I can also be found at Rotoworld.com and on Twitter @RyanGolfBlogger.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Greenbrier Classic - Power Ranking

As we narrow our focus to the true contenders at The Greenbrier Classic in this week’s Power Ranking, we must remind ourselves that this tournament has been a hard one to call in previous years. Stuart Appleby, Scott Stallings and Ted Potter Jr. were all winners that all came from out of nowhere.

Because of that, there are a few horses for courses that don’t rate well in the current form and statistical breakdown that may still warrant consideration. In addition to those mentioned above, Steven Bowditch and Johnson Wagner qualify as worthy fliers.

With that out of the way, here are the ones that offer a safer investment.
  1. Jimmy Walker – If you haven’t already used him in a one-and-done format, this is your best chance coming down the stretch. He’s finished T4 or better three times in four years and has scored top 10s in his last two PGA TOUR starts. Conveniently, he scored the highest on my statistical breakdown this week. He was truly the trifecta. He’s a play in Yahoo!, Golf Channel and any other format.
  2. Brendon Todd  - Reminds me of the run Matt Kuchar had a few months ago. He’s a top-10 machine and there’s no reason he can’t keep it up this week.  He tied for 46th here in 2012, but that was back when he sucked. Now that he’s really good, watch out.
  3. Kevin Na – Improved from T36 to T7 here in his two showings, and has a good game for this course since length off the tee isn't a major factor. His last two TOUR starts were a playoff loss and a T12, so form is in great shape.
  4. Steve Stricker – Clearly gearing up for his annual romp at the John Deere Classic, Stricker tied for 22nd here in 2012 and has shown solid form in his events leading into this week. Even though the classiest players haven’t risen to the top here yet, there’s no reason Stricker can’t be the first.
  5. Marc Leishman – The Aussie has cracked the top 25 in five of his last six starts, including a T11 and T8 the last two weeks. While he doesn’t have a top 10 at The Old White TPC, he did tie for 16th here in 2010. That’s good enough to know he won’t hate this layout.
  6. Bill Haas – He’s come close here, losing in a playoff in 2011 and tying for ninth last year. While he isn’t racking up the big finishes this year, he’s yet to miss a cut. That’s consistency that plays well in many formats.
  7. Ben Martin – Since putting former college teammate, Alex Boyd, on the bag right after his T3 at Harbour Town, he hasn’t missed a cut and tied for third on a tough layout at Congressional. That he missed the cut here in 2011 (rookie season) should not be a concern. Like Todd, he’s on a totally different level now.
  8. Bubba Watson – Disappointed with a T31 at the Travelers and tied for 30th here in his first appearance last year. The result at Travelers is worthy of a slight pause for concern.
  9. Webb Simpson – Given his class and two top 10s in four starts at this venue, he would seem a lock to crack this power ranking. The concern is his recent form. A T3 at the FedEx St. Jude was a welcomed oasis, but he’s stalled with a T45 and a T30 in his last two outings.  Could get  back on track here.
  10. Brendon de Jonge – Has two top fours in this event (’10-’11) and tied for 17th last year, which converges well with his T8 at Congressional last week. That could put a little too much pressure him this week. He did not stack up well statistically.
  11. Daniel Summerhays – He’s an exciting prospect that may get overlooked, having finished fifth and T9 in his last two trips to Greenbrier. He stayed off the radar with a T28 and a T30 in his last two TOUR starts. I would not be surprised at all if he broke through with his first win this week.
  12. Patrick Reed – Got back in the hunt for the first time since his win at Doral, but fell apart down the stretch. His tendency late in tournaments is to get a little wild off the tee, which is punished on a track light Congressional. Should he be in a similar spot at Greenbrier, he will find himself on a much more forgiving layout.

Next 5 (alphabetical): Keegan Bradley, David Hearn, George McNeill, Brendan Steele and Chris Stroud

We will return tomorrow with a look at the one-and-done.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Greenbrier Classic - Preview

Next up on the PGA TOUR schedule is The Greenbrier Classic at The Old White TPC. It should be noted that, though a classic track, the setting is The Greenbrier resort and it can play like a resort-style course at times. Jonas Blixt is the defending champion.

The Old White TPC is a 7,287 yard par-70 layout, with two par 5s, four par 3s and 12 par 4s. Simple math would suggest that Par 4 Scoring Average will factor heavily in the final results. Stuart Appleby somewhat famously fired a final-round 59 to win the inaugural event in 2010, but immediately following that tournament the course was lengthened by about 250 yards to try and calm down the scoring.

Here's how the winners and runners-up have fallen into place since 2010:

  • 2010 - Stuart Appleby (258) over Jeff Overton (259)
  • 2011 - Scott Stallings (270) over Bill Haas and Bob Estes in a playoff
  • 2012 - Ted Potter Jr. (264) over Troy Kelly in a playoff
  • 2013 - Jonas Blixt (267) over Steven Bowditch, Matt Jones, Johnson Wagner and Jimmy Walker (269)
Before even glancing at the stat sheet, we see several styles of players stepping up to the plate. As mentioned, Appleby closed with a 59 and got extremely hot during a year that wasn't all that impressive. Ted Potter Jr., Troy Kelly and Steven Bowditch were all players having poor seasons were it not for a special week in West Virginia. Scott Stallings has gotten hot on easier courses for wins several times in his career. Jimmy Walker is a player that tends to do well when driving accuracy doesn't really matter, but GIR and SPG does. Bowditch also fits that mold. While Walker is now an elite player, only Haas in '11 was worthy of even being thought of as elite at the time of his win. 

Digging into the stats, the formula for success is very much in line with what Jimmy Walker enjoys. Driving Accuracy doesn't really matter. Distance is nice, as the two par 5s are both fairly lengthy, but it isn't nearly as important as the ability to tame par 4s and par 5s. Birdies are important, as is putting in general. 

Typically form matters leading into every tournament, but it must be noted that the past results in this specific tournament have rendered current form less of a measuring stick. A hard look at course history is in order this week, as well as guys who can play resort-style courses well. This is a great place for a breakthrough victory for a guy on the cusp.

We will return tomorrow with our best effort at a Power Ranking. Until then, happy research!

