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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Deutsche Bank Championship - Preview

The second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs is upon us, and TPC Boston is the stage for the Deutsche Bank Championship. Here is a preview to get you off and running with your research.

The top 100 players in the FedExCup standings have punched their ticket. That includes Chris Kirk, who returns to defend his 2014 title.

TPC Boston is a par-71 layout, topping out at 7,242 yards. The four par 3s, three par 5s, and 11 par 4s meet the expectations of the established par value, so no funky surprises lurk on the card. The fairways and greens are Bentgrass, so Bermuda and Poa Annua experts have no advantage.

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

  • 2005 - Winner - Olin Browne (14-under 270) over Jason Bohn (271)
  • 2006 - Winner - Tiger Woods (268) over Vijay Singh (270)
  • 2007 - Winner - Phil Mickelson (268) over Arron Oberholser, Brett Wetterich and Tiger Woods (270)
  • 2008 - Winner - Vijay Singh (262) over Mike Weir (267)
  • 2009 - Winner - Steve Stricker (267) over Jason Dufner and Scott Verplank (268)
  • 2010 - Winner - Charley Hoffman (262) over Jason Day, Luke Donald and Geoff Ogilvy (267)
  • 2011 - Winner - Webb Simpson (269) over Chez Reavie in a playoff
  • 2012 - Winner - Rory McIlroy (264) over Louis Oosthuizen (265) 
  • 2013 - Winner - Henrik Stenson (262) over Steve Stricker (264)
  • 2014 - Winner - Chris Kirk (269) over Russell Henley, Billy Horschel and Geoff Ogilvy (271)

For those preparing a statistical deep dive, it’s wise to factor in par 4 scoring average since there are 11. While exceptions can be found, history says players who are long off the tee have held an advantage versus those who are not. Ball-striking appears to take precedent over the flat stick, so consider strokes gained: tee-to-green over putting.

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

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Barclays - Power Ranking and One-and-Done

The Playoffs are set to begin with The Barclays, and here is this week's power ranking and one-and-done to complete our research.

Let's get it started

  1. Jordan Spieth - No course history, but his form has rendered even bad history irrelevant. First outing holding the title of numero uno in the world, so we'll see if that has any impact.
  2. Jason Day - Fresh off his win at the PGA Championship, he returns to Plainfield CC where he tied for 13th in 2011. 
  3. Justin Rose - Cracked the top four in his last three TOUR starts and tied for sixth at this venue in the lone hosting back in 2011.
  4. Matt Kuchar - The runner-up in 2011 has two top 10s in his last three starts. Form meets history.
  5. Dustin Johnson - Brought Plainfield to its knees in 2011, winning at 19-under through a mere 54 holes. Form has been a minor question mark since his U.S. Open collapse. Starting fast of late, but fading on the weekend.
  6. Brooks Koepka - Went T6-T5-T6 in his last three starts. Any questions?
  7. Brandt Snedeker - Gets a hard look in this spot due mainly to his T3 in 2011. Current form is average by his standards, if not a tad below.
  8. Paul Casey - Enters off a T3 at the Wyndham last week, and he makes his first appearance at Plainfield CC.
  9. Bubba Watson - Missed the cut here in 2011, but we all know poor weather isn't exactly Bubba's calling card. 
  10. Webb Simpson - Always known as a course horse, he tied for 10th here in 2011 and enters off a T6 at the Wyndham.
  11. Bill Haas 
  12. Russell Henley
  13. Charl Schwartzel
  14. Rickie Fowler
  15. Scott Piercy
  16. Robert Streb
  17. Jim Furyk
  18. Zach Johnson
  19. Hideki Matsuyama 
  20. Patrick Reed

I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel a bit in the OAD at this point in the season, as I'm not a big believer of saving guys. My selection came down to Russell Henley and Charl Schwartzel. While I have Henley slightly higher, Schwartzel is trending well with a T31, T37 and T3 in his last three starts and must make a move if he wants to keep advancing. 

That's good enough for me! Charl it is!

