Wednesday, October 6, 2021

What To Look For: 2021 Shriners Childrens Open

Sam Burns won the Sanderson Farms Championship last week.

Not only was Burns in my top picks to win, but I was 9-5-2 in my singles matchups.

This week the Tour comes to Las Vegas for the Shriner's Childrens Open.  Not sure why they dropped 'hospital' from the title...

Last week I discussed how The Sanderson Farms Championship is starting to grow on Tour veterans.  The Shriner's Childrens Open is one of the more favorite Tour stops on Tour.  

A large subset of the Tour lives in the Palm Beach/Jupiter Florida area, Orlando, Scottsdale, Sea Island Georgia and the Dallas area.  But a growing number of players live in the Las Vegas area as it has a major airport, good winter weather and private clubs that will cater to their every need and basically leave them alone.

TPC Summerlin is a fair track and doesn't beat up their ego too much and since it's Vegas, there's a lot of big moneyed people with a lot of power and influence along with the high rollers.  It's also endorsed by Justin Timberlake so it has the celebrity vibe going on as well.

As a course, it's very much about iron play, particularly from 150-175 yards.  Players typically will hit 70%+ of the greens.  And it's a good thing because it's one of the top-3 most difficult courses to get up-and-down from 10+ yards.  It yields a lot of birdies, but a mistake by missing a green puts the player at high risk of making bogey or worse.

Having said all of that, in recent years it has favored some of the more 'all-around' players on Tour like Webb Simpson and Martin Laird.  The data leads to the winner being an all around player who has the best week on Tour from 150-200 yards.


Viktor Hovland +2,000
Abraham Ancer +2,200
Brooks Koepka +2,200
Hideki Matsuyama +2,500
Paul Casey +3,300


Joaquin Niemann +4,000
Russell Henley +6,600
Emiliano Grillo +10,000
Joel Dahmen +15,000
Doug Ghim +15,000

Since there are so many tournament matchups for this event, I put them into Google Sheets.  You can access them by following this link:


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

What To Look For: Sanderson Farms Championship

After a move, dealing with virtigo, a job change and some other stuff going on I took some time away from the blog this past season. Now with the 2021-2022 season coming upon us I thought I would re-start the What To Look For posts on the blog with the new feature at looking at the head-to-head matchups features on the Web site.

I have grown to get excited about the Sanderson Farms Championship because it's becoming a tournament where veteran players can save their careers and young players can start their careers.

The Sanderson Farms Championship is played att Jackson CC.  Most players I've talked to think the course is just fine.  It's a heavy ballstriking course, particularly from the Red Zone (175-225 yards).  Last year, Sergio Garcia came away the victor:

Projected Winning Score: -19


Sam Burns +1,600
Will Zalatoris +1,800
Sungjae Im +2,000
Sergio Garcia +2,000
Corey Conners +2,200
Charley Hoffman +2,800
Keegan Bradley +3,30


Carlos Ortiz +5,000
Luke List +8,000


Matchups in the images below.  Lowest score for tournament wins.  The odds are below each player's name.

Players highlighted in yellow are projected winners.  Players highlighted in turquoise are heavy projected winners.  Click on image to ENLARGE

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

What To Look For: 2021 Texas Valero Open

 Billy Horschel won the WGC-Match Play:

And client Joel Dahmen got his first PGA Tour victory at Corales Puntacana.

A big congratulations to Joel and his team including teacher Rob Rashell for all of their hard work and dedication and making my job very easy.  I look forward to continued success and more victories.  

If you're a Tour player or Tour caddie and would be interested in my statistical services please e-mail me at


This week the Tour comes to San Antonio for the Texas Valero Open at TPC San Antonio.

TPC San Antonio has been very good to me as in 2019 I had Corey Conners as one of my picks to win at 150/1 odds.  Then the previous year in 2018 I had Andrew Landry, also at 150/1 odds, as one of my picks to win the event.  I've also had a few clients that have continually performed well at TPC San Antonio.

It's generally a fairly difficult course because of the wind.  Outside of my clients performing well there it's not that well received as a course because of some quirky design features and sometimes the wind and design are not properly matched up.  It's a Pete Dye design and while I don't hate Dye designs I always thought his biggest weakness was creating designs that matched up to typical weather patterns.

