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The 7 most overvalued players at the 2015 HSBC Champions

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The PGA Tour’s 2015-2016 season continues this week with the first World Golf Championship of the year at the 2015 HSBC Champions in Shanghai, China, and so does the opportunity to win big on DraftKings.

In this week’s fantasy contest, $150,000 is on the line with $12,000 in winnings for the last person standing. Many of the best professional golfers on Earth are headed to East Asia; do not miss out on the chance to pick, play, and win, especially since I’m here to help with my overvalued players to avoid below.

Click here to enter the 150K contest!

The Course

SheshanGolfClub

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Sheshan Golf Club, which is located in the city of Shanghai, measures 7,143 yards in length, plays to a tournament par of 72, and was designed by Nelson and Haworth Design. Typical of all World Golf Championship events, the HSBC Champions features a strong global field that includes, among others, Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Martin Kaymer, Henrik Stenson, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, and last week’s CIMB Classic winner, Justin Thomas.

The HSBC Champions is the fourth event of the 2015-2016 season on the PGA Tour that has seen winners to date with a total combined age of 68 years old — Emiliano Grillo (23), Smylie Kaufman (23), and Justin Thomas (22).

Here are my 7 overvalued players this avoid in your fantasy lineups this week.

Miguel Angel Jimenez ($6,600)

Miguel

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2014-2015 The European Tour season

  • Driving Accuracy: 52nd (64.34%)
  • Greens in Regulation: 47th (71.36%)
  • Average Putts Per Round: 121st (29.91)

2014-2015 PGA Tour season (if Jimenez was eligible based on tournaments played)

  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 184th (27.50%)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: 169th (-0.651)
  • Strokes Gained: Putting: 183rd (-0.809)
  • Official World Golf Ranking: 83rd

In six PGA Tour events last season, two of which were no-cut events, Jimenez missed four cuts, namely, the cut at each of the four professional majors. And with respect to this particular event in 2014, he finished 71st out of 76 players, posting a 14-over-par score of 302.

Admittedly, Jimenez has had some recent success on the Champions Tour and even on the European Tour, posting T2s at both the Open de Espana and BMW PGA Championship back in May 2015. Yet, given his statistical shortcomings when he has played on the PGA Tour recently, coupled with Jimenez’s play at this particular event in 2014, spend your money on other slightly more expensive players like Scott Hend or Matt Jones, who come with some potential for a return on investment.

Chris Kirk ($6,900)

2014-2015 PGA Tour season

  • All-Around Ranking: T59
  • Ball-Striking: 149th
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 48th (44.63%)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: T61 (0.264)
  • Strokes Gained: Putting: 90th (0.066)
  • Official World Golf Ranking: 29th 

At some level it is tough to doubt Kirk in light of how he finished the Presidents Cup, both personally and in terms of the competition overall. Further, Kirk is a four-time PGA Tour winner with three of those wins coming in 2014 and 2015, as recently as last May at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

That said, he was sidelined with a non-golf injury at a critical time last summer and when Kirk returned for the FedExCup playoffs, he missed the cut at The Barclays (the only Playoff event with a cut) and failed to reach the Tour Championship. Finally, apart from stealing a Sunday singles win at the President Cup, he was 0-2. Case in point, in his opening campaign for the 2015-2016 PGA Tour season at the Frys.com Open, Kirk finished MDF at T81. Again, consider Jones or Hend at a comparable cost or Billy Horschel and Robert Streb at $7,000 and $7,100, respectively.

Marc Leishman ($7,100)

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2014-2015 PGA Tour season

  • All-Around Ranking: 107th
  • Ball-Striking: 134th
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 80th (42.92%)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: T61 (0.264)
  • Strokes Gained: Putting: 113th (-0.022)
  • Official World Golf Ranking: 42nd

Leishman is former PGA Tour winner, having won the 2012 Travelers Championship and lost in a playoff to Zach Johnson (along with Louis Oosthuizen) at this year’s Open Championship at St. Andrews. Yet, Leishman’s statistics from last season underscore the personal difficulties he was having both on and off the golf course.

