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Did Jason Day just have the best putting year of any Tour pro ever?

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Jason Day was ranked No. 1 in Strokes-Gained Putting for the 2016 season. His average Strokes Gained on the field per round was an incredible 1.13 strokes (4.52 strokes per event). For context, this is the largest advantage recorded over the 13 years for which Strokes-Gained Putting is now available. This article explains how his performance was superior, and why I believe it is the best ALL TIME.

What is Strokes-Gained Putting?

The PGA Tour added its new Strokes-Gained Putting analysis in 2011. It was a revolutionary breakthrough in analysis, and a huge departure from the myopic, one-dimensional putting stats of yesteryear (number of putts per round and number of putts per GIR’s).

Simply stated, Strokes-Gained Putting places a numeric value on each putting opportunity based on distance from the hole. The result of the shot (or putt) is: [Start Value – Number of Putts to Hole Out]. The starting distance values on the PGA Tour are based upon the average performance on Tour since 2004 when ShotLink was implemented. My company, ShotByShot.com, uses start values that are based on the average performance of all of the “Scratch” rounds recorded in our system since 2003 (Scratch = 0 differential from Slope Adjusted Course Rating).

Start = 8 ft.  Value = 1.50 (A Tour player will make this putt 50 percent of the time).

# Putts: 1; SG =  0.5 (1.5 – 1.0 = 0.5)

# Putts: 2; SG = 0-.5 (1.5 – 2.0 = -0.5)

Here’s an example of how Strokes-Gained Putting works. Let’s say a golfer has an 8-foot putt, which the stats say a player should make 50 percent of the time. The putt is given a value of 1.5. If the golfer makes it, he/she gains 0.5 strokes on the field. If the golfer misses it, he/she loses 0.5 strokes on the field.

There is a complete explanation of Strokes Gained and its history on my website: ShotByShot.com.

Back to J. Day

I have conducted a detailed study of the No. 1-ranked player each year since 2011. The results provide valuable perspective for the Tour players with whom I work. Because the Tour now produces this analysis as far back as ShotLink was collecting the data, I can now include players from 2004 forward.

Strokes-Gained-Putting-1

P.S. I found it worthy to note that Ben Crane was the best putter on Tour for two consecutive years and Luke Donald for THREE!

Jason Day vs. the No. 1s

I was immediately curious to see what Day did to overshadow all of the prior No. 1s. Could it be that he three-putted fewer times than the other 12? No! Day’s 2.4 percent rate of three-putts per holes played was actually the second highest among his No. 1 peers.

Side Note: For the benefit of the rest of us, the average 10-handicap’s three-putt avoidance is 8.5 percent, or almost three times that of the Tour’s 3.04 percent average.

3-putt-avoidance

And no, Day also did not one-putt with greater frequency than the other No. 1s. It was his unusual consistency that set him apart.

We all have our good and bad days on the greens AND, so do the best putters on Tour… except Day in 2016. In 16 events this year where Strokes Gained was measured, he never had a negative Strokes-Gained Putting result. None of the No. 1s had ever done that.

Have a look at the numbers in the graph below. Only Tiger came close in 2004 with only one negative Strokes-Gained event.

Putting-Strokes-Gained

Jason Day vs. 2016 Tour Average

Finally, I looked into exactly what separated Day by 1.13 shots every round from the rest of the Tour in 2016. Only 18 percent of the difference resulted from fewer three-putts (see three-putt avoidance above). The remaining 82 percent resulted from increased one-putts, particularly Day’s very high standard in the range of 6-to-15 feet.

My research showed me long ago that on Tour the range of 6-10 feet separates the good putters from the pack, while the range of 11-20 feet determines the winners. Day’s putting no doubt played a major role in his three wins, ten Top-10s, $8+ million earned and his No. 1 ranking.

1-putt-percent

Difference-in-1-putts

Is Jason’s 2016 putting season the best EVER?

We can easily agree that it is the best since 2004. The numbers are clear. And I don’t believe that there could have been a better putting season prior to 2004, because there have been too many important advancements in technology and agronomy in the past 14 years.

Technology: The quality and consistency of the balls and putters has dramatically improved, and so have the instruction tools. Further, with vastly improved analysis by distance ranges, players have much better information on exactly where they need to work to compete.

