a nice flow of big tournament golf from March thru August (September in Ryder Cup years), but it allows for more courses to come into the fold as they don’t have to deal with that insufferable August weather.


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Dustin Johnson +1,000
Brooks Koepka +1,100
Rory McIlroy +1,100
Justin Rose +2,000
Xander Schauffele +2,500
Patrick Cantlay +4,000


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Gary Woodland +5,000
Paul Casey +5,000
Matthew Fitzpatrick +12,500
Abraham Ancer +20,000
Corey Conners +20,000


NOTE: 11 players were picked as Dustin Johnson and Gary Woodland were dead-even according to the algorithm.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 RBC Heritage Championship

The PGA Tour comes back to Harbour Town Golf Links.


Harbour Town was built in 1967 and primarily designed by Pete Dye with the help of Jack Nicklaus. IMO, it's the best course that either Nicklaus or Dye designed.

Contrary to what the above video may tell you, Harbour Town does gneerally favor the short, but accurate golfers off the tee. But to Davis Love's credit..he was one of the longest players ever in his era and has won at Harbour Town 5 times in his career.

This is a tight course where mid-length approach shots are paramount to a Tour player's success here.  Also, as shown in the video, bunker play is at a premium as well.

PROJECTED WINNING SCORE: -11

3JACK'S FAVORITES

Xander Schauffele +1,800
Patrick Cantlay +2,000
Matt Kuchar +2,200
Ian Poulter +3,300
Jim Furyk +3,300
Matthew Fitzpatrick +3,300


3JACK'S DARK HoRSE PICKS

Byeong-Hun An +4,000
Corey Conners +8,000
Kevin Streelman +10,000
Ted Poter, Jr. +27,500




3JACK

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 Valero Texas Open

The Tour comes back to the Valero Texas Open.



The Tour plays the Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio, designed by Pete Dye and Bruce Lietzke.  It loves to get windy at San Antonio which will only make the course more difficult.  This is primarily a driving and long iron course.  Good putters also tend to do well here, too.

Don't expect a big turnout as the field is a bit week.  Many player do not particularly care for the design and with Augusta happening next week, now they have an excuse to avoid the tournament altogether.


3JACK's FAVORITES

Rickie Fowler +1,000
Matt Kuchar +1,600
Jim Furyk +2,500
Sung-Jae Im +2,500
Lucas Glover +3,300
Abraham Ancer +3,300


3JACK's DARK HORSE PICKS

Ryan Moore +4,000
Ryan Palmer +5,000
Chesson Hadley +8,000
Corey Conners +15,000






3JACK

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 Valspar Championship

The Tour comes back to Innisbrook for the Valspar Championship.



The Valspar Championship was originally called The Tampa Bay Classic and was created in 2000. Although it is referred to as being in Tampa, the course is located in Palm Harbor which is about 45 minutes northwest of downtown Tampa.

Generally, I find that this event flies under the radar as far as PGA Tour events go. This may be due to the area being, what I consider, more of a ‘tennis town’ than a ‘golf town.’ Tampa gets as much rainfall as any area in Florida, but it’s also the lightning capital of the US (hence the Tampa Bay Lightning NHL team). There’s not much in the way of great golf in the Tampa/Clearwater/St. Pete area. The closest for really good golf is either in Sarasota or about an hour north in the Ocala/Brooksville area. And with the Tour shifting the schedule so it’s the week after The PLAYERS Championship and the week before the World Match Play event, that will likely mean weaker fields in the future.

It’s too bad because Tampa is one of my favorite cities in the country and Clearwater (just south of Palm Harbor) is always a fun place to be. Tampa’s infrastructure and charm of the old south, Cuban heritage, combined with it being one of the first place where northeasterners came to actually reside in Florida full-time and the modern urban touch along with it having a sleepy beach town appeal make it very unique.

And the Copperhead course at Innisbrook is well received by the fans and the players. It’s a pretty king-sized course though. And the par-5’s are critical to a player’s success there.

Unfortunately, that means the 14th hole is the last Critical Hole on the course and it can make the event rather anticlimactic.




This is one of the easier driving holes on the course. The average tee shot will go roughly 290 yards and they will find the fairway about 62% of the time. There’s no water or fairway bunkers here either.