In 23 total PGA Tour events in 2014-2015, he missed nine cuts, only posted five top 25s, and has not posted a top-10 since June at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide other than his T2 at St. Andrews. Notably, Leishman missed the cut in each of his last three stroke play events, namely, the PGA Championship, The Barclays, and Deutsche Bank Championship. He did post a top-30 last week at the CIMB Classic, but managed only 11-under on a course that yielded a champion in Justin Thomas at 26-under. In short, hold off on taking Leishman in favor of those mentioned above or someone such as Thorbjorn Olesen at the same price.

Charl Schwartzel ($8,100)

2014-2015 PGA Tour season

  • All-Around Ranking: 118th
  • Ball-Striking: 79th
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 17th (48.99%)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: 31st (0.634)
  • Strokes Gained: Putting: 160th (-0.561)
  • Official World Golf Ranking: 52nd

While fellow countrymen Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen were collectively posting a 9-0-1 record at this year’s Presidents Cup, the 2011 Masters champion was 1-3 and handily defeated in singles by Phil Mickelson 5 and 4. Schwartzel’s struggle with the flatstick may not be well-known, but statistically it’s well documented. Last season, in 19 events, he did make 15 cuts, but only collected a total of four top 25s and was done for the season after missing the cut at The Barclays, despite a T3 at the Wyndham Championship in August.

Schwartzel is coming off a T6 at the 2015 Frys.com Open, but without the ability to count on his putter, substantial reliance on his ball striking is problematic as that has been average relative to his fellow PGA Tour players in 2014-2015. In a perfect world, Schwartzel’s upside outweighs his cost, but there are too many question marks to pay $8,100 this week in Shanghai when Scott Piercy, Lee Westwood, and Matt Fitzpatrick are available at a similar salary.

Anirban Lahiri ($8,300)

AnirbanLahiri

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2014-2015 The European Tour season

  • Driving Accuracy: 85th (61.40%)
  • Greens in Regulations: 34th (71.91%)
  • Average Putts Per Round: 69th (29.47)

2014-2015 PGA Tour season (if Lahiri was eligible based on tournaments played)

  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 41st (45.31%)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: 134th (-0.256)
  • Strokes Gained: Putting: 89th (0.079)
  • Official World Golf Ranking: 39th

Lahiri is a rookie on the PGA Tour this season, after qualifying through the Web.com playoffs this past summer. He is a two-time winner on The European Tour in 2015, however, having won both the Maybank Malaysian Open and Hero Indian Open back in February. And in 12 PGA Tour events played last season as a non-member, Lahiri made nine cuts, but only posted one top 25 — a T5 at the PGA Championship.

With what appears to be an occasionally balky putter, Lahiri has yet to consistently prove his value, even at $8,300, at events of this level. His play at the PGA Championship demonstrated an ability to compete at the highest level of professional golf, but Sunday at the Presidents Cup also revealed he can be a prisoner of the moment. There are less costly alternatives that are worth the risk at least this week in China.

Ian Poulter ($8,600)

2014-2015 PGA Tour season

  • All-Around Ranking: 61st
  • Ball-Striking: T110
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 101st (41.83%)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: 74th (0.204)
  • Strokes Gained: Putting: T41 (0.266)
  • Official World Golf Ranking: 53rd

Best known for Ryder Cup heroics, a seemingly absurd collection of sports cars, and the timely ability to stick his foot in his mouth, Poulter has demonstrated occasional success by winning on the PGA Tour. In fact, Poulter won this very event in 2012, but the only year in which it was played at the Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen, rather than at the Sheshan Golf Club. Further, Poulter is a 10-time (exclusive of overlapping WGC events, making it technically 12) winner on the European Tour in career that began on that tour back in 1999.

