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Monday, July 27, 2015

Quicken Loans National - Power Ranking and One-and-done

The Quicken Loans National is just around the bend and here is a power ranking and one-and-done selection to complete our research. As I dug deeper into my research via a chat with a friend with a great deal of history at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, the comments I made in Sunday's preview were further validated. The one thing I would add to that is that distance is a pretty big deal this week. There are a number of bunkers that are in play for short- and medium-distance hitters, but bombers can fly over them.

Moving on.

Here we go:

  1. Justin Rose - He's one of the few guys in this week field that checks all of the important boxes. Great player in great form playing a course that should suit his game.
  2. Jimmy Walker - Leaning on his class, length, putting prowess and ability to win in fields that aren't the deepest all play in his favor. I wish his form was a bit better, but his recent outings have been majors. 
  3. Rickie Fowler - At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this comes down to class, class, class. The stats don't necessarily point in his direction to the degree of others, and his recent form isn't all that good. Class is permanent.
  4. Justin Thomas - Really like his length and expect that he has a chance to rise to the top of the field this week. He's certainly a risky pick in some formats, but he's going to break through at some point. It should be sooner rather than later.
  5. Tony Finau - Moved up my list slightly with the bomber angle, but he was safely inside the top 10 anyway. If you take out the courses he's played that have Bermuda greens, he's been much more consistent and above average than might otherwise meet the eye. Solid in strokes gained: tee-to-green and par 4 scoring average. 
  6. Bill Haas - Recent form is not good, but he has a knack for showing up on strong golf courses and is a past winner of this event. A step down in field depth should be just what the doctor ordered. 
  7. Patrick Rodgers - A late add via sponsor exemption, this could be a great opportunity for the young stud to make his permanent mark on the PGA TOUR. Length should not be a problem.
  8. Will Wilcox - Took last week off due to a small medical concern, which is a pause for concern. his recent form has been magnificent, locking up his PGA TOUR card for 2016-17 out of the 126-150 category two weeks ago in Alabama. Playing with house money at this point.
  9. Gary Woodland - Makes a ton of cuts, which elevates him in a field like this. Has power to spare, which doesn't hurt. It's simple math. With a high likelihood of making the cut based on his personal history, he could rise to a top-10 level or beyond.
  10. Adam Hadwin - It's not easy to play well in the Canadian open if you are a Canuck, and that's just what Hadwin did last week with a top-10 finish. Last two finishes are T18 and T7. 
  11. Shawn Stefani
  12. Ollie Schniederjans
  13. Russell Knox
  14. Danny Lee
  15. Johnson Wagner
  16. Steven Bowditch
  17. Daniel Summerhays
  18. Jason Bohn
  19. Tiger Woods
  20. Pat Perez
  21. Scott Langley
  22. Ricky Barnes
  23. Michael Putnam
  24. Brendan Steele
  25. Stewart Cink

I've preached class this week up until this point, and I have Justin Rose available. That's my play. 

Best of luck!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Quicken Loans National - Preview

The Quicken Loans National will appear at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia for the first time in the nine-year history of this event, and here is a preview to get you off and running.

This preview will be a little shorter and little less sweet than most, as there is no course history to explore. The past winners and runners-up in this event are largely irrelevant.

Here's what we do know.

  • The Robert Trent Jones Golf Club is a par-71 layout of 7,385 yards. As you would expect of a par 71, it features three par 5s and four par 3s. 
  • The fairways and greens are Bentgrass, so it's worth overlooking Bermuda specialists and focusing on guys with solid history on Bent. 
  • Four of the par 4s are over 470 yards, so driving distance could certainly matter this week.
  • A former TOUR player and friend of mine who's spent a substantial amount of time training at that club over his professional career indicated to me that the greens have a large amount of undulation, and that being on the incorrect level of certain greens is a big problem. That would indicate that proximity could come into play. 
So, what's the plan this week?
  • Stick to the big stats this week. Par 4 scoring average, SG:TTG and Proximity come to mind. 
  • Class and form matter. A classy player with a top 10 in the last few weeks should be of interest. 
  • For gamers in formats like Yahoo!, stick with the chalk when starts allow. Oddly enough, for punters the advice is probably the opposite. Roll the dice on the correct prices and ignore the favorites. 
We will return with a power ranking later this week. Until then, happy research! 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

RBC Canadian Open - Power Rankings and One-and-done

The PGA TOUR continues the global portion of the summer schedule with the RBC Canadian Open, and here is this week's power ranking and one-and-done to complete our research.

