Golf Capital – Baltusrol’s mystery and two majors

@hamishneal

A collection of my golf thoughts from the week plus some player performance/form notes for the next few days.
Opening drive:

It’s a strange period in golf with two majors on this weekend a fortnight before the Olympic golf event. The men are on the east coast of the USA in New Jersey with the women in Milton Keynes, England. The USA won the second UHL International Crown with Christie Kerr claiming the winning singles match whilst Jhonattan Vegas made up for throwing away a good chance for a win last weekend when he surged on the final day of the Canadian Open to win in Ontario from a chasing pack which included Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker, both top hopes in the column last week. As the lead-up event to the Women’s Open in England France’s Isabelle Boineau claimed a breakthrough win in Scotland.

The contest for the year’s final men’s major, the Wanamaker Trophy, heads to the town of Springfield with the course having last hosted the PGA Championship in 2005, when Phil Mickelson won with a score of -4. Baltusrol has a rare history for a golf course. It was named after a local who farmed the land on which the course lays but was brutally murdered.

usalpgacrownsfchronicle.jpg

Player performance notes:

Players I’m interested in to see how they go with notes that interest me and/or are related to capital investments, if that’s your thing, in the weekend’s big event the US PGA Championship.

20 or lower: Dustin Johnson can drive long it but accuracy will be key on this course. If the American holds his form he’s a big chance.

20-50: Sergio Garcia. The man most likely to next win a major who has seen, it seems, a dozen players reach the mark before him. T5 in the last two majors and recently hosted a charity event after the Open so might have been the short break from ‘proper golf’ he needed in a busy period to focus for this.

50-100: Brendan Grace. With course form harder to line up with the last event 11 years ago the tournament form is significant. South African Grace was third at Whistling Straits last year.

50-100: JB Holmes. Recent form profiles have outsiders winning this event but they need a win in the last 12 months which Holmes doesn’t have but he was victorious in the Houston Open last year. Third in the Open and fourth at the Memorial in recent months.

100-200: Shane Lowry. The Irishman missed the cut at the Open but was second at the US Open this season and won the Bridgestone Invitational eleven months ago.

100-200. Lee Westwood. The 43 year-old Englishman was second in the Masters and will be advantaged by an early tee off on Thursday. Has three top tens to his credit since May on the European Tour but his final day 80 at the US Open frightens me.

100-200: Steve Stricker, the 49 year-old veteran leads the US PGA Tour scrambling stats for this season and finished fourth at the Open.

200-500: Tyrell Hatton. We are going back to the well with the Englishman after his T5 at Royal Troon. His form can’t be ignored on a challenging circuit and his scrambling stats on the European Tour this season are better than those of Open champion Henrik Stenson.

200-500: Andy Sullivan. Won in Portugal in October, so fits the win profile and was T12 at the Open. Like Westwood the early tee time on Thursday helps.

200-500: Anirban Lahiri. Only two shots back from Grace in last year’s event the 29 year-old Indian Lahiri isn’t the worst outsider in the field, but he’s not won since February 2015 and finished T68 in the Open.

Greens in regulation:

The Asian and European men’s Tours stage the co-sanctioned King’s Cup in Pattaya, Thailand this weekend but with a major on and the Olympics around the corner it is not a deep field with the top hops ranked outside the top 300. Locals have a strong record having won on the last four occasions and the Challenge Tour (second tier) event, the Northern Ireland Open, almost holds more viewing appeal if not for the two majors. The Women’s British Open at the Woburn Golf Club, where Inbee Park is the defending champion, sees Lydia Ko look for a third major in an event she finished T3 in last season. One to watch might be Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall who qualified with a strong fifth place, and final round 64, at the Scottish Open.

Tap-in:

Dual-sport athletes are not uncommon in golf, with former Australian tennis player Scott Draper having won the 2007 NSW PGA Championship, and many golfers are talented in other sports but there was surely a first for a dual-sport official/player on the weekend in Oakville. Amateur Garrett Rank, current contracted NHL referee, managed a T77 finish having qualified for the weekend’s play by virtue of a strong opening 69 before rounds of 75, 76 and 76. 28 year-old Rank is now my new favourite athlete that has overcome testicular cancer.

Image via sfchronicle.com

 

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