However, what makes this a Critical Hole is that the 2nd and 3rd shots are at about the average in terms of difficulty while this is one of the most difficult putting greens on the course. So there’s a greater variance in performance on the 2nd and 3rd shots here and those that hit it well on the 2nd and/or 3rdshots have a sizeable advantage because of the difficulty of the putting green.

Projected Winning Score: -11


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Dustin Johnson +550
Jon Rahm +1,000
Sergio Garcia +1,600
Webb Simpson +2,000
Gary Woodland +2,200
Jim Furyk +3,300


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Jason Kokrak +4,000
Ryan Moore +5,000
Michael Thompson +10,000
Dylan Frittelli +17,500






3JACK

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 The PLAYERS Championship

The PLAYERS Championship actually started in 1974 at the Atlanta Country Club. It then moved to Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth the following year before moving to the Inverrary Club in south Florida in 1976. Then, the event found its permanent home in the Sawgrass area of Ponte Vedra Beach. It actually started at Sawgrass Country Club’s Oceanside course which I’ve heard great things about. Then in 1982 it moved to the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass.

Prior to the 80’s, Robert Trent Jones, Jr. was the preferred designer of the Tour, particularly on their major championship courses. Having grown up playing a lot of RTJ courses when I was a junior golfer, the words ‘big and bold’ always come to mind when I think of his courses. Of course, some of that was influenced by the Tour’s desire to make the courses bigger so they could seat more fans and have more corporate seating.

But right about the late 70’s to early 80’s, the Dye design became en vogue. Dye had the ability to create a course that could hold the fans, but did some innovative stuff like using railroad ties around greens and bunkers and of course…the island green emanating from the 17th hole at TPC Sawgrass.


I’m not a historian of golf architecture, but it’s my opinion that Harbour Town and the 17th at Sawgrass really made Pete Dye’s career as an architect. Initially, many of the players…including Jack Nicklaus (who helped him build Harbour Town in 1967) did not like Sawgrass. But, the 17th was so different, iconic and artistic that every golfer wanted to play it. And with Harbour Town being established as one of the very best courses in the country, I think it helped establish Pete Dye as the ‘go-to architect’ of the 1980’s.

The players started to like Sawgrass much more when they re-contoured the greens. Over the years it’s been appreciated, but conditioning has always been a concern. Mainly it’s the greens that are the issue. Whether they were super slow in the 90’s to the issues with grass dying off on holes like #4 the past few years. If you get a Tour player that doesn’t like Sawgrass, it’s usually a bomber that loses their advantage of power off the tee because of the design of the course.

That’s because the 10 par-4’s consist of 5 dogleg right designs (#1, #4, #5, #7 and #15) and 5 dogleg left designs (#6, #10, #12, #14 and #18). Contrary to popular belief, there’s not a lot of working the ball both ways off the tee on Tour. Thus, it becomes difficult for a long hitter to control the driver on the holes designed against their natural ball flight because Dye has made those holes just narrow enough to get those players into trouble off the tee.

The final Critical Hole on the course is the par-4 18th.




This is the most difficult hole to drive the ball on the entire course as the average tee shot will travel about 280-285 yards and find the fairway roughly 65% of the time with 6-8% of the tee shots finding the water. The other roughly 25-30% of the shots that miss the fairway end up having approach shots blocked off by the trees on the right side.

Moving the tournament back to March was a great idea. May can get unbearably hot in Florida. This is also not the most spectator friendly event as there is no bleacher seating by the range and the range is far away from the ropes. The parking lot is about the size the of the actual course and just walking from the parking lot to the course is a hike and the course is difficult to navigate because you can’t watch multiple holes and multiple shots from roughly the same area.

The move to March also moved the PGA Championship to May. I think this allows for a greater variety of courses for the PGA Championship to play. While May can be hot in Florida, Arizona, Texas, etc. it is do-able to have a major there in May. Not so much in August.

Having said that, all reports I’ve received from Sawgrass is that the course is pretty firm and that just favors the short, but accurate drivers of the ball more.

