Pick your Pro is one of those games in which you hunker down for a couple of days and try to organize yourself in picking one pro at one event. The game could start either this week in Maui or after the Super Bowl. Some games start on the Florida swing, and others start at the Masters. No matter what, we have done the work in organizing things for you in making your choice. This is very hard to do, but with some help of GOLFstats you will find this a big time saver for you.
Remember the rules, you can choose a player just once over the course of the season, so if your Pick Your Pro starts this week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, you have to pick 37 different players (Zurich is not counted because of team format). The cardinal rule, if you chose a player and he doesn’t play, you get zero so make sure and do your best to make sure that you have 37 chances by picking players that will participate in events.
Last year in my pick your pro picks for the 39 events I was in the money 29 times (same # as in 2016) with winnings of $3,948,921 ($1,321,626 less than the $5,270,547 that I won in 2016). My big disappointment was that I didn’t pick a winner last year, in 2016 I had two Hideki Matsuyama at the Phoenix Open and Charley Hoffman at the Valero Texas Open. I got off to a great start with a 2nd place finish at the SBS Tournament of Champions with Hideki Matsuyama, along with Webb Simpson at the Wyndham they would be my only top-three finishes.
Last year in my pick your pro picks for the 39 events I was in the money 26 times (3 less than in 2017 and 2016) with winnings of $5,293,825 ($1,344,904 more than the $3,948,921 that I won in 2017. It was $23,278 more than I won in 2016). My big disappointment was at the WGC-Mexico and picking Rory McIlory who didn’t play. The cardinal sin in pick your pro is picking a player who doesn’t play. But, the ultimate pain comes when you did what I did, pick a top-ten player and he doesn’t play. One piece of advice, be very careful of picking guys like McIlory, Tiger, Jason Day,
Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson. Be 100% sure that they will play in the tournament you pick. With the new schedule, I would be very leary of 8 weeks between the WGC Championships-Mexico and the Masters. In these 8 weeks, there are ten events and other than the two opposite events in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic the other eight are great events. So don’t take it for gospel that just because there is a WGC event these guys will play. Same with Tiger, just because he has won it eight times doesn’t mean he will play in it this year. While we are talking about Tiger, the same with him showing up in Torrey Pines for the Farmers Insurance. The same later in the year, with the WGC-Championships-FedEx St. Jude being played the week after the British Open, some players may find themselves taking that week off. While we are talking about the new schedule, look for many players to take time off between the U.S. Open and the British Open. With two new events in Detroit Michigan and Minnesota, it won’t be a Mecca for marquee players.
Back to last year’s pick your pro, I won once with Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship. That was better than 2017 when I didn’t register a win but worst than 2016 when I won twice. Of my 39 picks, I had only one runner-up, Webb Simpson at the Wyndham Championship. I also didn’t do well in top-fives, only three compared to 4 in 2017. On top-ten finishes, I had 8, the same as in 2016 but one worst than the nine I had in 2017. As for top-25 finishes, I had 18 the same as last year and three less than in 2016.
One goal for 2019 is to do better in the high price events, the three WGC events, 3 FedEx Cup events, and four majors. In 2018, I did have a win at the PGA Championship, but after that, I didn’t earn a penny at the WGC-Mexico when Rory McIlroy didn’t play, Jason Day gave me no love at the U.S. Open missing the cut, Sergio did the same at the British Open and
Justin Rose didn’t play at the WGC Bridgestone resulting from an injury. In the four FedEx playoff events, I had only one top-30, Justin Thomas finishing seventh at the Tour Championship. So for these 11 events, I give myself a D+ and only because Dustin Johnson finishing T-10th at the Masters.
One big tip in making your list, lot’s of you will go down the list of tournaments and put players in. That is wrong, especially in West Coast swing events that don’t give out as much money as the majors, WGC and FedEx Cup playoffs. So work your way from the bottom of the schedule working your way up, first with the majors, then FedEx Cup and WGC events. By doing this, you will get off to a slow start but if done right, when the U.S. Open rolls around you would not have used your big guns, and you will find yourself climbing those rankings very quickly. Remember this tip, of the first 11 events only one WGC-Mexico has a purse over $10 million. But in the last 13 events, 6 of them are over $9 million (U.S. Open, British Open, WGC-FedEx St. Jude, Northern Trust, BMW and Tour Championship).
Also, it’s important to look at a PGA Tour schedule with the purse of each tournament. This list from PGA Tour will help.
You want to pick your marquee guys in events that pay over $7 million dollars. You have to be careful of an event like the Sentry Tournament of Champion that has a $6.5 million purse. The same with most of the west coast and Florida swings. Yes, the Phoenix and Honda events have a good amount of money, but with purses of $7.1 million and $6.8 million it only hurts to waste a big player like Jordan Spieth or Rickie Fowler at the Phoenix that is worth $7.1 million giving out $1,278,000 for first place. Same with the Honda, with a purse of $6.8 million and first place of $1,224,000 don’t waste a Justin Thomas or a Dustin Johnson. It’s better to take all these marquee players at the major, a WGC event or a FedEx Playoff event in which second place pays almost as much as the winner at the Honda gets. One thing in this philosophy,
I picked Jordan Spieth at the Tournament of Champions, a low purse event. Reason for that, it has a limited field so you need to use a marquee player who has a better chance of finishing high. Another thing to think about and that is the Tiger Woods factor. We have written him off the last couple of years, but he is healthy again, and you never know, he could play a factor again which means it’s best to pick him in one low money event.
Also watch whom you pick, guys like Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Ryan Palmer, Graeme McDowell, Hunter Mahan and Jim Furyk who were for years top players have seen their worth go down and may not be great picks in 2018. Also watch some winners in the last two years like Ryan Armour, Fabian Gomez, David Lingmerth, Cody Gribble, Jim Herman, Peter Malnati, Smylie Kaufman, and Grayson Murray. Yes, they might have won, but other than that win they haven’t played that great so you should disregard them. On the other end of the spectrum, guys as Patrick Cantlay, Peter Uihlein, Jon Rham, Si Woo Kim, Wesley Bryan wasn’t on many radar screens and should have been. The most prominent surprise of last year had to be Xander Schauffele who won the Tour Championship, but I bet not many folks penciled him in for a tournament last year. It’s easy to see those that made it off the Web.Com Tour last year, but the challenge is to figure out which events they will play in. It’s crucial not to pick a player in a tournament he won’t play in. Last year I did it five times; this is a cardinal sin to do.
One last thing, make sure that you have no multiple picks, it’s easy to do and you will feel terrible when that multiple players wins that second event, and you get nothing because you used the pick for an earlier tournament.
We have organized this into two parts, first is all 39 events that you have to pick a player. We give you some short keys for the event, then give three, four, or more choices. Then, I offer my key choice for that tournament.
The second part is a list of players, off the most recent (Monday, Dec 26th) World Rankings. We list our choice of tournaments that player should do well in and give out different alternatives. To make things easier, we have full links to eight-year glances for each tournament and player, this will save you hours of work in organizing your picks.
Now many will wonder, why haven’t you pick up and coming players along with rookies. We also care about players like Wesley Bryan, Grayson Murray, or a Jonathan Randolph who has played on the PGA Tour before. It’s hard to figure out which events they will play in and which they will do well in. So we have stuck with players who have a track record in the tournaments to help you figure it out.