Best of luck to all!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Barclays - Preview

The Barclays kicks off the FedExCup Playoffs at Plainfield CC this week, and here is a preview to get you off and running.

This is the second time that Plainfield has hosted this event, with the first coming in 2011. Weather forced a 54-hole finish, which was won by Dustin Johnson at 19-under 194.

Plainfield played as a 6,964 par 71 in 2011, but will be a 7,012 par 70 this time around. The difference is that the fifth hole has been moved to a par 4. That means it now has two par 5s, four par 3s and 12 par 4s. What we did learn is that birdies are needed to contend. Every player who finished inside the top 30 in 2011 navigated the course in even par or better in each of their three rounds.

Here is a list of the top 10 from 2011:

  • Winner - Dustin Johnson (19-under)
  • 2nd - Matt Kuchar (17-under)
  • T3 - Vijay Singh and Brandt Snedeker (16-under)
  • 5 - Jonathan Byrd (15-under)
  • T6 - Brian Davis, Justin Rose, Camilo Villegas and Y.E. Yang (14-under)
  • T10 - Charley Hoffman, Webb Simpson and Nick Watney (13-under)
For the veteran gamer, you already realize that this is a fairly diverse group of players. It's obvious what DJ brings to the table, but his game is noting like guys such as Snedeker, Byrd, Davis, Yaang and Simpson. 

As I look ahead, I will take a close look at par-4 scoring average and Par Breakers for sure. I will also lean heavily on current form, while also examining the limited course history.

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

Monday, August 17, 2015

Wyndham Championship - Power Ranking and One-and-Done

The Wyndham Championship is the final stop of the regular season, and here is the power ranking and one-and-done to complete our work for the week. While the PGA Championship is sometimes referred to as Glory's Last Shot, that truly is the case for a number of the lesser known PGA TOUR players.

Here we go:

  1. Brooks Koepka - Jumps off the page due to his recent form and posted a respectable T38 here last year in his first look at Sedgefield CC. 
  2. Brandt Snedeker - At this venue, he sports a pair of top-five finishes (including last year) and has made six of seven cuts. Clearly one of the classier players in the field, he's a solid play in any format.
  3. Webb Simpson - A known course horse, this is one that fits his eye in his home state. Has a win as one of his three top 11s and has made five of six cuts.
  4. Bill Haas - Close followers of Haas know several things. First, he has never performed well in majors. That places a big asterisk on his recent form. His course history, however, is very good here. It features three top 10s including a T2 last year. Make no mistake, he's very dangerous this week. Which brings us to the second thing to know. His course history often overrides his current form.
  5. Justin Thomas - Patrick Reed broke through here, and it would be no surprise to see Thomas follow in his footsteps. Playing great lately, with a T5-T4-T18 run entering the week.
  6. Hideki Matsuyama - A nod to his class, he is 1/2 with a top 15 in 2013. Recent form is good, but not great.
  7. Will Wilcox - Lacks the class of those above him and immediately below him, but is as hot as anyone. A T24 LY is good enough to elevate him into the top 10, given his form.
  8. Branden Grace - Did you watch the last few majors?
  9. Martin Kaymer - Tied for 20th here in 2013 and has recently been making some noise with some top-15 finishes.
  10. Paul Casey - He's 4/5 with a T18 here last year and has been a steady hand of late. In a field lacking tons of depth, he's a savvy play.
  11. Billy Horschel
  12. Adam Scott
  13. Patrick Rodgers
  14. Charl Schwartzel
  15. Ryan Moore
  16. Tiger Woods
  17. Harris English
  18. Cameron Smith
  19. Ollie Schniederjans
  20. Scott Piercy (WD)
  21. Luke Donald
  22. Camilo Villegas
  23. David Toms
  24. Carl Pettersson
  25. Chad Campbell

It's turning into that point of the season where you burn 'em if you got 'em. Some people trailing begin taking some calculated risks, but I don't exactly buy into that. Many of the gamers ahead of you have already burned the players you are considering, so it's a bit of a musical chairs with picks. I do encourage those of you trying to maintain to burn "chalk" whenever possible and force others to reach.