Projected Winning Score: -14


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Francesco Molinari +2,200
Bryson DeChambeau +2,500
Tommy Fleetwood +2,800



3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Paul Casey +4,500
Lucas Glover +6,600
Matthew Fitzpatrick +7,000
Sung-Jae Im +10,000
Byeong-Hun An +10,000
Ryan Moore +17,500
Chez Reavie +20,000
Adam Long +30,000





3JACK

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational


Y'know what's cool?

Walking back to your car at 6:10 PM with your sore feet and it getting chilly out and seeing the grounds crew working at a fever pitch on the 8th green to prepare for tomorrow's event and one of the guys on the grounds crew...who has probably been there since 6 am when it was a brisk 39-degrees...driving by you with a big wave of a hello and a smile. 

This is such a great representation of the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the man himself.  Where most people would be agitated, tired and looking to finish the long day...and deservedly so....you get a big wave hello and a smile like you're the long lost friend that saved them from a house fire years ago.

And every year, like this one...I see great friends like Nick Starchuk, Jeff Haas, Charles Howell III, Denny Lucas, Nick Jones, Pat McCoy, Grant and Osten Waite...just to name a few.  And it's always a good time.  It's a relaxed atmosphere that is still the most fan friendly event I've ever been to on Tour.  It's fairly easy to walk, it's a beautiful layout, there's a grandstand right behind the players on the range and you can almost touch the players on the putting green.  I've been to quite a few Tour events and outside of The Masters (which isn't really an actual Tour event)...this is the best fan experience out there.  And with The PLAYERS Championship now scheduled the following week, this should provide a very strong field year-after-year.

Here's the deal on the tournament...the course is mostly about mid-to-long approach shots and the course goes from crusty to soft at odd times.  Generally, the course has a bias towards playing soft.  Mainly because holes 3-8 kinda sit in a bowl.  When it does...it greatly favors the bombers.  When it plays firm...it starts to favor short, but accurate hitters of the ball.

Right now the course is fairly soft due to the rain on Tuesday.  My guess is that it will favor the bombers on Thursday and Friday and then it will be up to see who can hold on during the weekend.

#18 is the final Critical Hole on the course.  However, #4 could be a big factor this week.




This hole plays uphill and is a more difficult of a drive than it looks.  However, they extended the tee 50 yards back and there will be some golfers that will have difficulty reaching the fairway off the tee.

But, back to #18:



As we can see, it's so critical to find the fairway here (red dots = birdie, blue dots = par, black dots = bogey or worse).  The field will find the fairway about 50-55% of the time.  About 3-4% of the tee shots will actually find the water. 

From there, 40% of the players that find the left rough will find the green while only about 20% of the players that find the right rough will go on to hit the GIR.  Overall, 50% of the field will find the GIR in all 4 rounds.

Projected Winning Score: -13


3JACK'S FAVORITES

Rory McIlroy +650
Brooks Koepka +1,100
Justin Rose +1,100
Rickie Fowler +1,200
Bryson DeChambeau +1,400


3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS

Tommy Fleetwood +3,300
Daniel Berger +6,600
Cameron Champ +8,000
Sung-Jae Im +12,500
Corey Conners +30,000





3JACK

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 Honda Classic

The Tour returns to PGA National in Palm Beach to play 'The Bear Trap.'



PGA National was built in 1981 and has five different courses (Champion, Fazio, The Squire, Palmer and The Estate).  The Tour plays the Champion course each year.  Generally, I've heard good things about the Fazio course.

The Champion course is a Jack Nicklaus design.  Many people think it's a driver's course or a bomber's course, but it's a Nicklaus design and true to most of Nicklaus' designs...it's an approach shot course.

I used to come to PGA National for practice rounds, but between lousy parking and the lack of pros there for the Tuesday practice round, it wasn't the most eventful practice round to go to.  This is because the pros were coming from LA the previous week and many of them live in the Jupiter/Palm Beach area and would rather practice at their home club on Tuesday than play there.

The general consensus is that the players do not hate PGA National, but they are not in love with it either.  It's a difficult track and if the weather is not cooperating, it can create a miserable experience.  But, it's in tip-top shape, it's close to where so many players live and it will usually do crowds of 50,000+.

While 16, 17 and 18 get all of the accolades for being The Bear Trap, none of those holes are 'Critical Holes' at PGA National.  The final critical hole on the course is the par-3, 16th hole.



