As we all know, a good number of big names are once again not appearing in this week’s PGA event, for a couple different reasons: resting for the third major of the year (next week’s Open Championship) or appearing in this week’s somewhat stacked Scottish Open. Regardless, there is plenty of money to be won on the PGA this week, in a tournament with a solid history and plenty of stats available to dig in to.
Past/recent champs include Steve Stricker (2009, 2010, 2011), Zach Johnson (2012), Jordan Spieth (2013, 2015), Brian Harman (2014), and Ryan Moore (2016). Spieth is not in this week’s field.
It is largely agreed upon that TPC Deere Run favors accuracy over power and the guys that can hit fairways and put it close from inside 175 yards have and will continue to succeed. As always: birdies = points, making the cut = more chances for birdies, and with tournaments like these (refer back to last week’s Greenbrier), you will likely need a near full lineup finishing up top to win any real money. With this in mind, some high-importance stats I focused on here included: driving accuracy, strokes gained (approach), greens in regulation, approach 125-175 yards, birdie or better %, consecutive cuts made, 2015/2016 results, and due to some similarities in field and some all-encompassing factors – last week’s results.
“Studs” (top dollar options):
Daniel Berger – He has been having quite a season, finishing 2nd behind Spieth in the Travelers just a couple weeks after his win at the St. Jude Classic. He is the most expensive player in the field and though he’s able to make a lot of birdies, he’s not in the top 50 for driving accuracy, had a very rough outing at the US open, and took last week off. He is DEFINITELY in contention, but I am not against fading him to make room for others, especially considering his price.
Brian Harman – He won this tournament in 2014, came in 24th in 2015, and currently sits in 24th in the PGA in birdie or better %. He’s made 12 cuts in his 16 outings, has been relatively inconsistent in all, but also finished T2 in the US Open. Similar to Berger, he isn’t known for any sort of driving accuracy and has a large price tag this week. I see him finishing in the top 25, but another possible fade based on price.
Danny Lee – He has been hot. He’s on a 7-tournament streak in terms of making cuts, finishing top-25 in 5 of these 7 outings including 7th last week, 3rd in the Travelers, and two more top-10s in May. He is in the PGA’s top 50 in strokes gained approach and birdie or better %, but also fails to make that list in accuracy off the tee. I like him for his consistency as of late and his somewhat reasonable salary, although considerably higher than previous weeks.
Kevin Kisner – A major bust last week which will make everyone reconsider paying for him this week. He has had multiple solid finishes this year including a win in May in addition to a few top-10s. He came in 35th here last year and is top-15 in the PGA in both strokes gained approach and driving accuracy. At his price, I consider him a very strong option to start in the place of someone like Berger for a chance to get him under owned based on last week’s performance.
Kyle Stanley – He is at the top of my list (Right about where Kisner was last week…bummer…) Stanley finished in 22nd last year and 18th in 2015. He has made 13 cuts in his 15 starts this season and hasn’t missed a cut since May. He is fresh off his Quicken Loans win, finished 27th at the St. Jude’s, 6th at the nationwide memorial, 4th at The Players, to go along with multiple top 30’s. In terms of current standings for the PGA: 2nd in greens in regulation, 3rd in strokes gained approach, 17th in driving accuracy, and 23rd in birdie or better %. Though he may be a bit over “mid range” in terms of salary (and this is the highest he’s been priced ever), I’d once again (much) rather start him than Berger and other higher priced options.
Steve Stricker – Kind of hard to ignore him. He won this tournament 3 years in a row, came in 35th in 2015 (52nd last year), is in FIRST in driving accuracy in the PGA, 34th in approaches from 125-175 yards, and keeps making cuts and finishing well when he decides to play. I’ll leave it at that – a toss up but a safe toss up in my opinion.
Zach Johnson – Again, along the lines of Stricker (minus a few years), he is hard to ignore. He finished 34th last year, 3rd in 2015, 2nd in 2013, and 1st in 2012. He is also 13th in the PGA in driving accuracy. He has a reputation which he deserves, but…..he hasn’t had the greatest year. Although he has made 11 cuts in 15 starts, he hasn’t had any notable finishes as of late.
Charles Howell III – Some quick stats – 13th in the PGA for approaches 125-175 yards, 12th in greens in regulation. 42nd in strokes gained approach, and 51st in birdie or better percentage. He made the cut last week but had a somewhat rough but very consistent go at it, finishing tied in 45th. He seems to fit the bill for the course but it really could go either way. His price has also risen, presumably due to this week’s lacking field.
Others to keep an eye on:
Jamie Lovemark – 3rd last week, 34th here last year, 8th in 125-175 approaches, top-50 in birdie or better %. Made 13 of 16 cuts this year and likes to finish in the mix.
Chad Campbell – Finished 9th last week, 28th here in 2015, 26th in driving accuracy, 28th in greens in regulation, 33rd in strokes gained approach, 43rd in approach 125-175, and has three top-10s this year. Good option for price savings.
Kevin Na – Finished in 8th last year. 9th in 125-175 approaches, top 50 in birdie or better %. 3 consecutive cuts, but no overly notable finishes this year.
Kevin Streelman – Finished in 29th last week, top 50 in driving accuracy, 14th in approaches 125-175, has made 5 straight cuts and finished top 30 in all 5.
David Hearn – Finished 14th last week, 39th in driving accuracy, 26th in approaches 125-175. Has 4 consecutive cuts and 3 of those 4 were top 15 finishes.
Nick Watney – Finished 37th last week, is 7th in the PGA for approaches 125-175 yards, 17th in strokes gained approach, and has made 7 consecutive cuts. In those 7 cuts, he has only finished top-50 three times.
Robert Streb – Finished in 2nd last week, 14th in this tournament in 2015, is heating up in my opinion, but isn’t very consistent.
Johnson Wagner – has come in 5th here in both 2015 and 2016. Has only made 5 cuts in 17 starts this year but came in 5th at the Quicken Loans National. Nothing very impressive past that.
A few others that are cheap & made the list:
Robert Garrigus, Steve Wheatcroft, JJ Henry, Peter Malnati, Michael Kim, Brett Stegmaier, Patrick Rodgers, Chez Reavie
Good luck & see you for the Open!
– Alex Remizowski