Agronomy: Putting surfaces are simply much better. Improved strains of grass and dramatically improved maintenance equipment and practices produce consistently smoother putting surfaces.

We will never know for sure, but I am confident that Day’s performance, at least as captured by ShotLink, is the best ever. It will be fun to see if it can be topped in the years to come.

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In 1989, Peter Sanders founded Golf Research Associates, LP, creating what is now referred to as Strokes Gained Analysis. His goal was to design and market a new standard of statistically based performance analysis programs using proprietary computer models. A departure from “traditional stats,” the program provided analysis with answers, supported by comparative data. In 2006, the company’s website, ShotByShot.com, was launched. It provides interactive, Strokes Gained analysis for individual golfers and more than 150 instructors and coaches that use the program to build and monitor their player groups. Peter has written, or contributed to, more than 60 articles in major golf publications including Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and Golf for Women. From 2007 through 2013, Peter was an exclusive contributor and Professional Advisor to Golf Digest and GolfDigest.com. Peter also works with PGA Tour players and their coaches to interpret the often confusing ShotLink data. Zach Johnson has been a client for nearly five years. More recently, Peter has teamed up with Smylie Kaufman’s swing coach, Tony Ruggiero, to help guide Smylie’s fast-rising career.

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Tony Wright

    Dec 13, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Peter congratulations on an absolutely terrific article!

  2. adam

    Nov 14, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    I think the stat could be further enhanced by adding the difficulty of a putt, in addition to the distance. The pro average on a straight, 8-foot uphill putt is going to be substantially better than 50%. Wouldn’t be surprised to see downhill, 8-foot sliders come in at 20%.

    The good player will, of course, leave himself with easier putts. So, perhaps Day has the wedge control to dial in an 8-foot, uphill putt on a consistent basis. Does this make him a better putter, or just a better wedge player. Hmmm.

    • Tal

      Nov 15, 2016 at 12:47 am

      That’s the next stage of SG putting. Taking break angle and severity into account! That would be awesome! Although even the best wedge players in the world can’t leave themselves a straight uphill putt all the time. So Day’s good putting is unlikely to be as a result of always leaving himself straight putts. If he could do that, he may as well just drop the ball off in the hole every time. TV distorts our view of why pro golfers are better than even top amateurs. It’s little improvements in all areas that make the difference. They can’t choose exactly where to leave the ball on the green.

      For perspective, his total SG tee to green (including .375 strokes per round around the greens) was .987 strokes per round. He gained 1.310 strokes per round putting. Despite gaining strokes around the greens, this shows his putting was more valuable to him than his short game, proving his putting stats are down to his putting like the author said.

      • adam

        Nov 15, 2016 at 12:06 pm

        He’s a good putter, no doubt. However, every player with a wedge in his hand is trying to create a favorable putting situation (while minimizing risk). When you can move the ball and control trajectory and distance, you’re going to leave yourself with easier putts. Isn’t that the basis of Striker’s game? Of Furyk’s?

        However, I think the stat isn’t all that helpful at present. You’d need much more sophisticated data gathering and analysis. This has to be the next step for the stat to be truly meaningful.

        • Tal

          Nov 16, 2016 at 6:00 am

          I think it’s a very complete stat. There is room for improvement for sure, but it’s better than any other putting stat we have. Like you said, every player is looking for the best putt and again, these guys aren’t as accurate as tv makes them look froom 100 in. For this reason, SG is still able to measure pure putting skill better than any other stat we have. (It does take uphill and downhill into account too, by the way)

    • Peter

      Nov 16, 2016 at 3:30 pm

      Adam,
      I actually started with SG Putting 28 years ago and worked with quite a number of LPGA players (easier to get to know). My observations and limited testing did NOT reveal meaningful differences in relative difficulty. When MIT got into the SG game in 2010, they agreed that an 8 ft. putt is valued at 1.5 regardless of up down or sideways.
      Finally, on that point, imagine the added complexity of data entry – a major barrier to usage.

  3. mark

    Nov 14, 2016 at 10:00 am

    All I have to say is Jordan Speith’s putting in 2015 was the best Ive ever seen along with Tiger when he was on top. I don’t care what stats say.