But this is very much a ballstriker's course.  Driving has an impact here, but it's more about accuracy, particularly avoiding waste areas, than hitting it long.  From there it's a lot of long iron and short wedge play.

Projected Winning Score: -12


Jordan Spieth +1,000
Tony Finau +1,200
Corey Conners +2,000
Ryan Palmer +2,000
Sam Burns +3,300
Cameron Davis +3,300


Keegan Bradley +4,000
Sepp Straka +6,600
Henrik Norlander +20,000
Ryan Brehm +20,000

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

What To Look For: 2021 Honda Classic

 Justin Thomas won The PLAYERS Championship

Thomas was 44th on my list of projected winners.  He has not played up to his standards this year with struggles off the tee and from the Red Zone which is unusual for him.  However he got back to his old ballstriking self on the weekend and came away with the victory. the Bryson watch continues...DeChambeau showed some real skill this week on a course that usually neutralizes long hitters.  This was a display of Bryson being patient and utilizing the best strategy for the course by laying up off the tee and taking his chances that he could hit his layup clubs as far as the field average, but much more accurately and then take advantage on the holes he could use the driver.


This week the Tour comes back to Palm Beach Gardens for the Honda Classic

PGA National is one of the more well known courses on Tour due to the famous 'Bear Trap' nickname for the holes on the back nine and it is open to the public.  Having said that, most Tour players I've talked to are not a big fan of the course due to the difficulty.

It's generally a tournament that players get into because the Palm Beach/Jupiter area is a popular residence for Tour players.  They can spend Monday and Tuesday working on their games at their home courses like The Bears Club, Old Marsh, The Dye Preserve, etc. and then play the pro-am on Wednesday.  It's also a good sized purse with a good fan turnout.

This is primarily a long iron course.  Even driving the ball well does not gain a lot of strokes compared to long iron play.

The final critical hole is the par-3 17th hole.

The difficult part to this design is the green shape is diagonal sloped to the right.  For right handed golfers the natural shot dispersion is to miss short on shots that miss to the right and long on shots that miss to the left.  The short right miss is the most common miss for righties and that plays 

The hole can play from 148 yards to 178 yards.  If the pin is back right, the players will need to be around 122-126 mph ball speed with ~8,500 rpm of spin.  Typically the issue is they don't generate enough spin on this hole while keeping the face fairly square to the path.  That means the ball will either fly further than they needed or they are hitting open face flares that end up in the drink.

Projected Winning Score: -11


Daniel Berger +1,000
SungJae Im +1,200
Lee Westwood +2,000
Shane Lowry +2,500
Talor Gooch +2,800


Keegan Bradley +5,000
Dylan Frittelli +5,000
Patton Kizzire +10,000
Tom Hoge +10,000
Harry Higgs +12,500


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

What To Look For: 2021 The PLAYERS Championship

Bryson DeChambeau wins the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill:

DeChambeau was one of my picks to win as he was at 12/1 odds for the week.  I also got the winning score correct.  I was at Bay Hill on Friday and got to see DeChambeau tee off on the famous 6th hole.  There were about 5 rows deep at this hole alone despite the course being far less busy due to COVID restrictions.  For years I wanted to see a player with Long Driving Distance speed and carry to play Bay Hill because of some many of the doglegs but instead they would put those players like Sadlowski at more restrictive courses like Colonial CC.  Here we got to see a close facsimile and it made for a fun and exciting tournament.

Westwood was 21st on my list of projected winners which was higher than I expected and he came so close to winning.  The weather conditions started to hurt Bryson on Friday as the course started to firm up, but the Saturday rain with the wind shifted the advantage back to Bryson and he won.  And really the shot of the tournament was probably the approach shot on #18 from the right rough.  That area is D-E-A-D.  There were 93 approach shots coming from the right rough on 18 in the event and only 13 of them found the green.  On Saturday, 14 shots came from the right rough and only 1 other player (Patrick Rodgers to 32-feet) found the green.  DeChambeau hit his approach to 18'9".


This week the Tour comes to the '5th Major' for The PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass.  I remember it was this time last year that it appeared that COVID-19 was going to be a problem and I went to the Wednesday practice round to work with some clients and they ended up playing the first round anyway, without any fans.  Tommy Fleetwood recorded an ace on the famous 17th hole in the practice round.  I also remember many players being pissed that they were going to play the tournament while the NBA had decided to shut down.