Hope this is helpful and saves you some time
I will be updating the results of my picks each week to see how they did (world rankings as of Jan 1st)
Sentry Tournament of Champions – Cameron Champ (92) Finished T-11th – $162,500
Sony Open in Hawaii – Charles Howell III (58) Finished T-8th – $192,000
Desert Classic – Adam Hadwin (69) Finished T-2nd – $519,200
Farmers Insurance Open – Tony Finau (9) Finished T-12th – $121,714
Waste Management Phoenix Open – Bryson DeChambeau (5) Did not play
AT&T Pebble Beach – Jason Day (14) Finished T-4th – $334,400
Genesis Open – Jordan Spieth (17) Finished T-51st – $17,523
WGC-Mexico Championship – Justin Thomas (4) Finished T-5th – $288,750
Puerto Rico Open – Peter Uihlein (82) Finished T-66th – $6,240
Honda Classic – Tommy Fleetwood (12) Did not play
Arnold Palmer Invitational – Henrik Stenson (26) Finished T-17th – $123,153
The Players – Francesco Molinari (7) Finished T-56th – $27,250
Valspar Championship – Patrick Reed (15) Missed the Cut – $0
World Golf Championship Dell Match Play – Alex Noren (19) Finished T-17th – $108,429
Corales Puntacana Resort & Club – Sam Ryder (149) Did not play
Valero Texas Open – Jimmy Walker (88) Finished T-30th – $45,563
Masters – Tiger Woods (13) Finished Win – $2,070,000
RBC Heritage – Patrick Cantlay (18) Finished T-3rd – $358,800
Wells Fargo Championship – Phil Mickelson (32) Missed the Cut – $0
AT&T Byron Nelson Championship – Marc Leishman (20) Withdrew on Thursday – $0
PGA Championship – Sergio Garcia (24) Missed the Cut – $0
Charles Schwab Challenge – Jon Rahm (6) Missed the Cut – $0
Memorial Tournament – Rory McIlroy (8) Missed the Cut – $0
RBC Canadian Open – Joaquin Niemann (155) Finished T-31st – $46,075
U.S. Open – Dustin Johnson (3) Finished T-35th – $67,853
Travelers Championship – Bubba Watson (16) Finished T-54th – $16,560
Rocket Mortgage Classic – Patrick Rodgers (145) Did not play
3M Open – Steve Stricker (240) Did not play
John Deere Classic – Zach Johnson (66) Finished T-37th – $24,000
British Open – Rafael Cabrera-Bello (29) Missed the Cut – $0
Barbasol Championship – David Lingmerth (339) Missed the Cut – $0
WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational – Brooks Koepka (1) Finished Win – $1,745,000
Barracuda Championship – Sam Saunders (242) Finished T-59th – $7,735
Wyndham Championship – Webb Simpson (21) Finished 2nd – $669,600
The Northern Trust – Matt Kuchar (34) Missed the Cut – $0
BMW Championship – Rickie Fowler (11) Finished T-11th – $196,100
Tour Championship – Justin Rose (2) Finished T-26th – $0
Look at each tournament on the PGA Tour in 2019
(each tournament heading has a link to events 8-year glance, each player name has a link to 8-year glance)
Sentry Tournament of Champions
Purse: $6.5 million
First Place: $1,260,000
The event has been played on the Plantation Course at the Kapalua Resort since 1999. It’s one of the easiest events to pick since you know who the field is since it’s winners only from the last year. Earlier the problem was always the players who didn’t make the trip to Maui, mostly Europeans wouldn’t come but you also saw PGA Tour regulars like Phil Mickelson skipping the week. This year is not different, Tiger Woods was the first player to go awol and it makes sense since he said last month that he would play in fewer events in 2019. A shame since Woods has won at Kapalua. But at the Friday, 5 pm deadline we also found out that both Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson has taken a pass, Rose hasn’t played since 2011 and Mickelson has made it know he doesn’t like Kapalua, he hasn’t played since 2001 so the odds are we will never see Phil on the fairways of Kapalua.
On the surface many think that the Plantation course is a bombers course, yes players can rear back and hit it hard not having to worry about missing fairways since the fairways are so large a 747 can land on them. But don’t look for the long hitters. Since Kapalua has the biggest greens on the PGA Tour, good putters are the ones that always do very well in this event. In the 20 years that have seen this event the highest ranking of number of putts of the winners is 4th, with nine of those winners leading that stat. If you want two keys for players, one is Proximity to Hole while the second key is making lots of putts inside ten feet. Considering the size of the greens, players are left with lot’s of putts in the 3 to 6-foot range for pars. One last item to watch is playing in high winds since Kapalua is on the side of a mountain overlooking the Pacific, it does get windy.
The big question for this week, do you take a marquee player in an event that doesn’t pay that well? In the past, I have taken marquee players and gotten burned. Last year I took Jordan Spieth, and he finished ninth which didn’t get me off to a great start. I am going a bit different this year, I am taking the person that nobody will think of Cameron Champ. He does hit it a long way, his ranking is 36th in greens hit this year but more important he is 42nd in putting inside 10 feet and for 2019 has missed just 6 putts in 118 tries.
Jon Rahm – Could beat everyone in the field last year except for the winner Dustin Johnson. Have to watch him after his win in the Bahamas, he could better last year’s finish.
Rory McIlory – Hard to believe he has never played in this event, still he has all the elements from tee to green to do well, just has to have a good putting week which is sometimes a problem.
Charles Howell III – Was 8th the last time he played at Kapalua in 2008. Course and his game are perfect for Charles.
Dustin Johnson – Always finds his way to get into contention, in his last six Kapalua starts hasn’t been out of the top ten and won twice.
Brooks Koepka – Have to think his game is perfect for this course
Cameron Champ – One of nine rookies in the field, like his putting and his fearless play. Perfect choice for a low paying field not to waste a marqee player.
My Choice – Cameron Champ
Sony Open in Hawaii
Purse: $6.4 million
First Place: $1,116,000
The event has been played since 1965 on the same course. Accuracy means a lot this week; ball striking also is the key on this old style course. Drastic changes were made to course after 1998 making it harder for the pros. They turned two short and very easy par 5s (1 & 13) into very tough par 4s which help make the course very challenging. Looking for a key stat 15 of the last 17 winners has been in the top-12 in greens hit with eight of them in the top-five.
Charles Howell III – Has nine top-tens and been under par 49 of 64 rounds. Makes sense of him playing well since he hits many greens, was 4th in that stat this year on Tour. The only problem, he has never been considered a winner despite finishing runner-up twice.
Zach Johnson – Likes and plays well at Waialae has been in the top-15 in four of the last five Sony’s. In those 20 rounds is 54 under par and was over par just three times.
Gary Woodland – Does hit lot’s of greens, was 11th in greens hit last year. Was in contention in three of his last four starts, has a career 67.55 scoring average at Waialae
Chris Kirk – Was runner-up in 2014, opened with a round of 63 last year.
My Choice – Charles Howell III
Purse: $5.9 million
First Place: $1,062,000
The event went through many changes three years ago with a new home course along with another new course for the first three rounds. The key to playing well is making many birdies and eagles, so look for players who tend to do well in Par Breakers. Also look for guys who have a good track record in playing desert golf courses. One disadvantage this event is being played the same week at Abu Dhabi on the European Tour and Singapore on the Asian Tour so some will play overseas:
Bill Haas – Always seems to play well in the Coachella Valley, in 60 rounds in this event been under par 53 of them.
Bud Cauley – TPC Stadium Course was right up his alley playing it in 19 under for his last six rounds on the course. Also 51 under in his last three starts.
Phil Mickelson – Another person who does well in the Coachella Valley, he almost won this event in 2016 the first year it was at the Stadium course.
Adam Hadwin – In 16 rounds has only been over par once, in those rounds is 71 under so yes he makes many birdies and eagles. Since moving to TPC Stadium Course Hadwin has played the best of anyone.
Brian Harman – Finished T-3rd in 2017 and T-20th last year. Last year was 75th in Par Breakers, Harman is an excellent longshot for the week.
My Choice – Adam Hadwin
Farmers Insurance Open
Purse: $7.1 million
First Place: $1,242,000
The event has lost some of its lusters over the years with some marquee players playing in the middle east, but for this year it’s up against Dubai that is the weaker of the desert swing events on the European Tour. Three rounds are played on the tough South Course with one on the easy North Course, a course that you have to go low to win. But with major changes to the North Course which had a severe facelift, the course played a lot tougher; last year it was only half a shot under par. Luck plays a factor in tee times since Torrey Pines are above the Pacific. So weather can be differently any time in the day, some could have calm conditions in the morning and then in the afternoon winds will make the course tougher. Hard to find a key for a winner, altogether, it takes good all-around playing to do well in this event.
Brandt Snedeker – Winner in 2012 and 2016 has had an impressive run between 2010 and 2017 were he won once and was runner-up twice, so he does play well on these courses. Was T-45th last year, but he is healthy again and playing well.
Jon Rahm – Have to like him after his great win in 2017, look for him to contend again.
Tiger Woods – Owned this event between 1999 and 2013 winning it seven times. Between those years, only finished out of the top-ten once. Have to think that his game is now back to normal and he will be a favorite this week.
Keegan Bradley – Has played great the last two years, look for that great play to continue.
Charles Howell III – Has always played well in this event, in 15 starts has made ever cut with seven top-tens and three runner-ups including last year.
Tony Finau – Has the length to do well in this event, has gotten better knowing the secrets of the two courses.
Jason Day – Nothing surprises anyone on his win last year, it seems he either plays great and contends or misses the cut.
My Choice – Tony Finau
Waste Management Phoenix Open
Purse: $7.1 million
First Place: $1,242,000
Just like all desert courses, making lot’s of birdies is important. But making this course a bit special, it’s not a course for bombers; you need to show some shotmaking to play well. Putting is important on this course. With perfect greens means making lot’s of putts inside of ten feet, so looking for good putters to do well. But that isn’t the key to winning this event, hitting greens is the key when you see that the last nine winners have been in the top-ten in this stat with four of those winners leading that stat:
Hideki Matsuyama – Has proven to be the best in this event, in four starts before last year was 59 under par as he has broken par 15 of 16 rounds. Started well last year but his wrist was hurting, and he withdrew, this was the beginning of some tough times for Matsuyama last year. If he will make a comeback, it will be this week.
