Who will emerge victorious from the tournament?
Last week’s U.S. Open was full of excitement, from seeing the heart of Jason Day to play on through Vertigo, to seeing a three-stroke lead with two holes left almost be lost without playoffs, to the heart-breaking three-putt from 12 ft. that secured a second straight majors win for the 21-year-old Jordan Spieth. Due to the intensity of last week’s tournament, there is some concern for how players who played all four rounds of the Open will fare in this week’s tournament.
Pick to Win:
Brendon Todd (55/1): This pick is definitely one of the most shocking picks I’ve made in a while. With two missed cuts in his last three tournaments, and a missed cut in his only appearance here, it seems that there isn’t much support for picking him this week. To begin with, however, this course is set up excellently for him. In many tournaments, the course is long and Todd is approaching from 20+ yards behind the competition. Despite having a tougher approach shot most of the time, he is still ranked 19th in proximity to the hole. There are no holes where he should have too much trouble reaching the green in regulation, and that should allow Todd plenty of opportunities to putt, where he is ranked 23rd on tour. Lastly, since 2012, Todd has missed nine cuts, not including last week. In tournaments following a missed cut, Todd is 9/9 in making the cut. In the last six tournaments following a made cut, he has finished top-25 in five of those tournaments, and top-10 in four of them, including a victory. He is a monster in the week following a missed cut, and now he is also going to a course where players with his type of game typically excel.
Players to Watch:
Brandt Snedeker (14/1): I was having a tough time deciding between Snedeker and Todd as my pick to win, but I think the course just suits Todd so well. The last two tournaments here have resulted in top-25s for Snedeker, and he comes in hot. His last three tournaments, including the U.S. Open, have all resulted in top-10s. There could be an issue with fatigue with Snedeker, but he’s in the zone right now and should be good to go this week as well.
Russell Knox (33/1): Knox’s putting ranking is pretty bad, but I think he’s an underrated putter. He ranks in the top half in three-putt avoidance, putting from four to eight feet, putting from within 10 feet and putting from 10-15 feet. Basically, his putting won’t hold him back. Like Todd, he is a short, accurate driver who’s proximity is elite. Knox is also one of the best on tour at Par 4 Scoring Average, which is important this week since there are only two par 5s. He has also made his last seven cuts in a row, with five of those going for top-25s. The last three have all been top-25s as well.
Will Wilcox (55/1): Wilcox is going to be a monster when he gets his PGA Tour card. He has really good stats and really good results. He is ranked fifth in Total Driving, 22nd in Proximity, 17th in Par 4 Scoring Average and 40th in both Strokes Gained categories. In his last eight tournaments, he has made seven cuts, with six top-35s, and five top-25s. He is coming in off of a 12th place finish and a 22nd place finish, and should be able to play well again this coming week.
Hudson Swafford (125/1): Swafford could be one of the best on tour if he could avoid the big numbers. Last week, Swafford finished in the top 30, and had a respectable E round in the last day, even though he went +5 in a two hole stretch. On Friday afternoon, with only 10 holes left, Swafford was overall +5. It seemed like a missed cut was sure to come, but then he went -6 the rest of the way, to end up with a two-round score of -1. If Swafford ever could play his best for four rounds, he could win a tournament in a runaway. This week should fit Swafford’s game very well: seventh in Total Driving, seventh in Proximity to the Hole, 16th in Birdie Average and 31st in Strokes Gained: Putting.
Edited by Emily Berman.
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