We’re coming off three consecutive profitable weeks, with last week’s column cashing in on Patrick Cantlay winning last week’s Memorial Tournament at 20-1 odds.
I wish I could say that result was a true representation of perfect handicaps by yours truly. But there were a few things I have been dead wrong about.
“While the field is stacked with the biggest names in golf, the Jack-Nicklaus-designed Muirfield Village will not provide an advantage to those who have played it before.”
After 54 holes, the top-3 players on the leaderboard were John Rahm, Cantlay and Collin Morikawa, the three most recent winners at Muirfield Village.
A freezing-cold take, indeed. But, hey, I’m not apologizing for our outright winner. That pick was still a result of analyzing what I deemed “key stats” after studying the course specs.
And so with that, we’re onto the Palmetto Championship, which is taking the place of the Canadian Open this season with the boarder still closed.
The Palmetto will take place at Congaree Golf Club in South Carolina. It’s a 7,655-yard, par-71 course that is known for long par-4s. One par-4 tapes out at over 600 yards and two more are longer than 520 yards. So obviously two of our key stats will be average driving distance, and strokes gained: off-the-tee.
Congaree also has wide fairways and big greens. So we will be looking at shots gained: approaching the green, and shots gained: approaching the green from over 200 yards. Also because of the wide greens, I am assuming scrambling and play around the greens will be less important than avoiding 3-putts. So I’ve considered 3-putt avoidance as well.
The final nugget I am going to consider is how these players did at the RSM Classic earlier this season. According PGA Tout, Sea Island Resort is probably the most comparable course to Congaree on the PGA Tour.
Betting-wise, it will be a true test of discipline this week. Coming off three straight successful weeks makes me inclined to unload on every bet on the board.
However, the US Open is on deck, and this field is weak. Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson are the class of the field. I think there is more than a good chance that those two will look at this tournament as a merely tune-up for the third major of the season, and thus might not be motivated to actually win. So I’ll look at some guys with longer odds, while also saving my bankroll.
As usual, I’ll go through my bets for outright winner below. Check the breakout box for my full card and suggested betting amounts.
Patton Kizzire +3900
Kizzire checks all the boxes and the two strongest areas of his game — among the stats noted above — are the two I believe will be most important: approaches from more than 200 yards (16th in the field), and 3-putt avoidance (tied for third in the field). He’s in the upper-echelon in terms of average driving distance. His only weakness is shots gained: off-the-tee, but hopefully these forgiving fairways work to his advantage. He also finished T10 at the RSM Classic back in November 2020. Kizzire will find himself peppered throughout my card.
Keith Mitchell +3900
Anyone vaguely familiar with 4th and 26 will know the call, “It’s Mitchell.” It’s what I’ll be repeating in my head all weekend if he continues his strong recent form. Before a forgettable performance at the Charles Schwab Challenge, he was T26 at the Byron Nelson and T3 at Wells Fargo. And those events had much stronger fields. He feasts off the tee and his approaches from more than 200 yards ranks 25th in the field. His putting numbers are not great, but some of those data points came during a period when he was unknowingly using a putter with a bent shaft. Even then, he’s almost in the top half of the field in 3-putt avoidance.
Kevin Kisner +3900
There are better options according to my numbers, but his recent form and second-place finish at the RSM put him on my card. He fell to T40 after a mediocre final round at Colonial, but he was playing well and looked confident for the first three rounds.
Matthew NeSmith +7900
He’s solid across the board, but struggles with 3-putt avoidance. Anyone with odds outside of 70-1 will probably have a glaring weakness, so we will just hope he gets hot with the putter. His third-best finish of the season was T15 at the RSM, so obviously he is comfortable on these types of courses. Hopefully that comfort translates into some low numbers.
Sepp Straka +9900
Driving distance and approaches from over 200 yards are strong, ranking 19th and 23rd in the field. He’s above average in all my key stats for the week. Straka isn’t going to blow anyone away, but he has the potential to be consistent enough to be in contention on Sunday.
Joseph Bramlett +12400
He was cut at the RSM, but everything else about him is appealing. His best finish of the season came recently at the Byron Nelson. He’s outstanding off the tee and approaching the green from over 200 yards. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but we’ll just have to hope he can avoid the 3-putts as that is his weakness.