Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wisconsin
7,790 yards, par 72
The Straits Course is a Pete Dye designed par 72 and is the flagship course at Whistling Straits. It has 10 par 4’s, four par 5’s and four par 3’s. It is a links style course and replicated the old links courses of the UK and Ireland. It hosted the 2004 PGA Championship won by Vijay Singh in a playoff over Chris DiMarco and Justin Leonard, the 2007 U.S. Senior Open won by Brad Bryant, and the 2010 PGA Championship won by Martin Kaymer in a playoff over Bubba Watson. The course is host the championship for a third time in 2015 and the 2020 Ryder Cup.
Nestled along a two-mile stretch of Lake Michigan, the course has eight holes hugging the lake, elevation changes of approximately 80 feet, and three stone bridges. The stone bridges are located on holes 1,9,10 and 18 with many scattered sand dune areas. It has vast rolling greens, deep pot bunkers, grass-topped dunes and winds that sweep in off the lake. The fairways are natural fescue fairways with bentgrass greens averaging 7,500 square feet. A lot of the greens are guarded by bunkers, over 500 scattered around the course in total, so good scramblers and bunker players will have an advantage.
There will be an element of accuracy needed around this course with a lot of scattered fairway and greenside bunkers so accuracy off the tee will be important. There are 14 water hazards in total with a lot of holes running along the coastline.
The 10 par 4’s will measure roughly 400+ yards long and will demand accurate iron play from between 100-200 yards in order to get the ball close to these pins. Some of the par 5’s could be reachable in two by some of the bigger hitters depending on the wind. The average length of the par 5’s measure around the 600 yard mark, so a lot of players will be laying up with their second shots. The par 3’s will offer a tricky test and measure between 140-220 and will demand accurate iron play to make birdies.
The key areas of focus are par 3,4 and 5 scoring, GIR, strokes gained putting, accurate iron play from 100-200 yards, scrambling, driving distance/accuracy and strokes gained tee to green.
Jason Day 14/1
The Aussie has been playing super golf so far with two wins already this season. His first win came at The Farmers Insurance Open in Torrey Pines back in February beating J.B. Holmes on the second playoff hole. He also won The RBC Canadian Open recently shooting a superb final round 68 birdieing the last three holes in a row to beat Bubba Watson by one stroke. Day had a good performance last week in Firestone shooting a superb final round 69 to finish T12. He has put together some great performances in the Majors over the last few weeks finishing T9 at The US Open and T4 at The Open Championship in St Andrews. He did come close to winning and had a birdie putt on the 18th to get into the playoff with Johnson, Oosthuizen and Leishman, but it narrowly slid past the hole.
Day has played well here in Whistling Straits in the past finishing T10 in 2010, four strokes behind the winner Martin Kaymer. He has also played well in this tournament in the past finishing T15 last year in Valhalla and T8 in Oak Hill in 2013.
Statswise, Day ranks second in driving distance, 28th in GIR, 27th in strokes gained tee to green and 20th in strokes gained putting. He also ranks fourth in approaches from 200-225, seventh in approaches from 175-200 second in par 4 scoring, fourth in par 3 scoring and 10th in scrambling. Day has proven he can compete at the highest level and it is only a matter of time before he wins his first major and it could be here, where he has played well in the past.
Adam Scott 25/1
Scott has been showing some decent form over the last few weeks with two top 10’s in his last three starts. He played well in Chambers Bay shooting a superb final round 64 to finish T4 at The US Open and followed that with an impressive T10 in St Andrews at The Open Championship. He has played well at the USPGA in the past finishing T15 last year in Valhalla, T5 in Oak Hill in 2013, T11 in 2012 in Kiawah Island and solo 7th in 2011 at The Athletic Club in Georgia. Scott has played this course on both previous USPGA occasions finishing T9 in 2004 and T39 in 2010.
The Aussie seems to tick a lot of boxes here ranking fourth in driving distance, second in GIR, fifth in strokes gained tee to green, 26th in approaches from 150-175 and third in approaches from 100-125. Scott also ranks 22nd in par 4 scoring, 27th in par 5 scoring and 12th in par 4 birdie or better leaders, which is a good stat for scoring on the 12 par 4’s here. With good current form and a solid record around this course, Adam Scott could be a big threat here this week.