The Greenbrier Classic - Monday Qualifier

The final four spots for The Greenbrier Classic will be decided in an open qualifier on Monday at Glade Springs - Palm Course. Here is the link to the home page of the qualifier.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Quicken Loans National - Fantasy

With just hours to go before the Quicken Loans National is underway, it's time to tie up any loose ends. Nothing has happened over the last 24 hours to prompt any lineup changes, so the players remain the same as published on Rotoworld yesterday.

As for the Yahoo! starting lineup, I'm leaning heavily on the default morning wave. In the A-List I'm rolling with Brandt Snedeker (AM) over Marc Leishman (PM). The B-List sees Jason Day (AM) and Bill Haas (PM) starting over Justin Rose (PM) and Billy Horschel (PM), while the C-List has Brendon Todd (AM) over Charley Hoffman (PM).

It just so happened that the tee times favored the best players in each List, so it essentially kept me from having to make any tough calls.

I will update the starting lineups for rounds 2, 3 and 4 on Twitter.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Quicken Loans National - One-and-done

It's always a pleasant surprise this time of year when options atop the Power Ranking are available in the one-and-done game, and that his the case at the Quicken Loans National this week. With that, there isn't much reason to dive down the list unless you find yourself trying to make a big move.

I've narrowed my choices to the top three on my Power Ranking this week, which are Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker and Jordan Spieth. Each of these options are excellent, and if you have only one of these available then I would strongly suggest that you consider using him. I can't think of an obvious spot for which to save one of them, though there will be other spots along the way where they will nicely fill a need.

I'll make the case for each of them.

Jason Day was the runner-up at Congressional at the 2011 U.S. Open and has posted a T8 and a T21 in his subsequent two starts. His form is also a sigh of relief, tying for fourth at the U.S. Open and 18th at the Travelers Championship. For him to tee it up in three consecutive tournaments is a signal that his health is no longer a concern. He's also sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking and clearly among the elite in the field by any measure.

Brandt Snedeker has gotten back on track with a T9 at the U.S. Open and a T11 at the Travelers in his last two starts. Add to that, he has three top-eight finishes in this event at Congressional. I absolutely love that he played the par 4s in 11-under last week and gained 1.226 strokes with the flat stick. That's the Snedeker we grew to love as an elite player over the last few years. His current trend reminds me of where he stood just before he won the RBC Canadian Open last year where, oh by the way, he was our OAD pick.

Jordan Spieth - While he hasn't picked up the second PGA TOUR win just yet, he's been a top-20 machine virtually everywhere. He finished sixth here last year, making it one of the few courses where we have some strong course history to go with his great form. The biggest concern has been his scoring on the weekend.

The scary thing about this week is that a large percentage of OAD players probably still have Sneds and / or Day at their disposal. I would expect that less have Spieth. Because Day and Snedeker are widely viewed as favorites, should one of them have a really big week then there will be some movement in your league.

Typically in this scenario, one of these three will unexpectedly bomb out (think Justin Rose at Memorial or Matt Kuchar at Colonial), one of them will have a respectable week (top 25 but not top 10) and one of them will be a real contender and maybe even win.

While in some ways he may be the riskiest, I'm trusting that he's turned the corner and is peaking towards a big week and rolling with Brandt Snedeker.

Best of luck to all this week!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Quicken Loans National - Power Ranking

As the Quicken Loans National draws closer, we will try and decipher those most likely to contend in a big way at Congressional Country Club later this week. Of course, with Ben Crane winning the FedEx St. Jude Open, Martin Kaymer taking home the U.S. Open and Kevin Streelman hoisting the hardware at the Travelers Championship last week, the recent winners have been well down the page or not on it at all the last few weeks.

Hopefully that changes here.

Here we go:
  1. Jason Day - Elite player + excellent course history + solid form = yes please. In addition to a T8 and a T21 in the last two years in this event, he also placed second at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional. 
  2. Brandt Snedeker - The history of Brandt Snedeker over the last few years has been to strike while the iron is hot. With a T9 at the U.S. Open and a T11 at the Travelers last week, it's time to start moving some chips his way. His history here further suggests that, with a T5 and two T8s highlight his four trips to Congressional in this event. Also tied for 11th in the U.S. Open in 2011. 
  3. Jordan Spieth - Finished sixth here a year ago and has been loudly racking up top-20 finishes in his last three starts. No reason to think that a week off would have done anything other than recharge his batteries for a run at his first win of 2013-14.
  4. Justin Rose - Though he is a past winner of this event, it didn't come at Congressional. A T12 at the U.S. Open two weeks ago has him primed for a run on a course that has hosted a U.S. Open in '11, but it should be noted that he missed the cut in the '11 edition. He tied for 30th and shared 16th here in his only other two trips. 
  5. Bill Haas - While it's never wise to invest too much in a defending champion, it should be noted that he backed up his win at Riviera in 2012 with a T3 in 2013. His stats line up beautifully for Congressional as his history would verify. His T35 at the U.S. Open was preceded by a T21 at Colonial and a T8 at Memorial. Everything checks out.
  6. Brendon Todd - Were it not for him buckling under the pressure of playing in the final twosome in the third round of the U.S. Open, he may very well have left Pinehurst with a top-five finish. As it stands, he's hot as fire and tied for 13th at Congressional last year. Has all the makings of another top-10 performance. 
  7. Billy Horschel - Like Snedeker, seems to have awaken to find his form of late. Top 30s in his last four finishes including a T6 at St. Jude. Two reasons for concern are course history (MC '09, T61 in '13) and his struggles with scrambling. Must hit GIR (6th on TOUR) this week or he'll be in trouble. 
  8. K.J. Choi - Surging of late, highlighted by a T2 last week at TPC River Highlands. He's a past winner here, and his key stats are eerily similar to that of 2007 when he picked up the win. While he isn't the favorite to win, another top 10 is certainly in the cross hairs.
  9. Keegan Bradley - This will be his first look at Congressional Country Club in a PGA TOUR event, but a combination of decent form an a nice statistical breakdown would seem to suggest it would suit his eye. Hard to elevate him above any of the first eight due to inexperience and his form not being elite.
  10. Charley Hoffman - A decent T26 last week when more was expected temper the expectations of his gaudy stats. He is 5/5 at this venue in this tournament with a pair of top 25s. He'll make the cut, but how high he ends up his a mystery. 
  11. Tiger Woods - Here's the elephant in the room. He says he's rusty and it seems his expectations are very low. That could be a good thing, in that it takes away all of the external expectations and allows him to just play. His course history is excellent, with wins here in 2009 and 2012. While a win is probably out of the question, he could surprise by making the cut and finding a hot round on the weekend. 
  12. Brendan Steele - Ditched the long wand for a regular putter and walked away with a T5 last week. Tied for 16th at Congressional last year, so form meets history. 
Next 5 (Alphabetical):
  • Robert Garrigus - His length plays well on this beast of a course and he tied for fourth here in 2012.
  • Marc Leishman - Playing well where his history is strong, including a T11 last week. While he isn't spectacular at Congressional, he's good enough to walk away with a high finish.
  • Ben Martin - He's taken two weeks off following a T13 in Memphis and hasn't missed a cut since his T3 at the Heritage. His stats are bear a remarkable resemblance to that of Bill Haas in categories that seem to predict success at Congressional. 
  • Ryan Palmer - While his form his headed in the wrong direction, his stats line up well and he tied for 15th here in 2012.
  • Webb Simpson - Tied for third at St. Jude before a T45 at the U.S Open. While Congressional may not seem like an ideal fit, he did manage a T14 at the 2011 U.S. Open. 
We will return tomorrow with a look at the one-and-done. Until then, best of luck to all!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Quicken Loans National - Preview

