A quick programming note: With the NFL Season fast approaching, PGA Data Dive will be on hiatus in lieu of some awesome NFL content. However, this breakdown will continue and will merge the formats of PGA Breakdown and Data Drive into one piece. Enjoy.
The 2016 Deutsche Bank Championship
After last week’s event narrowed the field down to 100 golfers, The PGA Tour will head to Norton, MA, for the second event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The Deutsche Bank Championship is played at TPC Boston — a Par-71 course that measures just over 7,200 yards. This course sets up well for ball strikers, placing an emphasis on both Recent and Long-Term Greens in Regulation (LT GIR). Additionally, Par-5 scoring could play a strong role in deciding who sits atop the leader board on Monday afternoon (this particular event runs Friday-Monday). Dating back to 2011, the three Par-5s featured at TPC Boston are top-three holes on the course in total birdies. (The fourth-ranked hole is a 298-yard Par-4 that has played as the second-easiest on the course.) Distance can also help on this course, but I will be weighing it with caution toward those who tend to spray their tee shots.
TPC Boston is the every-year host of this event, so there is some course history to use. Seven players in this year’s field have finished in the top 25 in at least three of the last five years.
It is important to treat course history in the proper context this week. Only 100 players qualify to play at the Deutsche Bank Championship, so a top-25 finish shouldn’t have the same weight as it would in a 140-player field. Using prior finishes as a course-history measuring stick still has value, but our Course Adjusted Round Score (Course Adj Rd Score) remains the best measure of course history — even more so this week.
Course Adjusted Round Score: 66.8, Louis Oosthuizen ($9,100)
Although Oosthuizen leads the field in Course Adj Rd Score, it is worth noting that he has played the course only twice in the past five years. He finished second in 2012, and did so through unbelievable iron play: His 81.9 percent GIR was the best in the field. He was also able to hit 69.6 percent of his fairways in regulation. It wasn’t the same story in 2015, when he hit only 50 percent of his fairways and 66.7 percent GIR. His recent Driving Accuracy (DA) and GIR — 61.3 percent and 74.1 percent — suggest that he could perform closer to his 2012 performance if his form holds true.
$9,000 – $12,500
Long-Term Greens in Regulation: 74.5 percent, Henrik Stenson ($10,700)
Stenson leads all players in the field in LT GIR, but there have been serious concerns surrounding him since his withdrawal from the Barclays after his 3-over first round. He claimed that his right knee (which he had surgery on in December) had “flared up again.” He has said that he is going to play this week and then take a two-week break to get ready for the Ryder Cup. Stenson also withdrew from the U.S. Open earlier in the year, citing “minor neck and knee issues.” He then (the following week) proceeded to hit 86 percent of his GIR and 83 percent of his fairways on his way to a victory at the BMW International Open. So it’s never good when a golfer withdraws, but . . .
Since 2013, he has a first-, second-, and 26th-place finish at this event, and his 66.9 Course Adj Rd Score is the second-highest in the field. The uncertainty surrounding his health is more than enough to eliminate him from cash-game consideration, but he offers top-five upside at what could be low ownership in tournaments.
Par-5 Adjusted Strokes to Par: -7.2, Rory McIlroy ($11,100)
Last week, Rory played the Par-5s at 6-under par and should be able to take advantage of the three Par-5s at TPC Boston this week. He has had success here in the past, with a fifth-place finish and a win in 2014 and 2012, but both of those finishes came when he was able to get the putter hot. He led the field in putts per GIR (1.521) and averaged 25.8 putts per round (PPR) when he won in 2012, which is leaps and bounds better than his PPR average of 31.3 through his last two events. He has been hitting a ton of greens (71.5 percent GIR) during that time, but there is reason to limit your exposure to him to tournaments, due to his long-standing putting woes.