Part of the reason for the 15th being a Critical Hole is the water.  But the other part is that the green is fairly flat and tends to have a high make percentage putting wise.  It's not uncommon for a player to find the back bunker, hit the bunker shot to 8-feet and make the putt for par.  The only issue is that the back bunker can provide some awful lies from time to time.  But this is a classic hole where Tour players would be smart to play for the middle of the green and either drain a long putt for birdie or 2-putt and come away with par.

Having said that, the 6th hole is one of the holes with some of the highest deviations of scores on Tour.  It doesn't get talked about much because it's on the front nine, but it's something to pay attention to.


It's the toughest driving hole on the course, 3rd toughest approach and the 3rd toughest green to putt on.  If that pin is in the back right location...'fuhgetaboutit.'

Projected Winning Score: -10


3JACK'S FAVORITES

Justin Thomas +500
Brooks Koepka +1,200
Gary Woodland +1,800
Cameron Smith +2,500
Billy Horschel +3,300


3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS

Luke List +4,000
Emiliano Grillo +4,000
Alex Noren +4,000
Byeong Hun An +5,000
Chesson Hadley +15,000


3JACK

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What To Look For: 2018 World Golf Championship - Mexico

The first WGC event of the year takes place in Mexico City at Club de Golf Chapultepec.



The big talk of Club de Golf Chapultepec will be the change in elevation as it nears 10,000 feet above sea level. I documented the effects that the elevation at Club de Golf Chapultepec had in 2018 Pro Golf Synopsis.

So expect the ball to go far and players having some issues with distance control on approach shots which means some very important scrambling opportunities need to be converted.

The course is generally well liked by the Tour players which means it's not that difficult.

Projected Winning Score: -15


3JACK'S FAVORITES

Justin Thomas +900
Dustin Johnson +1,000
Brooks Koepka +1,800


3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS

Hideki Matsuyama +2,800
Patrick Cantlay +3,300
Webb Simpson +3,300

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 Genesis Open

The Tour comes back to one of my favorite Tour stops at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.



Riviera was built in 1926 and designed by William Bell and George Thomas. I’ve always felt that Bell goes a bit unnoticed as he built numerous excellent designs like Rancho Park, Industry Hills, Balboa Park, Bel-Air Country Club as well. Perhaps because his designs were almost exclusively out West, he doesn’t get the notoriety that a Donald Ross or Alistair MacKenzie receive.

I’ve always been fascinated with old-school Los Angeles as well as old-school golf architecture and LA is chock full of old-school designs which just endears me to the area even more. Unfortunately, the courses in good shape in LA are almost all very private.

This is a course that from a design perspective is applauded by the Tour players. They did make some renovations over the past 10 years that helped the long hitters a little more and thus the shorter hitters were hurt by that design. But, the course can get a little crusty and that tends to shift the favor back towards the short, but accurate hitters.

The problem with Riviera has always been the conditioning. It is often in pristine shape, but it also has it’s occasional years where it’s in bad shape. I’ve seen times where players hit 160 yard approach shots into the green and it takes 1 bounce higher than the flagstick. And if you go on YouTube and look at some old LA Open videos, you can see some pretty rough years conditioning wise.

As far as the course goes, expect a lot of talk about the infamous 10th hole



I studied the hole years ago and the numbers at that time dictated that the best play was to go for the green on the front and middle pin location. Then lay-up towards the left bunker when the pin was in back (as shown in the diagram above).

The problem is that the conditions at Riviera change. Generally, if the course is really firm that is still the best way to go because if you end up either in or behind the right bunker, you’re screwed. But if the course….in particular that green….is softer, the better play is to just go for the green all 4 days.

This is not a popular opinion with many…but, I just don’t think it’s a good golf hole design. Mainly because ‘luck’ is too big of a factor on the hole. Players can hit good shots off the tee and on approach shots and make triple. Others can hit weak shots and make birdie.