    • Uhit

      Nov 14, 2016 at 11:04 am

      They shot some outstanding putts, several times shown in the highlights of the tour…
      …but the (unspectacular) average was not shown, nor remembered.
      If I would collect all my spectacular shots in a best of…
      …you would assume, that I have to be the best player ever…
      …just like most of us, if we only look at our highlights. 😉

      …but if we look at our stats (if we would collect them…), you see, that we are far away from the top.

    • ian

      Nov 14, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Yup

      • Tal

        Nov 14, 2016 at 5:39 pm

        Spieth is an awesome putter for sure! His approach play and highly efficient driving were the keys to his great 2015 season though. His putting didn’t account for all of his winning advantage.

  4. Uhit

    Nov 13, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    “Strokes-Gained Putting places a numeric value on each putting opportunity based on distance from the hole”

    Is a chip from 30 ft to a hole also a putting opportunity, if the player could use a putter?
    Is a put from outside the green from 30 ft to a hole also a putting opportunity?
    Or has a putting opportunity to be on the green?

    A close chip and a additional put from 30 ft distance, is the same as two putts from 30 ft distance?
    …and independent whether both strokes happened on the green, or not?

    …and a three put from 60 ft on the green vs. a 40 ft chip plus a 18 ft put plus a additional 2 ft put?

    Maybe Jason Day just knew better than most, how to play the last approach shot (to get in a better position) for the following put?

    I think there still are many variables left, and SG is just another try to quantify something, that is barely quantifyable in a correct manner.

    • Tal

      Nov 13, 2016 at 6:45 pm

      Only putts on the green count. Everything else around the green is accounted for by the strokes gained short game stat. It can be broken down further though.

      • Uhit

        Nov 13, 2016 at 8:01 pm

        Ok, but then, it makes not that much sense, to look at the putting SG isolated…

        …because the outcome is also depending from the short game.

        If Day successfully tried to achieve uphill putts with his short game, he had an advantage for his putts – if the rest of the field did not take that opportunity in the same way.

        It is hard to tell, but anyway, Day was really good, and maybe even the best around the hole – more often than others during the season.

        • Tal

          Nov 13, 2016 at 8:17 pm

          SG accurately (enough) demonstrates skill in individual areas compared to the field average. It also somewhat nullifies variables such as rough length and course condition by building a database of millions of shots over time.

          You’re right though; having the best SG putting stats doesn’t mean you scored the best. If you’re constantly hitting the ball to 3 feet then you’d be the best iron player in the world, but we’d learn little about your ability to putt. The SG stat system only works as a whole. I think the reason people over-analyse SG putting is because they’re still clinging to the idea that putting is the most important part of the game. SG data shows this to not necessarily be the case.

          • Uhit

            Nov 14, 2016 at 4:28 am

            Yes, you are probably right, that maybe the strive to see the putting as the holy grail of golf is a part of the over-interest in putting stats…
            …and I can understand this, because if you have a 10´ birdie put on a par five, it is hard to accept, that you can make more than one put to finish the hole…
            …3 strokes for 550 yards and 3 strokes for 10´ is hard to accept…
            …especially with the same club in hands.
            A 70 year old golfer can be a better putter than a 17 year old.
            Putting is for everyone – long driving is not.

            Putting is the hope for the not that gifted player…
            …no matter what stats you are using.

            • Tal

              Nov 14, 2016 at 5:20 pm

              I totally agree. It’s hard to accept hitting an approach to 5 feet and missing the putt. People confuse the missed birdie opportunity because of a missed putt with the fact that putting is more important to scoring, simply because it’s the last thing you remember.

    • Peter

      Nov 16, 2016 at 3:35 pm

      Uhit,
      On Tour, only putts on the putting surface count as putts. In ShotByShot.com, I recommend that players count those shots from just off the green or on the fringe to be putts. If counted as Chips, their chipping results will be artificially improved. At the same time, shots that are truly chipping opportunities ARE chips even if the putter is the club of choice.

      • Uhit

        Nov 17, 2016 at 3:30 am

        Thank you Peter for the clarification.

        It is always a compromise, where to draw the line between (partly) interchangeable things.
        I remember a player, that chipped on a green, over a spike mark, into the hole (Garcia?).
        The SG stats are similar to a score card…
        …one don´t see the quality of the single shots, but you get a good idea, how well someone played –
        which is exactly the case in this article, where the SG stats help to identify a outstanding putting performance of a single player.

