Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Risk and Reward - The Open Championship

The Open, like all majors, features an incredibly deep field. So deep, in fact, that I considered extending my Power Rankings to 20 places for this week. That said, finding which player to avoid in a field of extremely capable players might prove more challenging as they each have the ability to make the cut. Rather that separating the wheat from the chaff, I'll be trying to parse the top-quality grain from the middle-grade.




My Power Rankings and Movers and Losers draw on statistics only, while Risk and Reward draws more on gut feel and intuition about players who missed my Top 15. In this column, you'll find "Lay-Up", "Going For It", and "Hazard". Look for more subjective analysis here, as opposed to the Power Rankings, where I rely strictly on data. Lay-Up may contain players who, barring a Great Flood, will bank you some points. Going For It is where I'll have players that may have missed the Power Rankings or who I feel present an excellent opportunity to pick up a win. Lastly, Hazards, where I often find myself on any given Sunday, should be avoided. I'll be adding each player's Total Aggregate and change since last tournament going forward.

Lay-Up

Sergio Garcia - TA: 33.92, CHG: +2.8 - Simply too good not to include here. His recent play and overall good history at The Open makes him a solid choice. My concern is with his Par-5 scoring, where he ranks 161st, on a course where Par-5 play will play a significant factor. To his defense, he rankings 7th in both Par-3 and Par-4 scoring.

Ryan Moore - TA: 34.83, CHG: +3.8 - He's got a Top-5 and a Top-10 in his last two starts and with a T28 and T32 in his last two Open starts, its hard to believe he'll crash and burn. Not the longest guy out there, but he's in the Top-15 in fairways hit and GIR. 

Going-For-It

Zach Johnson - TA: 45.92, CHG: +4.8 - Made a fool out of me last week with a second place finish at the John Deere Classic. Whether he's returning to form or just so good at TPC Deere Run is something I haven't been able to answer for myself. The fact of the matter is, he was T6 at the Open last year and T9 the year prior, and with no real statistical weaknesses aside from a short driver, it really just depends on whether he's out of his funk.

Phil Mickelson - TA: 41.58, CHG: +14.4 - Significantly more of a wild card than he was at this time last year. He's still holding zero Top-10s this year, though he's collected a few Top-15s, he doesn't seem on top of his game like he was at this time last year. Still, he won last year, something even he thought wasn't possible, so defending isn't out of the question. 

Jimmy Walker - TA: 43.67, CHG: 0 - Hard to believe that the FedEx points leader is somewhat of a risky choice, but his missed cut at The Greenbrier, when he was a clear favorite, and his abysmal driving accuracy at a course that will feature some fairly penal rough, have me worried. Add that together with a missed cut at last years Open, and there's no certainty of anything here.

Justin Rose - TA: 37, CHG: +1.4 - A classic case of "something's gotta give". He's won two in a row, and has been on a tear since The Masters (missed cut at The Memorial notwithstanding), but he's performed terribly at The Open since a T12 way back in 2007. His best finish since has been 62nd, with four missed cuts and a 70th to go with them. 

Hazards

Kevin Streelman - TA: 81.75, CHG: 0 - His win looks as fluke-ish as seven birdies in a row might suggest after missing the cut for the fifth time in six starts the next tournament. T79 last year and a missed cut in his only other appearance don't inspire the confidence to make him a pick.

Chesson Hadley - TA: 82.6, CHG: 0 - He's still trying to shake off the hangover from his first win. Cut five times in his last six starts, he's been slumping hard. With this being his first trip across the pond, there's nothing to go off of here.

Tiger Woods - TA: N/A, CHG: N/A - There's not enough current data for ranking, but until we know whether we've got a Tiger or a house cat, keep him benched.


My Picks

PGA Tour
  • Henrik Stenson
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Hideki Matsuyama
Yahoo!
  • Henrik Stenson (S), Matt Kuchar
  • Dustin Johnson (S), Hideki Matsuyama (S), Jordan Spieth, Martin Kaymer
  • Sergio Garcia (S), Miguel Angel Jimenez
Golf Channel
  • Henrik Stenson
  • Dustin Johnson
  • Billy Horschel
  • Shawn Stefani

Kyle Donovan

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