Brendan Steele – Man has had a great record in this event, was 15 under last year. Always makes the cut and only been out of the top-26 once in eight starts.
Phil Mickelson – Winner in 2013, ’05 and 1996 his tee-to-green game is always strong and that he why he has contended so much.
Bryson DeChambeau – Last year was pretty flawless until the back nine on Sunday; you can see that his game is perfect for TPC Scottsdale.
Rickie Fowler – Loves playing in this event was runner-up in 2016 and 2010, was T-4th in 2017 and T-11th last year.
Matt Kuchar – Has been flawless in his last eight rounds, playing them in 26 under. After his win in Mexico, he will have the confidence to regain some of the luster his game had a few years back.
Jon Rahm – Was T-5th in his only start as an amateur in 2015, T-16th in 2017, and T-11th last year.
My Choice – Bryson DeChambeau
Purse: $7.6 million
First Place: $1,332,000
The AT&T Pebble Beach brings on some special problems; it takes a lot of patience to endure this week with amateur partners. Another problem is the luck of the draw; someone could be playing at Spyglass that is tree lined on the back nine and may not get the brute of a heavy wind that some player’s encounter at Pebble Beach and Monterey Peninsula. For some that play in the late afternoon, the conditions of the greens get dicey, especially since Poa Annua greens get bumpy and hard to predict. So it takes a special breed of player to endure this. Stats are meaningless in this event, just have to pick someone that has a track record in this event. Since the U.S. Open is being played in June at Pebble, for many this will be a good look at the course, but the conditions will be so different the course will play totally differently in June than in February:
Dustin Johnson – The man seems to own this place, in eleven starts, has been in the top-ten-eight times including two wins.
Brandt Snedeker – Another player that has won twice at Pebble, is healthy again which will mean he will contend
Jordan Spieth – Broke out and won in 2017, seems to like the event, so he will always be a favorite
Jason Day – Another man who seems to find a way to contend, he is 57 under in his 22 rounds in this event. Laws of average state he has to win this event one day.
Patrick Rodgers – Played well in his first go-around finishing T-8th last year.
Phil Mickelson – Came close two years ago and last year, a past champion that has found a way of playing well in this event year in, year out.
My Choice – Jason Day
Purse: $7.4 million
First Place: $1,296,000
In thinking about Riviera, the myth is that it’s this classic course for great ball-striking and precision driving. That’s not true, of the last 21 winners at Riviera only six have finished in the top-25 in driving accuracy (Last year’s winner Dustin Johnson was T-45th). In greens hit in the last 21 years only six winners have been in the top-five for the week while eight have been out of the top-ten (Johnson led in greens hit last year). The key to winning at Riviera is not ball-striking but making lots of putts. Since 2003, Riviera is always in the top-ten in most putts made from ten feet and in (led it in 2015, was 2nd in 2016, and 7th last year). In that period, all those that have played at Riviera made 85.41% of those putts while the last 15 winners average making 88.97% of their putts from ten feet in. Last year Johnson was sixth making 92.54% of the putts from ten feet in.
Dustin Johnson – Seemed to own this place with his win in 2017, T-2nd in 2014 & ’15, T-3rd in 2010 and 4th in 2012 & ’16.
Adam Scott – Four top-tens including a T-11th in 2017. Yes, he isn’t that great of a putter, but his tee to green game defeats the odds for doing well at Riviera.
Xander Schauffele – Showed a liking to Riviera last year.
Bubba Watson – One of three courses (Augusta and TPC River Highlands) which he seems to own and find a way to win on.
Paul Casey – Look for him to do well on this course that he was a runner-up on in 2015.
Jordan Spieth – His game is perfect for Riviera, and he has shown that he can play well on the course.
My Choice – Jordan Spieth
First Place: $1,700,000
In a big change, this event moved last year from Doral to Mexico and the Club de Golf Chapultepec. The course did favor long hitters, but many were surprised to see a short hitter like Tommy Fleetwood, Ross Fisher, and Thomas Pieters does well. The course did demand players hitting lot’s of greens has winner Dustin Johnson and runner-up Tommy Fleetwood were 5th in greens hit. Another important element was doing well on the par 5s; Johnson was ten under on them in 2017 and Mickelson was seven under last year.
No matter what any history from Doral is (site of this event from 2007 to ’16) it won’t help pick a winner for this week so just look at the last two years of history.
Dustin Johnson – Played well in 2017, great from tee to green and that could be good enough to win again. Also, the course is similar to Riviera a venue he does well on.
Phil Mickelson – Been very impressive on this course, is 26 under in 8 rounds
Justin Thomas – Have to think that he will be better now that he knows the course better
Jordan Spieth – Best putter on tour, he can handle any kind of course
Rory McIlory – If he is putting well he is impossible to beat. But he has to play in it to win, didn’t play last year.
Tyrrell Hatton– Showed that his game can play well on this course finishing 10th in 2017 and 3rd last year
My Choice – Justin Thomas
Puerto Rico Open
Purse: $3 million
First Place: $540,000
Played opposite of the WGC-Mexico Championship, it’s important that you chose a player who won’t be in the top-75 of the world rankings. Last year the event couldn’t be played because of the damage to Puerto Rico infrastructure. There is no rhyme or reason for winning this event. Since it’s a second-tier event, it’s a combination of a PGA Tour and a Web.Com tour stop. So there are no real favorites because there are no true marquee players that you know of. One thing of the past winners, none of them achieved great success on the PGA Tour, so this is for many just a stepping stone to get full-time access to the PGA Tour. Still, it’s important to find the players with the best record in this event.
Sam Saunders – Has come close in this event twice in the three times he has played it.
Retief Goosen – Was runner-up last year, still has some good golf left in him and could win.
Scott Brown – Four top-tens including winning this in 2013, seems to always play well here with 19 of his 24 rounds being played under par. Was T-17th in 2017.
Peter Uihlein – Seems to like this event and course, was T-6th in 2013 and T-5th in 2017.
My Choice – Peter Uihlein
Purse: $6.8 million
First Place: $1,188,000
At the Honda and PGA National, historically all the winners have some connection to playing well on Bermuda by either being born in Florida, South Africa, or Australia, or having moved to the Southeast. Last year was no exception as Jupiter, Florida resident Justin Thomas won. Hitting greens is very important, since moving to PGA National in 2007 seven of the 12 winners and 11 of the 18 runner-ups at Champions were ranked in the top-ten in greens hit. Also, guys who have grown up and played fairways with thick Bermuda rough is important, the bottom line anyone who has roots outside the southeast United States shouldn’t expect to win. So in picking Tommy Fleetwood, I am going against conventional wisdom.
Justin Thomas – May of missed the cut in 2017 but still came around to win last year. Look for him to play well again this year.
Tommy Fleetwood – Played well last year, he is getting better each year and should do very well in this event.
Rickie Fowler – Despite missing the cut last year feel he will put everything together and do well.
Luke List – His game last year rose to the occasion for his second top-ten in three years.
Alex Noren – Another European that plays well on this course.
Adam Scott – Makes sense his win in 2017, he does hit a lot of greens and has played well in this event.
My Choice – Tommy Fleetwood
Arnold Palmer Invitational
Purse: $9.1 million
First Place: $1,602,000
Making Bay Hill tough is the high Bermuda rough. In the stat “Rough Proximity,” over the last nine years Bay Hill ranked 3rd last year and in 2017, 1st in 2016, T6th in 2015, 3rd in 2014, 1st in 2013, 6th in 2012, 3rd in 2011 and 2nd in 2010. So what does this mean? There is a penalty for hitting drives into the rough. When you do it’s hard to get your ball close to the hole. So in looking for a player that does well at Bay Hill you want to find one that not only hits lot’s of greens and close to the hole, but players who can handle rough by getting the ball closer to the holes than others. There is no real rhyme or reason on who wins, since 1979, 12 of the winners either became first-time winners or had only won once before, just like Matt Every winning for the first time at Bay Hill in 2014 and then winning again in 2015. 2017 winner Marc Leishman claimed his second PGA Tour win.
Justin Rose – Makes sense that a U.S. Open champion would do well in this event
Francesco Molinari – Loves Bay Hill, has three top-tens in six starts, he is 39 under in his 24 rounds played
Henrik Stenson – Until he missed the cut in 2017 was the guy to beat as it seemed that his game got better each year he played Bay Hill. Between 2013 and 2016 he was T-8th, T-5th, T-3rd, and runner-up in 2015 so it seems as if he is destined to win here. Came close last year finishing 4th, his fifth top-eight finish in his last six Bay Hill starts.