I expect that the question(s) will come up in regards to the Open Championship Monday finish and how that may play out this week. There are two reasons why my power rankings are populated by guys who played in Scotland. The first is that Glen Abbey is a familiar course in the rotations, so most have seen it before. The second is that class is permanent, and this field is lacking in class / depth. 

With that out of the way, here we go!
  1. Matt Kuchar - This is his kind of tournament. Digging into the details, he tied for second here in 2013 and tied for fourth in this tournament in 2014. Clearly he gets over the travel hurdles quickly and course history fits. He didn't impress at St. Andrews, but he's a known commodity at this point. I could make a case for three different players in the top spot, but he gets the nod.
  2. Jason Day - Day certainly checks the current form box, but his history at Glen Abbey is below his standards. Granted that history came in 2008 and 2009. The biggest reason I have a hard time putting him number one is the constant unknown regarding his health. He's not Louis Oosthuizen, but he's not Danny Lee either. 
  3. Bubba Watson - Bubba sucked at the Old Course, but bad weather ain't exactly a great fit for Bubba's temperament. He tied for 21st here in his last visit, so Glen Abbey is a decent fit, but he carries a bit of risk with him this week relative to the guys above him.
  4. Brooks Koepka - A rookie at Glen Abbey, but his current form is more than worthy. He should be able to decimate the par 5s, so it comes down to his ability to tame the par 4s.
  5. Hunter Mahan - This is sort of one of those "golfing gods" situations. Had to WD with the lead here in 2013 for the birth of his first child and had a T4 at Glen Abbey way back in 2004. Current form is well below his standards, but this is the perfect place for him to get back on track.
  6. Jim Furyk - For starters, why not? Has a couple of top 15s at this venue and is certainly among the class of the field. Current form is not the best and statistical fit is a bit off, but class is permanent.
  7. Luke Donald - He still scares me a bit, but seems to have found his groove in the last two starts. Much like Mahan, he's a prospect to buy that could be on an upswing.
  8. Greg Owen - One of the least likely inclusions in a power ranking if you asked me at the beginning of the year, but he's impossible to ignore this week. Tied for 12th here in 2013 and shared 20th at the Open. His GIR from other than the fairway and par 4 scoring average are both top 20.
  9. Andres Romero - He's been solid in this event no matter the rota, with his T21 at Glen Abbey in 2013 actually counting as his worst showing. Has back-to-back top 10s entering this week and a three top 15s in his last four starts. Yes please.
  10. Scott Piercy - A prime candidate for a post-win letdown, but he can't drop any lower than this on a credible power ranking.
  11. J.B. Holmes
  12. Ryan Palmer 
  13. Tony Finau
  14. Aaron Baddeley
  15. Charley Hoffman
  16. Rory Sabbatini
  17. Ollie Schniederjans
  18. Steve Stricker
  19. Scott Langley
  20. Pat Perez

Not sure I can do much better than a pair of runner-up finishes last week (Oosty and Wilcox), but we'll do our best. I'm rolling the dice with the class and course history offered by Hunter Mahan this week. My hope is that some of my competition will be scared off by his current form and it will backfire. 

Best of luck to all!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

RBC Canadian Open - Preview

While the stars on the PGA TOUR are spending an extra night in Scotland, it's time for us to push forward and begin our research for the RBC Canadian Open with this week's preview. One big thing to note right out of the gates is that this tournament is on a rotation in terms of venues, so make note of that when considering course history.

This year's venue is the familiar Glen Abbey Golf Club. It's a 7,273 yard par 72, designed by none other than Jack Nicklaus. Fireworks can certainly happen late, as three of the four par 5s occur over the last six holes.

You'll also remember that this was the site of Hunter Mahan's WD with the lead just before the third round due to the birth of his first child. Brandt Snedeker went on to win.