The Quicken Loans National (formerly AT&T National) is next up on the schedule and will take place at Congressional Country Club. Make no mistake about it, Bill Haas' title defense will be overshadowed by the return to action of Tiger Woods for the first time in almost four months. Worth an early mention, Tiger admits that he is very rusty and is taking a step out of his comfort zone in an attempt to play his way into form. Translation: He wants to the play the Open Championship but doesn't want to go into it without taking any live bullets.

Congressional Country Club is a par-71 layout that stretches to a massive 7,569 yards. While it has just three par 5s, it also offers three par 4s that are 489 yards or longer, so expect length to play a part this week. Congressional served as the host from 2007-2009, and again from 2012-Present. It did not host in 2010 and 2011 due to the U.S. Open taking place at Congressional in 2011. For course-history buffs, focus your attention on the five years Congressional hosted the Quicken Loans National as well as the 2011 U.S. Open.

While we are on the topic, here are the past winners and runners-up dating back to the event's conception in 2007. Note the course played to a par of 70 in the first three years.

  • 2007 - K.J. Choi (9-under 271) over Steve Stricker (274)
  • 2008 - Anthony Kim (12-under 268) over Freddie Jacobson (270)
  • 2009 - Tiger Woods (267) over Hunter Mahan (268)
  • 2010 - *Aronimink GC - Justin Rose (270) over Ryan Moore (271)
  • 2011 - *Aronimink GC - Nick Watney (267) over K.J. Choi (269)
  • 2012 - Tiger Woods (276) over Bo Van Pelt (278)
  • 2013 - Bill Haas (272) over Roberto Castro (275)
Several things stand out. For starters, there has never been a playoff. Second, there has never been a tie for second. Something about this tournament has a way of separating the field at the top. 

Looking back at the ShotLink data from the last few years, things like GIR and SGP stand out as critical to success, but the guys putting up the gawdy SGP numbers aren't players thought of as elite putters. It almost becomes a tournament of which elite ball-strikers get hot with the flat stick. That makes handicapping this a bigger guess than normal, but the good news is that length will eliminate some guys right off the bat. 

I will likely focus my research on driving distance, GIR, SGP, par 4 scoring average, par 3 scoring average and will throw in some sort of stat to capture long-iron play. 

We will return tomorrow with our usual Power Ranking. Until then, happy research. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Travelers Championship - Fantasy

With only hours to go until the first tee time at the Travelers Championship, we'll cut right to the chase.

Yahoo! seems to favor the AM tee times on Thursday, as conditions look favorable for scoring. I'm starting Bubba Watson (A), Jason Day (B), Keegan Bradley (B) and Charley Hoffman (C) with Ryan Moore (A), Brian Harman (B), Graham DeLaet (B) and Brooks Koepka (C) on the bench.

I will update future lineups via Twitter (@RyanGolfBlogger) the rest of the way.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Travelers Championship - One-and-done

I'll start by saying that if you have Bubba Watson available in your one-and-done, the Travelers Championship is the place to burn him unless you are thinking outside of the box and trying to make a move. I do not have Bubba, as I used him at the Masters and am quite fine with that.

With that out of the way, here's how the cookie crumbled. One of the best things about this time of the year is that sometimes an obvious choice emerges due to a lack of options. This proved to be one of those weeks, as Charley Hoffman slotted in the third spot on my Power Ranking with the first two (Watson and Matt Kuchar) already burned. Without stepping out on a limb and/or dropping well down my ranking, Hoffman was the easy choice.

Hoffman has top 10s in his last two trips to TPC River Highlands, including a T2 in 2012, and has displayed steady form all season. I glanced at Brooks Koepka, but since I currently sit in the money the risk wasn't worth the reward with a guy like Hoffman on the board. Ryan Moore also merited a look, and likely would have been the pick had Hoffman not have fallen in line

As always, check out Rotoworld.com for my Yahoo! and Golf Channel picks in the Playing the Tips feature, and we will be back tomorrow with the Yahoo! first-round starters.

Best of luck to all!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Travelers Championship - Power Ranking

As we dive into the Power Ranking for the Travelers Championship, here’s hoping the annual pilgrimage to TPC River Highlands proves to be more exciting than the U.S. Open snooze fest last weekend. What Martin Kaymer did was impressive, to say the least, but it did not make for good TV. Had I not been covering it for Rotoworld, I probably would have bailed well before the back nine.

As always, I suggest you take a look at the Preview from yesterday if you are interested in some background as to the formula used to identify this week’s contenders.

