The final major of the year is upon us as we head to the “Gateway to the West” that is St. Louis Missouri. Bellerive Country Club lays host to the 100th PGA Championship and it’s third major championship contest. Some history about the course. Originally founded as The Field Club in 1897, the club was moved and renamed Bellerive Country Club in 1910. At this location it hosted the 1949 Western AM and the 1953 Western Open. After selling the old property, the club moved to the current site in 1960, where Robert Trent Jones designed the course the pro’s will be playing this week. The course plays as a Par 70 7,547 yards tract, who’s main feature is a large creek that comes into play on 9 of the holes. The greens are bent grass and fairways are Zoysa. Music to my ears. That’s what I grew up playing on. Hope to see the big fans humming behind the green this week. Another notable, Rees Jones was brought in rework some of the holes back in 2005-2006. Most of his work was focused on holes 2, 7 and 8. I’m sure we will hear a lot about those on Live From this week as Frank and Brandel dissect the course. As the focus has turned to St. Louis, images of burnt out and patchy greens have started to surface. If you aren’t familiar with Bent Grass, it grows best in milder conditions and struggles in a lot of areas in the lower Midwest and South. The purposes of the fans behind the greens is to a keep them dry and fungus free but also to help cool them down. This is why you have seen a great deal of clubs across the south east move to Champions Bermuda and Tiff eagle because of their heat tolerances in comparison to bent. Hopefully it is not as bad as folks are making it, I want to focus on the golf this week and not the “lack of control” the governing body has over the course.
Yesterday the course got a good soaking by mother nature, which will help some but the greens are still going to be patchy and slower. The USGA put out a notice that Rex Hoggard from Golf Channel snapped a picture of.
As you can tell the PGA is letting everyone know ahead of time about the conditions in an event to avoid some of what happened at the US Open earlier this year. Reports of lack of root structure from some players probably means more water as the week goes on. The speed affects multiple facets of the game and gives certain players an advantage. Guys like Tiger that historically putt better on faster greens will not be pleased. We will probably see some led tape on the backs of putters if they are rolling around 10. It also makes this a ball strikers paradise, slower surfaces will allow guys like Molinari, Spieth, Zach Johnson, Henrik etc. who are in the top 25 in SG Approach and Proximity to the Hole, go after more pins. Rory described the way the greens would receive approaches as “dead stop and true yardage conditions”. Meaning you may not get a lot of spin with the lack of root structure but you will have a lot of balls stop dead where they land. Now depending how dry the rest of the course plays this week a guy like Tiger, who is in the Top 10 in SOG Approach, can keep his driver in the bag, hit driving iron off the tee and mid irons into the green’s. With the next chance of rain coming Saturday and only at 40% I would expect the course will dry out some and they will keep watering the greens. If that’s the case it will bring more players into the field. As it stands right now, the bombers are going to have a field day. Several hundred trees were removed in that renovation in 2005 making it feel much more open, so whoever can get hot with the big dog will have an advantage. Another interesting feature of this golf course is how it favors golfers who move the ball rig tot left. 6 out of the 9 holes on the front nine shape right to left, and 4 of the 9 on the back do as well. If you take out the four par 3’s that’s 10/14 holes that will cater to a draw. That makes guys like Kevin Kisner, Rory, and Patrick Reed will feel more comfortable on the tee box compared to other players like JT who prefer a fade. Of course, these guys can all hit it both ways, they wouldn’t be out here if they couldn’t. However, when you are on the back nine on Sunday of a Major and need to hit a fairway, you can just go back to your instincts and hit that controlled draw. That is a huge advantage. Let’s get into the picks before I give too much away.
I’m skipping out on the Golf Wagers pool for this major because I haven’t had much luck as of late so I’m going to stick with DraftKings again. My team is very different from last week, with the only staple being the man himself.
Kevin Kisner ($7,300):
Kis had a great showing at The Open, and I thought he would continue that state side, with a missed cut at the Canadian Open and an average finish at Firestone last week he hasn’t done that. However, like I said earlier, this is a draw hitters golf course, and Kis likes to move it right to left. We saw that quite a bit at Carnoustie and I think that will help him a great deal this week. The strength of his game is his putter and his aggressive nature should serve him well with the slower surfaces this week. He should be able to take out some break and put some pace on his putts without too much risk. I don’t think he will break thru for his first Major win here but he did finish T-7 in the PGA last year. I think he pulls from that past success and gets on the front page of the leader board.