Kevin Chappell – He is very prolific in rough proximity, one of the reasons for being runner-up in 2016 and T-7th last year.
Marc Leishman – Past Champion in 2017, he finished T-7th last year,
My Choice – Henrik Stenson
Purse: $11 million
First Place: $1,980,000
With the move from May to March, the course will play totally differently. We will see a course that is hard and fast; the winds will be blowing making things more challenging than the last 12 Players who took place in March. The most important stat for players who what to win, hitting greens. Going back to 2000, every winner but seven have been in the top-10 of greens hit as five have led (Sergio Garcia-2008, Stephen Ames-2006, Fred Funk-2005, Adam Scott-2004, Hal Sutton-2000). In 2012 Matt Kuchar was T3rd, hitting 53 of the 72 greens, in 2013 Tiger Woods was also T3rd hitting 55 of 72 greens. In 2014 Martin Kaymer also finished 3rd, hitting 54 of 72 greens, in 2015 Rickie Fowler ruined the momentum as he hit only 45 of 72 greens that ranked T-51st, the worst performance in greens hit for champions since 1997. In 2016 Jason Day also didn’t get into the top-ten as he only hit 52 of 72 greens, which ranked T-15th. The same in 2017 as SiWoo Kim hit 45 of 72 greens and ranked T-37th. Last year Webb Simpson hit 55 greens and ranked T-5th. So after three poor years of hitting greens, Simpson turned things around last year. But with the move to March things will be totally different from the way the course will play so to play it safe pick players that hit greens, putt reasonably well and do well in high winds.
Francesco Molinari – Has had a great run on this course finishing T-6th in 2014, not playing in 2015, T-7th in 2016 and T-6th in 2017. Stumbled a bit by missing the cut last year but I feel that won’t matter, he will play great again.
Adam Scott – Past champion, he plays well on this course and in Florida.
Alex Noren – Finished 10th in 2017 including finishing 1st in greens hit, could of found a course that is good for him.
Xander Schauffele – Showed that he could not only play well but win on this course.
Tiger Woods – Has had mixed results in this event, but has won twice and showed last year that he could win again.
Henrik Stenson – Does hit lot’s of greens, showed it with his win in 2009. Yes, he missed the cut in 2016 but don’t let that bother you.
Matt Kuchar – Lot’s of good finishes in this event including a win in 2012
My Choice – Francesco Molinari
Purse: $6.7 million
First Place: $1,170,000
This event is one of the hidden gems on the PGA Tour. Accuracy is more of a premium at Copperhead than length; so don’t look for players to overpower it. Course average of all drives in last year and in 2017 was fourth lowest on PGA Tour since 2005 been in bottom eight every year. Look at all Valspar champions; only long drivers were Gary Woodland in 2011 and Vijay Singh in 2004. Others like last year’s winner Paul Casey were in the middle to bottom of the pack in average driving distance, so this is the one course that short hitters can do well on. The last nine winners have gone on to have great seasons as they have finished the year of their win inside the top-30 in FedEx Cup standings, a perfect example was 2015 winner Jordan Spieth went on to win two majors, win the FedEx Cup playoffs and ended the year the number one player of the year. Last year’s winner Paul Casey went on to finish 25th in FedEx Cup standings and won over 3.6 million dollars.
Paul Casey – Has taken a liking to this event winning it last year.
Webb Simpson – Plays well on tough courses, fits the mold of past winners. Webb was 2nd in 2011 and T-8th last year
Patrick Reed – Another that has found this event to his liking
Henrik Stenson – Guy loves to play the Coppperhead course, yes last year missed the cut but in three previous tries was T-11th, T-7th and 4th with a 69.50 average on the copperhead course
Charl Schwartzel– Has a knack for playing well in this event, won it in 2016.
Adam Hadwin – Has been on a good run in this event last two years, winning it in 2017 and finishing T-12th last year.
My Choice – Patrick Reed
World Golf Championship Dell Match Play
First Place: $1,700,000
The event has drastically changed, three years ago it moved to Austin Country Club which seems to be a perfect course for Match Play. You have to position shots perfectly, it’s also a good test in risk and reward, a trait that makes the course wonderful for this format. No matter what, Match Play is a different format that eliminates a good portion of those that play on the PGA Tour, so look for those that have a good record in this event plus play well in the Ryder and Presidents Cup:
Dustin Johnson – He seems to play well in Austin, it’s hard to beat him mono-a-mono.
Paul Casey – Good track record in match play makes him one of our favorites.
Jason Day – Was great in this event, till it moved to Austin. Maybe the course isn’t right for him, but his match play record is good and he should be doing more winning.
Alex Noren – Has a terrific record in match play, even did well in the European Tour match play event. Has played the best in this event since it moved to Austin.
Rory McIlory – Can’t go wrong with this past champion, but he has gone down early in six of his ten starts so its a toss-up on how he will do.
Charles Howell III– Does win matches, but he probably is not the person to go all the way.
Louis Oosthuizen – Has been good four of the previous five years, has been beaten by Jason Day twice in Day’s two wins.
Jon Rahm – Showed a lot with his runner-up finish in 2017 but was a real stinker last year. So it’s a toss-up, maybe it’s the course, maybe it’s the time it was played but on paper, he should be good.
My Choice – Alex Noren
New event played opposite of the Match Play; it’s important that you chose a player who won’t be in the top-64 of the world rankings. Is a new event at the PGA Tour, played on the Puntacana Resort & Club a Tom Fazio course that opened in 2010. Last year Brice Garnett won with Keith Mitchell finishing 2nd, Kelly Kraft 3rd, and Denny McCarthy 4th. All four will be good candidates for this week. The course has several holes that play along the Caribbean Sea. The good news, in 2016 and ’17 the event was a Web.Com Tour event, so we have plenty of information on how players have done on it. Since it’s a second-tier event many of those that played in that event will be in the field. The one thing that you can bank on, lot’s of birdies and eagles is needed to play well, in 2016 Dominic Bozzelli was 4 under in his win, last year Nate Lashley won at 20 under par.
Sam Ryder – Only player to have played all three events and been in the top-12 most times. Was T-2nd in 2016 and T-12th in 2017, unfortunately, missed the cut last year on the PGA Tour. Still, he is my choice.
Tyler Duncan – Played great in 2017 finishing T-3rd, was T-33rd in 2016 but missed the cut last year on the PGA Tour.
Josh Teater – Has played twice finishing T-41st in 2017 and T-11th in 2016, he was 27 under in those events breaking par in 7 of his 8 rounds. Didn’t play last year.
Brice Garnett – Won last year, could lighting straight twice?
Denny McCarthy – Played well last year finishing 4th.
My Choice – Sam Ryder
Valero Texas Open
Purse: $7.5 million
First Place: $1,350,000
Since TPC San Antonio joined the PGA Tour in 2010, it has never been out of the top-20 of toughest courses on tour and been in the top-ten five of the last seven years. Last year it was the 12th hardest course on the PGA Tour playing to a 72.37 average. The reason that TPC San Antonio is so hard is getting it on the greens, in 2015 the course had the 2nd hardest greens to hit on the PGA Tour as only 51.73% of them were hit. That has been the norm of the course, in its nine years on the PGA Tour the course has never been above 15th ranked in greens hit (last year, ranked 9th).
Charley Hoffman – In 13 starts had only had three finishes higher than T-13th, 2017 when he was T-40th and last year when he was T-64th. Won in 2016 and was runnerup in 2011. Finished T-3rd in 2014. He has played in every event played at TPC San Antonio and in 36 rounds is 39 under, the best of anyone that has played on this course.
Joaquin Niemann – Was 6th last year.
Brendan Steele – Guy is 24th this year in Greens in Regulation and 35th last year, watch him the past champion will be an excellent pick for the week.
Ryan Palmer – Has been great in this event since it moved to TPC San Antonio. Just in his last three starts was T-6th in 2015, T-4th in 2016 and T-6th in 2017. In those 12 rounds is 18 under par, did miss the cut last year.
Billy Horschel – Has a pair of third place finishes in the last six years, was T-4th in 2016 and T-11th last year.
Jimmy Walker – Finished 4th last year, T-4th in 2015, T-2nd in 2014 and T-7th in 2013. Won in 2015 he is healthy again and this is a good place for him.
My Choice – Jimmy Walker
Purse: $11 million (last year)
First Place: $1,980,000 (last year)
There are a few things that all winners at the Masters have in common. First, its precise ball striking, like a Ben Hogan, length and power like Tiger Woods, deft touch with a putter on the steeply contoured greens like a Ben Crenshaw and the mind and wisdom of a Jack Nicklaus. All these are what it takes to win the Masters. The key stat of all the Champions of the Masters since 1995 is hitting greens. Of those 22 Champions since, only four were not in the top-ten in hitting greens, while six of them have led that stat.
