U.S. Open at Chambers Bay
By: John Heffelfinger
The U.S. Open is always a fun tournament to watch and an can be unpredictable with the course moving each year. This year should be no exception as it is being held at Chambers Bay golf course in Washington. It has never hosted a U.S. Open before, and a lot of players have never or hardly played the course. From what I hear, it is a European style course mixed with the U.S. Open. There isn’t a ton of water or trees like a European Course, but it has the long rough which is what you expect out at the U.S. Open. Driving the ball accurately is going to be important, or you better be a good scrambler otherwise you might find yourself in some trouble. Also as always guys who can knock down putts are valuable in any tournament.
Jordan Speith – I think this is my 4th golf article and I am pretty sure that I have picked Spieth every single time. If I am spending big time money though, I don’t know how you don’t pick him. He has made 14 of 16 cuts, he has 12 top 25 finishes, 9 top 10 finishes, 3 2nd place finishes, and 2 wins. I mean if you are looking for consistency that is the perfect example. He’s coming off of a Masters win, and with all of the top guys back this weekend, it seems like the perfect spot for him. Now let’s get to some stats that make me love Spieth this weekend. Driving isn’t necessarily his forte as he is 69th in driving distance (291.1 Yards), and 72nd in driving accuracy (62.63% of fairways). However, he does basically everything else well which makes him such a good play. From tee to green he has gained 1.615 strokes per round which is 3rd best on the tour, he has gained .501 strokes per round putting which is 19th on the tour, so he has gained the 2nd most shots on the tour this year with his game. He’s 1st in scoring per round at 69.124 strokes per round and averages about 4.46 birdies per round as well which is 4th on the tour. He is also ranked as the 8th best scrambler at 65.26% of the time he saves par or better. Finally, he averages 27.55 putts per round which is the best on the tour, and he one putts 44.44% of the time which is 3rd on the tour. He hits some amazing approach shots, and can really putt the ball which more than makes up for the driving. He has been playing better than Rory this year, and think he is a much safer and better pick than him this weekend in my opinion.
Phil Mickelson – Apart from being my favorite player, Mickelson I believe is a great GPP pick this weekend because he won’t be as highly owned as the other big guys, and if he is on his game, he could definitely win. Mickelson has missed 1 U.S. Open cut in the last 22 years which is pretty incredible with how many different courses it has been held at. He has 6 runner ups, 2 4th places, 1 7th place, and 1 10th place. He is well known for his chokes at this tournament, but he has 5 majors now, and when he is on his game, he is just as good as Rory or Spieth are. He definitely has not played his best golf this year only making 9 of 12 cuts with 6 top 25’s 3 top 10’s, and 1 2nd place finish. He is probably a bit overpriced based on results, but Phil is one of those guys who always turns it on at the majors, and with a 65 to end the St. Jude tournament, he may have found his stroke just in time. Alright some stats that make me like Mr. Mickelson this weekend. First is that Phil is a genius in the sand and is 7th on the tour in sand saves. This course has more bunkers than water, so this is going to be very important to success this weekend. He is 7th on the tour with 4.31 birdies per round which isn’t all that surprising because we all know that Phil is aggressive and will attack any flag stick even if trouble awaits. We also know that Phil struggles to keep the ball in the fairway off the tee (57% fairways hit which is 135th), but he is 28th in driving distance so that makes up for some of that. Lastly as long as he isn’t lipping out 5 footers he is a great putter. He averages 27.95 putts per round which is 7th on the tour and is 9th in one putt percentage at 43.78%. Phil always makes me nervous, but he always plays some of his best golf at the U.S. open, and with making 21 of the last 22 cuts at the U.S. Open I’m not going to worry too much.