Recent Adjusted Round Score: 66.2, Jason Day ($12,500)
Jason’s recent statistics have a sample size of two (in the past five weeks), and he finished in the top five in both events — the PGA Championship and last week’s Barclays. He led the field in total birdies last week, despite a 35.71 percent DA. He is second and first in recent and LT Adj Birdies per Tournament (16.7) and has played well in past appearances at this event. He has not been able to capture a victory, but he has three top-10 performances and has finished outside of the top 25 only once since 2009. He currently leads the field with 13.3 percent Vegas-implied odds to win and should end up among the most popular plays of the week despite being the highest-priced golfer in the field.
$7,000 – $8,900
The golfers highlighted below are the top performers in the designated metrics within their pricing tier.
Long-Term Adjusted Round Score: 68.6, Matt Kuchar ($8,400) & Bubba Watson ($8,900)
Since 2011, Kuchar has three top-25 and two top-10 finishes at TPC Boston, resulting in a Course Adj Rd Score of 68 during that time. He performed poorly last week due largely to a 5-over 76 in the third round, in which he hit only 44.4 percent GIR. Through his last four tournaments, he has underperformed his long-term averages in GIR, DA, and PPR.
Watson hasn’t had much success at this event in the past: He has finished inside of the top 25 on only one occasion since 2011. His long-term missed cut percentage is among the top five in the field, but he hasn’t finished inside of the top 10 on the PGA Tour since March. He still has upside due to his 15.6 LT Adj Birdies per tournament, but his subpar course history and 30.3 recent PPR are reasons to limit exposure.
Recent Greens in Regulation: 79.2 percent, Paul Casey ($7,900)
Last week, Casey’s elite ability to find the green was nullified by his 1.8 average putts per GIR, which ranked 70th in the field. Despite averaging 30.9 PPR through his last three events, Casey has a Recent Adj Rd Score of 68 that is 1.1 strokes better than his long-term average. He has never been a good putter — his LT PPR average of 30.2 is the worst in the field — but his stellar ball striking has resulted in 13.2 Adj Birdies per tournament. He could go real low if he can find any sort of form with the flat stick.
$5,500 – $6,900
Same story, different salary tier.
Pro Trends: 9, Ryan Palmer ($6,700)
Palmer’s most powerful Pro Trend, Long-Term Birdie Score At Least 65, has historically produced a Plus/Minus of 2.15. His recent 14.5 Adj Birdies per tournament helped him to score 70.5 and 71 DraftKings points in his last two events, despite not finishing particularly well in his most recent tournament. His Course Adj Rd Score of 70.1 is not inspiring and features a sample of the past five years that includes two missed cuts and only one top-20 finish. However, he is coming into this year’s event in spectacular form, finding the fairway with 63.4 percent of his drives and hitting 74.3 percent GIR through his last two tournaments. He averaged 30.1 PPR during that time, but he should score well if his ball striking continues and his putting comes closer to his long-term average of 29.2 PPR.
Recent Greens in Regulation: 75 percent, Jason Kokrak ($5,700)
Kokrak’s 75 percent GIR through his last four events is tied for sixth-best in the field. He missed the cut at the Wyndham Championship but bounced back with a seventh-place finish last week. His 307.8-yard average LT Driving Distance is among the highest in the field, but his LT Adj Rd Score of 70.3 shows an inability to capitalize on his length from the tee. His LT PPR average of 29.9 is alarming, but more alarming is his average of 30.8 through his last four tournaments. His poor track record at TPC Boston can be seen in his 71.0 Course Adj Rd Score, but he has averaged only a 61.6 percent GIR in his three appearances at the event. He could have a better showing if he can continue to find greens at an elite rate. Still, his inability to putt and his 42 percent Dud Rating are good reasons to ignore his stellar iron play of late.
Come Say Hello
Here are the top shots from the Deutsche Bank Championship since 2007. This is my favorite event of the year, for no other reason than I attend it. I’ll be there Monday, so come say hello if you are there. I typically hang out at the fourth hole’s tee box. I’ll wear my FantasyLabs shirt if I can find it. If not, I will be the 5’9″ white guy with an average build wearing a golf shirt. You can’t miss me.