Of my top 12, there are only two that I have still at my disposal. They are Martin Kaymer and Branden Grace. While I have Grace slightly higher in my power ranking, I'm rolling with Kaymer for two reasons. Kaymer has course history (T20 in '13), and Grace could have a bit of a major hangover.

Best of luck to all!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Wyndham Championship - Preview

The final regular season event of the 2014-15 PGA TOUR schedule is the Wyndham Championship, and here is a preview to get you off and running.

The Wyndham Championship will be contested at Sedgefield Country Club, as it has without interruption since 2008. Sedgefield is a par-70 layout that stretches out to a manageable 7,127 yards. It features the expected two par 5s, four par 3s and 12 par 4s. It is worth noting that both par 5s are easily reachable by almost anyone who puts a tee ball in the fairway, so bombing it off the tee is not a necessity this week.

Here is a look at the winners and runners-up since 2008:

  • 2008: Winner - Carl Pettersson (21-under 259) over Scott McCarron (261)
  • 2009: Winner - Ryan Moore (264) over Jason Bohn and Kevin Stadler in a playoff
  • 2010: Winner - Arjun Atwal (260) over over David Toms (261)
  • 2011: Winner - Webb Simpson (262) over George McNeill (265)
  • 2012: Winner - Sergio Garcia (262) over Tim Clark (264)
  • 2013: Winner - Patrick Reed (266) over Jordan Spieth in a playoff
  • 2014: Winner - Camilo Villegas (263) over Bill Haas and Freddie Jacobson (264)

This list further confirms that length isn't all that important. We have a lot of really good players rising to the top of some overall weak fields. 

The timing of this tournament dictates that most of the top players sit this one out as a rest between the WGC/PGA double dip and the FedExCup Playoffs. 

This tournament is somewhat tricky in that stats are less important than a player's inner battle this week. A bunch of the players are playing for something big. Some are trying to at least make the top 150 for conditional status next year, some are playing to try and crack or stay inside the top 125. There are even a few trying to crack the top 200 to earn a seat in the Web.com Tour finals. 

The players that can typically be trusted the most this week are those that are already secured of being in the Playoffs, but are playing to improve their standing, or because this is a home game, or because a sponsor requires it. 

I'll take a look at par-4 scoring average, SG:TTG and likely par breakers before ultimately putting a lot of trust on course history, current form and even a little gut (gulp). 

We will return later this week with a power ranking and one-and-done selection. Until then, best of luck to all!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

PGA Championship - Power Ranking and One-and-done

The PGA Championship is growing closer by the minute and here is this week's power ranking and one-and-done to complete our research for the week. I encourage you to flip back to Sunday's preview for more details on Whistling Straits and the PGA Championship.

Here we go!