Here is a list of the winners and runners-up in this event at this venue since 2004:

  • 2004: Winner - Vijay Singh (275) over Mike Weir in a playoff
  • 2008: Winner - Chez Reavie (267) over Billy Mayfair (270)
  • 2009: Winner - Nathan Green (270) over Retief Goosen in a playoff
  • 2013: Winner - Brandt Snedeker (272) over Jason Bohn, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and William McGirt
Several things pop to mind when looking at this cast of notables and the course.
  • The length of the course is pretty short by current standards for a par-72 layout. That probably explains why some players not known as bombers are populating this list.
  • Because there are four par 5s, length is still a very good thing. Singh and DJ are both noted for what they can (could, in Singh's case) do off the tee, and both have / had the ability to feast on par 5s. 
  • I'll put the most emphasis on what happened in 2013. That is, class rose to the top of the leaderboard. Throw in Hunter Mahan, who was poised to win before his WD, and the best players in this relatively weak field found their way to the top. 
We will spend the next few days gathering the usual data and putting together a power ranking and one-and-done selection. It will likely be Tuesday night before that posts, due to the Monday finish at the Old Course.

Best of luck with your research!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Open Championship and Barbasol Championship - One-and-done

I'll keep this short and sweet, but wanted to put this on this site for those that don't follow me on Twitter.

Open Championship

My one-and-done pick is Louis Oosthuizen. I love him on this course and he's my best available player on the power ranking. I've had my eye on him for this spot all year. I almost went with a Late / Early and Martin Kaymer, but I'm not completely convinced the waves will end up being all that different with Thursday AM looking perfect.

Barbasol Championship

A bit of a crapshoot, but I'll take the Alabama native and currently hot player (by an opposite-field event standards), Will Wilcox.

Best of luck to all!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Open Championship - Power Ranking

The Open Championship is inching closer by the minute and here is a power ranking to get you off and running on your research. Rather than post my one-and-done pick in this space, I will return to post that Wednesday evening once I'm more confident regarding the weather.

On that note, the weather reports for Friday are pretty nasty. The popular thought is that the Thursday PM / Friday AM tee time wave will be at an advantage. I've followed this tournament enough to know that waiting until the last possible minute to follow weather changes is often a good move. If it becomes clear that one wave will have a decided advantage, I will go all in with my fantasy games to reflect that advantage. The only tournament this season where I can recall that being the right move was the Valero Texas Open.

In the power ranking, I am attaching either "LE" or "EL" to each player. That stands for the Late / Early or Early / Late wave of tee times. If that's confusing to you, my guess is that you haven't been playing fantasy golf for all that long :)

Here we go:

  1. Dustin Johnson (EL) - Might catch the wrong end of the draw, and if so that impacts his value. Several things about DJ. He's extremely long, and we covered the importance of that in our Preview. He's also won some tournaments contested in rainy / poor weather. If 2010 was any indicator following his U.S. Open final-round snafu, he will bounce back in one of the next two majors.
  2. Paul Casey (LE) - Not only is he having a great season, he's a solid links golfer and enjoyed a T3 at St. Andrews in a past Open. Experience matters, especially with the weather looking ugly, and he has it.
  3. Henrik Stenson (LE) - Another seasoned links player, the Swede has three top-three finishes in this event with one of those coming at St. Andrews. Get's a major bump in "form"with a runner-up in his last outing leading up to this week.
  4. Jordan Spieth (EL) - There's no doubt he's a fast learner, but there's nothing to suggest he's learned how to handle weather like what he will face this week. I suppose there is nothing to suggest he won't handle the situation very well, but we just don't know. If this tournament is played in 8 MPH wind, he's first on the list. 
  5. Louis Oosthuizen (EL) - He may have led off this list had it not been for the misfortune of playing with Tiger Woods the first two rounds and likely landing the wrong end of the tee time draw.
  6. Rickie Fowler (LE) - Can't ignore the win at the Scottish Open and he's been very reliable in his Open Championship history.
  7. Sergio Garcia (EL) - Another trusted Open player, making 14/18 players with eight top 10s and two runner-up finishes. We all know the golfing gods are against him, or at least he thinks so, but you know what you are buying here.
  8. Adam Scott (LE) - Another great Open player, but his putter is a big question mark. Hard to rank him much higher or much lower. If the flat stick is average, he'll lurk.
  9. Martin Kaymer (LE) - Really upped his stock with a fourth-place finish in his last start leading up to this. He tied for seventh at St. Andrews in the 2010 Open and has excellent form on the Old Course at the Dunhill Links. 
  10. Matt Kuchar (LE) - Impossible to ignore his runner-up in Scotland last week and his recent form in the Open Championship has been very solid. 
  11. Ian Poulter (EL)
  12. Shane Lowry (EL)
  13. Hideki Matsuyama (EL)
  14. Tommy Fleetwood (LE)
  15. Victor Dubuisson (EL)
  16. Bubba Watson (EL)
  17. Phil Mickelson (LE)
  18. Brandt Snedeker (EL)
  19. Francesco Molinari (LE)
  20. J.B. Holmes (EL)
  21. Justin Rose (LE)
  22. Branden Grace (LE)
  23. Charl Schwartzel (EL)
  24. Marc Warren (LE)
  25. Brooks Koepka (EL)
Next 10: Ernie Els, Russell Knox, Ross Fisher, David Howell, James Morrison, Jason Day, Ryan Palmer, Lee Westwood, Zach Johnson and Danny Lee

