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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier

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A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier (previously known as “The Greenbrier Classic”) is the next stop on the PGA Tour, where the familiar Old White TPC will once again play host to the event in West Virginia. Changes were made to the course after severe flooding damaged the Old White TPC two years ago, which resulted in the cancellation of the event that year. As we saw in 2017, there was very little difference in the way the course played, and it’s still a track where you can expect to see plenty of birdies.

The course measures over 7,200 yards, but due to the altitude, the course plays significantly shorter. Players will often attack the course from the very first shot as the wide fairways result in the attitude being “bombs away” off the tee. As always with par-70 golf courses, par-4 scoring will be necessary, as will Birdie-or-Better Percentage with the winning score usually in the mid-teens at this event. Last year, Xander Schauffele earned his first PGA Tour at The Greenbrier, posting 14-under par to take the title by one stroke over Robert Streb.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Tony Finau 12/1
  • Bubba Watson 16/1
  • Phil Mickelson 16/1
  • Webb Simpson 16/1
  • Russell Henley 20/1
  • Xander Schauffele 22/1
  • Joaquin Niemann 28/1

The big names of Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson are sure to garner a lot of attention this week, but Russell Henley (20/1, DK Price $10,400) has both the current form and course history to upset the two big names this week. Henley has been picking up momentum lately and has made his last four cuts on Tour, the last of which saw him finish T6 at the Travelers Championship. Over his last 12 rounds, he sits 10th in Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, 19th for Ball Striking and third for Strokes Gained-Total. His short game has been very steady, too, and he ranks 31st for Strokes Gained-Short Game over the same stretch.

Ultimately, this is a week where you will have to chase birdies, and this is where I like Henley’s chances this week. Over his last 12 rounds, Henley sits sixth in this field for Birdie-or-Better Percentage and eighth in the field for Strokes Gained on Par 4’s over his previous eight rounds. Henley also sits first in the field for Bogey Avoidance in his last three events, which is always a positive. He has a high price tag, but considering that he has already proved how much he loves Old White TPC in the past with two consecutive top-5 finishes here, Henley looks sure to feature again in West Virginia.

He’s made 12 out of 14 cuts this year, but there’s a sense that 2018 has been a very frustrating year thus far for Keegan Bradley (55/1, DK Price $8,500). The American has just two top-20 finishes despite hitting the ball as well as anyone in 2018. But this is a week where Bradley can make hay, as his ball striking is currently peaking. In his last three events, Bradley has gained an impressive 16.8 strokes for his approach play, and over his previous 24 rounds, he ranks first for Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, 10th for Ball Striking and 23rd for Strokes Gained-Total.

His putting continues to hurt him, but his long game is in such good shape that even disastrous putting is not preventing him from missing cuts. Bradley needs one half-decent week on the greens to be in contention. He has never missed the cut at The Old White TPC, with a best finish of T4 back in 2014. For DraftKings lineups, Bradley is as solid a choice as any with the average-priced salary and the excellent efficiency he has displayed at making cuts this year.

A man that looks severely undervalued this week is C.T. Pan (80/1, DK Price $7,300), who will cost just $7,300 here. Pan has made six of his last seven cuts on Tour, and he’s also been taking advantage of playing the weekend at these events. In three of his previous four starts, Pan has finished inside the top-20, and his game is currently trending in the right direction. Pan sits in the top third of this field in all significant Strokes Gained categories over his last 12 rounds and is ranked 16th for Strokes Gained-Total in the same period. Pan ranks seventh over his previous 12 rounds for Birdie Percentage and looks to offer tremendous value this week at a reasonable price tag.

Recommended Plays

  • Russell Henley 20/1, DK Price $10,400
  • Keegan Bradley 55/1, DK Price $8,500
  • C.T. Pan 80/1, DK Price $7,300
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Gianni is the Assistant Editor at GolfWRX. He can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @giannimosquito

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Roger D.

    Jul 5, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    2,000 feet above sea level? What elevation? Hays, Kansas is the same elevation.

  2. Jamie

    Jul 5, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    That’s the name of the tournament now? Honestly? A tribute to banker/politician cannon fodder?