But, as far as the hole design itself, it’s very rare. I’d rather watch this hole design than a bad hole design like #18 at Houston which makes the hole impossible. And since Riviera is so well designed it doesn’t make #10 so bad. But more importantly, I’m ‘okay’ with #10 because Bell had something that old-school designers have that new-school designers lack…he understood the importance of the ebb and flow of designing holes. #9 and #11 are pretty much as straight and standard of a hole as you can find. #9 is a difficult hole and #11 is not an easy birdie par-5. They are also not holes where you see a big deviation in score. Thus, #10…where there is a great deviation in score and is a very unusual hole….fits in nicely here even though I don’t think it’s a very good design.

The other thing about Riviera that doesn’t get talked about much is that it’s a great preparation for the Masters. Time and time again, players that have won at Riviera have generally done well at Riviera. Mainly because it features a lot of long approach shots like Augusta. Augusta’s greens are generally bigger, but the Riviera greens are firm enough and small enough that they generally require higher ball flights like Augusta requires. And while the Riviera greens are nowhere as fast as Augusta’s, they have a lot of break to them which tests the skill of the players with the flatstick.

Projected Winning Score: -12


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Dustin Johnson +850
Justin Thomas +1,200
Jon Rahm +1,600
Xander Schauffele +2,200
Phil Mickelson +2,200
Paul Casey +3,300


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Rafa Cabrera Bello +6,600
Jason Kokrak +8,000
Abraham Aner +10,000
Harold Varner III +12,500





3JACK

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

What To Look For - 2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

The Tour comes to Pebble Beach for the 78th AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.


Pebble Beach is the last of the events played on multiple courses for the season which makes Richie3Jack a happy man. They are continuing to play Monterrey Peninsula CC and SpyGlass as part of the rotation for the event.

One of the real gems in the world of golf is Cypress Point. The event used to play Cypress Point, but stopped due to Cypress Point not having any black members at the time. The course considered expediting a process to include black leaders, but balked due to trying to handle prospective members that had been on their 7-year waiting list and would be leapfrogged in the process.

However, Monterrey Peninsula is a fine replacement with stunning views. And that’s what will be talked about mostly this week…the stunning views of the area. Meanwhile, every time this year I get calls from old friends about a friend of mine that got drunk and stole a bunch of the flagsticks and tee markers at Pebble Beach about 20 years ago, only to be caught by police later on.

Generally, the pros really love playing here due to the course designs. But, they are averse to playing in the tournament because of the unpredictable weather in Pebble this time of year. In fact, this week the highs are only supposed to be in the mid-50’s. Combine that with 6-7 hour rounds playing in the Pro-Am it can shatter this week and next week at Riviera for a Tour player.

The course is mostly about putting, wedges and mid irons. The putting part is tricky because it does fit better putters as Pebble has the lowest make percentages, by far, on Tour. This is due to the massive slopes and slow, bumpy greens. However, there are some below average putters that have course knowledge and gain an advantage due to their course knowledge. And if the greens are in really bad shape, then that swings the favor back to the poor putters. However, from what I’ve been told the greens are in pretty good shape, by Pebble standards, this week.

While the 18th is an iconic hole, it’s not a Critical Hole. The last Critical Hole on the course belongs to the par-5, 14th hole.



The graphic doesn’t do the hole justice. The tee shot is uphill to a plateau. Even today’s bombers have a difficult time reaching the green in two shots as between the climate and the uphill tee shot, the ball goes nowhere off the tee. That also usually leads to very uneven lies on the 2nd shot. There are also overhanging trees up by the green and the green is a difficult one to putt on. Every single shot on this hole is tricky.

It ranks the 3rd most difficult driving hole, the most difficult approach shot hole and the most difficult hole on shots around the green. It’s average in terms of Putting, but remember that Pebble has the lowest make percentage greens on Tour. Average make percentage on Pebble is a very low make percentage on other courses.

Lastly, Ho-Sung Choi will make his PGA Tour debut. He is at 350/1 odds


I’ve stayed mum on Choi because I don’t think my opinion will be a popular one. However, I am a bit torn on this one as I perceive Choi as more or less a gimmick and I don’t know if that is good or bad for the game of golf.

I’ve seen swings of Choi just a few years ago where he didn’t do all of the goofy theatrics after his shot and thus, the gimmicky nature to his game. He’s also a shining example of how the OWGR continues to screw over PGA Tour players for other non-PGA Tour players and events, in particular the Tours over in Asia.