Anyway, last week I discussed how weather conditions can affect what type of advantage long hitters have vs. short but accurate hitters.  And it played out precisely as I discussed with Bryson gaining the advantage when the course softened up from the Saturday rain and the wind picked up.

This week I wanted to discuss how course design can play towards helping long hitters vs. short but accurate drivers of the ball.  This is because Sawgrass is probably the best course on Tour in negating the advantage that long, but inaccurate players can have on the course.

If a designer wants to take out the advantage long hitters have on the course they need to take away where the long hitters have the advantage.

1.  Wide open fairways, particularly on straight away holes

2.  Don't allow for players to carry it over the dogleg (as we saw the advantage Bryson and Rory had on the par-5 6th hole at Bay Hill.

3.  Lengthen the rough on the par-5's (nobody on Tour likes hitting a 3-wood or long club from the rough).

TPC Sawgrass features 7 dogleg lefts and 7 dogleg right holes.  And Pete Dye took away players cutting over the doglegs by either building tall enough trees or by having water too close by with a more obtuse dogleg angle.

Thus long hitters are not getting to use their length to their advantage.  They are either relegated to laying up off the tee on many holes or they have to hit driver too close to the water for comfort.   

The rest of Sawgrass is mostly about longer iron play and short wedge shots.  The 17th hole gets all of the attention and for good reason as it has increased its importance in the tournament over the years.  But the par-3 that plays a larger role in the event will be the 13th

(Click to Enlarge)

This is generally not a difficult hole when the pin location is left, but when it is a front pin location or back right it is very difficult to get the ball close and very difficult to putt to.

Projected Winning Score: -15


Jon Rahm +1,600
Rory McIlroy +1,600
Collin Morikawa +1,800
Viktor Hovland +2,500


Sung Jae Im +4,000
Corey Conners +8,000
Emiliano Grillo +12,500
Keegan Bradley +15,000
Zach Johnson +25,000
Chez Reavie +30,000


Wednesday, March 3, 2021

What To Look For: 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill

 Collin Morikawa wins the WGC Workday Championship at The Concession Golf Club:

I didn't release picks for the Workday since the Tour had never played there.  But it appeared to be a very heavy approach shot course (I have yet to run the numbers) which is typical for a Nicklaus design.  It also appeared to feature lots of opportunities to make triple bogey or worse.


This week the Tour comes to Bay Hill for the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

The API is my favorite non-major of the year.  Not only due to it being my 'home tournament' (it's less than 1 mile from my home golf club), but it's the fan friendliest event I've ever been to.  It's a fairly easy course to walk, they have bleacher seating right behind the driving range (some of the seating is indoors with A/C), the fans can get right close to the players on the putting green and the parking is pretty good.  

For the practice rounds and pro-am, one can park for free just off the 6th hole.  During the event they prefer you park at Universal Studios and take a shuttle over, although I recommend parking at one of the strip malls and taking an Uber of Lyft over.

But Bay Hill is just a good, solid golf course with some beautiful holes and it closes out well with a eagle-able par-5 16th hole, perhaps the best par-3 on Tour (sans majors) in the 17th hole and then the beautiful 18th hole where so many iconic moments have happened.

And it's pretty much a course with 'standard' PGA Tour features.  That's why the weather often dictates the winner.  

A lot of readers ask me what type of conditions and designs favor long hitters vs. short hitters and how to curb long, but reckless drivers have on a golf course.

The answer is basically in the math...

In order to favor the shorter, but more accurate hitter one needs to reduce the standard deviation in driving distance and increase the standard deviation in fairways hit.  I will go into design features next week at Sawgrass that can cause that to happen.  But for Bay Hill we'll talk about the weather.  Because Bay Hills has about average length of a Tour course and average width fairways and about average length rough...when it gets dry the course actually favors the shorter, but more accurate hitters.  The longer hitters have to lay-up more in order to find the fairway and still have issue doing that.  That lowers the standard deviation in driving distance while the standard deviation in fairways hit increases.

But when the opposite happens...the course playing favors the longer hitters.  Mainly because it's easier to find the fairways and with the doglegs (there's essentially 9 doglegs on the course) the longer hitters gain a sizable distance advantage due to geometry.