  5. Hans

    Nov 13, 2016 at 4:07 am

    First, thanks for doing the research into how consistency was the real difference (that’s what makes this article interesting). That said, it does at the same time beg the question of what makes for the “best” putter. If some guys stats are lower because he putted worse when he was out of contention, does that make him a worse putter or simply less focused when he mattered less and money when it did matter. And we might care about the latter more, than the former. Still, a nice result by day to stay above average every single event, it says sthg good about his method.

    Another thing tho, it makes me wonder how much the distribution of the types of putts a player has affects the SG stat. For instance in a day one player might have more 5-10 footers than other players. Etc for other distances. And there might be certain distances where players have a better chance of getting positive SG over the field. As an example, I could imagine if you give some guys a combo say 25-30 foot putts all day that they lag close, plus tap ins fro, from chips, that their strokes gained might not have a lot of room to be very high unless his name is spieth. But you give the same dude a bunch of 10 footers and his ability to turn a good putting day into extra strokes on the field becomes much stronger, simply because you can affect the make percentage more. Not saying that those are the distances where that would happen, but more that there might be some critical distances where you can push your SG ahead the most (or lose the most) and so what distances you putt from could affect your ability to move the SG needle.

    • Tal

      Nov 13, 2016 at 8:33 pm

      On your point about distribution of putts, that’s exactly what SG is for. It’s superior to simply counting putts as it takes both distance to the hole and how well you performed from that distance relative to the field. Let’s say you hit every shot from 150 in to 1 foot. Your SG putting would show nothing special but you’d be the greatest iron player in history and assuming your driving wasn’t horrible, you would win every tournament you played in.

      Day’s superior putting performance is down to just that; superiorly consistent putting because the SG stats show that ignoring all other factors (i.e taking SG putting in isolation) he outperformed the field by over 1 stroke per round. That’s a MASSIVE advantage. His driving and approach play added further strokes to his advantage.

    • Tal

      Nov 13, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      SG isn’t the same as just counting putts. If you hole an 8 footer, you gain more strokes to the field than holing a 2 footer. So, if Day was only ever putting from very close to the hole due to great chipping, his SG putting wouldn’t show anything special, but his SG short game would. This article has only taken putting in isolation though, so maybe putting and short game were strong for Day last season. SG though, measures pure putting skill in a way that no other stat can. If you’re interested, you should read ‘Every Shot Counts’ by Mark Broady. It answers all these questions.

  6. K dawg

    Nov 12, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Sorry but Speith’s putting the year before is the best ever. If the stats don’t identify that…then they aren’t measuring correctly.

    • Tal

      Nov 13, 2016 at 8:35 pm

      You’re basing this off of television highlights.

  7. Pingback: Did Jason Day just have the best putting year of any Tour pro ever? – Swing Update

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: What really makes a wedge work? Part 1

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Of all the clubs in our bags, wedges are almost always the simplest in construction and, therefore, the easiest to analyze what might make one work differently from another if you know what to look for.

Wedges are a lot less mysterious than drivers, of course, as the major brands are working with a lot of “pixie dust” inside these modern marvels. That’s carrying over more to irons now, with so many new models featuring internal multi-material technologies, and almost all of them having a “badge” or insert in the back to allow more complex graphics while hiding the actual distribution of mass.

But when it comes to wedges, most on the market today are still single pieces of molded steel, either cast or forged into that shape. So, if you look closely at where the mass is distributed, it’s pretty clear how that wedge is going to perform.

To start, because of their wider soles, the majority of the mass of almost any wedge is along the bottom third of the clubhead. So, the best wedge shots are always those hit between the 2nd and 5th grooves so that more mass is directly behind that impact. Elite tour professionals practice incessantly to learn to do that consistently, wearing out a spot about the size of a penny right there. If impact moves higher than that, the face is dramatically thinner, so smash factor is compromised significantly, which reduces the overall distance the ball will fly.

Every one of us, tour players included, knows that maddening shot that we feel a bit high on the face and it doesn’t go anywhere, it’s not your fault.

If your wedges show a wear pattern the size of a silver dollar, and centered above the 3rd or 4th groove, you are not getting anywhere near the same performance from shot to shot. Robot testing proves impact even two to three grooves higher in the face can cause distance loss of up to 35 to 55 feet with modern ‘tour design’ wedges.