He was again at the center of the golf world earlier this month when out of the blue, Rich Beem, former PGA Championship winner, gratuitously gave up his spot at the 2015 Hong Kong Open to Poulter. Beem’s gift allowed Poulter to, at the time, essentially remain eligible for this week’s HSBC Champions, ensure he would play the minimum 13 events to maintain his membership on the European Tour and be considered for the 2016 Ryder Cup at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota. Save your hard-earned money before seriously considering Poulter, or alternatively, spend it wisely by taking Louis Oosthuizen or Patrick Reed.

Dustin Johnson ($10,300)

DustinJohnson

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2014-2015 PGA Tour season

  • All-Around Ranking: 16th
  • Ball-Striking: 63rd
  • Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders: 5th (50.89%)
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green: 9th (1.241)
  • Strokes Gained: Putting: 70th (0.131)
  • Official World Golf Ranking: 8th

With a game that seems absolutely effortless and endlessly powerful in moments, and other times painfully absent, Johnson is a proven PGA Tour winner, but not a prolific closer. This week, as a former winner in 2013 of this same event, Johnson is T4 with respect to salary (same as Rickie Fowler) and only less expensive than Rory McIlory ($12,300), last year’s Masters winner ($12,000), and last year’s HSBC Champions’ winner ($10,500).

As a nine-time PGA Tour winner and the No. 8-ranked golfer in the world, there is little doubt that Johnson should not be cheap. But the larger question is: Can Johnson justify this level of investment in the face of failures like that of Chambers Bay and his disappearance over the weekend last summer at St. Andrews? Especially when both Hideki Matsuyama and Henrik Stenson are less expensive and equally likely to win, but more importantly hang around until tournament end, victorious or not, in Shanghai.

Don’t forget to enter the 150K contest!

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from the 2020 Players Championship

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GolfWRX is live this week from the 2020 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

The field this week featured the best golfers in the world, including Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, and more.

Rory McIlroy enters the tournament as the defending champion, looking hoist the crystal again.

Check out all our galleries below, along with highlights from TPC Sawgrass.

General Galleries

Special Galleries

Bettinardi’s St. Patrick’s Day covers  

Brand-new Srixon 745 in Keegan’s bag

Roger Sloan’s custom Cameron

Mizuno JPX 919 Hot Metal irons spotted in Nick Watney’s bag 

Joel Dahmen with a battle-worn hybrid

Fresh eggs for Patrick Reed…

Justin Rose continues to tweak his equipment

Carlos Ortiz looks to be picking up some supplies to mark the end of his driveway…

Jordan Spieth with a Vokey WedgeWorks Proto 60T in the bag

Kiradech Aphibarnrat with lead tape and stamping on cavity-back irons. Solid! 

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Tour News

GolfWRX Spotted: Justin Rose with mixed bag at Arnold Palmer Invitational

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It’s not very often we get breaking equipment news this time of year on the PGA Tour schedule, but this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, one of the highest-profile players on tour, Justin Rose, was spotted testing multiple brands of clubs throughout his entire bag.

It started last week at the Honda Classic when Rose put a TaylorMade SIM driver with Mitsubishi Kuro Kage in play. As of today’s first round at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Rose has a mixed set including TaylorMade, Cobra, and Titleist clubs, along with an Axis1 putter.

Here are the details of Rose’s equipment:

Driver: TaylorMade SIM (10.5 degrees @ 8.5)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70 TX

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM Max (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 80 TX

5-wood: Cobra SpeedZone Tour (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana D+ 80 X

Irons: TaylorMade P730 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X 6.5

Wedges: TaylorMade MG2 (52, 56 degrees), Titleist Vokey Design Prototype K Grind (60 degrees)
Shafts: Project X 6.5 (52, 56), Proto Hi-Rev 135X (60)

Putter: Axis1 Rose
Grip: Flat Cat Svelte

Ball: TaylorMade TP5 ‘19 (No. 1)

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Equipment

Inside look: Callaway Jaws MD5 wedges on tour…6 months after launch

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Callaway Jaws MD5 wedges hit professional golf tours months ago. We reported on the launch extensively (see our videos later in the article) with deep coverage on the PGA Tour and at retail. As with any new offering, and especially for the gearheads on GolfWRX, it’s the tour chatter that drives us. What the pros do, play, and think is always a driving force.