With that off my chest, here we go:
  1. Bubba Watson – He’s immediately on the short list in this event with a win, T38, T2 and 4th in his last four starts in this event. Add to that, he has two wins, to runners-up and a third on his ledger this year and he’s the number one in a landslide. That he missed the cut in the U.S. Open last week is irrelevant.
  2. Matt Kuchar – When in doubt, go with Kuchar. Played this event fairly regularly from 1999 – 2008 with very little success, but scored in a T8 in his return in 2012 before skipping last year. He needs very little explanation.
  3. Charley Hoffman – He’s been flirting with a win in this event of late, with a T2 and a T7 in his last two trips, and has been extremely consistent in 2013-14. Checked all of the statistical boxes I evaluated with relative ease this week and recently tied for 19th at Memorial.
  4. Keegan Bradley – Made a charge to tie for fourth at the U.S. Open last week. He’s trending in the right direction in this event, improving from T63 to T29 to T18 in his three stops. Like Hoffman, he checks off all the right statistical boxes.
  5. Brooks Koepka – Another guy who tied for fourth at the U.S. Open, he’s essentially played his way onto the PGA TOUR for both this year and next with the FEC points he’s earned as a non-member. With his 2014-15 status secure, he could knock on the door for a breakthrough win. Ranks very high in Par 4 Scoring average, which is a key indicator in this event.
  6. Jason Day – Assuming he keeps this on his schedule after a T4 at Pinehurst last week, he is showing that his class knows no limit. Tied for 27th here in his only trip back in 2008, breaking par in each of his first three rounds.
  7. Ryan Moore – Despite a disappointing finish to his U.S. Open in the final round, his track record in this event warrants plenty of consideration. He’s twice been a runner-up, adding a T4 in 2009 and a T7 last year. His scoring average in this event is 67.73. While I wish he scrambled a tad better, his Par 3 and Par 4 Scoring splits are top shelf.
  8. Dustin Johnson – He’s on point from a form standpoint, but we’ll see how interested in ends up being in this tournament. He tied for 34th here in 2008, then withdrew following a first-round 68 in 2009 and hasn’t been back until this week. Strong on Par Breakers, which will be a focus at TPC River Highlands.
  9. Graham DeLaet – We must trust that his third-place finish last year in this event is more indicative of where he will wind up this week than a pair of 68ths and a MC in  his first three trips. It’s a broken record with him, but it all comes down to how he putts. He is the top ball-striker on the PGA TOUR.
  10. Chris Stroud – Probably peaked with his playoff loss to Ken Duke here last year, but there is certainly a precedent for course horses in this event and he could prove to be one of them.  He’s made the cut here every year since 2008. He’s an elite scrambler and Par 3 player.
  11. Hunter Mahan – A complete nod to course history that includes a win and two runners-up, but has not scored a top 10 here since 2009. Recent form is a concern.
  12. Brian Harman – Snuck into this ranking due in large part to his T6 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic, but course history is just good enough to warrant some consideration and his stats line up nicely.

Next 5 (alphabetical):
  • Sergio Garcia – Not a surprise that he gutted it through the U.S. Open with an ailing knee but  I wonder if that will prove to be the case this week. A T20 in ’02 and a T43 in ’08 represent his only history.
  • Freddie Jacobson – Followed up his 2011 win with a T8 in ’12, then backed up a little further with a T30 last year.
  • Zach Johnson – We looked at the course history and current form, absent his name and full-season stats, he wouldn't have been this high. This is a nod to his class, as he isn't passing the eye test of late.
  • Marc Leishman – Last three starts here have gone T70-Win-T30. Flashed some form of late on the PGA TOUR.
  • Brandt Snedeker – Enters the conversation thanks to a big week at the U.S. Open. Best finish in this event was a T24 in ’11. Had it not been for the U.S. Open, he wouldn’t have been anywhere near the radar.

Also deserving some attention (no particular order):
  • Patrick Cantlay – Making his second start of the year (injury), don’t forget he shot a 60 here as an amateur in 2011.
  • Harris English – Stats still look good, but he hasn’t cracked a top 25 since a T14 at the Arnold Palmer.
  • Russell Knox – Tied for 13th here last year and had a nice run in the not-too-distant past, but has back-to-back missed cuts. Decent statistical fit and a solid dark horse or breakthrough candidate.
  • Michael Thompson – A T10 at Colonial combined with a fourth here in 2011 raises an eyebrow.
  • Brendan Steele – Has a pair of T13s in his last three trips to Connecticut.
  • Andrew Svoboda – Recent form is strong, with a T19 and a T6 in his last two starts. Missed the cut here last year.
  • Morgan Hoffmann – Improved from a T43 in ’11 to a T9 LY.
  • Peter Malnati – He blogged about an attitude adjustment when he dropped down to play the Rex Hospitals Open and found his name on the front page of the leaderboard before an eventual T19 at the St. Jude.
  • Erik Compton – Massive U.S. Open. Given his health concerns, we’ll see how fresh he is and if he ends up making the trip to Connecticut.
  • Patrick Reed – Played respectably at the U.S. Open following the birth of his daughter and posted a solid T18 here last year after a T47 in his first trip.
  • Louis Oosthuizen – Makes the long list thanks to his final-round 67 at the U.S. Open. Tied for 47th here in his only start.
  • J.J. Henry – Picked up the win here in 2006 and is a native to the area. Also tied for fifth here last year.

We will return with the OAD tomorrow. Until then, best of luck to all!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Travelers Championship - Preview

The Travelers Championship welcomes players to Cromwell, Connecticut for the annual navigation of TPC River Highlands, and here is a little preview to get your research off and running.

TPC River Highlands is a tiny course by modern standards, topping out at 6,851 yards and playing to a par of 70. As the length would suggest, there are just two par 5s on the property, with four par 3s and 12 par 4s rounding out the scorecard.

While the course doesn't measure all that long, Bubba Watson is one of the regular favorites, showing that length still does has its place.

Here is a list of winners and runners-up since 2005:

  • 2005 - Brad Faxon (14-under 266) over Tjaart van der Walt in a playoff
  • 2006 - J.J. Henry (266) over Hunter Mahan and Ryan Moore (269)
  • 2007 - Hunter Mahan (265) over Jay Williamson in a playoff
  • 2008 - Stewart Cink (262) over Tommy Armour III and Hunter Mahan (263)
  • 2009 - Kenny Perry (258) over Paul Goydos and David Toms (261)
  • 2010 - Bubba Watson (266) over Corey Pavin and Scott Verplank in a playoff
  • 2011 - Freddie Jacobson (260) over Ryan Moore and John Rollins (261)
  • 2012 - Marc Leishman (266) over Charley Hoffman and Bubba Watson (267)
  • 2013 - Ken Duke (268) over Chris Stroud in a playoff
Several things stand out in regard to that list of notables.
  • There are a number of people that appear in the top two on multiple occasions, with Watson, Moore and Mahan all standing out. That could hint that course history plays a stronger role. It also could be a testament to the cream rising to the top of an event with a traditionally weaker field. (Note that the field is not weak this week.)
  • Obviously Bubba Watson is one of the longest players in the world, but plenty of short hitters like Brad Faxon and Corey Pavin make their appearances on the list. That strongly suggests that their are multiple ways to be successful on this course.
Players enter this week coming from two complete different frame's of mind. Some were on vacation last week, while the rest were trying to survive the rigorous test of a U.S. Open. For those who were at Pinehurst this past week, they will feel like they are playing a much easier (and shorter) course. The others should be refreshed and ready to make a run at TPC River Highlands.

