Expect a birdie-fest this week as both tours arrive at very scoreable courses – Fairmont St. Andrews and Detroit Golf Club.
Whilst the former is ‘links-style’, don’t think of Carnoustie or even last week’s venue, Hillside – think more Summer parkland scoring. The two events at the course might have seen different titles, but Adrian Otaegui (23-under) and Grant Forrest (24-under) ripped the course apart, both with a round of 62 during their wins in benign conditions.
Over in Detroit, the three runnings have seen decreasing scores but with an average winning score of 22-under, we can hardly class it as anything but a putting contest.
After a steady run of form, we go in again with the Frenchman at eight points bigger than last week at Hillside.
Without wishing to repeat the paragraphs from seven days ago three of Rozner’s four wins are from leaderboards that have a links feeling, so a return to top form around a gettable track is very much on the cards.
His win in Dubai in December 2020 (25-under) came in a similar style to that of Otaegui’s here, an opening 63 almost matched by a shot-worse final round 64, beating Matt Wallace into second, and with plenty of Irish Open form in behind, an event that links Otaegui and Forrest again, along with Aaron Rai, winner at The Renaissance Club.
Recent form sees an always-prominent fifth place at the Lakes course in Spain, 21st at the Dutch Open (16th into Sunday, and contended by two links specialists), 15th in Germany in another correlative event (7th after two rounds) and 13th at Mount Juliet (ninth after the third round,)–and he ranks inside the top-12 for both approaches and tee-to-green over the past eight weeks.
Tour-tips.com list the 29-year-old as ranking fifth for approaches in this field over the last eight weeks, and his iron game was just as solid last week when gaining over four shots on the field at the Cazoo Classic. Indeed, gaining over five shots with his overall tee-to-green play, it was just a cold flat stick that let him down.
He has yet to play here, but he is surely wrongly priced in a group that includes players that have not won for many years, and continue to struggle to do so.
Dangers (All 1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
37-year-old James Morrison may take inspiration from Richie Ramsay, who won at Hillside last week after a hiatus of seven years, himself having last seen victory in 2015.
That doesn’t mean he is playing badly. Indeed, whilst not pulling up any trees, the two-time European Tour winner is showing a level of consistency better than the lead-in form he showed before running-up here last season.
Making 10 of 15 weekends in 2022, Morrison’s best form is leading in Abu Dhabi at halfway before finishing 6th; being in second place going into the weekend in Spain (Catalunya): significantly going into the final round of the Irish Open in the top-10 and finishing in the top-20 (9th at halfway) at the co-sanctioned Barracuda Championship.
With Morrison’s weakness – driving distance – of little note here, one of his main frailties is less obvious, and after recording seven of eight rounds here in the 60s, this is a course that he can continue to thrive on.
With Grant Forrest giving far too much away with his third placed finish last week, look to 2013 Amateur Championship winner Garrick Porteous to land his biggest prize yet.
Never easy to read, the Northern Irishman has two excellent finishes here – 4th in 2020 coming after a pair of midfield finishes in Ireland and Portugal, and a 10th last year after finishing 15th in Antrim – and can be fancied after a return-to-form 16th at Hillside a week ago.
It could be something or nothing but two top-10 finishes in Belgium read nicely with Otaegui and Forrest, whilst I go back to his top-10 at the Czech Masters in 2014 (3rd at halfway) and the leaderboard is full of links exponents, many of who are here this week.
Look for a fast start this week, as all his best three finishes in 2022 have resulted from being prominent from the get-go, never out of the top-20 when 13th at the Di-Data and in Kenya, whilst he finished second and sixth after each of the opening two rounds in Southport. He is 70-1 in the first-round leader market for those inclined.
Full respect to Marcus Helligkilde, who returns to the mainland after a couple of excellent efforts at the co-sanctioned DP/PGA events, but the market has caught up with him at the moment. Instead, turn to 24-year-old Angel Hidalgo, who may end up being a lot shorter than 90-1 for future events.
After just nine starts on the DP World Tour, the amateur star gave notice last year with a pair of Alps Tour victories, soon followed by his first win at Challenge Tour level, beating 2021 bronze medalist Santiago Tarrio Ben, before gaining access to the main tour.
A fast start led to a joint-lead with eventual winner, Thriston Lawrence, at the shortened Joburg Open, before another top-10 finish at the Di-Data and a top-20 in Kenya (5th at halfway).
As former Spanish amateur champion, Hidalgo would have been disappointed with a couple of missed cuts in his homeland but since the turn of the month he has had a trio of good results – 13th and 21st on the Challenge Tour before last week’s top-10 at Hillside.
Going into this week off a fine result at a links track can only be a positive and he showed his prowess finding over five shots with his irons and over three-and-a-half with the flat stick, a club he has found success with since his amateur days.
Hidalgo reminds me of the likes of an early Migliozzi, so be with him before everyone else is!
Judged to perfection 👌
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) March 5, 2022
Rocket Mortgage Classic
It’s about time the former world amateur number one did the business on the main tour, and this straight-forward course should once again suit his attacking style.