In addition, as impact moves above the center of mass, the golf club principle of gear effect causes the ball to fly higher with less spin. Think of modern drivers for a minute. The “holy grail” of driving is high launch and low spin, and the driver engineers are pulling out all stops to get the mass as low in the clubhead as possible to optimize this combination.

Where is all the mass in your wedges? Low. So, disregarding the higher lofts, wedges “want” to launch the ball high with low spin – exactly the opposite of what good wedge play requires penetrating ball flight with high spin.

While almost all major brand wedges have begun putting a tiny bit more thickness in the top portion of the clubhead, conventional and modern ‘tour design’ wedges perform pretty much like they always have. Elite players learn to hit those crisp, spinny penetrating wedge shots by spending lots of practice time learning to consistently make contact low in the face.

So, what about grooves and face texture?

Grooves on any club can only do so much, and no one has any material advantage here. The USGA tightly defines what we manufacturers can do with grooves and face texture, and modern manufacturing techniques allow all of us to push those limits ever closer. And we all do. End of story.

Then there’s the topic of bounce and grinds, the most complex and confusing part of the wedge formula. Many top brands offer a complex array of sole configurations, all of them admittedly specialized to a particular kind of lie or turf conditions, and/or a particular divot pattern.

But if you don’t play the same turf all the time, and make the same size divot on every swing, how would you ever figure this out?

The only way is to take any wedge you are considering and play it a few rounds, hitting all the shots you face and observing the results. There’s simply no other way.

So, hopefully this will inspire a lively conversation in our comments section, and I’ll chime in to answer any questions you might have.

And next week, I’ll dive into the rest of the wedge formula. Yes, shafts, grips and specifications are essential, too.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Amazing Session with Performance Coach Savannah Meyer-Clement

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In this week’s episode, we spent some time with performance coach Savannah Meyer-Clement who provides many useful insights that you’ll be able to implement on the golf course.

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19th Hole

Vincenzi’s 2024 RBC Heritage betting preview: Patrick Cantlay ready to get back inside winner’s circle

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Just a two-hour drive from Augusta National, the PGA TOUR heads to Harbour Town Golf Links in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Hilton Head Island is a golfer’s paradise and Harbour Town is one of the most beautiful and scenic courses on the PGA TOUR.

Harbour Town Golf Links is a par-71 that measures 7,121 yards and features Bermuda grass greens. A Pete Dye design, the course is heavily tree lined and features small greens and many dog legs, protecting it from “bomb-and-gauge” type golfers.

The field is loaded this week with 69 golfers with no cut. Last year was quite possibly the best field in RBC Heritage history and the event this week is yet another designated event, meaning there is a $20 million prize pool.

Most of the big names on the PGA Tour will be in attendance this week with the exceptions of Hideki Matsuyama and Viktor Hovland. Additionally, Webb Simpson, Shane Lowry, Gary Woodland and Kevin Kisner have been granted sponsors exemptions. 

Past Winners at Harbour Town

  • 2023: Matt Fitzpatrick (-17)
  • 2022: Jordan Spieth (-13)
  • 2021: Stewart Cink (-19)
  • 2020: Webb Simpson (-22)
  • 2019: CT Pan (-12)
  • 2018: Sotoshi Kodaira (-12)
  • 2017: Wesley Bryan (-13)
  • 2016: Branden Grace (-9)
  • 2015: Jim Furyk (-18)

In this article and going forward, I’ll be using the Rabbit Hole by Betsperts Golf data engine to develop my custom model. If you want to build your own model or check out all of the detailed stats, you can sign up using promo code: MATTVIN for 25% off any subscription package (yearly is best value).

Key Stats For Harbour Town

Let’s take a look at key metrics for Harbour Town Golf Links to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their past 24 rounds.

Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes Gained: Approach is exceedingly important this week. The greens at Harbour Town are about half the size of PGA TOUR average and feature the second-smallest greens on the tour. Typical of a Pete Dye design, golfers will pay the price for missed greens.

Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Scottie Scheffler (+1.27)
  2. Tom Hoge (+1.27)
  3. Corey Conners (+1.16)
  4. Austin Eckroat (+0.95)
  5. Cameron Young (+0.93)

Good Drive %

The fairways at Harbour Town are tree lined and feature many dog legs. Bombers tend to struggle at the course because it forces layups and doesn’t allow long drivers to overpower it. Accuracy is far more important than power.

