If you’re reading this, I assume you didn’t win a million bucks last weekend. The U.S. Open may have come and gone, but ten of the golfers who finished inside the top-25 at Chambers Bay are going to be here this weekend, so there you have it, already: a new opportunity to pair watching the best golf in the world with fantasy sports.
And if you’re worried about the Travelers Championship involving altogether too much traveling for those U.S. Open competitors who have to make it from Washington back to the east coast, the tournament organizers ponied up with a charter flight to get them all back in comfort and style.
So even the golfers who were in it until the end, and who you were watching straight through the end of the day Sunday will be well-rested. And even better, this time around you’ll get to watch these guys dominate a course, rather than struggle to keep up with it. A brilliant par save is beautiful to watch, but closing out a Sunday with seven straight birdies to win (like Kevin Streelman did last year) is as exciting as it gets. TPC River Highlands has surrendered wining scores averaging right around -14 over the past three years, and it’s been even higher in the past – a far cry from what just happened at Chambers Bay.
River Highlands is not only one of the shortest courses the Tour stops at all summer long, coming in at standard par-70, it is also one of the easiest. You’ll usually hear that the formula for winning at courses like this one is pretty straightforward: you stick your approach shots and hole your putts. But of course, you’ll either need nice drives to set up the approaches, or you’ll need to be able to perform out of the rough, or bunkers, or the woods. And maybe you hole out some 20-foot putts, or maybe you never leave yourself one longer than eight feet. In other words, a lot goes into drilling approaches and holing putts.
It’s easy to get lost in looking at stats about approach shots and proximity to the hole, but I think that this is a course where my new favorite, “Strokes Gained – Putting,” is worth checking out. It boils putting – which is a pretty broad term – down to a single number, and it seems like a number worth trusting to me. And at a course like this one, with scoring chances all over the place, another good stat worth looking at is Par-4 Scoring.
None of this is rocket science, and you’re going to look at those stats and think I’m stating the obvious – there are names like Spieth and Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy all in the top ten. But it is that way with every stat – of course the best players show up high in a lot of them. The value of looking at them at all may come in identifying one or two outliers (Sean O’Hair) or a couple of midrange options who show up relatively high on all the different lists you feel are important, whether those are the same lists every week, or tailored for the course. In the end it’s still about how you feel and the choices you make – it’s on you to identify the groups of players you’re going to consider or feel comfortable starting. These stats can either provide you with a place to start, or at least a little of that warm fuzzy feeling that makes you feel good when you finally pull the trigger on getting a guy into your lineup.