PGA Tour at TPC Southwind (FedEx St. Jude Classic)

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PGA Tour moves to Memphis’s TPC Southwind for the FedEx St. Jude’s Classic. This takes place 1 week before the US Open, which is based at a similar course (Merion) to TPC Southwind in that it calls for more precision than distance. For this tournament, the winner gets a blue/white seersucker jacket. Winning scores have been at least 8-under for all but 2 years in the last 40 tournaments. How about that?

Here are my foursome for the week, which haven’t changed that much from tourney to tourney:
JUSTIN ROSE, BILL HAAS (not playing)

CAMERON TRINGALE 8/24/87: 9th in round 3 scoring average (69.80). Radar stat: Ball spin rate: 8th. No other top-10 stats.
TPC Southwind stats: 2011: T8, -7; 2010: cut.
Biorhythms:

Don’t expect much from Cameron this week. Starts off today in physical critical cycle, with no real handle on his driving. The remaining aspects of his game seem relatively solid but wane quickly as the weekend continues.  

BRANDT SNEDEKER 12/8/80 The Nashville-based golfer ranks in the top-10 in these categories:
10th in driving accuracy, 3rd in birdie average, 4th all-around, 4th in par breakers, 3rd in par 4 birdie or better % (5th for all holes), 3rd best scoring average (69.89), 2nd in round 3 (68.63), 6th in final round (69.25). Leads in top 10 finishes. 9th in bounce back, 1st in par 4 performance. 3rd in GIR% at 125-150 yards, 6th in approaches 50-15 out. 3rd best front 9 scoring avg (34.62). Leads in rough proximity.
This tour report posts that Brandt is taking a legal drug to repair his rib cage muscles, strained at Pebble Beach earlier this year: 
TPC Southwind stats:
2011: T15, -4; 2010: T29, -2; 2009, cut; 2008: T35, +3; 2007: T5, -5; 2004: T72, +10.
Biorhythms: 
 
Brandt is coming out of a triple-low, the pains of which will be strongly relevant in day 1, with a physical critical day of his own. It’s the sort of day where there will be strong physical challenges, mostly from his driving and shotmaking, and felt more deeply and internally.  From day 2 on, his shots will be stronger, and he will have to rely on his power instead of finesse to do well. This isn’t quite the course for such, tho, and I wonder whether he will actually make the cut. 

The Players Championship analysis and predictions

Still on the high of scoring pretty big with last week’s Kentucky Derby/Oaks weekend. Meanwhile, golf in immediate focus as the big unofficial major, the PLAYERS Championship, is just underway at Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. 

My top 4 golfers to watch for the moment who are playing this week are:

BRANDT SNEDEKER : Making 6th appearance on this course. First time out he tied for 12th with -4, then missed last 5 cuts with scores between even par and +6. 
10th in driving accuracy and GIR%, 2nd in birdie average, 7th in scoring average, 4th all-around, 3rd in par breakers, 6th in par 4 birdie-or-better, 5th in birdie-or-better conversion %, top 10 in all scoring average stats, 5 top 10 finishes in 2013, 3rd in scrambling, 6th in bounce back, 3rd in Par 4 performance, 7th in GIR% from other than fairway, 7th in proximity to hole (1st from rough), 9th in rough scrambling, 10th in avg. distance of putts made, 

12/8/80 
Despite his success here, he’s in the midst of an awful triple low. Don’t expect him to make the cut. 

JUSTIN ROSE: 10th appearance here. Averages 68.33 here, 10 of 28 rounds under par. 
6th in GIR%, 2nd in scoring average, 1st in sand save %, 2nd in total driving, 3rd all-around, 2nd in Par 5 birdie-or-better, 7th in total scoring average, 2nd in scoring average before cut, 3rd in ball striking, 5th in scrambling, 8th in Par 4 performance, 1st in average ‘going for it’ yardage (239!), 6th in approaches over 200 yards, 1st in GIR% under 75 yards, 4th over 200, 4th under 125, 2nd under 100, 8th from 100-125, 3rd from 75-100, 5th from 175-200, 1st from 50-125, 8th in putting 15-20 feet. 7th in proximity to hole (and 7th from fairways), 2nd in proximity to hole from sand, 9th in back 9 scoring average, 1st in avg dist after ‘going for it” (17). Radar: 2nd in carry distance, and leads in carry efficiency. 

7/30/80

Terrible cycles here…especially from the physical point of view. Won’t make it to Saturday.

