Wednesday, September 23, 2020

What To Look For: 2020 Corales Puntacana Championship

 Bryson DeChambeau won the US Open with a dominating performance on Sunday:

Here's how my picks finished at the US Open:


Dustin Johnson +800 (t-6th)
Jon Rahm +950 (t-23rd)
Justin Thomas +1,200 (t-8th)
Collin Morikawa +1,600 (MC)
Webb Simpson +2,500 (t-8th)
Daniel Berger +2,800 (t-34th)
Patrick Cantlay +2,800 (t-43rd)


Tony Finau +3,300 (t-8th)
Tyrrell Hatton +4,000 (MC)
Brian Harman +25,000 (t-38th)

A lot has been made out of DeChambeau only hitting 41% of the fairways, but that was actually higher than the field average.  So when some people discuss that Bryson 'played the math correctly' the main factor was that he not only hit the ball further, but didn't lose anything to the field in terms of accuracy off the tee. 

But where the math really played out in Bryson's favor had more to do with the typical penalty for missing the fairway at Winged Foot.  Unlike a TPC Sawgrass or a Harbour Town where missing the fairway could result in a shot in the trees or a shot that ends up in a hazard, the penalty for missing the fairway at Winged Foot was very deep rough.  But it was deep rough for anybody who missed the fairway and the field missed the fairway the majority of the time.  Combine that with a low standard deviation in hit fairway percentage (meaning that there wasn't a large variance in fairways hit throughout the field), Winged Foot could favor long hitters if they could somehow manage to find only 19 fairways for the entire week.  

When they missed the fairway, they were no more likely to take a 2-shot penalty than the shorter hitters in the field.  And thus the longer hitters were gaining considerable strokes on the field when they found the fairway while losing minimal amount of strokes when missing the fairway.

I had Bryson as the 12th best pick for Winged Foot. He was hurt a bit by his short game around the green play and short game around the green was a factor at Winged Foot.  Even for Bryson who may have had the best performance of his career around the green.  But when he was hitting it so long and still finding more fairways than the average player in the field and putted well, he was using the Power-to-Putting Principle perfectly to a tee and it provided him with a great advantage.  And since Bryson's biggest weakness is from 100-150 yards (188th last year) and Winged Foot didn't feature many of those shots the course very much played into his hands because he allowed it to do so.


The Tour is playing an alternate field event this week with the Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in the Dominican Republic.  Graeme McDowell won the event last year.

Corales Puntacana is a Tom Fazio design playing to 7,600+ yards for the tournament tees.  I haven't heard a lot from the pros on how they feel about the course, but usually Fazio courses are well received.  The other part of Fazio's designs is that he doesn't put himself in a box in terms of what he favors unlike other designers (Nicklaus stresses approach shots, Dye stresses the tee ball, Donald Ross stresses iron play and short game, etc).

The wind will likely play a major factor here and thus the course is about keeping the ball in play off the tee, hitting quality approach shots from long and short distance and because the average GIR % to winning score is low, there are plenty of important short game shots around the green.

The last critical hole on the course is 501 yard par-4 18th hole:

Most players in the field will play the hole like this off the tee:

A Bryson DeChambeau or Cameron Champ type could play it like this:

Of course, the direction of the wind will impact everything on that tee shot which is why it's the last critical hole on the course.

Projected Winning Score: -20


Will Zalatoris +1,200
Luke List +3,300
Charles Howell III +3,300
Henrik Stenson +3,300


Brian Stuard +5,000
Branden Grace +5,000
Kyle Stanley +6,600
Rob Oppenheim +10,000
Akshay Bhatia +10,000
Bill Haas +15,000


1 comment:

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