Not to be dismissed
Henrik Stenson: The new and improved Stenson has four top 10s in 12 starts this season including finishing second twice. He leads the TOUR in driving accuracy and is second in GIR. Those stats travel anywhere, folks. His successes usually come down to how his putter is cooperating but he will no doubt have many chances to make birdies. Stenson didn’t look out of place on Sunday at The Open and he played three of the four rounds that week UNDER par. Yes, please!
Jason Day: The Columbus resident has his second home game of the season (Memorial) and it looks like he’s taking to the South Course at Firestone. In 12 rounds over the last three years, Day has only fired two over-par rounds. He also rattled off a 63 en route to T4 in 2011. Day was in the thick of The Open until his final round 77 knocked him back to T32. His wrist isn’t bothering him but it was taped up at Muirfield. He’ll be happy to see some nice, large greens that hold shots. He’ll also be happy that they will be slick instead of lumpy and bumpy.
Bill Haas: He’s like G-Mac right now as he’s all-or-nothing. In his last seven starts he’s rang up a win, T4 and T9. He’s also MC in four events, including two majors. He’s having a great season but he doesn’t exactly love the South Course as he has just two rounds in the 60s in three starts.
Luke Donald: His back-to-back MCs are the first on his docket since SHO and the Masters in 2010. Whoa. He missed four cuts that year. He missed two cuts in 2011. He missed one cut last year. After recording T45 in 2009 and T46 in 2010, he went T2 in 2011 and T8 last year. Got it? Me neither. He lives and dies with his putter, and has to, because he’s currently 170th in GIR on TOUR. I’ll lean on his track record here and the fact that there is no cut.
Jason Dufner: Three things I like heading into this week for Dufner: One, he closed with 67 on Sunday at Muirfield. Two, he was seventh here in his debut last season. Three, he also plays pretty well at long, greasy par 70 setups (second to Bradley at AAC; also won at Byron Nelson; T4 at the last two U.S. Opens). It also doesn’t hurt that he’s a par-four machine as well.
Hideki Matsuyama: I feel this could be a stretch but he’s been playing well enough to be considered in this field. In his last three starts he’s finished T10 at the U.S. Open, T6 (including a one-shot slow-play penalty…) at The Open and T16 last week in Canada. He’s shown he belongs in big fields and has already navigated Merion and Muirfield. What could possibly shake him at this point! He’s a South Course virgin.
Ian Poulter: He’s a confidence player and he seems to get geeked when the best players are lined up across the tee box from him. He entered The Open looking for new putters on Twitter and ended Sunday on the podium (T3). OK, then. He currently sits 70th on the FEDEXCup points list so solid finishes this week and next at the PGA would vault him closer to the top 30. He’s a hard one to pigeon hole but I’ll ride the confidence after his 67 on Sunday at The Open. #fingerscrossed
Hunter Mahan: He would be in here if he was playing. As of Monday morning, he’s still in the field but I’m guessing that he’s not going to show and I don’t blame him. Mahan officially WD Monday afternoon. There will be no alternate to replace him.
Angel Cabrera: After playing this event nine years in a row, Cabrera makes his return for the first time since 2010. He’s is in this category because of his “all-or-nothing-ness” this season and at this event. In that streak of nine consecutive starts, Cabrera racked up three T4s but didn’t have any other finishes better than T23. He’s nine of his last 10 on TOUR with five of those finishes T13 or better.
Jim Furyk: Watch out, Paul H, he’s baaaaaaaaaaack! Coming off his best result since April last week in Canada (T9), Furyk has finished T2 and T6 in two of the last three years at Firestone South. In 13 career starts here, he’s pinged the top 10 EIGHT times. When form meets course history…
Shane Lowry: His worst finish in his last six starts was T32 at The Open Championship. He has three finishes in the top 12 in this nice run of form. He shot 300 the only time he played this even four years ago so he has played the course. Steady form is the play here.
Bo Van Pelt: He’s 14 of 18 on the season but has only hit the top 10 once (Wells Fargo). Last year, he had 10 top 10s in 24 events. In three trips to Akron, BVP has finished T3, T23 and T8 last season. He had a nice closing 68 at Muirfield and maybe that’s the round he needs to break out of his slump. I love how making over $850,000 is considered a slump but compared to what he did last year, making over $3,000,000, it is.
Harris English: After winning the FESJC, English has kept the momentum moving in the right direction as he’s seen his last four weekends on TOUR. Since MC at the RBC Heritage, he’s eight of nine and seven of those finishes have been in the top 35. His last two outings were T15 at JDC and T15 at The Open Championship. He’s long, he hits plenty of greens and he’s a very solid putter. He’ll be comfortably under the radar this week.
Martin Laird: He’s made six cuts on the bounce and played Muirfield one-over-par through 71 holes. The nine he made on Saturday was the “other” hole, unfortunately. In the last three years he’s racked up T16, T11 and T29 last season which is solid in a field like this.
Just because they have well-recognized names doesn’t always mean you have to panic to fill your roster out with them…Also, it seems at least one of these guys will hit the top 10 EVERY week. I’m not scared.
Ernie Els: This will be his eight consecutive term teeing it up at WGC-BI. In the previous seven events, Els’ best finish is T22 twice. He has played 44 rounds and 11 of them have been in the 60s.
Sergio Garcia: The Spaniard is teeing it up for lucky No. 13 here in 2013. He has one top 10 in that stretch. In the last five years, his best finish is also T22 twice.
Graeme McDowell: He’s recent roller coaster ride now includes a MDF on top of three wins, five MCs and a T58. He’s played here the last five years and has two rounds under par. Not this week for me.