Because of the variety of the past champions and the mixed signals Shotlink data gives us in recent years, zeroing in on a couple of tell-tale stats is difficult this week. I'll take a hard look at ball-striking, SGP, Par Breakers, Scrambling, Par 3 and Par 4 Scoring. 

We will return tomorrow with our Power Ranking. Until then, happy research!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

U.S. Open - Fantasy

With hours to go until the season's second major is underway at Pinehurst No. 2, we will put the finishing touches on our lineups and get ready to sit back and watch the show.

In the Yahoo! lineup it looks like the AM wave will have the better draw, with thunderstorms overnight potentially softening the greens. They should also have clear sailing with the weather, but the afternoon wave could face a start-and-stop scenario with afternoon thunderstorms popping up as they tend to do across the South this time of year.

The only AM wave tee time I'm holstering is Rory McIlroy. I'm a little low on starts for Rory and want to make sure he is worth the burn before investing later in the week / weekend.

Starters are Mickelson (A-List / AM), Webb Simpson (B-List / AM), Steve Stricker (B-List, PM) and Sergio Garcia (C-List, AM). The bench will be Adam Scott, Rory McIlroy, Bill Haas and Charl Schwartzel.

It's worth pointing out that Sergio Garcia is not 100% following his W/D from the BMW PGA Championship with a knee injury. In fact, I seriously considered pulling  him out of my lineup. Paul Casey and John Senden were my next two looks, but both have PM tee times along with Schwartzel. I ultimately decided to leave it alone and hope for the best.

Best of luck to all this week!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

U.S. Open - One-and-Done

When scouring the options for the U.S. Open one-and-done, it became obvious that many of the top guys in my Power Ranking are unavailable. That said, I found three options that I felt very comfortable with. They are Henrik Stenson, Jordan Spieth and Steve Stricker.

If you look at Stenson's record in only PGA TOUR events, you'll likely come away rather unimpressed. If you dig deeper, his last three worldwide starts you will find that his T34 at THE PLAYERS was followed by a T7 at the BMW Championship and a solo fifth at the Nordea Masters. While he isn't as hot as he was in the July-September run of 2013, he's rounding into form. One concern that has nothing to do with Pinehurst is his quest to reach the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking. Currently second, I wonder if that will weigh on him if he's sleeping near the lead on Saturday night.

Jordan Spieth is a concern off the tee, but he's proven to be a very capable scrambler and an above-average putter. He also continually shows up on big stages. That said, he missed the cut in last year's U.S. Open in the midst of a nice run. I've held onto him for this long, and I'm not sure at this point that I won't just hold onto him for East Lake and the TOUR Championship.

Steve Stricker is penciled in for the John Deere Classic by most people, me included, but pencils have erasers. Zach Johnson was also penciled into many people's Colonial lineup and he laid an egg. Stricker is about as close to a sure thing at the JDC as anyone can be, but he's also a very solid option at Pinehurst this week where the purse is bigger. I really like his current trend, with a T31 at the Masters followed by a T13 at THE PLAYERS and a T6 at Memorial. For those that say he isn't playing enough, he's played exactly the same number of events since Augusta National as Bubba Watson. He finished fifth in the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst.

Ultimately, my pick came down to Stenson and Stricker. I'm going to hold out hope that Stenson gets hot like he did in 2013 and I can burn him on a sure thing in a month or two and dub Stricker the one-and-done this week.

We will return with our Yahoo! starters tomorrow. Check out Rotoworld for Playing the Tips to check out my Yahoo! and Golf Channel lineup, as well as Ned, Mike and Rob's.

Best of luck to all!

Monday, June 9, 2014

U.S. Open - Power Ranking

We've got a lengthy list of players in the Power Ranking for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 this week, so we won’t waste too much time in the intro. Feel free to browse back through yesterday’s power ranking for additional information.

One additional thing not mentioned yesterday that I came across when perusing U.S. Open history of late is the correlation with success at the longer venues such as Pinehurst (’05), Oakmont (’07), Torrey Pines (’08), Bethpage Black (’09) and Congressional (’11). For players that have never played Pinehurst, but have played the other three, I gave some degree of credence to how they played the other longer venues.

