Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Risk and Reward - PGA Championship

This week's field at the PGA Championship is expected to be the year's strongest, with 99 of the world's top 100 expected to play. With so many excellent players, it is inevitable that I missed some on my power rankings and that there are some that should simply be avoided. With it's multi-tiered greens, Valhalla places an emphasis on putting and approach placement. Expect solid putters and ball-strikers to perform well over pure bombers, such as Gary Woodland.


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.

Lay-Ups

Matt Kuchar - TA: 29, CHG: +0.6 - Kuchar is essentially the first alternate to my Power Rankings, where he ranked 16th. His 12th place finish at the Bridgestone came on the heels of a T4 at the RBC Canadian Open. While he struggled some what before hand, failing to log a Top-10 in five tournament effort, that appears to be over. At 10th in strokes-gained putting, 20th in GIR, and 44th in Proximity to the Hole, he should do well.

Charl Schwartzel - TA: 40.25, CHG: +19.2 - He's been on a roller coaster over his last six starts worldwide, seemingly only factoring every other tournament. He's got three Top-10s, each of which follows a weak performance at the at the tournament prior. If you believe that trend, then this week is an off week for him, but statistical oddities like that have a habit of breaking just when you think you have them pinned down. 

Going-For-It

Graham DeLaet - TA: 62, CHG: 0 - Withdrew from the WGC-Bridgestone with the flu, so he's not injured, but he's been a wild card for the last several tournaments. The Canadian is 3rd in GIR, 4th in Total Driving, 5th in Proximity to the Hole, and ranks 1st in overall ball-striking. Trouble is, he can't putt, where he ranks 119th in strokes-gained putting. He can easily win if his flat stick gets hot, but just as easily MC if it stays cold.

Jimmy Walker - TA: 43.75, CHG: -3.2 - The Fed-Ex Cup leader has been essentially a non factor since missing the cut at The Greenbrier, with two 26th place finishes in his last two starts. Statistically, however, he could do well, at 7th in strokes-gained putting and 29th in GIR. At 188th in driving accuracy, he misses a lot of fairways, but Valhalla should be nearly as troublesome as Firestone for him. 

Martin Kaymer - TA: 50.92, CHG: -8.8 - Kaymer stated he was dealing with a shoulder injury after closing out The Open with a 79. That injury appeared to follow him to Ohio where he placed 56th. If he's feeling better, he'll show up for the big stage, although he's yet to pull a Top-10 outside of his two victories as well. With him, it's either win or go home empty handed, at least for the moment.

Hazards

Tiger Woods - TA: 64.83, CHG: 0 - It looks like my promotion to "Going-For-It" was premature. If he plays, he'll probably be a non-factor, outside of some sort of sports miracle. Save the pick for someone who'll likely finish the round.

Jason Dufner - TA: 58.33, CHG: -12.8 - With two bulging discs in his neck, it's likely that Dufner is only playing for two reasons, to defend and to try to lock up a Ryder Cup spot. The injury is clearly having an effect on his playing abilities, as he missed the cut at the U.S. Open, where he says the injury began, and hasn't played very well since.

Jason Kokrak - TA: 61, CHG: 0 - I'm excited to see him back, as he was poised for a breakout season at the beginning of the year, but this is his first tournament back after being out for surgery on a sports hernia. Expect rust and a missed cut here.

My Picks

PGA Tour

  • Rory McIlroy
  • Keegan Bradley
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Rickie Fowler
Yahoo!
  • Rickie Fowler (S), Marc Leishman
  • Keegan Bradley (S), Rory McIlroy (S), Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose
  • Charl Schwartzel (S), Sergio Garcia
Golf Channel
  • Rory McIlroy
  • Keegan Bradley
  • Marc Leishman
  • Robert Karlsson

Kyle Donovan
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