There won’t be a -30 shot this week, that I can assure you. We might not see what DJ did last week at TPC Boston for a long time. He absolutely ate that course up.
Some weeks on the PGA Tour the course that the tournament is played on is just as popular and talked about as the players themselves. This will be one of those weeks. Olympia Fields has hosted two U.S. Opens (1928, 2003) and two PGAChampionships (1925, 1963). It also hosted a U.S. Senior Open (1997) and an U.S. Amateur (2015). Less than 10 courses in the country have hosted all four of those events.
This Chicago based course was the site of the 2003 U.S. Open won by Jim Furyk, and a small handful of players in that field that week -- including Tiger Woods -- will make a return visit at this week’s BMW Championship. For the most part this course will be uncharted territory for most of the field. Although the PGA Tour hasn’t played on this course in an event for over 15 years, some of the younger players will be familiar with this course as it hosted several amateur events.
The 2015 U.S. Amateur tournament was played at Olympia Fields and was won by Bryson DeChambeau. Collin Morikawa and Jon Rahm are two others that played at Olympia Fields five years ago at the U.S. Amateur. Olympia Fields also hosts a prestigious tournament called the Illini Invitational. In 2018 Matthew Wolff won it and Morikawa came in second place with Viktor Hovland finishing 6th. 2017, Wolff and Morikawa finished T-13. Cam Champ won it in 2016 and Maverick McNealy won it in 2015 with Rahm top 10 and Champ and Sheffler finishing T-22.
I would think this little extra course experience would give these guys a bit of an edge over the field of golfers most of whom haven’t played competitive rounds on this course.
Olympia Fields actually has 4 different courses on the property, it has an 200,000 square foot clubhouse – the largest private golf clubhouse in the world. A dining room that could seat 800; a café that could seat 600. A 22,000 square foot men’s locker room. The clubhouse even had its own hospital and fire station. What’s cool is there are over 60 cottages on and around the property so the players can actually stay on the course.
The course the players will be playing on is the more difficult; North Course. It’s a big boy course coming in at over 7,300 yards. It even has a 280 yard par 3, last week at TPC Boston we saw a 280 yard par 4. The North Course also has a 600 yard plus par 5 but for the most part it has straight narrow tree lined fairways. Reminds me a bit of Harding Park actually, with more trees. Per usually we will need good drivers of the golf ball and golfers who are in form with irons, you need to be in the fairway off the tee to have any chance at scoring on these small, strategically shaped greens. The greens aren’t super complex and I won’t be weighting SG:ARG or SG:PUT all that heavy this week.
These are the top 70 ranked players in FedEx Cup points, they’re all good. It’s a no-cut event so all players in the field will have 4 rounds to play. Realistically anyone of them could get hot and go out and win this tournament. All we can do is try to narrow the field down to players that are most likely to perform well. How we do that is look at players whose game fits the course well, players who come into the tournament playing well and maybe players that have had success in the past in tournaments with strong fields or on similar courses, normally we would want to look at course history but because there really is none the next best thing is tournaments with strong fields and past playoff events.
Majority of players listed below will be on my betting card and I will either have them to win outright or in a top 10/20 finish wager.
***Rory McIlroy +1600***
So before the lockdown Rory was world #1, after the lockdown he’s looked like shit but really a big reason for that was his irons. He lost strokes on approach in every event he’s played in since the restart, besides last week and that’s why I’m betting him to win outright. His irons looked good last week, he gained over 5 strokes on approach which was 7th best in the field, by far his best SG:APP performance since the restart. What killed him last week at TPC Boston was his putting, in fact last week he had one of his worst putting performances of his career -6.49 SG:PUTT. You guys all know how I feel about putting, bad one week can be great the next or bad one round and great the next round.
So, if we make two assumptions that his irons are back to where they were pre-shutdown and his putter won’t be the worst of his career that could mean we get prime Rory. Obviously it’s more complicated than that, but it checks all my boxes, including pricing which I touched on yesterday in the golf channel if you just scroll up.
***Justin Thomas +1200***
JT is the next golfer I’m backing to win outright or bet Top-5, even tho his price sucks but check this out. JT lost strokes putting last week, again back to putting. He had -4 SG:PUTT the last 5 times JT has lost 4 or more SG:PUTT this is what he did the following tournament. He had finishes of 2,3,2,13,1. Those are pretty good follow ups to poor putting performances and you don’t have to twist my arm to bet on the most well-rounded player on tour. I actually think he might be the best player. The only thing that ever holds him back is his putter, like it did last week at the Northern Trust. But screw putting or at least screw holding putting against players.
