What a finish it was in Augusta National last Sunday night. The back nine had its usual thrills and spills but it all came down to two players facing off against each other standing on the 18th tee with Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia facing the daunting tee shot off the 18th tee. Rose’s drifted fractionally right blocking him from hitting the green with his second and Sergio hit one straight up the middle. Rose made a bogey and Garcia made a birdie. Game over.
It was a bit disappointing for me in that I had Rose at 25’s (and Spieth and Fowler!!) and thought he might be a bit mentally tougher to take down Garcia but it wasn’t meant to be. That being said I don’t think anyone would begrudge Sergio Garcia a major given the fact the guy has been there so many times and stumbled at the last hurdle. Credit where its due, he played great in the closing stages and putted particularly well.
Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head, South Carolina
Par 71, 7,099 yards
Harbour Town was designed by Pete Dye and Jack Nicklaus and has been this events venue since 1969. The course is shorter by PGA Tour standards but is still a fine test with tree lined fairways and smaller than average greens. It has three par 5’s, four par 3’s and 11 par 4’s in total and can be a bit tricky off the tee. Hitting the right part of the fairway off the tee for your approach shots is key. The greens are ranked some of the most difficult to hit on the PGA Tour so hitting plenty of greens in regulation will be important.
History suggests that the good, accurate ball strikers and good putters tend to do well around here. The greens here are quite small by Tour standards so GIR and good scrambling will be two key stats to look at. Hilton Head also tends to be quite windy so be on the lookout for good wind players.
The main stats to consider here are driving accuracy, GIR, par 4 scoring, scrambling and proximity to the hole. Unlike last week in Augusta National, you don’t need to be long on this course so a lot of the shorter more accurate players should come into the mix.
Henley is in fine form lately and comes to Harbour Town with a win and three top 11’s in his last four starts. He had a great week at the Valspar posting a T9 which included an opening round 64. He followed that with a superb win at the Shell Houston Open shooting rounds of 67,67,69,65 to finish 20 under par in total three strokes clear of his nearest challenger Sung Kang. Henley then travelled to Augusta and finished T11 for the tournament which included a final round 69 and played very steady throughout the week. There are a few stand out stats that make Henley appealing for this course.
When he won in Houston two weeks ago he ranked number one for SG putting, T4 for driving accuracy and T4 for greens in reg. Statswise this season he ranks sixth in SG putting, 20th in GIR and 12th in par 4 scoring. After finishing T6 here in 2013 and T23 last year, Henley could be a big danger man here especially if he continues to putt well.
Charley has been playing some good golf over the last few weeks and is another player with a great record here. He had a good week in Phoenix finishing T24 and followed that with a T4 at the Genesis Open, T2 at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, T23 in Houston and a T22 last week in Augusta. He took the lead after round one and co lead after round two and was playing great from tee to green. He fell beck over the weekend shooting rounds of 72 and 78 but really looked to be hitting the ball really well and putting beautifully.
Hoffman has a good record here finishing T8 in 2012, T6 in 2013 and T14 last year. If Charley can regain some of last week’s confidence from rounds one and two he could go very well here.
Although he’s played poorly over the last few weeks, Russell Knox seems to be a real horse for the course around Harbour Town over the last few years. The Scot was playing well earlier in the season finishing T10 at the CIMB Classic, T9 at the WGC HSBC Champions, solo third at the OHL Classic, T19 at the World Cup of Golf, T17 at the SBS Tournament of Champions and T11 at the Sony Open.
He has played very well around here before finishing T2 last year, T18 in 2015 and T9 in 2014. Staswise Knox ranks 10th in driving accuracy which is a plus around here. If he starts well the Scot could regain some of that early season form on a course that clearly suits his eye.
After shooting an opening 69 last week in Augusta in round one, McGirt went on to shoot rounds of 73,74,74 to finish in a respectable T22 and looked to be putting very well. He has played well this year finishing T9 at the SBS Tournament of Champions in Kapalua back in January and followed that with a T24 in Phoenix, T28 at the WGC Mexico, T9 at the WGC Matchplay and a T22 last week in Augusta.
He has played well here in the past finishing T9 in 2014, T31 in 2015 and T9 last year. Statswise he ranks sixth in driving accuracy, 31st in GIR and 20th in par 4 scoring. He looks decent value for a guy showing some decent form.
Final selections –
Russell Henley 25/1 1pt EW
Charley Hoffman 33/1 0.5pts EW
Russell Knox 33/1 0.5pts EW
William McGirt 40/1 0.5pts EW
Total staked = 5 pts
Good luck and enjoy the golf,
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