Patrick Reed ($8,900):
It hurts to even type his name, but for some weird reason I feel like Fat Pat is going to have a good week this week. As we come to the close of a career year for him, does he have another big win in the tank? Like Kis, Patrick hits a natural draw which will be a big advantage this week. He won’t have to helicopter every driver to try and hit a fade. He’s Top 50 in every major category except SG off the Tee. The driver has been his only kink, if any this year. Can Capitan America start trending back up again as we get closer and closer to the Ryder Cup. I think so, it wouldn’t surprise me if he made a run this week and be in the final couple of groups come the weekend. At $8900 he is a bargain for the 12th ranked player in the world.
Henrick Stenson ($8,700):
This is a risky pick due to the problems with the Ice Man’s elbow over the last month. Even with a bad wing, he has still been as consistent as ever. He has missed only one cut this season and his worst finish was a T-39 last week at Firestone. On the year Henrik is 2nd in driving accuracy, using that monster 3 wood of his to keep it in the short grass, and 1st in GIR. If he can find a little magic with the putter, he should be in the mix in yet another major championship. With the greens sounding more like something you’d see on the European Tour, this should play into his favor. At the ripe age of 42, the opportunities to win a major are fleeting, Henrik is my pick for top European this week.
Tiger Woods ($9,900):
It wasn’t the performance we wanted last week but with everyone counting him out to win his 1st major in 10 years, I think it might be the perfect time for Tiger. Everyone is gawking at the swing speed drop from Honda to this point. Sure, the swing speed has come down some, but I think some of it has to do with Cat looking for more control of late. The other side is the fatigue of playing numerous weeks in a row with a good bit of travel. He had the day off on Monday, where he spent most of the day in and out of the ice bath, lifting a few weights and getting some stretching in. I liked what Frank said on Live From Yesterday. He said if the course conditions change throughout the week or they wait to cut it down and speed it up Thursday, Tiger’s innate ability to adapt to any course and condition should play into his favor. No one is really familiar with this course considering it hasn’t hosted a Major since 1992 and the BMW in 2008. Today is going to be critical for him to get out and get around the course and put a game plan together. The rain limited him to just 5 holes on Tuesday which hindsight might have been the best thing for him. I’m pulling for Cat no matter what and think he is going to play well this week. I am not sold he will win unless the course firms up significantly over the next few days and allows him to hit less than driver more times than not. Never the less, I’m going to live and die by El Tigre.
Role Players: Paul Casey ($8,000) and Kevin Chappel ($7,200)
The PGA is known for producing some unexpected winners and these two guys fit the bill and the price tag this week. Paul, had a big win over Tiger at Valspar and has been stuffing the stat sheet all year. He’s 7th in approach, 46th around the green, 34th in putting, 18th tee to green, and 6th Total. He has a win, a T-2 and 5 top 5’s on the season. If he can keep bottling that formula, he could make a splash this week. Kevin had a rough patch between the Masters and the US Open missing all but one cut in that span. He played well at the Open finishing T-6 and has some appealing stats. The man can bomb it. He is sitting at 17th on the year in driving distance, 13th SG off the tee, 27th in approach and 23rd tee to green. Let’s see if the American can have a solid week in a major.
I will have the hats in hand on Friday. Grey is on back order and will be reordered in the next shipment. I went with a Navy hat and white logo in the meantime. If you would like one out of the original order let me know, more than half are already accounted for at this point.
Things have been crazy and I haven’t had a chance to thank everyone who is reading, following on social media, or sending words of encouragement. This has been a really enjoyable endeavor and one that I went into blindly. I’ve gone at it like a mad man, trying to pull as much together as possible in a short amount of time. It has come easy for me but has been a change for some people I know, aka my significant other but she has been very supportive. I think the term “golfed out” has come out of her mouth a time or two but she’s coming around. Thanks again for following along and continuing to support Tight Lies. Hearing your feedback, criticism, and your support keeps me at it.
It looks like there are going to be some Tight Lies in St. Louis this weekend,