Here's a look at the weather for this week (click to enlarge)

So this could be very odd.  It's been very dry and hot by Orlando standards for the past 12 months.  My home club is dry, but not at the 'crusty' stage, yet.  A lot of it depends on the rain on Saturday.  But my predictions is the scores will be a little higher and in the end the course will favor the longer hitters on Sunday.

Speaking of longer hitters, it could be interesting to see how Bryson DeChambeau plays the course.  Particularly the par-5 6th hole which doglegs around the water and plays to 590 yards according to the scorecard.

However, it's 'only' 345 yards of carry from the tee to the front fringe.

A couple of years ago I saw Cameron Champ attempt it over in a practice round, but didn't really come close due to his low launch, low apex height ball flight pattern.  Bryson hits the ball much higher than Champ and if the wind is right and the stars align, he could reach this green in 1 shot and be putting for an albatross.

My prediction is that if the wind isn't a factor, he'll play more to roughly 320 yards carry and put himself roughly 70 yards to the front edge of the green.  However, that will still given him nearly a 160 yard advantage to what would be considered a 'very good' drive and more like 180 yards advantage over an 'average' drive for the field.

Other than that, Bay Hill is a mid-to-long iron play course.  If it gets crusty out there, then shots from 10-20 yards become more important because there is some legitimate difficult on those shots at Bay Hill.  

Most of the Tour players I've talked to really enjoy Bay Hill.  Some don't like it when it gets wet there because it can play ultra soft at times as holes #2, #3, #6, #7, #8 and #11 all sit in a bowl.  But the greens have been some of the best on Tour over the last 5 years since they switched to TifEagle and there's always a good turnout of fans.  Prior to Covid-19, it was also a very festive atmosphere in the houses surrounding the course.

Projected Winning Score: -11


Viktor Hovland +1,200
Bryson DeChambeau +1,200
Tyrrell Hatton +1,600
Paul Casey +2,800
Francesco Molinari +3,300

Emiliano Grillo +8,000
Keegan Bradley +12,500
Brendan Steele +15,000
Joel Dahmen +20,000
Chez Reavie +20,000


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

What To Look For: 2021 Genesis Open

 Daniel Berger won at Pebble Beach last week:

Berger was at 14/1 odds to win and his victory marks my first projected winner of 2021, after very close weeks at Waialae, Palm Springs, Torrey Pines and Scottsdale.  A few years ago Berger was one of my 'Players on the Rise' in my annual GolfWRX column, but had an unimpressive season.  It appears that he's finally starting to rise to the projections I had for him.


This week the Tour heads to Riviera CC in Pacific Palisades for the Genesis Open.

This is one of my favorite events on Tour and some year I would like to head out there for the week for the event.  The LA area is a haven for incredible private clubs like Riviera, Bel-Air, Wilshire, Sherwood, etc. and the Pacific Palisades area was recently rated the best place to live in Los Angeles.  

It also marks the end of tournaments played on different courses which means better television coverage and less of a hassle for statisticians like myself.  And another biggie is that traditionally performance at Riviera correlates to performance at the Masters as it's a heavy Red Zone play course that can be difficult to avoid 3-putts on.

This course is considered one of the best on Tour by the Tour players.  The only thing they don't like about the event is the heavy traffic, but with COVID-19 I'm guessing the traffic will be much better.

As I mentioned earlier, this is very much a Red Zone course.  A significant amount of strokes can be gained off the tee by the more effective drivers on Tour who are long off the tee.  Effective drivers on Tour that do it thru driving accuracy are not likely to gain many strokes off the tee.  

The 18th is the last critical hole on the course, but the 10th hole will be the most notorious hole.

The play on this hole should be to hit driver regardless of pin location.  The target is just left of the green.  However, the pin locations do play a major role in how this hole plays.

The middle pin location (#2) and the back pin locations (#1 and #4) will likely play to over par for the event.  For players that miss the green off the tee to the left, if they don't feel comfortable with a flop shot over the bunker to pin locations #1, #2 and #4 they should just chip to the front-center of the green, 2-putt and make par and go to the 11th hole and still gain some strokes on the field.

The problem became about 6 years ago when Riviera's greens were about as receptive as my driveway.  This made the hole play completely different because even trying to chip a ball 20 yards to the front-center of the green was difficult and hitting a flop from the rough to pin locations #1 and #4 was impossible.  In that scenario, players were better off laying up off the tee to locations #1 and #4.

