🪙 Golfers Is PLAYERS Too
API Review & PLAYERS Preview | Stats, Trends & More!
The TOUR’s crown jewel, THE PLAYERS Championship is here. A staggering $25 million purse and the fourth elevated event in the last five weeks.
There are plenty of warm and fuzzy feelings while watching TPC Sawgrass, but playing it — that’s a different story. There is chaos lurking around every corner and year-by-year results are incredibly volatile.
Embrace the chaos. Enjoy.
🏆 Last Week’s Optimal Lineup
🍿 Level Of Concern?
There were only three golfers (out of 20) priced over $8,000 last week who missed the cut — Collin Morikawa ($9,500), Hideki Matsuyama ($8,200) and Sam Burns ($8,100).
Morikawa’s stat profile wasn’t overly concerning — he gained on approach and lost less than one stroke off-the-tee, around-the-green and putting. Maybe the bigger concern is a growing sample of recent events where Morikawa has battled the wind and lost.
Hideki’s MC was pretty ugly, losing 2.6 strokes off-the-tee which is his worst loss since the 2021 Valero Texas Open and the worst two-round loss of his career. It also marked his first MC at Bay Hill in his career, coming in his ninth trip.
More like Sam ‘Burns Your Lineups’, amirite?! Burns lost 9.12 strokes on approach, the worst in the field by over three strokes. It’s the worst loss of his career and only the 13th loss of 9+ strokes, by any golfer, since the start of the 2022 season.
🔥 The Neck Seems Fine
Dan Rapaport gave us the pre-tournament update on Matt Fitzpatrick last week, who described his neck injury as “getting better”. I’d say so.
Fitzpatrick was shot out of a cannon, gaining 8.28 strokes in the ball-striking categories in the first two rounds — best in the field. He would fade a bit on the weekend but still gained 6.87 strokes ball-striking for the week and it was a much-needed solid performance.
👑 New King in Town
Historically, the Last 36 Rounds metric has been the most predictive in our game. For the first time in quite awhile, Jon Rahm is not the best player in this category. Thanks to his struggles at Bay Hill and Rory McIlroy’s continued success — there’s a new name at the top of the L36 Power Rankings.
🏇 No One Is Immune To A Missed Cut
There is only one golfer in this field who has played every possible round at THE PLAYERS in the last five years. His name … Keegan Bradley. Honorable mention to Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm who *technically* have made the cut in all five years but both got MDF’d in 2017.
There are 10 golfers, with at least ten rounds since 2017, who are gaining 1+ strokes per round at THE PLAYERS. Of those ten, nine of them have missed the cut at least once — Keegan being the exception.
Going deeper, there are an additional 23 golfers who are gaining 0.25 strokes per round at THE PLAYERS during the same stretch. None of them have successfully played every round available to them.
To recap, of the best 33 golfers at this event in the last five years — only KEEGAN BRADLEY has played all available rounds.
Carnage generally ensues.
Cam Smith won last year’s PLAYERS Championship by gaining 11.54 strokes putting for the week. Last season, there were only three winners who gained 9+ strokes putting en route to victory.
Smith actually has two of the three — PLAYERS and Open Championship.
Name The Other Instance.
(Answer at bottom of the email)
🥸 Nerdy Course Stats
It’s designed to find out the “types of golfers” who have success at every single course. It’s a very powerful and accurate way to deal with the volatile game of golf.
It’s pretty clear that TPC Sawgrass is a “Ball-Strikers Paradise” and the numbers back that up.
There are only six other courses on the PGA TOUR schedule where SG OTT has been more closely correlated with success and there’s only eight other courses where SG APP has been more closely correlated with success.
Having those two together is peak ball-striker territory. If you look at all the courses that get played somewhat regularly on the TOUR, TPC Sawgrass is the 4th best place to be a ball-striking savant.
😋 Let’s Go Deeper
Now that we know the names of the courses that reward elite ball-striking, which golfers have had the most success in those situations?
I could have sliced this up a million different ways. I opted for the Top 9 courses (0.25 correlation or above), dating back to 2017. You can use the Holy Grail to make any adjustments that you see fit.
Worth noting, Max Homa doesn’t appear until 40th on this list but most of his struggled were in 2021 and earlier. He’s gained strokes in seven straight qualifying events and has won at two of the nine courses.
🐬 Two Coinflips Away
7 feet, 0 inches and 7 feet, 3 inches. Those were two putts Scottie Scheffler missed on Sunday at Bay Hill, on holes #1 and #18 respectively. Those two strokes cost him 1.14 strokes putting and kept him out of a potential playoff with Kurt Kitayama.
We could do this for almost every golfer in the field but even when Scottie “fails” he seems so close.
Scheffler has been one the best T2G player on the planet for a year and I’m not sure how many people are noticing.
Over the last 50 rounds for everyone in this field:
Rory McIlroy +2.28
Scottie Scheffler +1.87
Jon Rahm +1.55
Kevin Yu +1.39
Will Zalatoris +1.34
🌞 Pete Dye
TPC Sawgrass is Pete Dye’s most famous course and his design style is quite distinct.
“Life is not fair, so why should I make a course that is fair?” - Pete Dye
Here are the best players in the field, on Dye courses, over the last five years.
*min 20 rounds
⚠️ In Case You Missed It
🎧 Open Your Ears — If you prefer to listen to the tournament breakdowns, all of the content is available on my podcast feed: 300 Yards To Unknown.
🎙️Round-by-Round Recaps Are Back! — For those missing the First Cut Round-by-Round recaps — giddy up! Once the final putt drops for every PGA TOUR round moving forward, we’re live on YouTube to discuss the day and rounds moving forward.
Trivia Answer: Tom Kim +12.55 SG PUTT at the Wyndham Championship.