Course: Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, NY
-Par 70, 7445 yards
-Fairways: Bentgrass and Poa Annua
-Rough: Bluegrass, Rye, and Fescue
-Greens: Poa Annua
-Field: 156 players; Cut is Top 60 and ties with no MDF
– 4 Par 3’s, including 1 monster hole (about 250 yards), 12 Par 4’s, 2 Par 5’s
-6 Par 4’s lie between 450-500 yards with 1 more going over 500 yards
This year’s toughest test in the PGA takes place at a course that held the event back in 2004, which saw Retief Goosen outlast the Pillsbury Doughboy, Phil Mickelson, as those two were the only two that finished under par at -4 and -2, respectively. That year featured some controversy in which the fairways were said to be much too narrow, averaging about 26 yards, and the greens became so dry that nothing could hold the green on Sunday. In fact, not only were Goosen and Mickelson the only two to finish under par for the tournament, but there were ZERO under par rounds on Sunday. The USGA will most likely do their best to make it an impossible ball-buster, per usual, and if the wind picks up, I don’t see the winning score being under par. If we want to take a quick walk down narrative street, by my estimation, I see 11 total doglegs, with 8 of them being dogleg RIGHT and 3 dogleg left. So, if you know guys who generally play a fade/cut, a) let me know, and b) they could see a slight advantage.
Renovations since 2004 (redesign was done by famous duo of Coore/Crenshaw in 2012):
-Fairways were increased from the very narrow 26-yard average to about 41 yards in 2018
-The green size has been slightly increased to an average of about 6000 sq. ft.
-The overall length of the course has increased by over 500 yards since 2004
-Trimmed the rough around the greens so it is less thick, but also allows for balls to roll farther off the green in the case of missed Greens in Regulation
-Almost all trees were removed, bringing into play the possibility of taking this already links-style course to the extreme with no shelter for heavy winds
Notable Holes and Trends
Looking back at the 2004 US Open, we saw a scoring average of 74.081 over 4 rounds, so it should come as a shock to no one that every hole played over par, with the exception of the two par 5’s (holes 4 and 16). The 3 toughest holes relative to par were number 10, playing almost half a stroke over par, the iconic par 3 7th, which only yielded 20 birdies over the 4 rounds, and the par 4 6th, which had the 2nd most bogeys (153) of any hole out there. See below for all scoring averages per hole and how players fared back in 2004 (the hole lengths below are as of 2018 and some holes played shorter in ’04).
|Hole||Par||Length||Rank||Avg Strokes.||O/U Par|
This is Bobby Jones for those of you who don’t know…
Furthermore, we see how imperative it is to hit these greens as the hardest hole, relative to par, had a 41.8% GIR rate (#10), while the Par 3 7th had a rate of 33.4%. Especially with the rough being mowed down and the ball now able to run off the green even quicker, leaving a delicate up and down, or a punch out from the fescue, players being dialed in with the irons will be one of the most important stats of the week. I personally will not be factoring in Par 5 scoring too much this week, however; it is notable that in order to compete you need to take advantage of the ever-so-rare birdie holes. About 1/3 of all birdies made over 4 rounds in the field came from holes 5 and 16.
-No recent US Open winner has been outside the top 18 in GIR for the week they won
-Watch out for the World #1: Only 1 #1 ranked player has one in the last 13 US Opens and that would be none other than the GOAT himself, TIGER WOODS, in 2008. Spoiler, I’m a Tiger fan.
-One of the biggest topics that will be discussed all week will be how LONG this course is but also staying out of the rough/fescue. Look at the last 5 winners of the US Open: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Martin Kaymer, and Justin Rose. What did they all have in common? Total Driving. What is that? The combination of a player’s rank in both driving distance and driving accuracy. A more used stat that correlates quite well is SG: OTT (Off-The-Tee) in which during their wins Koepka was 2nd, Dustin 4th, Kaymer 1st, and Rose 13th. I think we’ve found what’s important to succeed here.
Key Stats and Stats Needed to Compete
If we take a look at Goosen’s scorecard from 2004 we see that he did 3 key things en route to victory:
1) Didn’t squander away Par 5 opportunities, as he went -6 over the course of 4 rounds
2) Was even on the Par 4’s; to be even on a course like this with so much trouble off the fairway puts you far and ahead of the field
3) He avoided big numbers; over the course of 4 rounds he made nothing higher than a double bogey and he only made ONE of those. As most golf bettors and fans alike know, the US Open is, normally, not won or lost based on your birdies but your bogey avoidance and staying away from double and triple bogeys (or a 9).
If we looked at Phil’s scorecard (2nd), we would see somewhat similar trends where he went -4 on the Par 5’s for the week, a stunning -4 on the Par 4’s, but struggled on the Par 3’s (+6). Phil, who loves those high numbers, also managed to limit his double bogeys to two total for the week.
So, what’s it going to take to compete? Stats I think I’ll be targeting include SG: Ball Striking (Player’s rank in both total driving and GIR), Scrambling, Fairways Gained (a stat exclusive to fantasynational.com, which is more accurate than Driving Accuracy as it compares your fairways hit compared to each week’s field rather than overall. Why does that matter? It is much easier to hit an 80-yard-wide fairway at the Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas than the 19-yard-wide fairway at the 13th at Shinnecock Hills. We need to be comparing players vs. that field, not the players that are hitting fairways that are wide and not playing courses with narrow, punishing ones.), Driving Distance Gained, Par 4 Scoring, and Bogey Avoidance. I will dive into these stats much more and any others that I find relevant in the research process in my upcoming DraftKings preview article.
That’s all for the course preview! Follow me on Twitter @sscherman and follow @AmateurHour_Pod too, for podcasts with FIRE guests and weekly picks to win.