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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


***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


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


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


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


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


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


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

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