In that scenario they wanted a target that is at the left corner of the left fairway bunker and to hit a shot that is 225-240 yards.  

This is what the golfers that lay-up on #10 should be trying to do.  However, unless the pin locations are at the back-right and the greens are cement hard, the best play is to 'go broadway' and hit driver.

Projected Winning Score:   -13


Dustin Johnson +550
Jon Rahm +1,200
Rory McIlroy +1,300
Patrick Cantlay +1,400
Bryson DeChambeau +1,400
Xander Schauffele +1,400
Tony Finau +2,500
Victor Hovland +3,000


Cameron Davis +8,000
Corey Conners +15,000


Wednesday, February 10, 2021

What To Look For: 2021 Pebble Beach AT&T

The Tour comes to Pebble Beach for the ATT Classic:


Due to COVID-19, the Pro-Am will not take place and the event will be played at only Pebble Beach Golf Links and the Spyglass Hill Golf Course.

Like many of the multiple course events, the predictive values are a bit low here.  Generally the Tour pros I have talked to like Pebble Beach, but the weather, the schedule and the Pro-Am are not to the liking of a lot of players.  Playing 6+ hour rounds and catching a cold before you hit bigger purse events like Riviera, the Honda Classic, etc. is not appealing.  However, the course has really improved its conditions over the past 5 years and the greens have been much improved.  Typically Pebble has the lowest make percentages on the greens on Tour, but now it's progessing towards the mean.

Pebble is a shining example of old golf course design theories with the greens being roughly half the size of modern course green complexes with most of the greens having some tilt from front to back which penalizes approach shots that miss long or to the side and very undulated greens with slower green speeds.

It's more of a mid-iron and putting course, although Dustin Johnson has destroyed the course thru superior driving and he just 'gets' the course.  But he's not playing this week as he withdrew for the event.

The final critical hole is the classic 18th hole.

This was designated the toughest driving hole on the course last year.  Tee shots on average were only traveling 266 yards.  Most golfers will try to put the tee shot left of the trees on the right side of the fairway.

It also ranked as the most difficult green to putt on the course.

Projected Winning Score: -19


Patrick Cantlay +750
Daniel Berger +1,400
Paul Casey +1,600
Jason Day +1,800
Jordan Spieth +2,000


Sam Burns +3,500
Peter Malnati +5,500
James Hahn +6,600
Joel Dahmen +6,600
Mark Hubbard +10,000
Ben Martin +30,000


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

What To Look For: 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open

Patrick Reed wins at Torrey Pines last week.


At one point I had picks of Ortiz (125/1), Im (40/1), Hovland (25/1), Finau (18/1), Schauffel (12/1) and Rahm (7/1) all in contention on the weekend. Reed was ranked 38th on my list of likely to win. He has not had an impressive season thus far, hamstrung by awful Yellow Zone (125-175 yards) play (191st) and has been a so-so Red Zone (175-225 yards) player (122nd) along with decent driving off the tee (99th in Driving Effectiveness). But he putted lights out at Palm Springs despite missing the cut and one has to give the guy credit...Reed has an incredible amount of faith in himself as he can play poorly for long stretches at a time and then suddenly catch fire and look like the best player on the planet.

This week the Tour heads to Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The Phoenix Open started in 1932 and is mainly known for the 16th hole which is a rather non-descript golf hole, but is one of the most famous holes on the Tour. What started off as a lovefest of golf and booze from Arizona residents turned into a must-go social event in the area with 'stadium golf.' In many ways, I think this prompted the invention of Top Golf and the Golf Shack, massive driving range centers that feature food, alcohol, games and a stadium golf atmosphere.

The course was re-designed in 2014 by Tom Weiskopf. Most of the players I've talked to generally dislike the course and the re-design didn't help matters any. The re-design made the fairways narrower and implemented some waste areas that are in odd positions that are not to the players' liking. However, the re-design gave players who are not bombers a chance to win there as the old design was becoming almost exclusively a bomber's track. Many of the bombers are not playing here due to playing the Saudi International which features exorbitant appearance fees that are too much money for most players to turn down.

TPC Scottsdale is more of a ballstriker's course now, requiring skilled driving, long iron play, and precision on the par-5's is where most of the strokes will be lost/gained. The final critical hole is the 18th.

