The PGA TOUR heads to Olympia Fields Country Club for the penultimate event of the 2019/20 season.
Russell Henley, Robby Shelton, Jason Kokrak and last-man-in Louis Oosthuizen all made it here by the skin of their teeth while six players fell out of the top 70 and will miss the BMW, including Phil Mickelson.
Northern Trust Recap
Dustin Johnson by 11, that is pretty much the recap. And, oh yes, can we please not get a complete birdie fest for something that is supposed to be one of the three premier tour events to end the season.
As for the rest of the field, six players improved their FedExCup ranking enough to move into the top 70 and advance to the BMW Championship, but no one came from further back than Russell Henley, who improved from No. 101 to No. 61 with his T8 finish.
Course: Olympia Fields CC
Length: 7343 yards (Par 70)
Greens: Bent and poa mix
Architect: Willie Park Jr
The second leg of the playoffs takes the players to the outskirts of Chicago and with the field cut down to just 70, there will be no cut this week.
The venue that will hopefully try to challenge the players more than last week is the classical Willie Park Jr designed Olympia Fields.
The last time we saw the course in a major tournament was the 2015 U.S Amateur where Bryson DeChambeau won and Jon Rahm finished fifth, the pros played here last time at the 2003 U.S Open which saw Jim Furyk get his sole major title as one of only four players under par that week.
Olympia Fields is a long treelined parkland par-70 that requires some precision of the tee since the rough is reported to be of the challenging variety.
With six of the par 4s measuring between 450-500 yards the mid irons should be getting a workout this week, but the course also offers up some shorter fours and a par-5 that is a through three-shotter for most in the field so they will need their wedges to be on point as well.
The greens will be some of the most interesting and difficult we see on tour, with a bunch of them being tabletops and all of them being well protected by deep bunkers and run-off areas. The grass is a bent and poa mix, and they are undulating and often pitch ether back to front or vice versa.
With the many raised greens and a lot of mid-irons into greens I could see having a high ball flight being a big advantage this week.
With all the ridiculous low scoring after the restart its hard to be sure but I have a hard time seeing a winning score much lower than -15 this week. The weather seems to somewhat collaborate with sunny conditions to dry the course out if they let it and some moderate winds most days.
Here are some of the things I will be looking at/for:
- Strokes gained approach
- Strokes gained around the green
- Par 4 scoring
- Proximity 100-125 and 150-175 yards
- Bent and poa putting
2019/20 Season overview
Wagered: 150,1 units
Won: 197.71 units
Result: + 47.61 units
Outright winners: Hero World Challenge – Henrik Stensson 25-1, Farmers Insurance Open – Marc Leishman 50-1, RBC Heritage – Webb Simpson 29-1
Rory has been all out of sorts in the past few weeks and admitted that he has been having problems getting in the right competitive mindset due to the lack of fans and he didn’t impress last week ether on the surface with a T65.
But when we dig a little deeper he seems to have found his iron game again gaining over 5 strokes on the field but with his 4th worst putting performance ever and losing strokes off the tee for the first time since January it didn’t matter on the week.
I have zero concern that he will be back to his usual immaculate driving this week and he has always been a streaky putter so when we get him at odds in the high teens the Northern Irishman gets my money this week.
That high ball flight also comes in handy this week obviously also plays into the hands of the guy with the 3rd highest apex on tour this season.
I was on Adam last week and he would have been right in with a chance for a place if it had not been for a disastrous 3rd round where he somehow managed to lose 5.3 strokes putting.
That can’t happen again, can it? It should at least help that he is back on his favourite poa surface.
Everything else sets up perfect for the Aussie; he hits his irons high and soft, he is world-class around the greens ranking 5th in the field, adequate from the bunkers ranking 26th in sand saves and in the top 16 in approach, par 4 scoring and in both relevant proximity ranges.
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