***Dustin Johnson +800***
This is the only golfer on my preview that I won’t be betting this week. I’m just praying he doesn’t pick up where he left off last week. He won me money last week and I’m fine with leaving it at that. If you are expecting him to replicate his performance last week, winning a playoff event by 11 shots, you will be disappointed. I want to remember DJ fondly and not losing me money after winning me money. The bid reason for tho is price, I just can’t at +800, the reason I bet him last week was price.
I tried pricing him out for top finish bets and just none of them even come close to resembling any sort of value. Using implied odds from bookmakers, they are saying DJ finishes top 5 close to 40% of the time!! Come on, no chance in a field this strong does DJ finish T-5 40 times out of 100. Ohh and by the way, that’s what you’d need him to do just to break even at his price. Passs
PS: I won’t hold it against any of you guys who want to bet him and kind of hope someone does in case he does pick up where he left off, that way I can live vicariously through one of you that picks him.
***Daniel Berger +2000***
Any type of tournament preview or player analysis simply can’t discard Berger. His success since the restart has been absolutely nuts. He has five top-15 finishes in 6 events since the restart. His T-3 in Boston last week is his latest success, and I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon. His stats are amazing, He’s averaging 2.38 strokes total gained per round in that span and is the only player on tour with a number more than 2. His all-around game is up there with JT, he has no glaring weaknesses. Berger ranks 13th off-the-tee, 5th on approach, 13th around-the-green and 7th in putting. When you are that solid in every aspect of the game it gives sooo much upside and potential for outright wins or at the very least some safe top finish bets. That’s the only question! Outright win or take top 20 to pound town and hammer it.
***Matthew Wolff +4000***
This starts getting into that mid-tier range and although I do think the winner will be one of the big name guys at or near the top I can’t leave Wolff off the list. He was close last week, if you could delete the 7 or 8 worst holes from every players round he would’ve contended for runner up, nobody was coming close to DJ. Wolff had a very uncharacteristic 77 in the third round at TPC Boston. He was able to bounce back with a 67 on Sunday and played his other three rounds at a combined 14-under. He reminds me of DJ as far as being volatile, if you remember last week in the DJ player breakdown I talked about how you want volatility in guys for outright bets, high ceiling upside but really low floors, you don’t win anything for top 10s when betting outright, they’re just as good as missed cuts. Wolff's game is getting more mature each and every week. It also helps that he won the collegiate Illini Invitational at Olympia Fields in 2018. In a week where so few golfers will have any course experience, Wolff has winning experience.
Ryan Palmer +8000
Palmer might be having the most overlooked season by any player on tour. He contended deep into Sunday at the Sony Open and Farmers Insurance Open. Since the restart alone he has four top-15 finishes with 3 of them being top-eight finishes. Since the Workday Charity Open, he’s 6th in Strokes Gained and behind only Scottie Scheffler in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. This is pure value on a veteran who will not be exposed by how big this stage is. He always seems to be on the top page of the leaderboard, one of these events he’s going to go low on the weekend when it counts. His bogey, bogey, double bogey end to his round this past Sunday dropped him a lot of spots.
Russell Henley +6600
I started betting on Russell 3 weeks ago, right before Wyndham, not to brag or anything but I was betting him before he became the sexy pick that all the touts are backing now. He rewarded
me with a couple top 20 finish bets and that’s why you see him on this list. His name seemingly always can be found on the first page of the leaderboard. You’ll notice that he has three top-10 finishes in his last six starts. He also hits his irons better than most. He hits them so well, in fact, that he’s averaging the best Strokes Gained: Approach number of anyone since the restart. Ohh and SG:APP which is irons, happens to be a key stat this week. I’ll be betting Russ and might sprinkle an outright
Maverick McNealy +25000
In this preview I talked about some guys who’s putting held them back and how I’m not worried because putting is so up and down. Well this is a twist on that theory. McNealy gained 9.63 strokes/putting on the field last week, which was the best event of his career and the 6th best event by any golfer this season. Even with that outrageously good putting performance, he was only able to muster a T-61 finish. The rest of his game was exposed, losing strokes in every other facet. Buttt would if he continues his hot putting and the other parts of his game come together? Surely he would make a run at the top, but if I was to stick to my theory and his putter cools off, it’ll be a long week for McNealy.
Tony Finau +3300
Why not, he’s due. Right?
If you enjoyed reading this you can follow me on twitter @TheFav_orite and on Instagram @Tbn_Lefty. My official betting card with all my bets are posted by Wednesday afternoon in The Betting Network community golf channel.