However, I don’t see irreparable harm being done and if it gets people interested in watching the game, then that’s a positive. I guess I just wish so many people were not enamored by new shiny objects that appear in front of them on the internet.

Projected Winning Score: -15


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Dustin Johnson +550
Jason Day +900
Jordan Spieth +1,800
Patrick Cantlay +2,200
Tommy Fleetwood +2,500
Phil Mickelson +2,500
Matt Kuchar +2,500
Adam Scott +3,000


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Sung-Jae Im +5,000
Robert Garrigus +35,000






3JACK

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 Waste Management Phoenix Open

The Tour comes back to the loudest hole in golf at TPC Scottsdale.


The Waste Management Phoenix open dates back to the Phoenix Open which has been in existence since 1932. For the past 33 years, they have played at TPC Scottsdale. The course used to be a pretty fair course for any style of play, but when the Pro V1 was introduced it became a bomber oriented course up until the re-design.

Generally, the course is not all that exciting from a design perspective. The bombers used to like it because it favored them so much, but the re-design implemented a lot more waste areas, often in the middle of fairways and that has drawn the ire of the players. However, the atmosphere of the 16th hole makes it hard for players to not want to play there.

This is a course that stresses a lot of mid-length approach shots. For the bombers, if they can avoid the waste areas with their driver they can be at an advantage.

The last ‘Critical Hole’ on the course is the driveable 17th hole.




What’s interesting about this hole is that it’s a fairly easy driving hole, even for a driveable hole. But, it has a very difficult approach to the green if the player does not drive the green. However, that is countered by it being the easiest green to putt on. The water also runs to the back where occasionally golfers can find off the tee.

Projected Winning Score: -18


3JACK’S FAVORITES

Jon Rahm +700
Justin Thomas +900
Hideki Matsuyama +1,200
Rickie Fowler +1,800
Tony Finau +2,000
Phil Mickelson +2,200


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Billy Horschel +4,000
Daniel Berger +5,000
Luke List +6,600
Talor Gooch +8,000





3JACK

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 Farmers Insurance Open

Torrey Pines is the site of this week's event for the Tour.



Torrey Pines was built in 1957 and designed by William F. Bell. The course plays to 7,698 yards at a par-72. It has a 144 slope and a 78.2 index. Normally, the slope is meant more for higher handicap golfers as the index is more for lower handicap golfers. Thus, Torrey from the championship tees is a difficult test for high handicappers, but extremely difficult by low handicap standards. Typically, this represents a course that does not have a lot of penalty areas in the way, but is difficult due to being very long.

Torrey is a public course owned by the city of San Diego.  They have early tee times available on weekends where golfers can tailgate and spend the night, even the night prior, to get a tee time on a first come, first serve basis when the course opens at 7:30 AM.  However, there are usually plenty of tee times available online.  Usually the non-San Diego resident pays roughly 4-5x more than the San Diego Restaurant for a tee time.

Despite being the longest course on Tour, Torrey has very narrow fairways.  Torrey is often the course with the lowest field hit fairway percentage of any course on Tour.  And to top it off, it usually has the second lowest make percentage on the putting greens as only Pebble Beach has a lower make percentage.  This is due to the slow, bumpy and undulated Torrey green complexes.

The players will play the North Course in either round 1 or 2 and then play the South course.  If they make the cut, they will play only the South course on the weekend.  The North Course usually yields a lot of low scores while the South course causes the scores to climb.

This is a long ballstriking and putting course.  The good putters can do well here because of the undulated greens which result in low make percentages.  Thus, a good putter can gain more strokes than they normally do with the flatstick.  But, if they do not have the requisite long game, they'll never make the cut.

The 13th hole is the final Critical Hole on the course, so it makes the tournament less dramatic.



It's actually one of the easiest driving holes on the course, but the 2nd, 3rd and putting is some of the most difficult shots of the entire course.  So, if a player hits a weak drive, they are looking at par-bogey scenarios.  A good drive certainly does not guarantee a birdie, but given it is a par-5 the average length birdie putt is fairly short.