Good Drive % Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Brice Garnett (88.8%)
  2. Shane Lowry (+87.2%)
  3. Akshay Bhatia (+86.0%)
  4. Si Woo Kim (+85.8%)
  5. Sepp Straka (+85.1%)

Strokes Gained: Total at Pete Dye Designs

Pete Dye specialists tend to play very well at Harbour Town. Si Woo Kim, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Webb Simpson are all Pete Dye specialists who have had great success here. It is likely we see some more specialists near the top of the leaderboard this week.

SG: TOT Pete Dye per round over past 36 rounds:

  1. Xander Schauffele (+2.27)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+2.24)
  3. Ludvig Aberg (+2.11)
  4. Brian Harman (+1.89)
  5. Sungjae Im (+1.58)

4. Strokes Gained: Short Game (Bermuda)

Strokes Gained: Short Game factors in both around the green and putting. With many green-side bunkers and tricky green complexes, both statistics will be important. Past winners — such as Jim Furyk, Wes Bryan and Webb Simpson — highlight how crucial the short game skill set is around Harbour Town.

SG: SG Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Jordan Spieth (+1.11)
  2. Taylor Moore (+1.02)
  3. Wyndham Clark (+0.98)
  4. Mackenzie Hughes (+0.86)
  5. Andrew Putnam (+0.83)

5. Greens in Regulation %

The recipe for success at Harbour Town Golf Links is hitting fairways and greens. Missing either will prove to be consequential — golfers must be in total control of the ball to win.

Greens in Regulation % over past 24 rounds:

  1. Brice Garnett (+75.0%)
  2. Scottie Scheffler (+69.9%)
  3. Corey Conners (+69.0%)
  4. Shane Lowry (+68.3%)
  5. Patrick Rodgers (+67.6%)

6. Course History

Harbour Town is a course where players who have strong past results at the course always tend to pop up. 

Course History over past 24 rounds:

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+2.34)
  2. Cam Davis (+2.05)
  3. J.T. Poston (+1.69)
  4. Justin Rose (+1.68)
  5. Tommy Fleetwood (+1.59)

The RBC Heritage Model Rankings

Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (24%), Good Drives (20%), SG: SG (14%), SG: Pete Dye (14%), GIR (14%), and Course History (14%)

  1. Shane Lowry
  2. Russell Henley
  3. Scottie Scheffler
  4. Xander Schauffele
  5. Corey Conners 
  6. Wyndham Clark
  7. Christiaan Bezuidenhout
  8. Matt Fitzpatrick
  9. Cameron Young
  10. Ludvig Aberg 

2024 RBC Heritage Picks

Patrick Cantlay +2000 (FanDuel)

With the exception of Scottie Scheffler, the PGA Tour has yet to have any of their star players show peak form during the 2024 season. Last week, Patrick Cantlay, who I believe is a top-5 players on the PGA Tour, took one step closer to regaining the form that’s helped him win eight events on Tour since 2017.

Cantlay limped into the Masters in poor form, but figured it out at Augusta National, finishing in a tie for 20th and ranking 17th for the week in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. The former FedEx Cup champion will now head to one of his favorite golf courses in Harbour Town, where he’s had immaculate results over the years. In his six trips to the course, he’s only finished worse than 7th one time. The other finishes include three third places (2017, 2019, 2023) and one runner-up finish (2022). In his past 36 rounds at Harbour Town, Cantlay ranks 1st in Strokes Gained: Total per round at the course by a wide margin (+2.36).

Cantlay is winless since the 2022 BMW Championship, which is far too long for a player of his caliber. With signs pointing to the 32-year-old returning to form, a “signature event” at Harbour Town is just what he needs to get back on the winning track.

Tommy Fleetwood +3000 (FanDuel)

I truly believe Tommy Fleetwood will figure out a way to win on American soil in 2024. It’s certainly been a bugaboo for him throughout his career, but he is simply too talented to go another season without winning a PGA Tour event.

At last week’s Masters Tournament, Fleetwood made a Sunday charge and ended up finishing T3 in the event, which was his best ever finish at The Masters. For the week, the Englishman ranked 8th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, 10th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and 16th in Strokes Gained: Putting.

