By Tony Johnson
Goodbye west and hello east! The west coast swing came to a conclusion last week at the Genesis Open with Bubba Watson cementing his career comeback by picking up his 3rd win at Riviera and 10th overall. If you remember, Watson was on our short list of guys we liked last week due to their “fit” for the course. Unfortunately we couldn’t cash with a good matchup bet and went 0-2 overall for the week. While it’s never good to lose, it’s more important that are able to analyze the tournament correctly and winning picks will come in due time when this occurs. So without further ado we get to the third part of our series this week which explores the current form of a player and their course history.
The Florida swing on the PGA Tour begins at the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens. As always, we begin by going through steps one and two which include evaluating the course and evaluating the type of player that will best fit the course. With our list of players that fit well, the next move is to determine how well the recent player has been playing on tour. I like to first take a broad look at the past season as a whole. For this week, I started my expansive look for each player around the summer of 2017 all the way through the early part of the season this calendar year. Our goal is to find any strong patterns in play. Has this player consistently made cuts? Was there a string of top 10 finishes? Was there a run of poor play? Using last week’s winner Bubba Watson as an example, we notice a few things from his results over the last year. In one portion last year over seven tournaments, Watson finished in the top 10 three times and missed the cut in the other four events. Feast or famine! The second thing I noticed is that he finished the season in a much more consistent fashion making 9/10 cuts going into 2018. These results show us that Watson can be a very polarizing player but recently has been more consistent getting to the weekend. This leads us from an all encompassing look to a recent look at results. I like to look at the last 3-5 weeks for a view on a player’s current form. Watson has only played three times in the last two months and while he missed the cut in Palm Springs, the last two tournaments he posted very positive results. He finished 40th and 35th respectively in both of those events but they came with a pair of 72s on Sunday that brought him from near the leaders to the rest of the pack. He was essentially a final round away from a very good finish the last two weeks before the Genesis Open. That’s good form.
Along with current form, course history is an important category to look into as well. We are looking to find players with strong recent form and a strong history of quality finishes on this course. It can also be beneficial to find a player with very poor recent form and a poor course history. We can now avoid this player or intentionally find a matchup where we will be against him. Getting back to Watson, I found that he had made the cut at Riviera 6/11 times, which isn’t a great record, but had 2 wins in those six made cuts. He won the tournament 33% of the time that he made the cut! There are certain players every week that have great results at a course that fits them well. Sometimes there are great results that come from a poor fit. These results may simply be unexplainable. This week we can use the example of Luke Donald as a player with excellent results here (10/10 cuts made with 5 top 10s) that fits the course very well where driving accuracy, ball flight control, scrambling, and putting are at a premium. On the flip side, Gary Woodland has an excellent record as well (5/5 cuts made with 2 top 10s) but doesn’t fit well with a predominately high ball flight, poor scrambling, and mediocre putting.
It’s important to remember every week when evaluating the tournament how valuable current form and course history are. A player is likely much more confident when they’ve played well here in the past and are playing well right now. A confident golfer is more likely to score well and go low. Going low is how we win matchup bets on a weekly basis.
Next week in part 4, I will address the miscellaneous category which includes type of grass on the course, relation to being a “home” game, health, known personal information, and motivation to play well. Most of these are small things but can sometimes play a large role in the outcome of a tournament for a specific player. Have a good weekend and here’s to a big weekend of wins!!!
PGA Honda Classic
O Schniederjans over A Scott -105
I Poulter over K Bradley +105
C Howell over S Stallings -110
2018 Record: 3-3
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