Projected Winning Score: -9


3JACK'S FAVORITES

Jon Rahm +1,000
Rory McIlroy +1,400
Marc Leishman +2,000
Patrick Cantlay +2,200
Gary Woodland +2,800


3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS

Abraham Ancer +5,500
Luke List +6,600
Kyle Stanley +7,000
Jason Kokrak +15,000
Anders Albertson +20,000






3JACK

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 Desert Classic

This week the Tour heads out to Palm Springs for the Desert Classic.




As many of you know, The Desert Classic was originally the Bob Hope Classic starting back in 1960. It used to be a 5-round event at one point, but it is now a 4-round event with two rounds at the PGA West Stadium course, and 1 round at the PGA West Tournament Course and another round at La Quinta Country club.

With plenty of courses in the area, the tournament has been held at numerous different courses over the years.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Classic)

***Click to Enlarge table below***



The tournament is still a pro-am event. With Bob Hope it did not quite attract the celebrities that the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am did, but it did a good job and from what I was told a few years ago, it was far more preferable of a Pro-Am for the amateur to play in because the weather was better, the courses were easier and they were only a couple of hours from Hollywood.

Now the tournament appears to be on its last legs as it does not have a major sponsor. I think this is the event that Steph Curry should consider sponsoring. While he is located in Northern California playing for the Golden State Warriors, it is too big of a historical event to let go of on Tour. The only issue would be the timing of the tournament during basketball season.

Anyway…this is the lowest scoring event on Tour. The reason being is that the driving is fairly easy out there and it has the easiest approach shots on Tour. No tournament has players hitting it closer to the hole from 150+ yards than they do in Palm Springs. And that is what will mostly decide this event, approach shots and who gets hot with the putter.

The 18th hole is the last Critical Hole at the Stadium Course.



Statistically the 18th is the most difficult driving hole on the Stadium Course because of the water left and the bunkers right. However, it is one of the easier approach shots on the stadium course and the green is right at the average in terms of putting difficulty. Thus, a mediocre drive can lead to bogey. A poor drive can lead to double bogey. And a good drive can lead to birdie. I think it’s a very well designed hole by Pete Dye, allowing form to follow function.

Projected Winning Score: -27


3JACK’S FAVORITES

John Rahm +650
Justin Rose +900
Patrick Cantlay +1,600
Aaron Wise +2,800
Abraham Ancer +3,300


3JACK’S DARK HORSE PICKS

Chez Reavie +4,000
Beau Hossler +5,500
Peter Uihlein +5,500
Corey Conners +5,500
George Cunningham +20,000






3JACK

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

What To Look For: 2019 Sony Open

The Tour comes to the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club.


Waialae has been a tour stop since 1965.  It was built in 1927 under the architecture of Seth Raynor.  It plays to 7,044 yards at a par-70 with 72.1 index.

With Raynor designs there is usually a lot of laying-up off the tee due to sharp angles.  Waialae is one of the lowest hit fairway percentages on the Tour as the tight fairways, sharp angles and wind make it difficult to find the short grass.  The course has a polarizing effect on players as many love it and many absolutely hate it.

The 18th hole is the final critical hole on the course.  But, take a look at the par-4, 15th hole as it is only 398 yards:


It's nothing crazy and plays to just under 4.000 strokes on average.  But, using a driver or being long with the 3-wood off the tee can give a player a sizeable advantage.  It's a very difficult green to find in regulation if the player misses the fairway.  And there is usually one round where the players are finding less than 50% of the fairwyas and the discrepancies in score skyrockets.

This will be a course about mid-to-long approach shots, avoiding impeded shots from the trees, good short game around the green play and making some putts.

Projected Winning Score: -23


3JACK'S FAVORITES

Justin Thomas +650
Bryson DeChambeau +1,000
Jordan Spieth +1,400
Kyle Stanley +4,000


3JACK'S DARK HORSE PICKS

Brian Harman +5,500
Adam Hadwin +7,000
Russell Knox +7,000
Sung-Jae Im +8,000
Brian Gay +10,000
Sam Ryder +12,500




3JACK

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 Pro Golf Synopsis is Up For Sale

365 pages are in Pro Golf Synopsis that is up for sale.

Much of the analytics based strategy has been updated, along with the annual PGA Tour player-by-player analysis and 5 different essays. Click on the button below for your copy for only $10.99

 





3JACK