However…

Personally, I have always been fascinated by the aftermath of a launch. What are the reactions and tweaks that are made once the shine has worn off?  It’s not uncommon for players to need to warm up to a new product before it ultimately finds its way into the bag permanently.

When Jaws hit the scene, it integrated quite quickly, and that is saying a lot. The MD4 was a very successful wedge line on tour and at retail. It was a huge initial launch and one Callaway was happy with as a solid portion of its staff put Jaws in play straight away.

In my conversations with tour staff and techs, spin and lower ball flight has been a recurring theme. In the case of the Tour, being able to flight a wedge down and not have it float, while maintaining maximum spin, is a weapon. Imagine being at Honda last week and knowing you can hit a knee-high fastball with a 58-degree wedge and trust the ball will stay down, not skip, and will stop dead in its tracks. On tour, its the speed of the stop that is valuable, not ripping it backward—that is typically only fun for TV. Golf these days is more like darts and less like billiards.

As to be expected, the grinds on all Callaway wedges are tour favorites. It’s pretty simple to fall in love with something that comes ought of the mind of Roger Cleveland, who has been the driving force in putting Callaway consistently at the No. 2 most-played wedge on Tour.

But how has the MD5  really done thus far?

Let’s be clear, most guys don’t make switches late-summer or fall (when MD5 was launched on tour). The season is too far down the river and the coming winter gives them quiet time to really test. Also, when you work through the California swing, a good portion of the higher-ranked staff only poke their heads out once or twice. This doesn’t mean the guys on the truck aren’t building new products, but a good portion of it is for winter testing, emergency backups, etc.

But now we hit the Florida swing. The Masters is a month away. The world’s best start to show up consistently, the playing surfaces change from the West Coast to the East Coast, and all of these guys are in full attack mode. Any real testing or guesswork is pretty much done, and it’s time to get going. This is the time when you can actually see if a product has staying power.

The question is since Jaws hit the scene, what have the pros learned, what adjustments have been made to dial them in, and ultimately, is this wedge line a success? I wanted to tackle this question from two different perspectives: from the reps on tour and two young staff players that have them in play.

In this case, there is the guy on the Callaway tour trailer who is in charge of wedges, Simon Wood, and young tour staffers Akshay Bhatia and Min Woo Lee.

Three unique perspectives—and also perspectives that give us an honest look at the performance and popularity of a “new” wedge on Tour.

I talk with Simon Wood quite a bit. He’s a good as they get in this category, having worked for years in Europe and on the U.S. tour. His knowledge is extensive and even more importantly, he is ridiculously honest. If the product is solid and he believes in it, he will tell you. If he goes quiet, there’s that too.

I caught up with him on a day off and this was the update he gave:

Wunder: It seems MD5 came out of the gates quickly and never really slowed down, are you surprised at the response?

Wood: Not at all. Truth is, these players are very particular about what makes it in or out of the bag. A new club has to do something better than the old one and do all the things they liked about the old one. The Jaws really spins. This is a unique groove system, and I’ve noticed the players like it for two main reasons 1) They can keep the trajectory down on the high lofts 2) they can be a bit more aggressive because of the amount of spin these wedges offer. Out on tour that’s a big deal.

Wunder: What percentage of staff (25+players on U.S. Tours) are in the MD5 across the board?

Wood: I’d say close to 50 percent, which is a good number considering how many good options are out there.

Wunder: Now that we are in the Florida swing, are you having to do anything special to adjust to the new grass and conditions?

Wood: No its the opposite actually. I think with the grooves being as good as they are and the number of options we have grind wise, we on the truck are doing less tweaking and grinding to wedges. That’s a sign one the R&D team did a great job with this design and two that our players trust our product enough to let their creativity take over.