Rory McIlroy: The good news there is no cut. The bad news there is no cut. When I can’t get a read on a guy, I leave him to the others.
Montreux Golf & Country Club
Montreux Golf & Country Club
Par: 70 (36-36)
Greens: bentgrass; Poa annua; 5,500 square feet on average.
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass; perennial ryegrass at 3.5”
Water Hazards: 6
Course Architect: Jack Nicklaus (1995); Re-design Jack Nicklaus (2002)
Winner’s Share: $540,000
FexExCup Points: 300 to the winner
Defending Champion: J.J. Henry held off Brazilian Alex Rocha by one POINT to claim his second TOUR victory in his career.
Dates: August 1-4
Notes: Welcome back to the Modified Stableford Scoring system. The way the scoring works is as follows: two points for every birdie, five points for every eagles, eight points for every double-eagle (I’m not a math a guy, but…), zero points for par, minus one point for bogey and minus three points for double-bogey (again, I’m no math guy, but…). MODIFIED is the key word above, not MATH.
Americans have won all 14 events at Reno-Tahoe Open.
Half of the winners here have been first-timers.
Just five of the 14 winners have been in their 20s when lifting the trophy.
Vaughn Taylor (2004-2005) is the only multiple winner and person to defend the title.
Last year was the first year of the Modified Stableford Scoring system.
History buffs will have to remember this week last year Montreux switched its nines last year for tournament play. From 1999-2011 the course played the back nine first and the back nine last and with the addition of the new scoring system, history won’t be the determining factor this week.
For the second week in a row on TOUR a Nicklaus course will be the order of the week. Nicklaus courses are known for their generous fairways so to score this week, iron play will be the biggest factor. Just like every week on TOUR, it doesn’t hurt if you hole a ton of putts but the guys who hit the most greens will have the most chances to gain two points (birdie) on each hole. Par (zero points) are nice but aggressive play will be rewarded this week.
Players who avoid bogeys and make plenty of birdies and eagles will be your best bets this week. Gamers don’t have to worry about the course length as this event sits at over 5,000 feet above sea level so the ball will go. The greens are above average in size but aren’t massive so iron players that are dialed in will have an advantage. This is the last opportunity for players to play themselves into the PGA Championship next week at Oak Hill and it is the second-to-last event (Wyndham Championship) to get in the FEDEXCup Playoffs. #pressure
Your mission, if you choose it, is to determine what category they fall into this week.
Chad Campbell: He’s now seen the weekend in seven straight and his last three have been T15, T7 and T16 last week in Canada. Currently 127th in points, he will also need another solid finish or two to see at least the first round of the FEDEXCup Playoffs. His form suggests this isn’t out of the question.
Rory Sabbatini: In his last four he’s posted T9, MC, T17 and T12 last week so he’s taken an otherwise dismal season and rallied to sit at 109th currently. He kills par fives and he’s ninth on TOUR in birdie average.
Brendan Steele: After missing six cuts in a row, he’s rattled off four out of five weekends to right the ship. He opened with 65 last week in Canada before imploding and he was T8 last year. And he’s American.
Stuart Appleby: He’s currently 124th on the points list so he’ll need to get it into gear to find a more secure spot as the PLAYOFFS approach. The good news is that 10 of his last 12 rounds have been par or better.
Richard H. Lee: Since the beginning of April Lee has played 10 of 11 weekends and he should be excited to return to the West Coast. He was T12 here last year and his lack of the length off the tee won’t be a factor at this altitude.
John Rollins: He was second here in 2008 and was victorious in 2009 so if there is a horse-for-course this week, Rollins qualifies easily. After T4 at Colonial and sixth at FESJC he’s posted T79, T34, MC and MC to move off the radar. His ball-striking leads to birdie chances and that’s all you can ask for this week.
J.J. Henry: The defending champ has a T5 and T7 in two of his last five events so he’s rounding into shape to join Vaughn Taylor as the only player to defend his title in Reno.
Josh Teater: There’s nothing in the “recent form” category that jumps out but he was seventh here last year and T10 in 2011. In a thin field, there’s nothing wrong with a decent ball-striker and above-average putter.
Kevin Stadler: The Reno native posted T8 at Zurich and in the eight events following his best finish is T27. He’s six out of seven at Montreux and has two top fives to show for his effort, including T2 in 2007.
Aaron Baddeley: He, like Appleby, is Aussie so they have no chance of winning this week as Americans have won every Reno-Tahoe Open. That being said, Baddeley is coming off TEN missed cuts before his T9 last week in Canada. That’s a streak of one. I’m guessing he fires again this week. STRIKE WHILE THE AUSSIE IS HOT PEOPLE!
Ben Crane: He’s only made 10 cuts from 18 starts this season but I’ll take calculated risk on a guy who has multiple TOUR wins, four, and get it hot with the putter at the drop of a hat. He also has incentive to kick it into gear as he’s currently 122nd in points.
Luke List: His T21 last week was his best in nine starts. And he’s from Vanderbilt, just like Snedeker. #VandyDouble on Nicklaus courses in back-to-back weeks! He. Hits. It. A. Mile. Where it lands, well…
Peter Uihlien: He’s currently playing on the European Tour and is No. 43 on the Race to Dubai, their TOUR Championship. In his last six events he has a T12 and two T10s while only missing one cut. You know my rule: good golf is good golf regardless of where it is being played.
Trevor Immelman: He’s the South African Aaron Baddeley recently. Leading into last week, he had missed eight of nine and six straight before posting T21. I don’t want to look like I just favor Australians who miss tons of cuts. #equality
Vaughn Taylor: He’s won here twice.
Tom Pernice, Jr.: He closed with a 66 at the Senior Open and was T8 here last year. Pernice WD Tuesday morning.