We will return tomorrow with a one-and-done.

Best of luck to all!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Open Championship - Preview

The Open Championship returns home to the Old Course at St. Andrews this week, and here is a preview to get you off and running in your research. Before we get started, I have to confess that this is one of my two favorite tournaments, with the Masters being the other. Nothing beats waking up before the sun rises on the East Coast of the U.S. just to have the live action waiting on me.

Now to what matters.

When it comes to researching the Open, previous experience and success in the Open Championship matters quite a bit. As it relates specifically to St. Andrews, course history matters just as much. This is one of the few tournaments where course history easily trumps current form.

While it has experienced a renovation since the 2010 Open, it's hard to imagine what it takes to lift the Claret Jug changing all that much.

The Old Course at St. Andrews is a 7,297 yard par-72 layout. It's a bit different than most par-72s, as it features just two par 5s and two par 3s. For you math majors, that's 14 par 4s.

Since 1990, here are the winners and runners-up of the five Opens played at St. Andrews.

  • 1990 - Nick Faldo (18-under 270) over Mark McNulty and Payne Stewart (275)
  • 1995 - John Daly (282) over Costantino Rocca in a playoff
  • 2000 - Tiger Woods (269) over Thomas Bjorn and Ernie Els (277)
  • 2005 - Tiger Woods (274) over Colin Montgomerie (279)
  • 2010 - Louis Oosthuizen (272) over Lee Westwood (279)
So what does that tell us? 
  • Well, the home of golf absolutely recognizes class, as there wasn't anybody better than Nick Faldo in the early 1990s and certainly there was nobody better that TW in the 2000-2005 period. 
  • Length has traditionally mattered quite a bit here, as bombers have been able to carry some of the worst trouble on the course. The redesign may have addressed some of this, but it's hard to think that long will be wrong.
What about the stats?
  • Don't go crazy this week. This is a very different course than the regular PGA TOUR courses and most of the courses on the European Tour. That means the way a player scrambles or hits GIR in Florida has very little to do with how they handle Scotland. 
  • Driving Distance will matter. Considering there are 14 par 4s, that will probably be a factor as well. 
Don't forget!!!
  • Take a hard look at the results of the Dunhill Links. It's a rotation, but 36 of the 72 holes are played at St. Andrews. 

We will return later in the week with the power ranking and the one-and-done selection. Until then, happy research!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

John Deere Classic - Power Ranking and One-and-Done

The final PGA TOUR tune up before the Open Championship is set to take place at the John Deere Classic, and here is a power ranking and one-and-done selection to complete our work.

I encourage you to refer to Sunday's preview for additional information on this tournament and on TPC Deere Run.

Off we go...

