Well, friends… The US Open did NOT go well. That’s gpp life, though. Sometimes the chalk is going to crush, and boy did it (Koepka, DJ, Fleetwood, Rose, Finau). Oh well, this week should be a lot of fun!
TPC River Highlands
We have another course that’s kind to bad putters! The course is short, yet unlike most short courses on tour, will NOT take driver out of the bomber’s hands. DataGolf’s historical event data also suggests performance off the tee plays a bigger role than usual. Both factors work to our benefit as my model already weights the stable SG:OTT heavier than most, and the unstable putting lighter than most (although the public seems to be catching on to putting’s unpredictability much quicker).
Contrary to many recent weeks, ownership looks to be fairly spread out amongst the top tier. It looks like Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka will actually be the lowest owned of the five. Coming off a Major victory is hard, especially when you need to contend to pay off your price tag. Koepka, while impressive, doesn’t rate well enough to justify this tag yet, either.
Rory has the highest rating in my models this week (if we only use 2018 stats, he’s 8th). For all of his struggles, his driving is still excellent. Plus, he was coming off back to back top 10s before Shinnecock. I like his chances to rebound with a strong performance here. At the discounted ownership, I prefer him slightly to Justin Thomas if paying up.
Thomas rates highest in my models in this field when looking solely at his 2018 stats, but I also think he’ll be the highest owned. He has both the distance and SG:OTT numbers to really pop this week, though. I won’t argue with JT over Rory.
Jordan Spieth has shown no signs of life. Until we see the confidence he demonstrated two years ago instead of the frustration we’re seeing now, I will full fade.
Patrick Reed told a fan he’s still pissed about losing at Shinnecock, implying he’s got a little extra motivation this week. He’s barely gaining any strokes at all off the tee this year, however, so I can’t justify his promotion to the top tier.
Jason Day is a tough one to crack. He’s gaining around .6 strokes per round off the tee, most of which is due to distance (no surprise he struggled off the tee at Shinnecock- my bad!). He’s been well below average with his irons, but that could be minimized this week. He should be able utilize his distance in order to give himself extra wedge shots, where he excels. Like Rory, I think his low projected ownership makes him a great play given his upside.
Paul Casey, Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, and Bryson DeChambeau (to a lesser extent) are the chalk in this tier.
Casey rates extremely well in my models, as usual. He is tops in odds to make the cut in the entire field. However, Bryson’s performance off the tee makes him my favorite play in this tier (ownership aside). He is sneaky long off the tee and deadly accurate.
Moore and Simpson (especially Moore) are overpriced according to my models. Webb has been outstanding this year, but this level of success may be unsustainable. He’s gaining more strokes per round putting than the three other SG categories combined.
Bubba Watson is one of my favorite plays this week. The models like him, but he doesn’t pop there. He does pop when you look at course history and course fit, though. As you all know, I only think course history is relevant when it’s in line with the player’s perceived fit at the course. He has clearly taken advantage of his length and accuracy (and creativity) off the tee here.
Patrick Cantlay is neck and neck with Casey in cut odds. He rates as the highest overall value of the week. He’s projected to be one of the chalkiest players of the week, so there’s merit to fading in gpp.
I’m a huge fan of JB Holmes this week. He’s projected for single digit ownership, and is a course specialist. The model likes him, as his distance has lead to nearly half a stroke gained per round off the tee. In his last two events, he finished 13th and 3rd.
Daniel Berger is overpriced according to the models and is projected for high ownership. This makes Bubba an even better play as he is a near perfect substitute, providing us with plenty of leverage.
Luke List is still vastly underpriced. Using only 2018 stats, he rates fourth in my models in the entire field. He gains a massive advantage off the tee (nearly .85 strokes per round), and fits the bad-putters-have-success-here narrative. Shockingly (to me, at least), he’s projected for very low ownership. I’ll start my lines with him and go from there.
For the same price, Keegan Bradley looks great as well. He hits it plenty long and has gained around .4 strokes per round off the tee. He’s been outstanding with his irons, and his putting finally could be turning a corner since he switched to the putter up the left forearm style. He’ll have the home crowd advantage, too.
As chalky as he will be, Emiliano Grillo is an outstanding play. He’s simply way too good of a golfer to be this cheap, and his excellence off the tee makes him a solid fit for the course, too.
Kyle Stanley is a pivot option off Grillo if you don’t want to eat the chalk. He showed he has tournament winning upside at the Memorial, and has gained almost half a stroke per round off the tee.
My favorite pivot off Grillo is Brendan Steele. Unlike Stanley, Steele has a big distance advantage over Grillo. Like Stanley, he’ll be much lower owned.
Another way to diversify here would be to take Grillo AND one or two of his pivots.
Chez Reavie rates as the best play under $7.5k in my models. He’s gaining just under half a stroke per round in each ball striking stat.
Jason Kokrak and Keith Mitchell are similar high-risk/high-reward plays. They both hit the ball a country mile, but struggle elsewhere. For Kokrak, those struggles are around the green and on the green. Mitchell’s main weakness is iron play, but he also struggles with the putter. If I play either, I will split the two fifty-fifty to lower the risk while maintaining the upside.
Chesson Hadley could carry decent ownership. I’ll pass, as most of his strokes gained are with his irons and on the green. He is middle of the road in distance and SG:OTT.
Last but not least, we have Dylan Meyer. His debut professional event was the US Open, where he entered Sunday t10 and finished t20. He was a standout star in college and has been touted by quite a few experts this week (much to my dismay- I was hoping to get him around 1%).