Louis Oosthuizen 35/1
Louis has been playing well recently and looks to have put any injury concerns behind him. He looked superb at The Open and putted extremely well all week, but sadly lost a playoff to in form Zach Johnson and ended up finishing second. Despite shooting a 77 in round one, Oosthuizen also had a superb week at The US Open in Chambers Bay and recovered well shooting rounds of 66,66,67 to get right back in the thick of things and finish T2 on four under for the tournament. Over the last two majors in particular, I think Louis has been particularly impressive with the putter. He has played well at all of the WGC’s, which are all elite fields finishing solo 6th at The WGC Cadillac earlier this year, T14 at the WGC HSBC Champions and T5 at The WGC Matchplay back in March.
Louis has played well in The USPGA in the past finishing in a respectable T15 in Valhalla last year and T21 in Oak Hill in 2013.He also ticks a lot of statistical boxes ranking 32nd in driving distance, 20th in GIR, 29th in strokes gained tee to green and 27th in approaches from 175-200 yards. He also ranks third in approaches from 200-225, sixth in approaches from 200+ and 13th in par 4 scoring. Oosthuizen always plays better on the bigger stages and is a bit overpriced here at 35/1.
Hideki Matsuyama 40/1
Matsuyama has been showing superb consistency throughout the year with eight top 10 finishes already under his belt. He has finished inside the top 25 in 10 of his 11 events including four top 10’s. His good run of form began back at The Northern Trust Open where he finished T4 and followed that with a T23 at The WGC Cadillac, T21 at The Arnold Palmer solo 5th at The Masters, T9 at The WGC Matchplay and a T17 at The Players. Most recently, he finished T20 at The Wells Fargo, T5 at Memorial, T18 at The US Open and T18 at The Open Championship.
He has played in two previous USPGA Championships finishing T35 in Valhalla last year and T19 in Oak Hill in 2013. Statswise he ranks fifth in total driving, ninth in GIR, first in strokes gained tee to green and ninth in approaches from 175-200. He also ranks 25th in approaches from 275, 18th in scrambling, second in par 4 scoring and 18th in par 5 scoring. Matsuyama is showing some superb consistency this season and I expect that to continue in Whistling Straits.
Zach Johnson 55/1
Zach Johnson has been playing superb golf over the last few weeks with four top 10’s in his last six starts. After a brilliant win at St Andrews beating Louis Oosthuizen and Marc Leishman in a playoff, Johnson also finished T3 at The John Deere Classic the week before, solo sixth at The Travelers and solo fifth at The Byron Nelson. His best finish at a USPGA came here at Whistling Straits in 2010 finishing third and the next best coming at Oak Hill in 2013, where he finished T8. He also played here in 2004 and finished in a respectable T37, but comes here in much better form this time around.
Statswise, Johnson ranks third in driving accuracy, 34th in GIR, 13th in strokes gained tee to green, 21st in approaches from 175-200 yards and 18th in approaches from 150-175. He also ranks 28th in par 3 scoring, seventh in par 4 scoring and 18th in par 5 scoring. With a great record here and great current form, Zach Johnson could be a big danger here.
Branden Grace 80/1
With Whistling Straits being a linksy setup, this course could be a place where Branden Grace could flourish. He has five top 20’s in his last seven starts and comes here on the back of a respectable T17 at The WGC Bridgestone last week. He has played particularly well in the majors finishing T4 in Chambers Bay and T20 at The Open Championship. His good run of form began back at The RBC Heritage, where he finished T7 and followed that with a T9 at The WGC Matchplay.
Statswise Grace ranks 22nd in driving distance, 26th in strokes gained putting, 22nd in approaches from 175-200 yards and 22nd in scrambling. The South African has had a great year so far and I expect that to continue here at Whistling Straits this week on a course that could really suit his game.
Final Selections –
Jason Day 14/1 2pts EW
Adam Scott 25/1 1.5 pts EW
Louis Oosthuizen 35/1 1pt EW
Hideki Matsuyama 40/1 1 pt EW
Zach Johnson 55/1 1 pt EW
Branden Grace 80/1 1 pt EW
Total staked = 15 pts
Good luck and enjoy the golf,