GRAHAM DELAET: Makes 2nd appearance at TPC Sawgrass. Finished tied for 80th, 8-over-par for 4 rounds last year.  PGA 2013: 8th in driving distance, 2nd in GIR%, 3rd in total driving, 7 in GIR% from fairway bunkers, 2nd in ball striking, 4th in longest drive, 9th in avg ‘going for it’ in yards (246!), 1st in GIR% over 200 yards, 5th from 125-150, 2nd over 100+. Radar: 6th in club head speed and ball speed, 5th in distance to apex, 3rd in apex height, 7th in carry distance. Wow. What sort of clubs is he using?  I know he uses Titleist balls at the least.

1/22/82

Coming into his physical critical phase but his shots will have good feel after a while, and he should do exceedingly well for the 4 rounds. 

CAMERON TRINGALE also makes his 2nd appearance on this course. He finished tied for 72nd at 9 over par for the 4 rounds last year.  
PGA 2013: 8th in Round 3 scoring average. Radar stats: 9th in ball spin rate. 
 
8/24/87: 
Just out of a triple high, he’ll make some decision errors on the course but there’s no question he’ll be in great shape and feel very confident of his game.  

Stats from http://www.pgatour.com and http://www.golfstats.com 

RBC Heritage Open predictions, analysis

Still licking my wounds after another tough week of predictions. Feeling undaunted,  I press on with more to present for you this week.  First up is the RBC Heritage Open (the one with the lighthouse on #18) at Harbour Town Golf Links. This is one of the few ‘invite-only’ tourneys on the Tour.

As usual I take the synthesis of the Ball Striking and Scrambling stats to come up with my top foursome. I used this logic to select Brand Snedeker as best from last week. 6 of my top 8 made the cut at the Masters.

Graham DeLaet: 5th in GIR, 5th in total driving, 4th in GIR % from fairway bunkers, 2nd in ball striking, 4th in longest drives, 5th in Par 5’s, 1st in GIR % above 200 yards, 5th in GIR % 125-150 yards out, 6th in proximity to hole, 4th in GIR% over 100 yards, Radar: 6th in club head, ball speed and hang time, 7th in apex height, 8th in distance to apex.    Strong tech numbers, great driver, very accurate around the green 

Decent cycles, tho in a mini-low point.  Physical is up and strong, those his mental cycle is at its nadir. Going to miss a number of greens and fairways. In an emotional critical phase in round 2 as well. Will be far from his best.

Brandt Snedeker: 9th in driving accuracy, 4th in GIR%, 1st in birdie average and par breakers, 6th in scoring average, 3rd all-around, 9th in Par 3 birdie or better rate, 3rd in Par 4 birdie or better rate, 6th in birdie or better conversion rate, 4th in scrambling, 1st in bounce back, 8th in par 3 performance, 2nd on par 4s, 5th in scrambling over 30 yards, 7th in approaches from 50 to 125 yards, 1st in rough proximity, 6th in average distance of putts made,   Superb all-around game tho might not be at his best on par 5s
Brandt’s cycles rank better, with his mental and emotional cycles positive and continuing to strengthen. Physical is up as well but out of the negative side and will have an uphill climb.  Relying more on accuracy than power these 4 days.

Matt Jones: 3rd in total driving, 6th in total eagles, 6th in GIR% 125-150,
Terrible cycles, as he’s just into a triple-low period, with the physical cycle in critical for day 1 and 2.

Bill Haas: 6th in GIR %, 6th in total eagles, 4th in Par 4 performance, 3rd in GIR % 175-200, 10th in GIR% 150-175, 3rd in GIR% 100+,

His cycles are rather similar to Snedeker’s tho physically he’s at his lowest point.

Snedeker my top pick of these four.

2013 Masters analysis and prediction

With regard to this mystical sport, I like to focus on golfers who are able to control their ability off the tee, along with those who get out of trouble after once getting into it.  The two stats I refer to are Ball Striking and Scrambling, 2 stats as listed at http://www.pgatour.com  These two stats are what I oriented my picks around to help determine the winner of a tournament.  Perhaps more than any other course, one has to be somewhat familiar with Augusta National to actually succeed there.
What I present are 8 golfers who rank well in both stats and who have that golden invite to this most exclusive of fields.
BRANDT SNEDEKER: 4th in Greens in Regulation, 1st All-Around, 4th in Scoring Average, 5th in Sand Saves, 1st in Par Breakers, 10th in Par 3 Birdie or Better, 2nd in Par 4 Birdie or Better, 6th in Birdie or Better Conversion, 2nd in both 3rd and Final Round scoring average, 3rd in Scrambling and Bounce Back, 1st in Par 4 performance, 7th in Scrambling from over 30 yards, 10th in approaches 50-125 yards, 1st in Rough Proximity, 2nd in Front 9 scoring, 7th in Back 9 scoring,
Qualified by finishing top 4 in last year’s British Open. Just 5 PGA tour wins to his credit. Making his 5th Masters appearance. Record at The Masters includes tied for 3rd in 2008, 41st in 2004, 15th in 2011, 19th in 2012, and missing the cut just once, in 2009. Average score 72.56

