Reigning FedExCup champion Dustin Johnson along with current FedExCup leader, Bryson DeChambeau, lead one of the strongest fields in golf teeing it up at the second major of the year.
When the tournament was held here in 2012, Rory McIlroy blew the competition out of the water on the way to an eight-shot win and the Irishman will be keen to replicate that form on the back of claiming the Wells Fargo Championship in his last start
An just in case there weren’t enough storylines heading into one of the most popular events on the calendar; Jordan Spieth will be attempting to complete the career Grand Slam with a win on Sunday.
Course: Kiawah Island , The Ocean Course
Length: 7849 yards (Par 72)
Architect: Pete & Alice Dye
The year’s second major are upon us and we are going back to Kiawah Island in South Carolina for the second time in tournament history.
The 2012 edition saw Rory McIlroy dust the field by 8 shots and with that in mind, you could be led to believe that this is a straight bomber’s paradise, but is it that straight forward?
Looking at the other contenders that week it does not seem like it, in the top 10 almost a decade ago we find names like Poulter, Stricker and McDowell none of them known for their firepower.
My personal take is that the game has evolved to a place where I do not think the bottom 20-30% in length will have much of a chance on this long of a golf course, but with no rain in the forecast, it is going to be played firm and fast so I would put as much emphasis on being straight as long off the tee.
Here’s an interesting stat from the 2012 edition: Green in regulation when missing the fairway: 39%. Green in regulation when hitting the fairway: 68%
With six of the par 4s playing over 480 yards, all four par 3s measuring from 198 yards and up and of course the par 5s I see approaches with long irons as a key stat this week.
This is going to be a tough test even if the winds stay down and it will get brutal if it starts blowing so both the scrambling and the around the green game will be heavily tested this week.
The greens are relatively slow paspalum protected by well-placed bunkers, water and shaved runoff areas.
Here are some of the things I will be looking at/for:
- Strokes gained off the tee
- Fairways gained
- Strokes gained approach
- Proximity from 200+
- Strokes gained around the green
- Par 5 scoring
Wagered: +35.61 units
Wagered: 221 units
Won: 397.42 units
Result: 196.42 units
Waste Management: Brooks Koepka 41-1, Genesis Invitational: Max Homa 56-1, The Players Championship: Justin Thomas 19-1, Valero Texas Open: Jordan Spieth 11-1
After a slight downturn that started with the last two rounds at the API, the Norwegian has bounced back with a couple of 3rd place finishes in a row.
In these two most recent tournaments he has gained strokes in all four major categories on both occasions suggesting that he is just that one extra hot round with either his putter or irons away from getting his third tour win.
From a stats perspective Kiawah should suit Hovland perfectly, not only does he rank in the top 10 off the tee and on approaches from 200+ yards he is one of the favourites who ranks highest when you combine length and accuracy off the tee.
It’s also not insignificant that both his wins have come on paspalum greens so he should be more comfortable than most on this somewhat rear surface on tour.
A tough Pete Dye-designed course where the winning score could be in the single digits sounds a lot like Sawgrass and while the Ocean Course is substantially longer there are more similarities than you would think between the two.
The South Korean is of course not only a former Players champion he also recorded another top 10 there two months ago and in January he won the AmEx another tournament played at a Pete Dye course.
Si Woo is known for being able to contend on the back of no form, but of course it does not hurt that he as of late has been playing some good golf with the 9th at the Players and 12th at the Masters as the highlights.
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