Here we go:
  1. Sergio Garcia – Ranks eighth in the world and touts a solid U.S. Open resume that includes a T3 at the 2005 Open at Pinehurst. Add to that, his stats line up incredibly well for this week’s venue. We know he likes North Carolina, as he is a recent winner of the Wyndham Championship. It would be nice if his recent form overseas was a little better, but a third-place finish at THE PLAYERS in his last U.S. start speaks for itself. I realize that he is getting over a slight knee injury, but the other factors make him hard for me to shake. 
  2. Rory McIlroy – A good example of a guy that plays the longer U.S. Opens well, with a win at soggy Congressional and a T10 at flooded Bethpage Black. Rain could be a factor this week. Last four worldwide starts have resulted in T8, 6, win, T15. If he gets a B-plus effort from his driver and putter, he will be tough to beat.
  3. Adam Scott – The biggest concern in regards to the Aussie is his past record in the U.S. Open. In 12 starts, he’s made just six cuts with a T15 in ’02 the best. On paper he’s an excellent fit, and he has the class, form and everything else needed to win. He just has to snap his own USGA jinx.
  4. Matt Kuchar – He’s made five of his last six U.S. Open cuts, all going for top 30s. Bounced back from a shocking missed cut at Colonial with a T15 at Memorial. Having been one of the steadiest players all season, it would cap off a great few years if he could pick off a major.
  5. Phil Mickelson – That he doesn’t have a top 10 this season and his stats not showing any better than average would normally dictate a fade further down the ranking than this. That said, he’s been a great player in U.S. Opens for a bunch of years, only missing two cuts in 23 tries, and who can forget his runner-up to Payne Stewart at Pinehurst in 1999. Everybody is pulling for Phil.
  6. Steve Stricker – His last three PGA TOUR starts have resulted in a T31, T13 and T6 and he finished fifth at Pinehurst in 1999. He will be easy to overlook this week, but he has the game and the trend to have a big week.
  7. Bubba Watson – I’m beginning to be of the mindset that any course Mickelson has historically been successful on lines up as a nice fit for Bubba as well. It’s easy to forget, but Bubba had a shot at winning Oakmont before a bad final round, so U.S. venues aren’t impossible for him to navigate. If rain makes this course play longer than it’s listed, expect him to be on the list of guys that benefit. Finished third at Memorial two weeks ago.
  8. Henrik Stenson - Seems to be curving towards a peak with a T34, T7 and a fifth in his last three worldwide starts. Recent U.S. Open returns have been steady, making his last four cuts in the season's second major with each going for a top 30. He finished ninth at Bethpage Black in '09.
  9. Jim Furyk - Despite lacking length off the tee, he's a really solid long iron player. His U.S. Open record over the years is among the best, picking off a win and two runners-up. One of those second-place finishes came at a monster of a course (Oakmont '07). Recent form has trailed off a bit, but there's still plenty to like. Made the cut in each of the two Opens at Pinehurst (T17/T28).
  10. Hideki Matsuyama - Tied for 10th at Merion last year and enters this week fresh off a win at Memorial. While he may still need a tad more seasoning on the biggest stages, it would be unwise to write him off.
  11. Jason Day - He's played three U.S. Opens, finishing second in two of them. We can pretty much stop there. The only reason he isn't higher is that he hasn't had the chance to play himself into any kind of form due to a nagging injury. 
  12. Webb Simpson - Gets a bit of a bump after finally returning to form last week in Memphis. While his win came on a shorter U.S. Open venue (Olympic), he had a T14 at a longer and soggy Congressional and a T32 at Merion. He'll find extra motivation with this one taking place in his home state.
  13. Bill Haas - Statistically, he doesn't have a true weakness. His form is trendy, with a T26, T21 and T8 in his last three starts. The only reason he isn't three or four slots higher is his overall U.S. Open record. He's made just two of five cuts, with a T23 in 2011 the best. Look for a career-best this week.
  14. Brendon Todd - The first U.S. Open rookie on the list, he ranked the highest of everyone in my statistical breakdown. His form is excellent, backing up his win at the HP Byron Nelson with a T5 and a T8. The two concerns are distance off the tee and his overall class, with the latter being the bigger concern. 
  15. Graeme McDowell - There are reasons to fade him a little further, namely current form and length, but his overall record in the U.S. Open demands some respect. He's 7/8, with a T2 in 2012 joining his win at Pebble in 2010. Of note, both of those were rather short U.S. Opens. 
  16. Charl Schwartzel - He's 6/7 in U.S. Opens, with a T9 in '11 the best. Trending well with two top 11s in his last three starts.
  17. Jason Dufner - His putter is scary, but has back-to-back T4s in the U.S. Open and is 5/7 overall. It's worth stressing that those T4s came on much shorter layouts.
  18. Lee Westwood - Hard to place him after a sloppy missed cut in Memphis last week. At 12/14 with five top 10s in the U.S. Open, he can't fade any further.
  19. Luke Donald - He's a case of a guy with solid U.S. Open record on shorter courses and a poor one on the longer layouts. Minus the length challenge, many facets of his game would theoretically play well at Pinehurst.
  20. Jordan Spieth - This is his third U.S. Open, with a T21 at Olympic preceding a MC at Merion. He's a great scrambler and an above-average putter, but he can find trouble tee-to-green which could prove problematic. Still, this is probably too low for a player of his pedigree.
  21. Billy Horschel
  22. Paul Casey
  23. Justin Rose
  24. Jimmy Walker
  25. Ian Poulter
  26. John Senden
  27. Dustin Johnson
  28. Martin Kaymer
  29. Keegan Bradley
  30. Zach Johnson
  31. Matt Every
  32. Kevin Na
  33. Graham DeLaet
  34. Chris Kirk
  35. Bo Van Pelt
I also want to direct some attention to several players that play almost exclusively in Europe. I didn't include them in the power ranking because there aren't enough common courses and the stats aren't apples-to-apples for me to adequately compare them to the PGA TOUR regulars.
  • Victor Dubuisson - The guy kept getting up-and-down out of cacti in the Match Play, so there's no reason he can't handle some native area at Pinehurst No. 2. Add to that, he tied for second at the Nordea Masters in his last start.
  • Stephen Gallacher - T5 at BMW and T2 at the Nordea Masters in his last two starts. That works.
  • The Most Interesting Golfer in the World (M.A.J.) - He has a win and a T5 in two of his last four worldwide starts.
  • Shane Lowry - A runner-up and a T25 in his last two starts.
  • Joost Luiten - He's on fire. For starts, posted a steady T26 at the Masters back in April. Since then, he's trended into this event with a 4-T12-3 run on the European Tour.
  • Francesco Molinari - T24-T7-MC in last three starts, but owns more U.S. experience than many of the other Euros. 
Want a few dark-horse candidates? Consider Billy Hurley III and Luke Guthrie.

We will return tomorrow with a look at the one-and-done. Until then, best of luck to all!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

U.S. Open - Preview

It's time for the season's second major championship, so let's dig in and preview the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. 