  1. Jordan Spieth - Winner in 2013 and a top 10 last year in his title defense, as if I even needed to explain myself on this one.
  2. Zach Johnson - The clear number two this week, ZJ has feasted at the Deere over the past six years especially. He's cracked the top three in five of the last six including a win. Current form leaves very little room for doubt.
  3. Kevin Kisner - Had terrible course history at The Greenbrier Classic and it didn't matter, as he lost in a playoff. He tied for 20th here in his last trip, so all systems are a go.
  4. Ryan Moore - Above average class, above average course history and lukewarm current form are easily enough to crack the power ranking in an event like this that lacks numerous top-end options.
  5. Tony Finau - Continues to impress on a weekly basis. His current run reminds me of what Will MacKenzie put together in the Winter / early Spring of 2014. 
  6. Steve Stricker - He owns this course, but current form is the obvious issue. If there were ever a week where he would pull it together, this would be it. Freddie Couples has Augusta National and Strick has Deere Run.
  7. Justin Thomas - With nine holes remaining at The Greenbrier Classic, he looked like the winner. Totally collapsed on the back nine, but I could certainly see a Kyle Stanley-in-Phoenix like bounce back this week. Missed the cut here in 2013, but that's hardly relevant.
  8. Jason Bohn - He's 6/9 with four top 25s at this venue and is playing well of late. Had the best statistical breakdown of everyone I evaluated as it relates to TPC Deere Run (Zach Johnson was second and Jordan Spieth was third). 
  9. Harris English - We're wading into a territory where we have a lot of "B/B-" options, and English leads off that group. Cracked the top 25 in two of his last three starts leading up to this and tied for 15th in one of his two trips to the JDC. Tends to disappoint, though.
  10. David Hearn - Lost in a playoff with Jordan Spieth in Zach Johnson in 2013 at the JDC and experienced a similar fate to Danny Lee last week. Form meets history.
  11. Brian Harman
  12. Shawn Stefani
  13. Robert Streb
  14. Steven Bowditch
  15. Chad Collins
  16. Chris Stroud
  17. Patrick Rodgers
  18. Kevin Streelman
  19. Tim Clark
  20. Brendon de Jonge


I was relatively pleased with the T13 by Steven Bowditch last week, but then again I didn't pull the trigger on an available Kevin Kisner. I'm not going to make that mistake this week. Kisner it is!

On a side note, this feels like THE PLAYERS when I felt like the only mistake as it related to Jordan Spieth was not playing him. That clearly didn't work.

Come on, Kis! 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

John Deere Classic - Preview

The next stop on the birdiefest segment of the PGA TOUR is the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run in Silvis, Illinois, and here is a preview to get you off and running.

Recent history has seen Steve Stricker and Zach Johnson dominate this event, with Jordan Spieth also popping the cork on his first win here two years ago. That's some pretty high class for an event that often gets the shaft due to the Open Championship following a week later.

TPC Deere Run is a par-71 layout that featured three par 5s, four par 3s and 11 par 4s. It is not one of the longer courses on TOUR, stretching out to a moderate 7,268 yards. The combination of three par 5s and the lack of length play a part in the deep numbers at this venue.

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

  • 2005: Winner - Sean O'Hair (16-under 268) over Robert Damron and Hank Kuehne (269)
  • 2006: Winner - John Senden (265) over J.P. Hayes (266)
  • 2007: Winner - Jonathan Byrd (266) over Tim Clark (267)
  • 2008: Winner - Kenny Perry (268) over Brad Adamonis and Jay Williamson in a playoff
  • 2009: Winner - Steve Stricker (264) over Zach Johnson, Brett Quigley and Brandt Snedeker (267)
  • 2010: Winner - Steve Stricker (258) over Paul Goydos (260)
  • 2011: Winner - Steve Stricker (262) over Kyle Stanley (263)
  • 2012: Winner - Zach Johnson (264) over Troy Matteson in a playoff
  • 2013: Winner - Jordan Spieth (265) over David Hearn and Zach Johnson in a playoff
  • 2014: Winner - Brian Harman (262) over Zach Johnson (263)

So what does that list of notable tell us about the tournament and about the course?
  • Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker are two of the best wedge players on the PGA TOUR. It's not a stretch to draw the conclusion that giving oneself scoring opportunities with the wedges is important. It's probably worth a look at some proximity stats inside 150 yards...maybe 125.
  • There are a number of guys on here who would fit the category of strong ball-strikers and average (at best) putters, who clearly figured out how to have a good putting week to go with solid ball-striking. Finding a guy with good Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green splits would be a good move.
  • As hinted above, the class of the field seems to rise to the top.

As usual, we will also consider the usual research angles of current form and course history when compiling our data. We will return later in the week with this week's power ranking.

Until then, happy research!