This week’s European Tour action heads to the Bro Hof Slott Golf Club, located slightly northwest of Stockholm for the Nordea Masters. The Nordea Masters rotates golf courses but has been held at the Bro Hof Slott Golf Club in four of the last six years. Robert Trent Jones Jr. designed the track, which is one of the longest courses in all of Europe at over 7,300 yards and checks in as a Par 72. The course has five par 5s and five par 3s including back-to-back par 5s and par 3s on the back nine which should lead to wild swings as we come down the finishing stretch.
The course also has an “island” (really a peninsula for those geography majors) par 3 17th hole which mimics the conditions at The Players Championship. The length on the course is distributed mostly through the par 5s and par 3s. Four of the five par 5s are beyond 560 yards and will present a challenge for those with average distance to reach the green in two. Three of the par 3s are greater than 215 yards, while only three par 4s play beyond 450 yards. Length will be an advantage on this course and one primarily taken on the par 5s and par 3s.
Last year’s event was held at PGA Sweden National where Alex Noren captured his second Nordea Masters title. Alex Noren held on with a final round 71 in tough conditions to win by four strokes at -12. Noren also won the event in 2011 when he lapped the field with a -15 final score that included a final day 77. The winning scores the last four times the Nordea Masters was held at Bro Hof Slott Golf Club were -21, -19, -15, and -11.
We’re projecting a scoring environment closer to the 2011 event as we’re looking at a winning score around -15 and the cut line likely around Even. As a reminder, the European Tour will take the Top 65 and ties which is a little different than the PGA Tour which the Top 70 and ties advance to the weekend.
One of the ways we like to examine course fit is to project how many approach shots are going to come from different distances. We start with the par 3s which are easy to see the distances and then work through the par 4s and 5s by mapping out the course and estimate how many shots will come from each distance around the course. We do this by using an average driving distance for players (290 yards) and then deriving expected approach distances by hole. If you have a 155 yard approach expected 90% of that shot will go into the 150 bucket and 5% of that shot will go to the 200 yard bucket. This helps us eliminate arbitrary endpoints on buckets and more accurately assess approach shots.
While we had a pretty uniform distribution last week with almost 2-3 shots per bucket, this week is very concentrated on long approach shots. We’re projecting a little over six approach shots per round coming from around 150 yards. We’re projecting around four approach shots per round coming from around 200 yards and another 3.7 approach shots per round coming from around 250 yards. As you can see from the table below, distance approach shots are incredibly important on this course.
As a result, it’s very clearly a bombers course. When thinking about roster construction, you’ll want to emphasize players that can cut into the distance on these approach shots with their own driving distance AND players that are better at longer approach shots.
Our search for value
Bombers will have an advantage on a course that places such an emphasis on par five scoring. As a result, we’re looking for cheap driving distance as a way to cram in more expected value in our lineups. Sebastian Gros ($7,300) fits the bill. If Gros played on the PGA Tour, he’d be one of the longest drivers, averaging about 320 yards off the tee. While Gros isn’t among the most talented players in the field, he fits the course better than most because of his length alone.
Before missing the cut by two strokes last week, Gros had made four straight cuts including a 10th place finish at the Irish Open, the event Rory McIlroy won in dramatic fashion. Other bombers, averaging over 300 yards off the tee, include: Thomas Pieters ($9,400), Nicolas Colsaerts ($9,000), and Callum Shinkwin ($7,700). While Matthew Fitzpatrick ($8,900) isn’t a bomber by any means, he’s a fantastic ball striker and appears discounted relative to the depth of this field.
For this week, we’ve got all of our projections up at DailyRoto. We have scoring projections in DraftKings points as well as broken down by birdies, eagles, pars, etc and we have place probabilities that include how likely a golfer is to finish first, Top 10, or even make the cut. Here are a few tidbits from our projections.
We’re projecting Henrik Stenson ($12,400) as the favorite by a wide margin, winning the tournament in this watered down field just over 17 percent of the time. Stenson projects as nearly a stroke per round better than anyone else in the field. Stenson’s accuracy on long distance approaches makes him a strong fit for the course despite his heavy use of three wood off the tee. Stenson also projects as having the highest probability to make the cut (92 percent), and the most birdies (17.7).
The low end of the pricing spectrum this week is filled with players that make the cut less than 20 percent of the time in our simulations. Oliver Wilson ($5,000) has the weakest projection with just 5.83 birdies and a cut probability below 10 percent.