  1. Bubba Watson - Perhaps he should be second on the list, as he has posted back-to-back runner-up finishes leading up to this event and a P2 at Whistling Straits in 2010. He has everything required for success at this venue, ranking first in driving distance and par-5 scoring average, second in strokes gained: tee-to-green and 21st in par 4 scoring average. 
  2. Jason Day - Could this be his week? Went T4, 1, T12 in his last three starts and tied for 10th in this event back in 2010. Ranks third in driving distance and second in par-4 scoring average.
  3. Jordan Spieth - Definitely a quick learner, but has missed both of his cuts in the PGA Championship. Ranks first in par-4 scoring average, second in SG:TTG and 20th in par-5 scoring average. 
  4. Dustin Johnson - This is almost 2010 all over again. Blew a U.S. Open in 2010 and this year and ended his major season at Whistling Straits. Would have been in a playoff here in 2010 if he could identify a bunker, so clearly the course fits. Form is off a touch, but that shouldn't matter this week.
  5. Justin Rose - Trendy right now, with a T6-T4-T3 run in his last three starts but has missed the cut both trips to Whistling Straits. 
  6. Brooks Koepka - Different venue, but a T15 in this event last year. Has posted T10-T18-T6 in his last three starts, with the T6 coming at the legit Firestone CC in the WGC-Bridgestone. Reminds me a bit of Keegan Bradley when he won this event, picking up his first win earlier in the year. 
  7. Rickie Fowler - A bit under the radar, but his runner-up-T10 in his last two events has him poised for a nice run.
  8. Zach Johnson - Winner at St. Andrews finished T3 here in 2010. In a bubble, that should place him higher this week, but his length could be a challenge.
  9. Henrik Stenson - Starting to feel like Lee Westwood of five years ago. Keep expecting him to be a major winner due to his game and course fits, but it hasn't happened yet. 
  10. Rory McIlroy - Likely that he will be a bit rusty, but his T3 in 2010 can't be overlooked. If he gets in a groove, he could shift the focus of the golf world away from Spieth.
  11. Jim Furyk
  12. Matt Kuchar
  13. Louis Oosthuizen
  14. Hideki Matsuyama
  15. Sergio Garcia
  16. Danny Willett
  17. Shane Lowry 
  18. Patrick Reed
  19. Paul Casey
  20. Robert Streb
  21. Phil Mickelson
  22. Marc Leishman
  23. Marc Warren
  24. Martin Kaymer
  25. Justin Thomas


Brooks Koepka is the starter, with Robert Streb as the backup. 

Best of luck to all!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

PGA Championship - Preview

Glory's Last Shot awaits a loaded field at Whistling Straits for this week's PGA Championship, and here is a preview to get things off and running.

It's a bit uncommon that we can enjoy course history in a PGA Championship that is as recent as 2010, so savvy gamers will appreciate that comfort. In addition, the 2004 PGA also took place in Kohler, Wisconsin at Whistling Straits.

Whistling Straights is a par-72 layout of 7,501 yards, featuring four par 5s, four par 3s and 10 par 4s. Three of those par 4s are over 500 yards. It would stand to reason that being long off the tee is a major advantage.

Here are the top 10 (and ties) from 2004 and 2010:

  • 2010 - Winner - Martin Kaymer, P2 - Bubba Watson, T3 - Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson, T5 - Jason Dufner, Dustin Johnson, Steve Elkington, T8 - Wen-Chong Liang and Camilo Villegas, T10 - Matt Kuchar and Jason Day
  • 2004 - Winner - Vijay Singh, P2 - Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard, T4 - Ernie Els and Chris Riley, T6 - K.J. Choi, Paul McGinley and Phil Mickelson, T9 - Robert Allenby, Stephen Ames, Ben Crane and Adam Scott
This list is not exclusively comprised of bombers, but when you see names like Bubba, Rory, DJ, Day, Singh, Els, Mickelson and Adam Scott, it's essentially a who's who of elite bombers. Perhaps the most interesting name on that list was ZJ, with a T3 in 2010. Coming off a win at the bomber-friendly Old Course, ZJ can't be ignored. 

In addition to course history and current form, I intend to take a hard look at Driving Distance, Par 4 Scoring Average, Par 5 Scoring average and perhaps SG:TTG. 

We will return later in the week with a power ranking and a one-and-done selection. 

Until then, happy research.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational - Power Ranking and One-and-Done

The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational is just around the corner, and here is this week's power ranking and one-and-done to get you off and running with your research. For additional questions on the past history of this event or Firestone CC, please refer to the Preview posted on Sunday.

Here we go:

  1. Jordan Spieth - This is one of those weeks where an argument could be made to fade Spieth, but I'm not going to go there. He finished 49th here last year, but he's had similar course history and posted big finished this season already.
  2. Justin Rose - Two top fives at Firestone in the last three trips and back-to-back top-six finishes leading into this start. Classic case of form meets history.
  3. Jim Furyk - Nothing sexy about his game, but he has eight top 10s and two runners-up at this event and enters off a T4 at the RBC Canadian Open. What's not to like?
  4. Rickie Fowler - Broke out of a slight slump with a runner-up last week in Tiger's tourney, and has a T2 and T8 on his resume at Firestone CC.
  5. Louis Oosthuizen - Two top 10s in four tries at the WGC-Bridgestone and his P2 in the Open Championship and T2 at the U.S. Open has him poised for a big week.
  6. Bubba Watson - Thee top 25s here but has yet to crack the top 15, which is a concern in some formats. His runner-up at Glen Abbey in his last outing has him firing on all cylinders.
  7. Jason Day - His T4 in 2011 is his only top 20 in five tries, but you'd have to look awfully hard to find many players hotter than he at the moment. 
  8. Adam Scott - Has the long wand working well enough to be dangerous, as evident by back-to-back top 10s. He's a past winner of this event and posted a T8 last year.
  9. Keegan Bradley - Form is lacking, but he's a course horse if there ever were one. Finishes are T15, 1, T2, T4 in his four attempts at Firestone.
  10. Hideki Matsuyama - Trending with a T21-T12 run in this event and is posting top-20 finishes this season like Jordan Spieth is throwing up top fives. 
  11. Dustin Johnson
  12. Zach Johnson
  13. Sergio Garcia
  14. Henrik Stenson
  15. Marc Leishman
  16. Paul Casey
  17. Patrick Reed
  18. Brooks Koepka
  19. Matt Kuchar
  20. Martin Kaymer
  21. Danny Willett
  22. Bill Haas
  23. Danny Lee
  24. David Lingmerth
  25. Ryan Palmer


In an event like this, going classy is the move to make. When I took a look at my available options, the guy that jumped off the page was Adam Scott. I gave Keegan Bradley a long look, but the Aussie is the play. 

As for the Barracuda Championship, I'm rolling with Vaughn Taylor. He's played great all summer, despite limited status, and he's a two-time winner at this event. 

Best of luck to all!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

WGC-Bridgestone Invitational - Preview

The WGC-Bridgestone Invitational awaits the elite of the PGA TOUR this week at Firestone Country Club, and here his a preview to get you off and running with your research. It is also worth noting that the Barracuda Championship will also take place as an opposite-field event for those fighting for their FedExCup lives as one of two remaining full-field stops.

Unlike the last three weeks, Firestone Country Club offers us a very familiar venue with a great deal of course history for which to study. Combine that will a limited field and a handful of non-PGA TOUR players, and there is very little excuse not to get this one right.

Firestone Country Club is a bear of a par 70, stretching out to 7,400 yards and offering just two par 5s. The strength of the course is the 12 par 4s, with seven of those reaching over 460 yards. With three of the four par 3s topping out at over 200 yards, length clearly matters. Par 5 scoring is a bit watered down, as one of the par 5s is reachable by everyone and the other is reachable by almost nobody.

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

  • 2005: Winner - Tiger Woods (274) over Chris DiMarco (275)
  • 2006: Winner - Tiger Woods (270) over Stewart Cink in a playoff
  • 2007: Winner - Tiger Woods (272) over Justin Rose and Rory Sabbatini (280)
  • 2008: Winner - Vijay Singh (270) over Stewart Appleby and Lee Westwood (271)
  • 2009: Winner - Tiger Woods (268) over Robert Allenby and Padraig Harrington (272)
  • 2010: Winner - Hunter Mahan (268) over Ryan Palmer (270)
  • 2011: Winner - Adam Scott (263) over Luke Donald and Rickie Fowler (267)
  • 2012: Winner - Keegan Bradley (267) over Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker (268)
  • 2013: Winner - Tiger Woods (265) over Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson (272)
  • 2014: Winner - Rory McIlroy (265) over Sergio Garcia (267)
That list of notables is a pretty familiar one. With a couple of exceptions, you see plenty of length off the tee and tons of class. In addition to the usual concoction of course history and current form, I'll likely take a hard look at strokes gained: tee-to-green, par 4 scoring average and perhaps driving distance. Due to the length of the par 3s, I may also take a look at some proximities from longer yardages. 

I will return with the power ranking and one-and-done later this week. Until then, best of luck to all!