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