Jordan Spieth – Can’t go wrong since in five starts has won, finished runner-up twice, 3rd and T-11th once.
Dustin Johnson – Plays well at Riviera which is always a barometer for playing well at Augusta, was T-10th last year, was forced to withdraw in 2017 but did finish T-4th in 2016 and T-6th in 2015.
Tiger Woods – If there is a major for him to win it’s probably this one. He will be ready.
Rory McIlroy – Has the game to win at the Masters, but can he endure the pressure of this being the one major he hasn’t won? He is probably with Jordan Spieth the most consistent players.
Tony Finau – Showed a lot in his first Masters finishing T-10th.
Justin Rose – The guy always does well at Augusta, has been runner-up in two of his last four starts, in his last 9 starts hasn’t finished higher than 25th and been in the top-ten, in 4 of these events.
Paul Casey – Guy has been in contention going into the final round in three of his last four starts. Just wonder if he will finally get a break, did shot 65 last year to finish T-15th
My Choice – Tiger Woods
Purse: $6.9 million
First Place: $1,206,000
Harbour Town is one of the best courses in America; it’s a totally different experience in which ball placement is utmost over power. Hitting it hard and far doesn’t work at this venue so look for a precision player to win.
Luke Donald – Except for missing the cut last year has played the most consistent in this event over any other PGA Tour event. Can’t go wrong with a guy that finishes 2nd five times (including two of his last three starts) and third twice.
Russell Knox – Was runner-up in 2016 and T-11th in 2017, his game is suited for Harbor Town.
Bryson DeChambeau – Has been like a yo-yo, was T-4th in 2016, missed cut in 2017 and was T-3rd last year. His game is perfect for Harbour Town
Webb Simpson – Guy has been good in this event with a 2nd in 2013 and T-5th last year.
Patrick Cantlay – Showed his precision ball striking with his T-3rd finish in 2017 and T-7th last year, he is a player that can’t be beaten on this course.
Matt Kuchar – Another guy you can’t go wrong with, in last 5 starts has been in the top-11, four times including a win in 2014.
My Choice – Patrick Cantlay
Zurich Open in New Orleans
Since the format is a team affair this won’t be counted in pick your pro
Wells Fargo Championship
Purse: $7.9 million
First Place: $1,386,000
Wells Fargo returns to Quail Hollow last year after it hosting the 2017 PGA Championship. The course reverted to its PGA numbers as a par 71 as the course was tougher than previous Wells Fargo.
The fairways at Quail Hollow are hard to hit (10th hardest last year it was 6th hardest on tour in 2016, 3rd the year before and no higher than 8th last 14 years) but it’s been hard getting it close to the hole on shots into the green. In 2017 at the PGA Championship, the proximity to the hole was 44 feet, 3 inches making it the hardest course on tour in getting it close. Last year it was the 3rd hardest at 42 feet; 9 inches so this stat is the norm for Quail Hollow. It was 6th in 2015, 2nd in 2014 & 2013, 3rd in 2012 and 1st in 2011 & ’10. So looking for a good choice look for those that lead the strokes gained from tee to green category.
Justin Thomas – Won the PGA ain 2017 but still has struggled on the course in the Wells Fargo. Last year he finished T-21st, hopefully, he will improve on that this year.
Phil Mickelson – This event is one of his favorites, after not playing the first year has been to it every year since and in 15 starts has only been out of the top ten, five times. Surprisingly he has a runner-up finish, a pair of 3rd and 4th place finishes but still hasn’t won, you would think that this is one Phil would love to win.
Rory McIlory – Has always played well at Quail Hollow, last year was not good at the PGA, but he wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Think he will be back to normal and in control again.
Rickie Fowler – Has good history at Quail Hollow including a win in 2012, was T-5th in 2017 at the PGA Championship.
Hideki Matsuyama – His type of course, he played great at the PGA Championship until the weekend, will be looking to get back this year.
Jason Day – Won last year after a six-year absence, was T-9th at the PGA Championship.
My Choice – Phil Mickelson
AT&T Byron Nelson Championship
Purse: $7.9 million
First Place: $1,386,000
The move to the new Trinity Forest was a success, but like every other move to a new course, a rookie winner won Aaron Wise.
The course, built on an old garbage dump, resembles a links-style course with dramatic features making it like an old Northeast style course. The land is flat and looks like a rolling meadow that has tall native grasses and big bunkering and green complexes. The one thing, the buzz from the players was good so look for better attendance from more marquee players. We don’t know whom this course favors; no one stat stuck out as the course ranked 50th in greens hit which mean that the big greens were easily accessible. But, Proximity to the hole the course ranked 6th hardest while the greens were hard to maneuver. Some felt the course had many features of the Plantation Course at Kapalua, with the exception that Trinity Forest is flat while Kapalua moves up and down hills. One thing with Aaron Wise winning for the first time it continues the Byron Nelson tradition in which a non-winner picked up his first win in Dallas. So again, don’t be surprised with an underdog winner this year.
Charley Hoffman – Was very loyal to this event before not playing last year, he has four top-tens including a runner-up in 2015. Have to think he will be back this year.
Marc Leishman – A PGA Tour winner that showed some good play at Trinity Forest, he finished 2nd and continued his good play in this event.
Jimmy Walker – Showed that he has a liking to Trinity Forest finishing T-6th.
Kevin Tway – Finished T-9th, he also showed a liking to the course.
My Choice – Marc Leishman
Purse: $11 million
First Place: $1,980,000
The PGA goes to Bethpage outside New York; this course held the U.S. Open back in 2002 and 2009. It also held the Northern Trust in 2012 and 2016. Bethpage was thought to be a regular of the USGA when they went back to it in 2009 after hosting the 2002 U.S. Open. But that was when both Winged Foot and Shinnecock were out of favor with the USGA. But with those relationships getting good again and future Opens being held on those courses; the need for another New York area course became unnecessary. With the USGA going away, the PGA of America has stepped into the picture and will play the PGA Championship on the course in 2019 and the Ryder Cup in 2024.
So what makes the course good? A player has to drive the ball long and straight and will make almost all his putts inside 8 feet. That is very easy to say, is there a human being that can do that? Yes, there will be a few but we won’t know it until the championship is almost over.
Hitting greens will be paramount. The tight venue will require good ball control, which will lead to hitting lots of greens. Look for the winner to hit a plethora of greens in regulation this week that was the way Tiger Woods won at Bethpage in 2002 (53 of 72, rank 1st).
Putting will be an important this week since the greens are flat this lets players who are not the best in putting to do well. Lucas Glover may be one of the best iron players on the PGA Tour, but he is a very poor putter on the PGA Tour, but he could win the 2009 U.S. Open despite all this. One last thing to watch is the weather since it will be played. The end of May will the course be in tip-top shape? These are things that can’t be answered today, but we have to think about.
Brooks Koepka – If it’s a major you know that Koepka will do well on. His length will help at Bethpage along with his deft stroke on the greens.
Jordan Spieth – Again will have a lot of pressure on him trying to complete the grand slam, his putting should help him on the greens at Bethpage.
Rory McIlroy – Have to think that he will have a field day on this course, great from tee to green.
Patrick Reed – You know he will remember the win at Bethpage in the 2016 Northern Trust.
Sergio Garcia – Has had good moments at Bethpage including 4th at the 2002 U.S. Open and T-3rd at the 2012 Northern Trust.
Dustin Johnson – Another who will be able to overpower this course, he does hit it straight and far. Was T-3rd at the 2012 Northern Trust.
Hideki Matsuyama – Always good on shotmaker type of courses.
Phil Mickelson – Has a way of playing well in the PGA Championship, was runner-up to Tiger in the 2002 U.S. Open and was runner-up at the 2009 U.S. Open.
Tiger Woods – Who could forget who won the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage.
My Choice – Sergio Garcia
Charles Schwab Challenge
Purse: $7.3 million
First Place: $1,278,000
Colonial Country Club is a relic of a bygone era. Accuracy off the tee, precision iron play, and scrambling prowess are keys to success. The most important stat, total driving since the course has doglegs on 12 of the 14 driving holes, ones in which drivers just don’t work. Good putters always seem to do well. So you can see this is also a course that short hitters do well on.
Jordan Spieth – Not surprising that he won in 2016 and was runner-up last year, his putting plays a big part in this event. He could win two, three who knows four more titles at Colonial.
Jon Rahm – Was 2nd in strokes gained Tee-to-Green last year so Colonial is perfect for him. He was T-2nd in 2017 and T-5th last year and will take the knowledge that he did well at Colonial in his first two starts on the course.