Webb Simpson – If it wasn’t for a disastrous back 9 last weekend he would have made the cut and who knows what he would have done on the weekend. He has still made 10 of 12 cuts so far this year with 6 top 25 finishes, 4 top 10 finishes, and 1 runner up. Now I like guys that are playing good golf coming into this, but hopefully he got the rust out of him last weekend and is ready to go now. He is a former U.S. Open champion winning in 2012 at the Olympic Club course in San Francisco. It’s nice having guys who have done it before because they can shake off the nerves much easier than someone atop the leaderboard for the first time. It’s odd because I thought of Webb to be a pretty good putter, but he has lost .461 putts per round this year which is 176th on the tour. Other than this, he has been pretty solid overall. He gains about 1.528 strokes tee to green per round which is 7th on the tour and overall he gains the 17th most shots per round even with his poor putting. He is 34th in driving % hitting 66.61% of fairways which should really pay dividends this weekend with the long rough looming for those who are inaccurate. He is also a good sand saver doing so 62.96% of the time which will also be very important. Finally, he is 18th in scoring average at 70.223 strokes per round, so that 75 he shot on Friday weekend is not the norm. Webb was one of the most expensive guys last weekend and now he is right in the middle of the pack so he should prove to be a great value play.
Ian Poulter – Poulter is one of a couple guys that I am still trying to figure out why they are as cheap as they are. He has made 10 of 11 cuts this year, with 8 top 25’s, 4 top 10’s, and 1 3rd place finish. What really makes me like Poulter are the rumors that this plays like a European links course. He has plenty of experience on those kinds of courses and it would really pay off this weekend. He has also made 9 cuts in a row including a 5th place finish in the Crowne Plaza invitational which was the last event he played in. He is ranked as the 24th player in the world, and this weekend he is priced way below that which instantly makes him a good value play. Now we get to the stats that I believe make him a great play this weekend. He is 53rd in driving accuracy at 64.32% of fairways off the tee which is above average. He gains .514 strokes putting per round which is 17th and gains .548 strokes from tee to green which is 45th on the tour. He averages 69.333 strokes per round which is 7th on the tour, and gets 4.02 birdies per round which is 23rd overall. He makes sand saves at 58.23% of the time which is 34th on the tour which is simply another great attribute to have. He averages 28.45 putts per round which is 40th overall, but he is 8th is overall putting average at 1.544 per hole. Poulter does a lot of things well which really makes me wonder why he is so cheap, but I will gladly take it although he is going to be highly owned.
Kevin Na – This might be my favorite pick of the weekend, and like Poulter, I am still trying to figure out how Mr. Na is so incredibly cheap. He has made 14 of 16 cuts this year, with 10 top 25 finishes, 6 top 10 finishes, and 1 2nd place finish. For the price, this is as consistent as you can get over the course of a year, and he is ranked 22nd in the world as is priced way below that just like Poulter. A lot of the same stats keep repeating themselves but they are ones I like to look at. Na has gained 1.005 strokes from tee to green this year which is 15th on the tour, he is 16th in scoring average at 70.184 strokes per round, and averages 4.08 birdies per round which is 18th on the tour. He is 5th on the tour in sand saves doing so 65.59% of the time. Na, like most of the other people I have picked so far, is a very good putter as well. He averages 28.05 putts per round which is 11th on the tour and is 11th overall in one putt % at 43.50. Na will likely be the most owned player this weekend due to his absurdly low price, but even if only 50% of the people pick him, he has a great chance to do well and be a guy that you have to pick.
Brendan Todd – Na and Todd might not be punts so to say, but you can still build a great team if these are going to be your two cheapest guys. Todd has made 13 of 16 cuts this year with 7 top 25’s and 3 top 10’s. He was having a great Memorial tournament a couple weeks ago until he shot a 74 in the final round. He still ended up 17th which was his best finish in quite a while, so I think that he is playing some good golf coming into the weekend. There are a lot of stats that I like about him as well this weekend that makes him a great play. He is 7th is driving accuracy at 70.60% of fairways hit off the tee which is awesome. He is 38th is strokes gained from tee to green at .578 strokes per round, as well as 24th in strokes gained via putting with .482 strokes gained per round. He is the best sand saver on the tour at 67.35%, which as you can tell, I have picked guys who can hit out of the bunker. He is the 3rd best scrambler from the rough making par or better 69.91% of the time which makes for a great combo with that great driving accuracy. Finally he averages 28.51 putts per round which is 45th on tour, but he one putts 42.56% of the time which is 27th on the tour. All in all I really like this set of 6 people, and even if you only use one or two look for them to have good tournaments.
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