Whilst the 26-year-old might have won either, or both, the 2021 Fortinet and AT&T, both these results plus top-10 finishes at Harbour Town and Riviera show the level that operates at – certainly high enough to be competing here this week.
2022 has seen that seventh place at the Genesis before breaking a run of decent, if not spectacular, results with a recent run of eighth place at the John Deere, 16th at the Scottish Open and ninth at the Barracuda prior to a disappointing, but forgivable, top-50 last week at the 3M.
I’m happy to ignore the latest result as he never really got it going, and while he was top-20 at Twin Cities last year, he again finished with a 73 to ruin a potentially better result.
McNealy ranks 21st in proximity from 100 to 125 yards, 10th in birdies and 16th for par-fours just under 400 yards – perfect for a forgiving track that asks for strong approach play on the four sub-400-yard par-fours.
As a player that repeats form at the same tracks – Mayakoba, Barracuda, Pebble Beach and, of course, Detroit – and as one that led the tee-to-green stats when 21st last year and ranked third for putting the year before, the facets are there, it’s just hope they all come together the same week.
Dangers (All 1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
Kevin Kisner calls himself at these tracks.
Winner, third, eighth and 10th at the Ross-designed Sedgefield, the 38-year-old is simple to read – back him at courses he likes, and don’t where he doesn’t!
Sounds simple, but as a player that never hides his feelings, he is one of the easiest to find when scouring a field, and that’s before looking at his resume.
The RSM, Heritage, Wyndham and Players are all tournaments at which to back him, so after figures of 8/3/46, get back on the KK horse.
Kisner comes here off a good mini run, sixth at the Travelers and 21st at St. Andrews, and at both courses his putter was behaving just fine – ranking top-20 at both for putting average, and fifth and 30th for strokes gained – that top-five his fourth top-10 for SGP in 2022.
— The Open (@TheOpen) July 16, 2022
Chris Gotterup is a star, and rather like Hidalgo on the DP – get with him before his odds collapse.
They certainly did that at the Barbasol, when after a 4th at the John Deere, he went off around 22-1 for a weak field – of course; he missed the cut.
Perhaps that was expected after a terrific challenge the week before, but look at the overall form and it’s hard to be unimpressed.
In seven starts on the PGA Tour, the winner of the Haskins and Nicklaus awards first caught the eye with a top-10 at Puerto Rico as an amateur before using sectional qualifying to gain entry to the U.S Open, finishing in the top-50.
Since then, the Oklahoma star has been in the ascendency, finishing 35th at River Highlands and 31st at Twin Cities, an opening 75 seeing him languish outside the top-100.
In between, of course, the top-five at Deer Run could have been better bar a couple of missed short putts during the third round, and it will be that club that is the difference between another top finish or an average number, on a course that he could take apart, a la Bryson.
DeChambeau and Matt Wolff took Detroit apart in 2021, and whilst that isn’t the be-all and end-all, Gotterup has led the driving distance charts in three of his five PGA starts, the other two seeing him second and third!
He isn’t just about driving though, with approach play finding helpful figures over the field in four of the five starts – it really could be just how he rolls the rock – after all, his coach at Oklahoma said, “His ball-striking is TOUR quality and his driving can be unbeatable at times. More importantly, he is gritty, and he believes he is supposed to be there, which is high on the value chart.”
Georgia Bulldogs coach Chris Haack said that Greyson Sigg had one of the straightest games in the college, so after showing his best form to date on the PGA Tour, back the 27-year-old on one of the less complicated courses on the rotation.
As one of our 2022 Players To Watch, Sigg is always on the radar, and after his fourth, improving, top-30 in succession, he can come on again from last week’s 7th place to land another challenging position.
Seasonal stats can be skewed when a player finds form late in the season and if ignoring the half-dozen missed-cuts through May and June, it’s a simple enough process to believe that Sigg has found ‘something’ that has led to a quiet 16th at Deer Run, top-30s at Barracuda and Barbasol, and that effort last week, courtesy of his third top-10 ranking for greens-in-regulation in four starts.
There is enough in recent results to think that Twin Cities will be of some relevance to this week, and whilst the two-time Korn Ferry Tour winner hasn’t the bomb of a Bryson, he should be playing short approaches from the fairway far more often than some.
Simply, Chesson Hadley ranks fifth in this field for strokes-gained-putting, 32nd for proximity to the pin from 75 to 150 yards and 25th in birdies. All that finds the 35-year-old of interest in this field, but add that to current form and we have a play at triple figures.
Hadley has made his last six cuts, with a fifth at River Highlands and top-10 finishes at Deere Run and at the 3M plenty enough to make him of interest despite some poor course form. That, in itself, is easy to ignore given Cam Davis’s two missed-cuts before his win last year, and DeChambeau’s victory before a complete blowout when fancied to follow up.
A runner-up at the Sanderson Farm’s reads well against Davis’ tied sixth, as does his John Deere result against the Australian’s 8th, whilst his 4th at Shriners sits with a win by Bryson and several placed efforts by Wolff.
As a player in form, putting very well and with confidence at a high, expect him to leave that course best of 52nd a long way behind.