Baltusrol Golf Club, Lower Course, Springfield, New Jersey
7,428 yards par 70
The Baltusrol Golf Club is a private 36-hole golf club in Springfield, New Jersey located about 30 km west of New York City. It was founded 121 years ago in 1895 by Louis Keller and was named after Baltus Roll, who farmed the land on which the club resides today.
In 1985, Baltusrol became the first club to have hosted both the U.S. Open and Women’s U.S. Open on two different courses. Both courses were originally designed by A. W. Tillinghast in 1918. The club’s original 9-hole course was designed by George Hunter in 1895, and expanded to 18 holes in 1898. The first national championship on the Upper Course was the U.S. Open in 1936. Among the many major tournaments it has hosted, the club was most recently the site of the 2005 PGA Championship.
In 1948, Robert Trent Jones was retained to update and lengthen the Lower course for tournament play. The Lower course was lengthened again by his son Rees Jones in 1992 in preparation for the U.S. Open in 1993. He also updated and lengthened the Upper course in advance of the 2000 U.S. Amateur.
The course is spread out over rolling parkland with ponds and other man-made and natural hazards that come into play. It has four par 3’s, 12 par 4’s and only two par 5’s. The 4th hole and the 18th hole have ponds which will add a slight intimidation factor for the players. The three signature holes of the are the fourth, a par three of 194 yards where players must hit their ball over the pond to a two-tiered green; the seventeenth, a par five of 650 yards and the eighteenth, a par five of 533 yards which will be reachable in two for most of the field. The pond on the left hand side of the eighteenth has been made bigger since 2005 and could be a bit intimidating for the players with a draw or a fade for the leftys. Six of the par 4’s measure over 450 yards with the longest being the 505 yard 7th. The longest of the par 3’s is the 16th which measures a lengthy 230 yards.
This course is a tricky and lengthy par 70 with average size fairways. The rough looks like its going to be particularly penal so keeping it in the fairway will be advantageous. There will also be some tricky fairway bunkers to contend with so driving accuracy looks to be important. The greens are quite small and sloppy so GIR will be one stat to pay particular attention to here along with good putting.
Phil Mickelson won here back in 2005 on a score of four under par. Other previous winners at Baltusrol include Jack Nicklaus and Lee Janzen.
Rory McIlroy 8/1
The more I look at Baltusrol the more I think it could be a great fit for Rory. He fought hard for a T5 finish at Troon and was a bit unlucky with the draw and the weather. Despite that he still shot rounds of 69,71,73,67 to finish four under par in total. Rory has been playing well over the last few weeks with a win and four top 5’s in his last seven events. He had a good week at The Wells Fargo finishing T4 and followed that with a win at The Irish Open, T4 at Memorial, solo third at The French Open and a T5 at The Open.
He has a superb PGA Championship record with two wins which came in Valhalla in 2014 and Kiawah Island in 2012, a third place finish in 2010, T8 in 2013 at Oak Hill and a T17 last year in Whisling Straits. He ranks first in strokes gained off the tee, third in strokes gained tee to green and 13th in driving distance. With a great record at this event and good current form Rory looks a good bet here and the pick of the favs.
Henrik Stenson 16/1
After the heroics of Royal Troon a couple of weeks ago The Swede looks to have his game in superb shape coming to Baltustrol. He broke all sorts of records at The Open and didn’t shoot worse than a 68 all week posting an impressive 20 under par in total. He also had a good week in Scotland finishing in a respectable T13 and recovered well after opening with a 76. Stenson has six top 25’s in his last nine starts and seems to be in the best form of his life. He played well in Houston finishing solo second and followed that with a T24 in Augusta, a T4 at The Nordea Masters, a win at The BMW International Open, a T13 in Castle Stuart and a win in Troon.
Statswise he ranks first in driving accuracy, second in GIR and seventh in SGTTG. He has played well in previous USPGA’s finishing 25th last year in Whistling Straits, third in 2014 in Valhalla and third in 2013 at Oak Hill. With Baltusrol demanding accuracy off the tee along with hitting plenty of greens this will be right up Stenson’s street and he could add a second major to his trophy cabinet this week.
Phil Mickelson 20/1
After going toe to toe with Stenson in Troon, Mickelson finished three strokes behind The Swede after shooting a superb final round 65 to finish solo second. He played great golf all week opening with an impressive 63 and followed that with a 69,70,65 over the weekend to finish 17 under par in total. Mickelson has been playing well this season with five top 30’s in his last seven starts. He played well at The Wells Fargo finishing T4 and followed that with a T20 in Memorial, T2 at The St Jude, T27 at The Bridgestone and a solo second at The Open.
He has won around Baltusrol in the past winning the 2005 USPGA Championship on four under par. He has a good record over the last few years finishing T12 in 2010 at Whistling Straits, T19 in 2011 in Athletic Club, second in 2014 in Valhalla and T18 last year in Whistling Straits. Statswise Phil ranks 16th in strokes gained tee to green, fourth in SGP, fist in par 3 scoring and 10th in par 5 scoring. With being a previous winner here in Baltusrol, a decent record in USPGA Championships and a superb performance at Troon recently, Phil has to have a good chance here.
Zach Johnson 55/1
Although Johnson isn’t the biggest hitter on Tour he may have the edge here with his accurate driving and great putting. He has been playing well over the last few weeks and hasn’t finished worse than T17 in his last four starts. He had a good week at The Dean and Deluca Invitational finishing T17 and followed that with a T8 at The US Open, T10 at The WGC Bridgestone and a T12 at The Open Championship in Troon which would have been a lot better if it weren’t for a third round 75. He has played well around Baltusrol before finishing T17 here in 2005.
He has decent PGA Championship form finishing third in 2010 at Whistling Straits and eighth in 2013 at Oak Hill. With great current form and a good performance here in ’05 Johnson is another player with a good chance here.
J.B. Holmes 66/1
As we all know, J.B. can be a little bit unpredictable but after seeing his rather generous price I thought he was worth a look here. He played well in two of the last three majors finishing T4 in Augusta after a super final round 68, and solo third at The Open after shooting two 69’s over the weekend. He also finished T13 in Texas and T4 at Memorial recently after shooting 67,69 over the weekend so his current form is very good.
He finished T24 in Whistling Straits in 2010 and T24 again in Whistling Straits last year. Statswise he ranks second in driving distance and seventh in strokes gained off the tee which could be a big advantage around here. If he gets the putter rolling he could be one to watch here.
Jason Dufner 80/1
The 2013 Champion has had a decent season so far and seems to be returning to form lately with four top 25’s in his last seven events. He has won already this season shooting 64,65,64,70 to win the CareerBuilder Challenge back in January. He played well at The Byron Nelson finishing T24 and followed that with a T6 in Colonial, T8 at The US Open and T22 at The Open Championship in Troon.
His USPGA record in quite impressive. He finished fifth in 2010 at Whistling Straits, second in 2011, T27 in 2012 in Kiawah and a win in 2013 at Oak Hill. Dufner looks to have the game that could suit this course ranking eighth in GIR, 23rd in strokes gained tee to green and 16th in par 4 scoring. For a guy that’s a good record in this event and is playing well he looks a tad overpriced here.
Final selections –
Rory McIlroy 2pts EW 8/1
Henrik Stenson 1.5pts EW 16/1
Phil Mickelson 1.5pts EW 20/1
Zach Johnson 1pt EW 55/1
J.B. Holmes 1pt EW 66/1
Jason Dufner 1pt EW 80/1
Total staked = 16 pts
Good luck and enjoy the golf,
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