Bryson DeChambeau – Has shown a liking to the course missing the cut in his first two tries. But last year was par or better 3 of the 4 rounds finishing T-42nd. More importantly, he led the strokes gained Tee-to-Green category last year so he should be one of the contenders.
Webb Simpson – Guy is perfect for this course, so why did he miss the cut? Probably because his start was right after winning the Players so he was probably spent. Before that had played his first two years in 21 under par in his 8 rounds. He was also 7th in strokes gained Tee-to-Green last year
Kevin Kisner – Past champion, he was 2nd in Strokes gained Tee-to-Green.
Justin Rose – Defending champion the course is perfect for him.
My Choice – Jon Rahm
Purse: $9.1 million
First Place: $1,602,000
Muirfield Village has the same characteristics seen on most U.S. Open courses. It’s PGA Tour folklore that Muirfield Village could hold a U.S. Open any time of the year. It has the length, tight, tree line fairways with three-inch plus rough and fast undulating greens. So it’s not surprising that of it’s 32 different champions, 16 have won 66 major championships
Hideki Matsuyama – A perfect place for him, yes he missed the cut in 2016 and was T-45th last year but bounced back last year.
Justin Rose – Has a very inconsistent record in this event, but the bottom line is he should content every time he plays in it, he has been in the top-10 in 7 of his 12 starts including a win in 2010
Justin Thomas – Showed a linking to this event by finishing T-4th in 2017 and T-6th last year.
Rory McIlroy – If playing at his best, nobody else has a chance in this event.
Matt Kuchar – Guy has been in the top-ten in 5 of his last 8 Memorial starts including a win in 2013. In 7 events top-ten finishes, he is 70 under par.
Tiger Woods – Remember he has won this event five times.
Bryson DeChambeau – Showed how well he can play Memorial by winning last year.
My Choice – Rory McIlroy
RBC Canadian Open
Purse: $7.6 million
First Place: $1,116,000
After an impressive run at Glen Abbey, the event moves to Hamilton for the first time since 2012. The course is known for its tight fairways and greens that are difficult to putt. With this event changing dates and being the week before the U.S. Open it should help get more marquee players, but since the U.S. Open will be held at Pebble Beach which is a far distance away and the fact that Hamilton and Pebble are totally different courses, you won’t have an abundance of marquee names. Earlier the biggest problem for this event was that many didn’t want to fly from England to Canada to play after the British Open. For this year many won’t want to fly from Eastern Canada to Pebble Beach.
Matt Kuchar – Has played well at Glen Abbey, but not as well as Hamilton but he still can find lighting playing north of the border.
Charley Hoffman – Another of those that have taken a liking to Glen Abbey, he lost a playoff in 2017. Has the game to bounce back and played just as well at Hamilton as he did at Glen Abbey.
Jhonattan Vegas -Be a big change for him playing away from Glen Abbey where he won twice.
Joaquin Niemann -Don’t think that just because of a new course it means that Joaquin will not do well this year.
Jon Rahm – Was runner-up in 2016 but the question will be if he shows up.
Dustin Johnson – The question for Dustin is if he can play just as well at Hamilton as he did at Glen Abbey.
Byeong Hun An – An’s game is well suited for Hamilton.
My Choice – Joaquin Niemann
Purse: $12 million
First Place: $2,160,000
The Open goes to another iconic course Pebble Beach in Monterey, California. The lore of the course is that it’s one of the
prettiest courses in the world and with nine holes on the Pacific it makes for a rare experience. Even though Pebble hosts the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am that doesn’t mean that those that play well in that will play well in the U.S. Open. Played at a different time of year, Pebble will be dry, fast, and difficult in June as the wind will play an important part. The course will also be set up totally differently, first as a par 71 but with high rough and very hard greens. The key for Pebble will be keeping the ball in the fairways and hitting lots of greens. After two years of playing on courses set up too easy, the USGA may go a bit over the top and Pebble could be a brute. Pebble demands great shotmaking, some of the reasons that the winners are so great with Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite in the Hall of Fame, with 2000 champion Tiger Woods not far behind. As for 2010 winner Graeme McDowell, he messes things up a bit.
Justin Thomas – Has the right combination of hitting it long and straight along with being able to hit lot’s of greens
Jason Day – This course could be tailor-made for Jason, it plays perfectly for all of his strong suits including putting.
Jordan Spieth – Proved that he can win at Chambers Bay, Pebble Beach has a lot of the same characteristics and with his great putting can’t think of anyone better
Tommy Fleetwood – Has been in serious contention the last couple of years, but was it because Erin Hills and Shinnecock set up about the same? I think that no matter where the U.S. Open is played, Fleetwood will find a way to achieve success on the course.
Dustin Johnson – His game is so perfect for Pebble and if he can putt halfway decent their is nobody better to win this event than Johnson. Looking back at 2010 he should have won it, hard to believe that he shot 82 and still finished T-6th.
Rory McIlroy – A modern day Tiger Woods in being able to think his way around a course, hard to believe he has missed the cut in his last three U.S. Opens.
Xander Schauffele – Showed on keen liking to both Erin Hills and Shinnecock, the big question can he keep the streak alive at Pebble Beach?
Tiger Woods – Another player that plays well on a shotmaking course. He used to be brilliant in the U.S. Open, hard to believe his last top-20 finish was a T-4th in 2010 at Pebble
Phil Mickelson – It’s going to take a person with a lot of imagination to win at Pebble and is there anyone better suited than Mickelson? Also, remember he could have won in 2010 at Pebble finishing T-4th. It would be complete irony if Phil could win the grand slam on the same course in which his grandfather caddied on when it first opened in 1919.
My Choice – Dustin Johnson
Purse: $7.2 million
First Place: $1,260,000
The TPC at River Highlands is a different type of TPC course. It was a reconfiguration of a traditional, old style course, but still has some of that flavor. Most of the greens are small, raised or crowned, making it a scrambler’s delight. The tournament is well supported in the community as many as 80,000 spectators could be in attendance on any given day so the timid need not apply. The tournament is notorious for having close finishes, since 1983, 25 of the 33 tournaments have been decided by either a shot or a playoff, the last time being 2017 when Jordan Spieth beat Daniel Berger in a playoff.
Jordan Spieth – Showed a liking to the course in 2017, didn’t fare as well last year. Be careful in picking him, with schedule changes this may be one he misses. Still his putting is the key to his good play on TPC at River Highlands.
Bubba Watson – Seems to dominate this event, find him hard to beat this year.
Daniel Berger – Has played here three times and finished T-5th and runner-up in 2017, that year he could very easily have won.
Charley Hoffman – Has three top-tens including a T-3rd in 2017 and runner-up in 2012.
Paul Casey – Showed how well he can play the course with his T-2nd last year, a runner-up finish in 2015, this is a course he can win on.
Bryson DeChambeau – Another course that suits his game, look for him to contend.
My Choice – Bubba Watson
Rocket Mortgage Classic
Purse: $7.3 million
First Place: $1,278,000
This event replaces the Quicken Loan, it’s being sponsored by the same company as the Washington D.C. area event, the only difference was that Quicken Loans wanted a tournament in the Detroit area and they got it, just with a different name for the event. It will be held at Detroit Golf Club, which has never hosted a PGA Tour event but was the site of the 1992 U.S. Mid-Amateur Championship. The course is a Donald Ross gem, and you know that means you have to hit it straight and be able to maneuver the small greens which will be challenging. Another characteristic will be that a player has to be a good scrambler. Now in past events on the PGA Tour played on a new course, it tends to favor the player who hasn’t won before so with next weeks’ 3M being played on a course that hasn’t seen a PGA Tour event, think of someone who has never won again.
So as far as picking someone, it’s best to look for someone that isn’t very famous and who hasn’t won on tour.
So it’s best to pick the hottest players going into the event. Lastly with a schedule wedge with so many great events and tournaments like majors being contested so closely together, marquee players will take these two weeks off. So don’t be surprised if you get only a handful of top-100 players in these fields. So now is the time to unload on those you deem the stars of the future that are struggling.
My Choice – Patrick Rodgers
Purse: $6.4 million
First Place: $1,116,000
Off the success of the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup played at Hazeltine National. That and since the 3M Championship has been a big deal on the Champions Tour it’s only fitting that the PGA Tour comes to Minnesota. It will replace the successful 3M Championship and played on the same course. Just like the previous event which also has no history, it’s hard to predict who will win so the best advise, pick the person who’s game will peak at the 3M Open. Also, you just can’t image it, but the odds on a non-winner and someone that is struggling to win are very high so again think the unthinkable.