Wunder: Any surprise grinds that are popping up more often?

Wood: It’s not a surprise because we knew it was good, but the low bounce W has been a hit thus far. Lots of guys testing and gaming that one.

I then went on to chat with Callaway staffers Min Woo Lee (winning WITB, podcast link below) and Akshay Bhatia on their experience with Jaws. This perspective was interesting because Akshay is young, he’s fighting for a place to play this summer, and he’s still learning the nuances of playing as a professional. Min just recently won in Australia and has enough time under his belt now to understand a real asset over something he’s still trying to make work.

Point is: pressure is high on both of these kids, and the last thing either wants to struggle with is their wedges.

Wunder: You were an early adopter of the MD5 last fall, have you noticed any significant improvement over your previous gamers?

Bhatia: Trust is the biggest one. I love the shape of these wedges and just knowing that Roger and Phil have an influence on the wedges you are playing gives me so much confidence. From a performance standpoint, I like the variety in grinds the MD5 offers. Anywhere I play I have an option, whether it be X in soft conditions or C for the firmer turf.

Wunder: With the aggressive grooves of the MD5, what shots have you gained that you didn’t have before?

Bhatia: Definitely the off-speed/three-quarter shots with some spin. These wedges really keep the ball down and it’s a bonus when I know I can take something off of a shot and the ball will stay down and hold its line into the wind.

Wunder: And your current set up is?

Bhatia: Currently, I’m in the Jaws MD5 50S, 54S bent to 55, and the 60C or X depending on the conditions (KBS $Taper 130X shafts in black with Iomic grips) with some heel and toe relief in the X. I also like to mess around wit the PM Grind 60 if I’m looking for a different look.

Young Callaway staffer Min Woo Lee, who recently triumphed at the European Tour’s Vic Open, has this to say

Wunder: What ball flight differences do you see in Jaws over the past wedge set?

MWL: Overall the same. I like to pick my trajectory. So if I didn’t like it,  I wouldn’t have put it in my bag…need to have every shot at my disposal.

Wunder: Do you do any extra grinding to your S?

MWL: Just in the 60, there is a little leading edge relief ground in. Prevents it from digging and gives me a bit more ability to be aggressive into it.

Wunder: Are there any other grinds you tried?

MWL: I tried the low bounce W and really liked, but the S grind has been my go-to for a long time, I know how to play with that one.

Wunder: As far as full shot turf interaction, why do you prefer the S?

MWL: The S is always what I’ve been into looks-wise, nothing else really caught my eye like that grind did. I do pretty good chipping around with it around the greens and we have some history so why mess with a good thing.

Overall, I think the MD5 wedge line has been a success on tour. Let’s be honest, wedges arent drivers, but identifying a popular line over another is quite interesting. These guys can get a TV remote ground into something useable, so when there is a shift across the staff to a new model, it validates that the ideas in it are sound and the wedge performs like it says it will. For larger tour staffs like Callaway has, operating a 50 percent clip for full line use is a really solid number.

Let’s be clear here, Callaway hasn’t made a bad wedge…like ever. From X Forged to the MD line and now into Jaws, Roger and the team know what they are doing. In my experience with these wedges, I will say that the grooves are ridiculously aggressive, and as Bhatia mentioned, there is a grind to satisfy any conditions.

Do most OEMs make solid wedges? The answer is of course they do; they all do. But the advantage that Callaway has over the rest in this category is Roger Cleveland. Having the man who inspired some of the most iconic wedge shapes ever coupled with a superb R&D team yields a combination that will deliver quality and performance time after time.

Here are some pics from the forums of MD5 out on tour now.

Akshay BhatiaFrancesco Molinari
Brendan GraceIsaiah SalindaJ.J. SpaunAlex Noren
Chun An YunHenrik Stenson Matt Wallace 

Si Woo Kim

Check out the videos below to see me and one of our forum members put Jaws MD5 to the test!

 

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