Let's get some of the basics out of the way. 
  • Pinehurst No. 2 is a par 70, featuring just a pair of par 5s, 12 par 4s and four par 3s. It's also really long, stretching out to 7,565 yards. I would recommend going to the U.S. Open's website and checking out the hole-by-hole tour. It gives a nice idea as to what shot shapes will be needed for each hole. 
  • Pinehurst has hosted two previous U.S. Opens, with Payne Stewart famously beating Phil Mickelson in 1999 and Michael Campbell stealing the 2005 Open. 
  • The course has been restored to featured natural areas just off the fairway. This will look very different than most U.S. Opens, where long and penal rough is the standard. The lies in the natural areas will be a bit of a crapshoot, with some balls coming to rest on bare lies or sand and others finding t their way into unplayable situations. 
There are many keys to success this week, and here are a handful that stand out.
  • Most U.S. Opens are all about ball-striking, and to some degree this one is no different. Finding the center of the fairways and center of the greens is always a preferable situation. But, scrambling and putting will be a bigger factor this week than in most U.S. Open. The greens at Pinehurst tend to run off very dramatically in all directions, so they actually play much smaller than they appear. There is also a premium on three-putt avoidance.
  • While length matters, I wouldn't lead with it. Identify players that are solid in other critical phases of the game first, then double back to see who among those has the length to contend. 
  • Luck could come into play in multiple ways. The most obvious is good and bad breaks in terms of lies off the fairway, but consider the weather as well. There is a decent chance of thunderstorms every day of the tournament. Wet fairways and greens are easier to hold, possibly negating some of the premium of elite ball-striking. There could also prove to be a tee time advantage. As a native Carolinian, the one thing I fully expect is for at least one, and probably several, of the rounds to be halted due to weather. The storms may not last any longer than 30 or 45 minutes, but the severity of them could lead to lengthy stoppages. 
  • While history has proven that U.S. Opens generally don't produce flukes for winners, Campbell at Pinehurst in 2005 in an exception. The 54-hole leader, Retief Goosen, was anything but an exception and a duel between Mickelson and Payne Stewart in '99 was a battle of elite titans. Spend most of your time and efforts researching the top 50 players in the world.
  • If you are set on identifying a dark horse, look for a guy who can really putt and scramble. It's more likely, at least for this week, that a great putter / scrambler will have a good enough ball-striking week than it is a bad putter / scrambler will pull their short game together on some of the most difficult greens of the year. Usually it's the opposite.
  • I wouldn't rule out a young and elite winner this week. Ignorance could prove blissful, so someone seeing Pinehurst for the first time might be just fine. Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, etc. 
  • If we learned anything in 2005, it's that patience is a key. The final pairing of Retief Goosen and Jason Gore completely imploded. That means players who are five or six strokes off the lead headed into the final round could emerge with a win if they post anything under par. Anyone making the cut is alive.
  • Lay off the Web.com Tour and second-tier European Tour players. They aren't ready to win the U.S. Open yet. If they were, they would have figured out a way to be on the PGA TOUR (see Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka as guys who essentially promoted themselves). Jason Gore was a nice story for 54 holes, but didn't hold up under the pressure. 

We will return tomorrow with a look at our weekly Power Ranking as we try and identify the winner and others with value. Until then, happy research! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Fantasy

With a legitimate chance of thunderstorms on the horizon for much of the day Thursday, the first round of the FedEx St. Jude Classic becomes a little tough to handicap in the Yahoo! format.

Winds actually appear to be a little calmer in the afternoon, and there is a chance that the PM tee times could spill over into Friday AM if weather forces a lengthy delay. In situations such as this, I tend to lean towards playing the best players. It sometimes happens that the tee times which appear advantageous the night before a round end up being the wrong wave, so why not get the best players in there?

My Yahoo! starters for the first round are Lee Westwood, Dustin Johnson, Freddie Jacobson and Ryan Palmer, with Phil Mickelson, David Hearn Billy Horschel and Paul Casey on the bench.

Best of luck this week, and I will update my lineup on Twitter for the last three rounds.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

FedEx St. Jude Classic - One-and-done

Before I get too far into the FedEx St. Jude Classic one-and-done, I want to acknowledge that we have reached the point in the season to where the players I have at my disposal could be very different than what you have and the other way around. I'm happy to chime in my two cents on your specific situation via Twitter (@RyanGolfBlogger), email (thegolfaficionado@gmail.com) or the comment section in this post.

A big reason why I put out a power ranking every week is to give everyone my generic take on who I like versus someone else as of Monday night. I don't have Ryan Palmer available, but many of you may. So, if you are curious as to my take on Ryan Palmer versus David Hearn, there is a large enough discrepancy between where they stand in my power ranking to where you can safely assume how I would answer that. If you are trying to decide between Palmer in first and D. Johnson in second, various factors make that much more debatable.

I narrowed my focus this week to Paul Casey and Lee Westwood. It just so happens that they were the third and fourth ranked players in my power ranking and the best two I have available.

Casey is playing some really good golf, leading after 36 holes last week and qualifying for the U.S. Open on Monday, but has never seen TPC Southwind. Westwood has a pair of top 10s in his last three PGA TOUR starts, with a win and a T35 mixed in overseas in that span. He's also recorded a win and a T11 in his two trips to Memphis.

Because their current form is so similar and Westwood has the edge on history, I found myself leaning towards Westwood. When I dug deeper, I found that Westwood's Masters finishes in 2010 and 2011  very closely mirrored his FedEx St. Jude Classic results. In 2010, Westwood was the runner-up at the Masters and won in Memphis. In 2011, he tied for 11th in both the Masters and St. Jude. This year, he was T7 at Augusta National, so I like his chances for another top 10 this week. I'm rolling with Westy.

Check out Rotoworld.com for all of our Yahoo! and Golf Channel picks on Playing the Tips. I will announce Yahoo! starters tomorrow night.

Best of luck to all!

Monday, June 2, 2014

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Power Ranking

With U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying put to bed, it's time for all of our attention to turn towards Memphis, Tennessee for the FedEx St. Jude Classic for this week's Power Ranking.With plenty to cover, I'll refer you to yesterday's preview for additional information on TPC Southwind and the history of this tournament.

Here we go:

  1. Ryan Palmer - A T3 and a solo fourth in his last two trips to TPC Southwind converge with a T5 in his last PGA TOUR start. Ranks second on the PGA TOUR in par 4 scoring average, and given there are 12 of those in play this week that's important. 
  2. Dustin Johnson - Won here in his first trip back in 2012, then followed it up with a T10 last year. Current PGA TOUR trend is headed in the wrong direction, going T7 at the Byron Nelson, T14 at Colonial and T46 at Memorial the last three weeks. Ranks inside the top 20 in GIR from other than the fairway, Proximity and Par 4 scoring average. 
  3. Paul Casey - Boosted him to third in the 11th hour. He struggled after holding the 36-hole lead at Memorial, but bounced back to claim a U.S. Open spot in the Ohio Sectional with room to spare. With four top 20s in his last five starts, he's clearly back in the form that once had him an elite player. Worth mentioning, he's never played here before. 
  4. Lee Westwood - More of a nod to course history than anything (his stat sheet looks terrible compared to other key players), his only PGA TOUR win came here in 2010 and he tied for 11th in 2011. He's gone 7th-MC-T6 in his last three TOUR starts. Not a bad one-and-done play this week. 
  5. Matt Kuchar - A curious late add, it seems he is trying to build some momentum headed to the U.S. Open. His record at TPC Southwind since the switch to bermuda greens hasn't been particularly good. This spot on the rankings is a nod to his class and his strong finish at Memorial after nearly missing the cut. 
  6. David Toms - All-time leading money leader with two wins and two runners-up in this event, he's as thoroughbred in terms of course history. He also tied for fifth in his last start (Colonial) and qualified for the U.S. Open via the Memphis sectional. He's trending nicely into this event. He's second on TOUR in driving accuracy, 13th in par 4 scoring average and 16th in Proximity. 
  7. John Senden - He's played well above his career arc since his win in Tampa, finishing a trendy T26, T11 and T5 in his last three PGA TOUR starts. His record here includes two top 10s in nine starts to just two missed cuts. Shockingly, considering his career history, he's 14th in strokes gained-putting.
  8. Phil Mickelson - There's really nothing else that needs to be said here. He might win. He might flame out memorably. And he might do anything in between. The only prediction I'll offer is that his finish the week will be exactly the opposite of next week's U.S. Open. So, if he ties for 49th this week, buy some Phil stock for Pinehurst. If he wins, bail.
  9. Graeme McDowell - I fell in love with his relevant stats this week (5th SGP, 8th driving accuracy, 13th in Par 4 scoring average and 16th in Proximity), but must point out that his recent PGA TOUR form isn't anything special. Course history includes a T7 and a missed cut.
  10. Harris English - Won here in his first start last year, so expect some sort of a fade. Recent form hasn't been anything great. He's fifth in GIR from other than the fairway and ninth in par 4 scoring average.
  11. Webb Simpson - I don't have much to support this other than relying on his class. Several of his stat lines check out, but he's been nothing better than average lately and his course history is without a top 25 in three starts.
  12. Zach Johnson - After a bizarre 73rd at Colonial, he'll try and get back on the horse at TPC Southwind where he is 3/4 with two top 25s and a top 10. Ranks inside the top 30 in driving accuracy, SGP, Proximity and Par 4 scoring average.

Next 5 (Alphabetical):
  • Robert Garrigus - Quietly rounding into form and in possession of a P2 here in the past.
  • David Hearn - He's 4/4 here with a T18 in his last start. Certainly a candidate for a breakthrough win.
  • Charley Hoffman - Course history and current form are average, but he jumps off the page statistically.
  • Freddie Jacobson - Played well here early in his career, but has faded in his last few Memphis starts. Excellent statistical fit.
  • Kevin Na - Course history is terrible, but current form is a P2 last week.
Others worth a look include...
  • Victor Dubuisson - Playoff loser in last week's Nordea Masters
  • Thorbjorn Olesen - First timer in Memphis tied for eighth last week.
  • Robert Streb - 2nd in par 4 scoring and tied for 39th here last year.
  • Russell Knox - Finally cooling off, but first in Proximity is worthy of a peek. 
  • Justin Hicks - Tied for seventh here last year and stats explain why.
  • Charles Howell III - Has a T3 in this event and a T3 in his recent past this year.
  • Ben Martin - Horrible final round at Memorial, but otherwise playing really well lately.
  • Luke Guthrie - He's my "hunch" of the week.
  • Billy Horschel - Awoke with a T10 last week at Memorial.
  • Russell Henley - Tied for 27th here last year and does most of his damage on par-70 layouts.
  • Patrick Reed - First start back after the birth of his first child (daughter) and tied for fifth last year.
  • Brice Garnett - Playing well pre-cut of late, but struggling on weekends.
  • J.B. Holmes - Trying to get back on his feet and end the hangover from Wells Fargo win.
  • Rickie Fowler - Added this event for the first time. Terrible form since Masters.

We will return tomorrow to discuss the one-and-done.

Until then, best of luck to all!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Preview

An often overlooked spot on the PGA TOUR schedule, the FedEx St. Jude Classic returns to TPC Southwind as the final tune-up for the U.S. Open. Some of the bigger stars on the PGA TOUR routinely skip this event, while others are inconsistent with their attendance, but the list of recent winners is still quite impressive.

TPC Southwind is a par-70, playing to a moderate 7,239 yards. Prior to 2005, the tournament played to a par of 71. In addition to that, the greens changed from bentgrass to bermuda in 2004. For both of those reasons, I'll start my research with the 2005 tournament.

Winners and runners-up beginning in 2005 are:

  • 2005: Justin Leonard (14-under 266) over David Toms (267)
  • 2006: Jeff Maggert (271) over Tom Pernice Jr. (274)
  • 2007: Woody Austin (267) over Brian Davis (272)
  • 2008: Justin Leonard (276) over Robert Allenby and Trevor Immelman in a playoff
  • 2009: Brian Gay (262) over Bryce Molder and David Toms (267)
  • 2010: Lee Westwood (270) over Robert Garrigus and Robert Karlsson in a playoff
  • 2011: Harrison Frazar (267) over Robert Karlsson in a playoff
  • 2012: Dustin Johnson (271) over John Merrick (272) 
  • 2013: Harris English (268) over Phil Mickelson and Scott Stallings (270)
Although not necessary, there is a strong contingent of long players on this list. We all know Garrigus and DJ are bombers but, in addition to that, guys like Westwood, Karlsson, Frazar, English, Mickelson and Stallings can all get it out there. So the last four years feature players that have the ability to overpower a course. That's in start contrast to 2005-2009, where short and straight got it done. 

There is also a school of thought that a left-to-right ball flight plays well at TPC Southwind. It's extremely tough to pick that out of the stat sheets, although you could try by deep-diving the stats that capture which way a player misses the fairway. 

Fairway are tough to find, meaning straight hitters and players that successfully find GIR from other than the fairway are in play. That could actually explain the accurate drivers vs. bombers dilemma highlighted above. If everyone is in the rough, then a longer player benefits from a shorter club. For those that can avoid the rough, they equalize the length of the bomber. 

With only two par 5s and 12 par 4s, it would be wise to lean on par 4 scoring average.

We will return tomorrow with a power ranking to try and sort all of this out.

Until then, happy research!