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Setting goals…and achieving them

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Well, here we are, diving right into the new year of 2022 and seeing where this crazy world is going to take us now. I think we will all admit that the past two years have been a bit crazy, with the arrival of COVID changing everything in ways we would never have imagined at this time two years ago. Regardless of your personal thoughts, ideals and emotions about how it has been handled, it’s been crazy, right?

But that’s not what this column is all about. Today I want to offer some thoughts on how to set your own goals for your own golf this year, and then some ideas on how to make those goals a reality.

If your golf – and getting better at it – is important to you, there is no time like right now to decide what you want to do to achieve that objective. Are you willing to spend the time and energy to work on major swing improvements? Or do you just want to try to score better with a minimal amount of time and energy you have for practice and work?

Are you living where you can still get out to the range or course frequently? Or are you stuck inside for another few months until Spring begins to show? Do you have the desire to invest in instructional assistance, or do you pretty much want to do it yourself?

All these are important questions to answer as you decide your goals for 2022. For today, I’m going to address three ways I believe any golfer can improve their scoring measurably in 2022, regardless of how you might answer these questions I’ve posed. You can decide which of these would have the most impact you your golf as you kick off 2022.

IMPROVE YOUR PUTTING

Regardless of your handicap, a great percentage of your shots are taken with that one club. So, if there is any one part of your game that should get the most attention and work, it should be your putting. Begin by analyzing your own putting performance. Do you three-putt too often? If so, is that because your lag putting distance control is off, or your make percentage of short putts is not as good as it could be? Or do you just not convert enough 5-15 footers?

Putter fitting has become much more advanced these days and is usually worth the investment. You might find that the putter itself is ill-suited to your personal tendencies in the stroke and alignment.
If your mechanics are not reliable, an investment in a good putting mat and a few hours a week will offer huge returns, both in short putts made and improving your conversion of more of those 5-15 footers.

HONE YOUR SHORT GAME

Next to putting, you are likely taking more shots inside 50 yards than anywhere else. Even if you are a GIR machine (and few golfers are), those missed greens are what run up your scores. I see so many recreational golfers who just do not have a sound and repeatable technique around the greens, and that costs them with chunks and skulls that run up scores quickly.

I cannot “teach” the short game here, but there are so many good YouTube videos and books/tapes on the subject, you have no excuse to have a poor technique around the greens. Spend some time studying and learning, and practicing in your basement, den or office. It’s a short swing that anyone can execute – but it takes work. And that work will pay huge dividends.

SHARPEN YOUR MENTAL GAME

Regardless of handicap, I believe many bad shots are ‘pre-ordained’ by a poor mental approach. Many golfers do not get their mind right about what exactly they want to do with any given shot. And very few have a set pre-shot routine that gets their mind right so their body can execute the shot. On the course, it is unproductive to try to process swing thoughts; or at least more than one simple one.

When you are facing a shot, you should have a clear picture of what you want the ball to do and a clear mind to get out of your body’s way of trying to execute that vision. The great book and movie “Golf’s Sacred Journey”, but Dr. David Cook, nails it – “See it. Feel it. Trust it.”

I feel certain that one of these three areas of attention can help nearly every one of you improve your golf in 2022. And I hope to be able to offer you more insight and guidance in that endeavor as I write each week. Let me know if you have subjects you would like me to address, OK?

Let’s do this together.

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Review of Fujikura’s Ventus Blue TR shaft and new Cobra LTDx drivers

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Fujikura has a new Ventus TR shaft out and it seems to fit right in between the Ventus Blue and Ventus Black. A Slightly stiffer profile and handle section seem to make a tighter and more stable shaft. Cobra has 3 new drivers out for 2022 and I think they are going to do very well. Great ball speed and stability on mishits keep the ball in play.

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Opinion & Analysis

2022 American Express: Best prop bets

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Alongside Matt Vincenzi’s chief betting article, here I breakdown this week’s best side bets for the American Express.

 2022 American Express best props

Lucas Glover Top-20 +400

The 2009 U.S open winner has certainly has had his trials and tribulations both on and off the course, but he looked in good shape when finishing in fifth place at the Sony last week and can put up a similar display this week.