Actually ranking him low among my picks, as his biorhythm cycles are triple low in the first 2 rounds.

BILL HAAS: 3rd in GIR, 6th in Par 4 perf, 4th in GIR% 175-200 yards out, 3rd in GIR% over 100.  Qualified as being in the top 50 in last year’s $ list. 4 PGA tour wins.  Making just his 4th Masters appearance, made the cut all 3 prior (26th, 37th, 42nd), always scoring 70-76 in all his Masters rounds. Scoring average 72.58
Biorhythms are not promising as only physical cycle is positive, but then hits 2 critical days during the 4 days.

KEEGAN BRADLEY: 10th in Driving distance, 6th in scoring, 4th in Par 5 birdie or better, 8th in round 3 scoring, 3rd in Par 5 performance, 7th in driving % over 300 yards, 4th in going for green, 9th in front 9 scoring, 7th inavg dist to hole after going for it, 6th dring % 320 yards +, 9th in apex height of shots.  Scoring average at August: 72.50
Qualified being one of the last 5 PGA tour champs. 3 PGA wins. Finished 27th in only Masters appearance.

Biorthythms are triple-high all four days, and a strong favorite.

LEE WESTWOOD: does not rank top 10 in any stats. Qualified after finishing 3rd in last year’s Masters. 2 PGA tour wins. Makes his 14th appearance at Augusta National, with a 2nd place finish in 2010, 3rd last year, missing the cut 3 times. Scoring average 72.67 
Biorhythms: Mental/emotional cycles very high, physical very low.

HUNTER MAHAN: 10th in Bounce Back, 1st in GIR % 75-100 yards,
5 PGA tour wins. Qualified after finishing 12th in last year’s Masters.  Makes his 7th Masters appearance (prior finishes include 8th, 10th, 12th, 28th). 71.85 scoring average. Missed cut twice. Biorhythms: see Westwood, very similar pattern.

Biorhythms are very similar to Westwood’s.

SERGIO GARCIA:  3rd in Holes per Eagle, 3rd in scoring average, 8th all-around, 3rd in GIR % from fairway bunker, 4th in Bounce Back, 1st in GIR% 100-125 yards, 10th 175-200, 3rd under 125 yards, 2nd in putting over 25 feet, 3rd in GIR% from other than fairway, 4th in scrambling from rough, 6th in Front 9 scoring, 7th in club speed and spin rate, 1st in hang time.
8 PGA tour wins.  Perhaps the best golfer never to win a major with best performances of 2nd at the British Open and PGA Championships, 4th at The Masters, 3rd at the US Open. Qualifies for this year’s Masters upon finishing 12th there last year. Makes his 15th appearance at the age of 33, was low amateur in 1999, missed the cut just 4 times. Best finishes were 8th in 2002, 4th in 2004. 73.10 scoring average at Augusta.

Biorhythms look promising, with physical and mental cycles positive and rising, emotional cycle just past its nadir and also beginning to rise.

KEVIN STREELMAN: 7th in total driving, 10th in par 3 performance, 3rd in approaches 225-250 yards out, 9th in back 9 scoring average,
Qualified via PGA tour win (his first) at the Tampa Bay Championship last month.  Was cut in 2011, only prior Masters appearance. 
Biorhythms are generally good with strong emotional and mental cycles, and physical cycle is just past nadir, suggesting an uphill gain in strength.

Defending champion BUBBA WATSON: 7th in driving distance, 1st in Par 4 birdie or better, 5th in Par 4 performance, 1st in driving % over 300 yards and 320+, 3rd in going for green, 1st in avg dist to hole after going for it, 4th in club head speed, 3rd in smash factor.
4 PGA wins. Makes his 5th Masters appearance (previous finishes were 20th, 42nd, 38th and 1st). Scoring average 71.75
Born one day after Streelman, Bubba’s cycles are therefore exceedingly similar to his

****

How to put this all together? Which stats should give more preference than others?
I decided to give GIR, club tech, driving and club tech stats, along with Augusta National stroke average and favorable biorhythms the edge.  With this, I attempt to rank the 8 golfers:  Snedeker, Garcia, Bubba, Keegan, Hunter, Streelman, Haas, Westwood.