Harbour Town is a perfect layout for Fleetwood, and he’s had relative success at this Pete Dye design in the past.  In his four trips to the course, he’s finished inside of the top 25 three times, with his best finish, T10, coming in 2022. The course is pretty short and can’t be overpowered, which gives an advantage to more accurate players such as Fleetwood. Tommy ranks 8th in the field in Good Drive % and should be able to plot his way along this golf course.

The win is coming for Tommy lad. I believe there’s a chance this treasure of a golf course may be the perfect one for him to finally break through on Tour.

Cameron Young +3300 (FanDuel)

Cameron Young had a solid Masters Tournament last week, which is exactly what I’m looking for in players who I anticipate playing well this week at the RBC Heritage. He finished in a tie for 9th, but never felt the pressure of contending in the event. For the week, Young ranked 6th in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and 6th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Despite being one of the longest players off the tee on the PGA Tour, Young has actually played some really good golf on shorter tracks. He finished T3 at Harbour Town in 2023 and ranks 20th in the field in Good Drive% and 16th in Greens in Regulation in his past 24 rounds. He also has strong finishes at other shorter courses that can take driver out of a players hand such as Copperhead and PGA National.

Young is simply one of the best players on the PGA Tour in 2024, and I strongly believe has what it takes to win a PGA Tour event in the very near future.

Corey Conners +5500 (FanDuel)

Corey Conners has had a disappointing year thus far on the PGA Tour, but absolutely loves Harbour Town.

At last week’s Masters Tournament, the Canadian finished T30 but ranked 20th in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach. In his past 24 rounds, Conners ranks 3rd in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, 3rd in Greens in Regulation % and 24th in Good Drive %.

In Conners’ last four trips to Harbour Town, his worst finish was T31, last season. He finished T4 in 2021, T12 in 2022 and ranks 8th in Strokes Gained: Total at the course over his past 36 rounds.

Conners hasn’t been contending, but his recent finishes have been encouraging as he has finished in the top-25 in each of his past three starts prior to The Masters, including an impressive T13 at The PLAYERS. His recent improvement in ball striking as well as his suitability for Harbour Town makes Conners a high upside bet this week.

Shane Lowry (+7500) (FanDuel)

When these odds were posted after Lowry was announced in the field, I have to admit I was pretty stunned. Despite not offering much win equity on the PGA Tour over the last handful of years, Shane Lowry is still a top caliber player who has the ability to rise to the top of a signature event.

Lowry struggled to score at The Masters last week, but he actually hit the ball really well. The Irishman ranked 1st for Strokes Gained: Approach on the week and 7th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking. As usual, it was the putter that let him down, as he ranked 60th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting.

Harbour Town is most definitely one of Lowry’s favorite courses on the PGA Tour. In his six starts there, he’s finished in the top 10 three times, including third twice. Lowry is sensational at Pete Dye designs and ranks 7th in Strokes Gained: Total in his past 36 rounds on Dye tracks. 

Lowry is perfect for Harbour Town. In his past 24 rounds, he ranks 5th in Strokes Gained: Approach, 2nd in Good Drive% and 5th in Green in Regulation %. If he figures it out on the greens, Shane could have his first win in America since 2015.

Lucas Glover +12000 (FanDuel)

This is one of my weekly “bet the number” plays as I strongly believe the odds are just too long for a player of Glover’s caliber. The odds have been too long on Glover for a few weeks now, but this is the first event that I can get behind the veteran being able to actually contend at. 

Glover is quietly playing good golf and returning to the form he had after the understandable regression after his two massive victories at the end of 2023. He finished T20 at The Masters, which was his best ever finish at Augusta National. For the week, Lucas ranked 18th for Strokes Gained: Approach and 20th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking.

Over his past 24 rounds, Glover ranks 9th in Strokes Gained: Approach and 13th in Good Drive %. Harbour Town is a short course that the 44-year-old will be able to keep up with the top players on Tour off the tee. He’s played the course more than 20 times, with mixed results. His best finishes at Harbour Town include a T7 in 2008, but recently has a finish of T21 in 2020.

Glover has proven he can contend with the stars of the Tour on any given week, and this number is flat out disrespectful.

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