Prize Fund – $6,400,00
Winner’s Share – $1,152,000
Course – TPC River Highlands (6,841 yards Par 70)
Our 2014 Picks – Brendon De Jonge – T42, Freddie Jacobson – T31, Brandt Snedeker – T11
Well what an enthralling final few hours we all witnessed at Chambers Bay. Rory McIlroy going on the charge before faltering, Louis Oosthuizen producing 3 rounds of genuine quality but falling agonizingly short, Branden Grace in contention right till an OOB on the 16th before the ultimate finale when DJ 3-putted to gift Jordan Spieth a 2nd Major in a row. Not forgetting the ‘Cauliflower’ incident. Exhausting stuff.
But onto this week and considering the event just gone, we don’t have the worst field to be fair. Louis will be confident after his US Open antics, whilst the likes of Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson, Brandt Snedeker, Patrick Reed, Keegan Bradley and even Jason Day (although that’s likely to change after his vertigo issues) are all due to tee it up at TPC River Highlands.
This 6,841 yard par 70 is clearly not the lengthiest, but due to it’s tight fairways and abundance of hazards, accuracy will play a huge part come the final putt on Sunday. Getting the ball down the middle and having the ability to attack pins will be crucial, whilst we’ve seen recent winners on fire with their short stick and scrambling around the greens.
As a Pete Dye design, it may be worth looking at some of his other tracks – Harbour Town, TPC Sawgrass and TPC Louisiana – because most winners have had a decent performance at a Dye layout before.
Do take note of various GIR stats, especially 100-125/125-150 because there’ll be so many short wedges for the players and those that are consistently in with birdie chances will undoubtedly be winning by the end of the week.
Francesco Molinari (40/1 various)
Francesco Molinari did not have the greatest year in 2014 but it has been clearly evident how strongly he’s progressed this season. He has mainly been playing on the PGA Tour for starters and accumulated some pretty impressive finishes. A T10 at the Humana Challenge in January, followed by a T17 at the Arnold Palmer and then a T3 at the Memorial. The main thing they all have in common is that you need to get the ball in play to find and attack pins for birdies. The same can be said for his best two finishes in Europe – 5th at the BMW (all be it with a slight struggle on the final day) and a T2 in Spain.
All in all he is looking pretty imperious at the moment tee to green and proved his form hasn’t shown signs of slipping when he found himself inside the top 10 going into the weekend at the US Open last week.
Just look at his stats on the PGA – 1st driving accuracy, 4th in GIR, 25th scoring average, 19th proximity to the hole and most excitingly for this week, 1st in approaches from 100-125 yards.
The Italian is the perfect fit for this track, even though he’s never played here and undoubtedly at very reasonable odds.
Russell Knox (50/1 various)
Russell Knox has become a perennial top 25 finisher in PGA events. He will often be in and around before just doing enough and not truly excelling.
There’s an obvious few exceptions to the rule – 3rd at the Shriners and T3 at the Honda, but all in all he rarely gets you money back.
However he so often has that look and feel of someone on the verge of picking up a title and this could finally be that week. He suits the track perfectly, has finished T13 here before and has actually shown a steady increase in results recently.
He shot a 64 and 66 either side of a couple of rounds in the 70’s last time out and if he can sort out his short stick he’ll definitely be up there come Sunday.