Stats stource: www.masters.com  www.pgatour.com (using 2013 numbers)

Combining golf statistics to identify notable players

As individual sports go, golf is just about the best. You against the earth, the elements, conforming to the expansiveness of trees, the bend of the water, the power of the wind and the sun (or absence of it).    I follow the sport on mainly a statistical basis and do watch the majors. My favorite are the UK courses, because of the reliability in its unreliability, all the surprise pot bunkers, secret contours, the mysterious lay of the green, and the unpredictableness of wind conditions.
I really like how one player, ever so gently, attempts to conquer a course and ‘own’ a title, defeating his or her competitors and the elements at large. The greater the opposing force, the greater the victory.
Getting mundane with stats, I picked out the ones I value more than the others. They contribute in their own way to a golfer’s ability to compete, if not win as much as the consistent major winners.

Here are the particular stats I’m interested in, using the PGA definitions:
Scrambling: The very art of getting out of trouble and scoring. Obviously hard to do on par 3s, and there are certainly ample opportunities on par 5s. Overcoming the difficulty of the course is the name of the game.
Ball Striking: The combo of Total Driving (Driving Distance & Driving Accuracy) & Greens in Regulation). Measured as skill off the tee and scoring around par per hole.
I like combining these pair of stats to determine the true competitiveness of the common golfer. In doing so we have divisive emphasis on the tee/setup shots, a little on putting accuracy, and the most emphasis on GIR success.
Entering this week’s men’s tournament (Honda Classic), here are the 4 golfers with the highest combined rank in both stats:

Brandt Snedeker   (24th in ball striking, 2nd scrambling)..Ranks in the top 10 in these categories: Driving Accuracy %, GIR %, Birdie Avg, Scoring Avg, All-Around, $ Leaders, Par Breakers, Par 3 & 4 birdie or better leaders, birdie or better conversion %, scoring average before cut, round 3 scoring average, 3rd in total birdies, consecutive cuts, scrambling, bounce back.  Also: putting from 20 to 25 feet,scrambling from rough, GIR % above 100 yards. He qualified for The Masters by being one of last year’s British Open’s top 4.
Summary: best scrambler on tour ,great scoring, 4 of 5 rounds in the top 10, 1 win (AT&T Pebble Beach). After 5 tournaments is the current FedEx Cup Points leader. 1 win, 4 top 10s.

Brian Stuard (37th, 3rd): 30th on the FedEx list, 2 top 10s.  5th in this year’s Sony Open in Hawaii.  Top 10 in these categories: Strokes gained in putting, scoring average, all-around, total eagles, top 10s, scrambling, total putting. Also: Approaches from over 200 yards, GIR % 125-150, approaches 250-275, putting from 10 to 1 feet, along with 5-15. Further: avg distance after going for it, lowest round.
Summary: Dangerous on par 5s, big eagle threat, deadly putter within 15 feet.

Brian Gay (32nd, 11th) 5th in FedEx points. Top 10s in: Birdie average, scoring avg, $ leaders, par breakers, par 4 birdie or better leaders, scoring avg before cut, final rd scoring average, par 4 performance, total putting.    Approaches from 150 to 175 yards, putting 5-15 ft. 3-putt avoidance, front 9 scoring avg. 
Summary: solid putter, lethal on par 4rs.
Qualified for The Masters by winning a PGA tournament since the previous Masters. Also missed cut at the Northern Trust Open.

William McGirt (43rd, 8th) 80th in FedEx points,  1 top 25 appearance, 1 cut missed. 1 career 2nd place. Top 10s: Approaches 175-200, putting 5-10 and over 25′, proximity to hole.  He missed the cut in last year’s PGA Championship, his first major appearance.  Missed cut in his last tourney, the Northern Trust Open.

Brian Stuard and Brian Gay are both entered in the next scheduled event, the Honda Classic, held at the PGA National Resort & Spa, on the Champion Course, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Per Golfstats.com,    Gay has played this tournament 12 times, made the cut 9 times, averaged a 49th place check, 2 top 10 finishes.  Brian Stuard was cut in his lone appearance.

I’ll update my top 4 golfers to watch each week based on these 2 sets of numbers.