When winning the John Deere last year, the 42-year-old broke a 10-year losing streak, and came via a closing best-of-the-day 64 and a tournament ranking of 3rd and 4th for strokes-gained-approach and tee-to-green.

Nothing much changes for Glover in that regard, and it was good to see him return to that standard of play at Waialae when leading the approach stats and ranking second in tee to the short stuff. That he was 30th off-the-tee gives a further boost to his iron game at present and he showed last year that he can keep the game going when finding form – T21/T0/T21/T23 – through the Charles Schwab, RBC Heritage, Travelers and Rocket Mortgage, at least two of those courses with a correlation to this week’s test.

A couple of top-six finishes at The Players show a further liking for Pete Dye designs, and whilst he will never win the prize for best putter, 2016 winner Jason Dufner showed that a solid tee-to-green game can keep you in contention, whilst they both have form at Colonial and at Sawgrass.

Glover’s first four starts here yielded two top-20 and one top-30 finish, whilst I’ll ignore the two recent missed-cuts given they were his first outing of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

The vast majority of winners have played at least two recent competitive rounds before coming to the American Express (and its various guises) and Glover can take encouragement from the vast progress made when down the field at Maui.

Russell Knox Top 20/Top 40 +300 +130

The Scotsman is another that fits with the Dufner/Glover/Henley genre of player.

With an always impressive iron game, it is always encouraging to see players rank highly in approach and greens-in-regulation even if finishing lower than their overall game warranted.

Take, for example, 2021 finishes of 40th and 58th at the RSM and Fortinet. At both, he ranked top-10 for finding the short stuff and continued that form with the irons at last week’s Sony Open, where he ranked 4th for greens, 10th in approach and 8th for overall tee-to-green.

One swallow doth not make a Summer and all that, but he ranked 7th in putting average and inside the top-30 for strokes-gained-putting, a figure that will certainly help him gain his fourth consecutive top-40 here in as many starts.

Alongside finishes of 29th and 37th at this event Knox can also boast a couple of top-20 finishes, the latest 16th a figure that should have been better given a final round 73, he has a win at the Pete Dye River Highlands, and high finishes at Colonial, Harbour Town and Scottsdale.

After a 12-birdie weekend, he comes here in the form that makes me believe anything better than field average on the greens will land the bet.

Luke List Top 10/Top 20 +550/+250

It’s a trio of excellent tee-to-green players this week, and whilst here is another player that often lets himself down with the putter, the case for him to do well is strong enough to make him my play of the week.

Start with his current form, which reads 7th at the Zozo, 11th at Houston and 10th at the Sea Island course. We don’t have full stats for the first-named, but, at the other two, the 37-year-old has ranked top four off-the-tee, and 12th and 17th for approaches, figures that combine to give a ranking of top-four at both for tee-to-green. Also worth noting is that, at both, Luke was inside the top-10 going into Sunday.

That isn’t unusual for the former U.S Amateur runner-up, and once again, it has been the short stick that has let him down. However, rather like the two players above, List should only need to be field average in putting to put up a good show at a course at which he has a best finish of 6th in 2016 and a 21st last year, when a final round 72 saw him fall from an overnight 13th.

List also carries some of the most guarded Pete Dye form, his last win in 2020 being at TPC Sawgrass at Dye’s Valley Course, whilst in 2012 he won his first Korn Ferry event at the South Georgia Classic.

That event was held, until 2014, at Kinderlou Forest on a course designed by Davis Love III, a player that thrived on Dye courses, winning The Players on two occasions and at Harbour Town a total of five times.

Take a deeper dive into a few of the top two finishers at the Georgia track and Brian Stuard, Will Wilcox, Blayne Barber and runner-up Alex Prugh all have form at one or two of either The Heritage, Pheonix, Sawgrass, River Highlands and here at the Bob Hope, as it once was.

In an event that has seen many shocks, and that might be subject to the weather as they rotate around the three courses, I’m happy to be with a player with far more current positives than many at a shorter price.

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