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PGA Championship Preview: Course History, Weather News, and Best Recent Form

By Louis Nelms

The PGA Championship is here. It is unfortunately the last major tournament of the 2016 season and if it feels like we have had a lot of majors lately, well, we have. The PGA Championship has been moved to July this year. It’s usually in August, but golf is back in the Olympics now, so strap yourselves in as we ride the last bit of this Major Championship wave.

When developing lineups for a PGA GPP or Cash games, I like to look at a few important variables. Course history, course design, golfer form, and weather are a few factors that will always play into my decisions whether I am trying to double my investment or swing for the fence in a big tournament.

PGA Championship Course History: Baltrusol Golf Club

Like the US Open and The Open Championship (Or British Open…whatever you want to call it) The PGA Championship moves from course to course every year. This year, the field will tee it up at Baltrusol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey. As far as course history goes, this week is not a good example of putting it to use. While this place has hosted major championships before, it hasn’t hosted any PGA event since 2005.  That year Phil Mickelson, a guy coming off one of the best major performances of all time, won it on the 18th hole with a birdie putt. Phil finished at -4 and there were only eight other players under par.

While we can’t look too much into the course itself for history, we can look at the tournament. I went to Excel, typed in the top ten golfers of each PGA Championship since 2011 and found names that appeared more than once. Here they are:

3 Top Tens since 2011

Rory McIlroy

2 Top Tens Since 2011

Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Jason Dufner, Adam Scott, David Toms, Keegan Bradley

A lot of this list will be highly owned.  Steve Stricker is only $7,000, so expect his ownership to be pretty high in tournaments. (I’m still kicking myself for taking him off my British Open lineup.)  David Toms will not be highly owned, but does have good history in this tournament. When it comes to playing one of the top four superstars, DJ will likely be the highest owned, but I’m going with Rory.

Course Layout

Part of the reason that scores were so low in 2005 had to do with the layout of the course. It plays pretty long. For example, if you and I were to go play hole #1, it would be a par 5. This week, it’ll be a par 4, because as is said, “These guys are good.” In fact, there are four par four holes on the front nine that measure more than 470 yards, two of which are over 500! This is a 7,400 yard course that played as a par 70 in 2005. It gives players four par threes that golfers can take advantage of if they are accurate off the tee with an iron, something that I never have been. This is a course designed by A.W. Tillinghast, a legend among golf course architects. A few characteristics of his courses are long par fours, tightly guarded greens, and not a whole lot of water. All three are true of Baltrusol. Aim for golfers who drive the ball accurately and are excellent with their long irons.

Best Golfer Form for PGA Lineups

Dustin Johnson is so hot right now. Expect him to stay in the mix once again. Unless he grows his soul patch back, he’s not cooling off anytime soon.  While golfer form is not always a good indicator of who will win, I always like playing guys who are on more of a hot streak than they are a cold streak. Guys other than DJ who are on a hot streak right now are…

Charl Schwartzel – five top 25 finishes in last 5 events

Sergio Garcia – finished T5 in US Open and British Open

Steve Stricker – doesn’t play a lot of golf, but has back to back top 5 finishes coming into the PGA Championship

Zach Johnson – 4 top 20 finishes in his last 4 events

Aaron Baddeley – Missed the cut twice in June, but has since been 12th, 17th, and won at the Barbasol Championship last weekend, although not against the top competitors

Unfortunately, all hot streaks end. Golfers in the best form are likely to be higher owned. Just be aware if you are using them in tournaments.

Weather Update

brandt-snedeker-1

Yes, you should be just as excited as Brandt Snedeker is about this week’s PGA Championship

I’m writing this on Saturday before the tournament, so be sure to check the weather report in Springfield, New Jersey closer to time. Right now, they are calling for afternoon thunderstorms on Thursday and scattered thunderstorms on Friday. Saturday and Sunday look pretty calm as of now. Check the updates Wednesday, but right now I’m going to be looking at guys who tee off earlier on Thursday and can avoid the rain. It doesn’t look like wind will get higher than 10mph right now, which is great, but if I can keep my players dry, I will. However, these storms might not show up until most or all of the field is done for the day.

If the conditions look wet, target golfers who can keep their drive in the fairway. Rainy conditions will make the fairways and greens a lot softer and the rough a lot harder to get clean shots from. Golfers won’t be able to spin the ball as much on their approach shots, and putting will run slower as well. In rain, I like to look at guys who are good at scrambling, because they are used to adjusting their game and changing their plans. Names like Brandt Snedeker, Sergio Garcia, William McGirt, Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau, and Shane Lowry come to mind. A few of these names were near the top of the first round of the U.S. Open this year, a round decimated by rainy conditions at Oakmont.

Moral of the weather report, keep yourself informed.

 

Check back later in the week for more in depth analysis and predictions on which golfers to target for the PGA Championship, Follow Louis Nelms:

@louisnelms

@louisnelmsDFS

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