The 18th is the final critical hole on the course. Most players use driver and have this line off the tee.

The data suggests that laying up with 3-wood is the better play because it takes the bunkers out of play and thus greatly eliminates double bogey or worse. The hole usually plays around 4.03-ish from a stroke average perspective. Players that lay-up off the tee are not likely to make birdie, but a 2-putt par should garner them some strokes on the field. In the end, it's a hole one should use driver if they feel they need a birdie or lay-up off the tee if par is sufficient.

Projected Winning Score: -17


Jon Rahm +650
Xander Schauffele +1,000
Rory McIlroy +1,100
Bubba Watson +3,300
Will Zalatoris +3,300


Sam Burns +6,600 
Corey Conners +6,600 
Carlos Ortiz +8,000 
Keegan Bradley +15,000 
Wyndham Clark +15,000


Wednesday, January 27, 2021

What To Look For: 2021 Farmers Insurance Open

Si-Woo Kim wins the American Express in Palm Springs:

Kim's victory was fitting given Palm Springs is one of the most unpredictable stops on Tour and Kim is one of the least predictable players on Tour. But this week the Tour goes to Southern California to play Torrey Pines.

Torrey Pines is another split course tournament where each player plays 1 round on the North Course and those that make the cut will play the final two rounds on the South Course. The South Course is where they play when they hold the US Open or PGA Championship at Torrey Pines. It is usually the longest course they play all year on Tour tipping out at 7,765 yards.

Torrey Pines is a municipal course where San Diego residents get to play for only $45. Non-resident fees change depending on time and season, but they usually go for around $230. On the weekends it is a first come, first serve booking basis.

Both courses feature narrow fairways. The field average for fairways hit will be around 50%. The North Course is much shorter and the green countours are a little flatter which makes for lower scoring. The green contours on the South Course are some of the hilliest of any on Tour and they aver slow. Typically the South Course will have the second loest make percentages on Tour next to Pebble Beach. But as Pebble Beach's greens have improved in recent years Torrey may end up having the lowest make percentages on Tour.

There has been some talk in recent months from Tour players, particularly Kevin Kisner, about how short hitters won't win at Torrey Pines. I think that's a bit of a misnomer given victories from shorter hitters like Brandt Snedeker and Ben Crane not too long ago. In fact, Rocco Mediate was 170th out of 197 golfers in driving distance in 2008 when he faced Tiger Woods in a playoff to win the US Open.

Certainly, distance helps here. And it helps a little more at Torrey Pines than say Bay Hill, but short hitters can win here...particularly if the course is playing tough. This is usually due to the green complexes favoring better putters which have a tendency to be shorter hitters

Nonetheless, from the Tour players I have talked to over the years it's a polarizing course. Many love the course and the backdrop of the ocean. The entire experience is pleasant as if you're coming from LA, once you get on I-5 South around San Clemente it's one of the most pleasant and beautiful driving experiences I've ever had in this county.

But others avoid Torrey Pines at all costs. They can't stand the length and the extreme green complexes with 24-yard wide fairways and there's not enough good views of the ocean for them to consider it a top course on Tour.

This course is usually won thru long iron play and quality driving. The final critical hole is the 18th a par-5.

Projected Winning Score: -13


Jon Rahm +700
Rory McIlroy +850
Xander Schauffele +1,200
Tony Finau +1,800
Viktor Hovland +2,500


Sung-Jae Im +4,000
Bubba Watson +5,000
Corey Conners +10,000
Carlos Ortiz +12,500
Wyndham Clark +15,000

Thursday, January 21, 2021

What to Look For: 2021 American Express

Kevin Na wins at Waialae

This week the Tour returns to Palm Springs.

The American Express tournament has a cut after 54-holes.  Each player plays one round at La Quinta CC, one at the Jack Nicklaus Tournament course and then 1 round at the PGA West Stadium Course.  Then the final round is played again at the PGA West Stadium Course.

This is usually the biggest birdie-fest on Tour.  It's mainly due to the lack of length and very receptive greens.  Usually the proximity to the cup on Yellow Zone shots is the shortest on Tour and the same with shots from 10-20 yards.  But in general most strokes are lost and gained from the Yellow Zone here.

The problem is that it's such an easy layout of courses projecting winners or top finishers is extremely difficult.