My Choice – Steve Stricker
John Deere Classic
Purse: $6.0 million
First Place: $1,044,000
Talk about a course for those that like to go low, TPC Deere Run is the place to score low on the PGA Tour. Last year the course played to a 69.75 average making it the 13th easiest course on the PGA Tour. So what makes it so easy? Last year 45 eagles and 1,865 birdies were produced, both being some of the lowest numbers of any course on the PGA Tour in 2018. 12 of the 18 holes played under par, with the par 4, 14th hole being the easiest par 4 with a 3.711 average meaning that 36% of those that played it made either eagle or birdie. The event is the week before the British Open which is ok since there is a special charter to take players to Scotland, so the field is usually good. Still, the event has a lot of loyal marquee names that participate each year, but last year only saw 4 of the top-50 world rank players in the field. So for the third and last week, think of the unthinkable, last year I would bet that even Michael Kim’s mother would have predicted he would win.
Zach Johnson – This man seems to own this event, he has a total of seven top-tens, in the last ten years. Over the course of these seven years, he has a win, 3 runner-up finishes and a pair of thirds.
Wesley Bryan – Has shown a liking to this course, in his first two starts was T8th in 2016 and T-3rd in 2017. Yes, he missed the cut last year but look for him to bounce back.
Steve Stricker – Can’t go wrong with this guy since he has eight top-tens including three straight wins in 2009, ’10 & ’11. Was T-5th in 2017 and T-43rd last year.
Chad Campbell – He has always played well in this event. He has made 11 cuts in his 11 starts and has a pair of top-tens, was 7th in 2008 and T-7th last year. The key is that he gets a lot of top-25s in this event, six in total and could be a surprise pick one of these days.
Bud Cauley – Was T-8 in 2016 and T-12th last year. A bit disappointing that he didn’t play last year due to a serious car accident a month before the John Deere which ended his year. He is back and hopefully will regain some of the luster he had before the accident.
Patrick Rodgers – Was runner-up in 2017, played well in three of his four rounds last year finishing T-43rd.
My Choice – Zach Johnson
Purse: $11 million
First Place: $1,890,000
The ability to adjust to the elements, especially with wind and rain, is often crucial at The Open. This year’s “Open,” as it’s called over in England, will be a totally different experience for most of the field. Being played at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland will be the first time playing outside England and Scotland since it was played in 1951. In the last half-century, the course has only held one big professional tournament and that was the 2012 Irish Open won by Jamie Donaldson. Of marquee players in the field, Francesco Molinari was T-10th along with Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell was T-16th and Thorbjorn Olesen was T-18th. In trying to compare the course with one on the rota today, the closet is probably Hoylake so look for those that have played well in the 2014 British Open. Again, the elements are what will dictate who win, even last year’s Open at Carnoustie was tame because we didn’t see any nasty weather that drives the scores up. One last thing, it will be very weird that with the date change of the PGA Championship to May this is the last major and there are only five weeks of the PGA Tour season left after this week.
Sergio Garcia – Is it time for him to finally win a British Open This course is right up his alley, he was runner-up to McIlroy at Hoylake in 2014 and was T-5th at Hoylake in 2006. But a lot will be up to the weather, if it’s calm he will do fine.
Jordan Spieth – Showed a lot when he won at Birkdale despite not having his “A” putting game, he is a scrambling type of player that will do well at Hoylake.
Xander+Schauffele – Showed us a lot at Carnoustie last year, don’t be surprised to see him play well this week
Rory McIlroy – He has learned how to play well on Open courses and feel with his win at the 2014 Open at Hoylake, Portrush is right up his alley.
Bryson DeChambeau – Has the game and knows how to win on tough courses like Portrush.
Tony Finau – Has gotten very good at majors, he could be very good at Portrush.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello – You want a completely off the wall pick, here is one. I strongly feel that he not only will contend at Portrush, (he finished 2nd in 2012 in the Irish Open) but he can win. He has won the Scottish Open on a links course and was 4th at Birkdale in 2017.
Henrik Stenson – Have to always look at him as a contender in the Open Championship.
Dustin Johnson – Another major that he has shown he can play well in and he could muscle his way to a victory at Portrush.
Tiger Woods – Last year showed that Tiger can and will do well at the British Open. He won at Hoylake and I can see him do it again at Portrush
My Choice – Rafael Cabrera-Bello
Purse: $3.5 million
First Place: $630,000
An alternative event for the British Open, the tournament switched last year to Keene Trace Golf Club just outside Lexington, Kentucky. So the stats from the first three years mean nothing, have to go off the numbers from last year in which it showed the winners did very well in greens hit. The course gets rave reviews and in many of circles is the best in Kentucky, beating out Valhalla G.C. which has held numerous PGA Championships and the Ryder Cup. Hard tournaments to gauge because many guys at the last minute qualify for the British Open and don’t play this. Again, one of the last events for guys trying to secure a tour card for 2020 to play well in.
Ricky Barnes – A player that we can see winning, he finished T-3rd in 2015, T-35th in 2016 and T-15th in 2017. Last year at Keene Trace was doing great until he shot 73 in the final round to finish T-49th.
Chesson Hadley – Was 9th last year in strokes gain Approach-the-Green showing that he could be a player to do well at Keene Trace. He is borderline in getting into the British as of January 1st if he doesn’t could be a great pick but it’s a gamble.
Richy Werenski – Played great last year just have to wonder if he can repeat last year’s performance.
Sam Ryder – Was 35th last year in strokes gain Approach-the-Green. Played well last year, despite a final round 70 finished T-7th.
David Lingmerth – Played well finishing T-5th last year at Keene Trace. For the year stumbled, especially in the strokes gained Approach-the-Green category where he finished 147th. Still, he is a great player and someone who could win here.
Robert Garrigus – Was T-66th last year. Had been 10th in 2017 and T-11th in 2016, was 48th last year in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green.
Aaron Baddeley – Has taken a liking to this event winning it in 2016 and finishing T-10th in 2015. Unfortunately missed the cut last year.
My Choice – David Lingmerth
WGC FedEx St. Jude Invitational
Purse: $10,250,000 million
First Place: $1,700,000
This event moves from Firestone South to Colonial in Memphis. So use this chart off of the defunct FedEx St. Jude Classic.
After almost 2 decades playing this event at Firestone, the PGA Tour caved into a corporate wish to make a change and play this event at TPC Southwind in August. Sorry playing in the heat of the summer in Memphis is tough and Southwind is no Firestone, but Southwind is no slouch of a course. The course that can be overpowered. It doesn’t mean the course is a rollover since it ranked 10th on the PGA Tour in accuracy and 7th last year. There is thick rough to contend with, but again those that hit it will accurately score low this week. The course is hard in hitting greens as last year it was 5th, and in 2017 it was the 6th hardest greens to hit on tour. Since 1989, only six champions (Dicky Pride in 1994, Notah Begay III in 2000, Dustin Johnson in 2012, Harris English in 2013, and Daniel Berger in 2016 and last year) were younger than 30. Six of them were over 40, the oldest being Woody Austin in 2007 at 43 years, 4 months, Greg Norman in 1997 at 42 years, 4 months, and 2006 winner Maggert who was 42 years, 3 months. Last year’s winner Dustin Johnson was 33. Now one thing to watch out is players who don’t play, though players supposed to show you don’t know when that ache or pain will pop up and with players forced to travel from Northern Ireland to Memphis to play a week after a major could be a stretch and a possible problem.
For the Players stats, we go to there stats for playing at TPC Southwind at the FedEx St. Jude Classic instead of results from Firestone.
Dustin Johnson – Have to think he is a big favorite with all of his 2 wins at TPC Southwind.
Brooks Koepka – Hasn’t won yet but was T-3rd in 2015 and T-2nd in 2016.
Adam Scott – Had a good record previously at Firestone, but in two starts at TPC Southwind was 7th in 2007 and T-10th in 2017.
Phil Mickelson – Was loyal to playing at TPC Southwind, in 8 starts had four top-tens including runner-up finishes in 2013 and 2016.
Daniel Berger – Had a super record at TPC Southwind, yes he missed the cut last year but won back to back in 2016 and ’17.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello – Can’t forget him, was T-4th in his only start in 2017.
Billy Horschel – If he gets into the field could be a terror based on his 8 starts which included a T-10th in 2013, T-6th in 2014, a T-8th in 2015 and a T-4th in 2017.
Justin Rose – Has never played at TPC Southwind but you have to think his game is well suited for the course.
My Choice – Brooks Koepka
Purse: $3.5 million
First Place: $612,000
Aggressive play, that’s the name of the game this week at the Reno-Tahoe Tournament. This will be the 8th year that this event has been played with the Stableford scoring system making it one of the most distinctive events on the PGA Tour. Along with the Dell Matchplay, the two are the only tournaments on tour that isn’t stroke play events. The modified version of the Stableford method is one that makes for a lot of excitement as points are awarded for low scoring and points taken away for poor scoring. Nothing is given for par, with 2 points given for a birdie, 5 points given for an eagle and for the rare double-eagle, 8 points. For those that make a bogey they have to subtract 1 point and for a double bogey or worst 3 points are deducted. So instead of the lowest number of strokes wins the tournament like the rest of the tour stops, the player making the most points wins. One last thing, you want to make sure on your choice because it’s opposite the Bridgestone, so don’t pick anyone in the top-75 of the World Rankings.
