Wednesday, July 22, 2020

What To Look For: 2020 3M Open

Jon Rahm wins The Memorial:

What was interesting about The Memorial was that normally firm courses favor the shorter, but more accurate golfers.  In this case, the longer hitters prevailed.  Here's a look at the top-10 finishers and their ranking in Driving Distance with the Driver (adjusted for schedule - out of 227 golfers).

Jon Rahm (21st)
Ryan Palmer (71st)
Matthew Fitzpatrick (144th)
Matt Wallace (38th)
Jason Day (74th)
Mackenzie Hughes (86th)
Henrik Norlander (143rd)
Tony Finau (6th)
Kevin Na (174th)
Luke List (17th)
Patrick Reed (81st)
Xinjun Zhang (111th)

Typically the firmer courses favor the shorter, but more accurate golfers because they can find the fairways and reduce the variance in approach shot yards to the hole because the bombers now have to lay-up off the tee more often.  And because the shorter, but more accurate golfer is now in the fairway they can use that to their advantage and generate more spin on their approach shots and get the ball to hold the green in regulation.

But at Memorial it was a different story due to the more generous landing areas off the tee at Muirfield Village.  When the greens are firmer, it actually favors the longer hitter because they are likely generating far more spin than the shorter golfer.  But that is *if* all things else being equal.  Meaning, their lie and yardage being the same or closer to the same.  If they are both hitting from the rough, firm greens favor the longer hitter.  The same goes if they are both hitting from the fairway or tee box.  It's just that when the greens are firm, typically so are the fairways.  And the average Tour fairway is about 28 yards wide and thus the shorter, but more accurate golfer can create an advantage on firm courses because they have an advantageous lie compared to the longer, but less accurate golfer.

This past week at Muirfield Village, the tee shots either ended up being 1 of 2 types:

1.  Generous landing areas that made the fairways very easy to find.


2.  Nearly impossible fairways to find and finding the fairway was more about luck than skill.

Much like the 18th hole which only saw 27% of the field find the fairway on Sunday and 34% of the field found the fairway on all 4 rounds.

Thus the approach shots were 'more equal' and the firm greens started to favor the bombers.  Even a player like Matthew Fitzpatrick who does not hit the driver very long, still generates 115 mph club speed.  His lack of distance with the driver is more due to his steep attack angle, but he generates good ball speed and spin rates with his irons.


The Tour comes to Eden Prairie, MN at TPC Twin Cities for the 3M Championship.   Last year Matthew Wolff won.

Unfortunately, there's only 1 tournament of data to use for TPC Twin Cities, but it appears that the course is about versatile ballstrikers.  Many strokes are gained/lost off the tee and with long approach shots and short approach shots.

Since they only played TPC Twin Cities last year, I have not heard opinions from pros on the course.  It's an Arnold Palmer design with help from Tom Lehman.  I always found that Mr. Palmer was probably the most underrated designer in golf which is sort of an oxymoron given his worldwide popularity.  The big thing that Palmer's designs usually feature is keeping the ball below the pin on approach shots.

This leads us to the last critical hole being the 596-yard, par-4 18th hole.

The fairway is about 80 yards wide, but it's still important to not hit the tee shot too far left because the player will have too long of a distance to reach the green in two shots.

Projected Winning Score: -22


Dustin Johnson +1,100
Brooks Koepka +1,400
Paul Casey +2,000
Matthew Wolff +2,200
Harris English +2,800


Bubba Watson +3,300
Will Gordon +6,600
Scott Stallings +8,000
Scott Piercy +12,500
Joseph Bramlett +15,000


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