A collection of my golf thoughts from the week plus some player performance/form notes for the next few days.
From Olympic golf to the first event of the US PGA Tour’s playoff series it feels as if the ‘finals’ of golf for 2016 is into week three as Patrick Reed won the Barclays at Bethpage Black. All this with the Ryder Cup coming into view in a month’s time! Reed now leads the FedEx Cup and heads into the Deutsche Bank with strong form. The American’s one stroke win came after Texas-native Sean O’Hair closed with a five under round to fall short and Ricky Fowler also imploded after he looked set for the triumph earlier in the tournament.
North-west from New York in Alberta, Canada Ariya Jutanugarn returned from injury (she withdrew during the Olympics) to win the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open by four strokes with defending champion Lydia Ko ten shots back. The LPGA stays in Canada this weekend with the Manulife LPGA Classic in Ontario. Thomas Pieters won the Made in Denmark event on the European Tour on Sunday but, more significantly for the Belgian, he was selected on Tuesday as one of three ‘captain’s picks’ along-with Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer for the European Ryder Cup team. There was some consternation with Russell Knox missing out especially as the Scot plays regularly in the USA whereas Pieters does not. Knox has two wins in the last year and Pieters three. I’d have gone for 31 year-old Knox based on the quality of his recent win I the Travelers on the US PGA Tour.
Player performance notes:
Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me and/or are related to capital investment, if that’s your thing. We head to the second event of the playoff series in the USA which will be held at TPC Boston.
20 and under: Henrik Stenson. The Swede withdrew from the Barclays due to injury but working on the ‘Jutanugarn theory’ of winning after a quick recovery the Olympic silver medalist is a top hope.
20 to 50: Patrick Reed. Playing with the other top two players in the standings could make Reed nervous but not much else will after his first-place finish last weekend.
20 to 50: Justin Rose. The Englishman is one of only two major winners with an early tee off time on Thursday and given the quality of winners in the last two significant men’s events (the Barclays and Olympics) that could be important.
20 to 50: Emiliano Grillo. After another great placing (T2) last weekend Grillo has now finished in the top 15 in five of his last six starts.
50 to 100: Justin Thomas. The rising star finished T10 last weekend but his even par final round was disappointing given he could have been expected to perhaps push on for at least a top five finish.
50 to 100: Gary Woodland. The Kansas native finished with three sub 70 rounds and was the only player at Bethpage who was in the top five to do so. But he hasn’t won since August 2013.
50 to 100: Charley Hoffman. It is a different course to last year’s event but the 39 year-old’s third behind Fowler and Stenson last year is worth consideration. He also won the event in 2010.
100 to 200: Jason Kokrak. Like Woodland, Kokrak is one of the lesser lights to have down well last weekend and has a reasonably early tee time on Thursday.
Greens in regulation:
Crans-sur-Sierre hosts the European Masters and many of the key European Ryder Cup players will feature in this event. Defending champion Danny Willett returns, and column favourite Matthew Fitzpatrick (who was second last year) is also back in Switzerland for the event which is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour. This event in Crans Montana is the longest-running tournament held at the same venue in Europe, and the second-longest in the world behind the prestigious Masters. Clarke, with his whole team nailed down for the Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, now has a nervous month to hope his top-liners stay in form whereas the USA side are sitting on their final picks for now.
Advanced statistics in sport have started to become more prevalent and golf is already a fair way down this track in terms of what is logged regarding player performance but one of golf’s key events is getting further in on the action. Heading into the Ryder Cup USA skipper Davis Love III has admitted he is accessing statistics prepared by PGA to assess which players should be paired with which based on specific formats on the teams event due to be held in Minnesota in the final week of September/start of October. The theory been players are paired based perhaps on stats as opposed to personality, which has happened somewhat in the past. However when it gets down to the final pairings I wonder if Love will waiver on the stats and go with the vibe, or who the big names want to play with.
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