Brendan Steele – He is long and makes lot’s of birdies, finished T-5th last year, he has four top tens in his last five starts. The only problem, he could qualify for the WGC-FedEx St. Jude.
Sam Saunders – Seems to have a grasp of this format, was T7th last year, 8th in 2017 and T-9th in 2016.
J.B. Holmes – Another that hits it long and could do well, was T-12th in his only Reno-Tahoe start in 2012
Andrew Putnam – Winner last year have to say he knows what he is doing.
Martin Laird – Was T-7th in 2016 and T-6th in 2014.
J.J. Spaun – Guy hits it long, was T-3rd last year.
Chris Stroud – Makes a lot of birdies and showed a command of this format with a T-7th finish last year.
My Choice – Sam Saunders
Purse: $6.2 million
First Place: $1,080,000
Sedgefield is a very versatile course. Length is not critical because the course plays at 7,127 yards, just a notch below average for a PGA Tour event. With length not being a factor, players are afforded the opportunity to use either driver or long iron off the tee. The most critical thing for the field is to manage the slope of the course. To do that, ball control and accuracy are key. Look for the winner to be someone who doesn’t like to muscle up with the driver, and just settle for using a long iron for control. Past winners of the event are some of the best iron players on tour. The likes of Sergio Garcia, Webb Simpson, Mark O’Meara, Davis Love III, and Steve Elkington has hoisted the trophy. Look for the winner to be able to manage the surroundings, as the undulations are the most difficult part of the golf course.
Bill Haas – While we are talking about under par figures at Sedgefield, Haas is 94 under in his rounds played at Sedgefield since 2008, the best of any player since the tournament moved to the course in 2008. His best finish was T-2nd in 2014.
Webb Simpson – Past champion who seems to play his best at Sedgefield, is he is 114 under for his 38 rounds played. Was runner-up last year and 3rd the year before.
Ryan Moore – Has played this event eleven times and has been in the top ten, 4 times and has been under par in 31 of his 40 rounds. Won in 2009, he has only been over par twice at Sedgefield.
Brandt Snedeker – Has five top-tens at Sedgefield, most of anyone along with Bill Haas and Carl Petterson. Won last year and T-3rd last year.
My Choice – Webb Simpson
The Northern Trust
Purse: $9.25 million
First Place: $1,620,000
This year Liberty National will be hosting this event for the third time, the last being in 2013. The course is located on the western shores of New York Harbor, just 1,000 yards from the Statue of Liberty. Liberty National, designed by Bob Cupp and Tom Kite, opened in 2006. Built at a cost of $250 million, it sits on a formerly contaminated site on the Jersey City waterfront with spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. Three million cubic yards of earth were brought in during course construction because there could be no digging on the site, and everything had to be built up. The resulting course is still relatively flat, with many holes having the feel of a Florida layout, with water hazards, and others of a links course, with fescue grasses. Its course rating and the slope is among the highest in the New York metropolitan area. The key to playing well at Liberty National is to hit lot’s of greens; thus, one of the reasons that Adam Scott won in 2013.
Jason Day – Has played at Liberty National twice, was T-12th in 2009 and T-25th in 2013.
Matt Kuchar – Has played Liberty National twice, T-28th in 2009 and T-19th in 2013. His game seems the best for the course.
Tiger Woods – Has struggled in this event, has played nine times without a win, a rarity for Woods not to win a tournament. Was T-2nd when it was played at Liberty National in both 2009 and 2013 so he has the best record of anyone from those two years.
Dustin Johnson – Past champion of this event, he was T-15th in 2009 and missed the cut in 2013.
Gary Woodland – Played his best in this event in 2013 at Liberty National, T-4th.
Justin Rose – Plays U.S. Open type courses well, at Liberty National was T-41st in 2009 and runner-up in 2013.
Adam Scott – Had success winning in 2013, also his great shotmaking game is perfect for the course..
My Choice – Matt Kuchar
Purse: $9.25 million
First Place: $1,620,000
Event moves to the number 3 course of Medinah Country Club outside Chicago. Medinah has been the site of various U.S. Opens and PGA Championships and last held the 2012 Ryder Cup. It’s a great course, and one that brings into play a shotmaker mentality, so guys like Tiger Woods, Justin Rose, and a Bryson DeChambeau will be very happy playing the course. Looking at the stats from its last big event; the 2006 PGA Championship you can see that five of the six players on top of the leaderboard were in the top ten of the Greens hit category as winner Tiger Woods hit the most greens. So those that hit lots of greens will prevail. I also think that accuracy off the tee is important, the course will have heavy rough but also making it important to hit the fairways is the many trees that line the fairways of Medinah, those that don’t hit it straight won’t have much of a chance.
Justin Rose – He may have struggled at the 2006 PGA finishing T-41st,.but right now 8 months before the tournament he has the best shot at winning this thanks to his ball striking capabilities.
Dustin Johnson – You have to always think of him as a favorite on any course.
Matt Kuchar – He is one of the guys that you always think of on tight, U.S. Open type of courses.
Tiger Woods – Have to think he is looking forward to this week since he won the 1999 and the 2006 PGA Championship at Medinah.
Rickie Fowler – Has a record of playing well on old fashion, style golf courses
Rory McIlroy – Can’t go wrong with this guy, plays well on difficult courses.
My Choice – Rickie Fowler
Purse: $9.25 million
First Place: $1,620,000
As was proven in the last six of the seven Championships played at East Lake, it favors those that hit lots of greens. In the 15 played at East Lake since 2004, seven of the champions including Henrik Stenson (2013) and Billy Horschel (2014) led the greens in regulation stat with only two champions not being in the top-ten, Bill Haas in 2011 (was 11th) and Tiger Woods last year (he was T-14th). But none of this really matters because of the overall changes to this event. We haven’t talked much about it, but the schedule was revamped with 3 fewer events being played so that the season would end before Labor Day. With that, the FedEx Cup playoffs lost one event (Dell Technologies). But, the biggest change comes this week at the Tour Championship. Formerly, it was a regular tournament and it decided the result of the FedEx Cup race. But, now the tournament will change as each of the 30 players will be handicapped based on their position in the FedEx Cup race the week of the Tour Championship. The FedExCup points leader after the first two Playoffs events will begin the Tour Championship at 10-under par. The next four players will start at 8-under through 5-under, respectively. The next five will begin at 4-under, regressing by one stroke per five players until those ranked Nos. 26-30 start at even par. With the implementation of this change, the player with the lowest total score will be the FedExCup Champion and be credited with an official victory in the Tour Championship.
In a way, it’s a bit hokey and many will question the result in which the lowest 72 hole score won’t win the Tour Championship. But for the betterment of the FedEx Cup playoffs and the year-long point race it will make the Tour Championship more about winning the FedEx Cup race than winning the Tour Championship. The only thing that will be questioned is if the point handicapping has been done the right way. A lot is at stake and something as if this has never been done before, but I guess it’s worth a try to it will be a better way to put more importance into the FedEx Cup race.
But now comes the fact that you’re picking a winner not only of the week but you will have to pick a player who will be leading the FedEx Cup race to have that advantage of having a lead going into the first hole of a 72 hole event. So on paper, someone that is in 30th place could shot lights out and win the whole thing, while could the overall winner of the tournament, the person with the lowest 72 hole score is a little displaced if he finishes 5th, 6th or even lower in the final standings?
Justin Rose – I am betting that he will be leading the FedEx Cup race and will do well in the tournament.
Justin Thomas – Has played great in his three starts, almost won in 2017 but thanks to his runner-up finish won the FedEx Cup playoffs. So under this year’s rules, he would have won both the FedEx Cup race and the Tour Championship.
Jordan Spieth – Won in 2015 and was T-2nd in 2013, the only problem he has struggled at this event since didn’t even play last year.
Tiger Woods – Big winner last year, hopefully, the same scenario doesn’t happen because fans and sponsors will not like Tiger Woods scoring the lowest 72 hole total and not winning the tournament.
Dustin Johnson – Most of the time does well at East Lake and I like that the biggest favorite of the year ends my pick you pro season.
My Choice – Justin Rose
In Part 2 we give links to each of the players to see the picks. We are expanding this section and it will come out in a few days, thanks. Also sorry if this was a bit late, with all of the changes on tour and the different courses being played in took a lot longer to do.