Projected Winning Score: -26


Patrick Cantlay +1,100
Patrick Reed +1,600
Brooks Koepka +2,000
Sung-Jae Im +2,000

Sam Burns +5,000

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

What To Look For: 2021 Sony Open

 Last week, Harris English won at Kapalua at 33/1 odds.

I had English ranked 8th most likely to win, but only selected 6 picks due to a limited field (really, I did :) )

This week the Tour heads to Waialae for the Sony Open

I've always been a fan of the Sony Open. Maybe it's my fascination of Hawaii, it being the first full field Tour event of the year or the unknown Tour pros that pop up and make money at the event, The Sony Open is one of my favorite events on Tour.

Waialae CC is a private club on the Eastern shore of Honolulu.  It was built in 1927 with Seth Raynor as the architect.  

Despite my love for The Sony Open, it's not a favorite of most Tour players.  It's an expensive trip over to Hawaii and the purse size of $6.6 million is in line with the Sanderson Farms Classic.  The course design is not all that well liked either.  Typically, Waialae gets a few votes for 'worst course on Tour' by Tour players.

Raynor's designs usually feature a lot of lay-up tee shots and he has that at Waialae due to sharp turning doglegs.

A few years ago they widened the fairways a bit as Waialae would usually yield one of the lowest hit fairway percentages on Tour, usually less than 50%. However the field hit 65% of their fairways last year due to the widening of the fairways.  This should likely help out the better drivers of the ball. Prior to the widening of the fairways, finding the fairway often boiled down to luck and the standard deviation in both driving distance and fairways hit was low.  Now the deviation in hit fairways is slightly higher and that projects to help out the superior skilled drivers to a small degree.

Most of the shots gained/lost should come off the tee and on mid-range and short-wedge range shots.  

The last Critical Hole on the course is the par-5 18th hole.

The 18th is the easiest driving hole on the course and should play well under par for the event (think of a scoring average ~4.3 strokes).  And if a player can hit a tee shot of 290+ yards that finds the fairway, they are highly like to make at least birdie.

I suspect the target for most players on 18 will be on the right edge of the first left fairway bunker.

If the wind is in their face, they'll need to move the target to the right of the first left fairway bunker.

What makes this an easy driving hole is that typically it's playing with a tailwind off the shore from the east.   The general shot dispersion for a Tour player has then hitting it further on misses to the left than to the right.  So in this case shots that miss the target to the left play nicely into the dogleg and should carry the left fairway bunkers, easily.



Webb Simpson +1,200
Collin Morikawa +1,400
Harris English +1,600
Joaquin Niemann +2,500
Ryan Palmer +3,300
Russell Henley +3,300


Emiliano Grillo +6,600
Scott Piercy +10,000
Henrik Norlander +15,000
Harry Higgs +22,500


Wednesday, January 6, 2021

What To Look For: Sentry Tournament of Champions

 The start of the 2021 year of PGA Tour golf comes to us with the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua Plantation in Hawaii.

Kapalua is on the northwest shore of the island of Maui and is owned by the publicly held corporation, The Maui Land & Pineapple Company.  

They have two courses at Kapalua Resort...the Bay Course playing at 6,600 yards and the Plantation course playing at a par-73 at 7,500+ yards.  The tournament is on the Plantation course and some of the longest drives all season will be hit here due to the hilly terrain and wide open fairways.

Most strokes will be gained and lost on long approaches and short 1/2-3/4 wedge shots.  Expect about 70%+ of the GIR to be hit by the field, but if the wind picks up then some short game around the green shots will be a factor because it's a very difficult course to get up-and-down and there usually is a high standard deviation in scrambling percentage.

The course itself is generally well liked by the Tour pros, but not so much the caddies because it's so hilly.  But it's a very limited field, big purse and no cut and you're in who can complain?

It's tough to complain about views like this:

The final Critical Hole at Kapalua is the 360 yard 16th hole.

What makes the hole has such a large deviation in score is that it's a short hole, but the fairway is practically split in two with by the 3 fairway bunkers.  This is where Bryson DeChambeau should have a large advantage as carrying those bunkers should be a piece of cake.

Projected Winning Score:  -23


Dustin Johnson +600
Justin Thomas +700
Bryson DeChambeau +1,100
Patrick Cantlay +1,800
Collin Morikawa +2,200


Ryan Palmer +10,000