The PGA Tour has a familiar route from Bermuda to Mexico as it heads towards more novelty events around Christmas.
Five of the six previous winners scored 20-under or higher (Patton Kizzire was one of those in 2017). It’s obvious that this course of 7000 yards and bits is open for attack by these players. But it still requires some thought.
Many of the contestants over the years have pointed out that getting the ball on fairway is the key to throwing those darts. With the weather forecast for rain and greens that run slower than normal, it is important to drive well. Viktor Hovland, two-time champion, said that “there is a lot on both sides and being straight driver and good off a tee, that helps.”
The first priority is quality tee to green play. However, players who hit irons from the rough, or worse, will have difficulty keeping up the birdie chase. For the perfect example, look again at Hovland.
The Norwegian won in 2020. He saw that his tee shot on 72nd hole was too short and was in the sand or rough. I am not surprised that he didn’t see such an easy birdie opportunity.
It is easy to compare courses – find those who excel in windy conditions and that consistently find greens. They will be confident in their putter. Simples.
Scottie Scheffler, former world number one, is someone I don’t know what to think.
In just a few short weeks, the 26-year old went from being the best player to not win a tournament to the top player in the world. He then consolidated that position with a win at the Masters, which is the most traditional indicator of excellence.
It all got a little tired after that. To make it five wins, he should have won Charles Schwab (former Mayakoba winner Brendon T. and a certain Tony Finau split the 3rd- and 4th). After his run, he had chances to win the U.S Open at Brookline, and the final qualifier prior to the ‘big one.’ Rory McIlroy was able to regain the top spot.
Scheffler is fresh from a recent appearance at the CJ Cup, in which he was again thrashed and beaten by McIlroy as well as many of his rivals this week.
If he’s a no, that leaves Hovland as the dual-defending champion. The afore-mentioned Wise and Collin Morikawa, along with Aaron Wise, will fill the gap at 20-1 or less.
Hovland is a popular choice and it’s hard to fault his single-figure cost. Morikawa’s putting is back to his disastrous early career figures and Wise doesn’t see enough for his win record.
Tony Finau is sitting brightly amongst them. He is, despite not having been out recently, easily the highlight for the week.
It’s hard to know where to begin. The 33-year old finally broke free from his Puerto Rico curse by winning the 3M Open. He also beat Emiliano Grillo (three top-10s here). A week later, he returned home to the Rocket Mortgage Classic, where he was five shots ahead of the elite Patrick Cantlay (6th here in 2019).
After leading the tee to green stats by a mile in the previous fortnight I expected him to win the FedEx St.Jude hat-trick, but he couldn’t recover from his reckless driving. An ever-present fifth position is not something that should be cried-inducing.
After an opening 77, BMW Championship was a complete failure. He may have felt the effects of his previous month’s efforts when he again started slowly at East Lake before a best–of-Sunday 64 pushed him into the top-10.
This eye-catching effort was sure to prompt me to be on him when I re-appeared. The two-month break is fine with me, as he was runner-up at the Mexico Open three week after The Masters. He seems to have had a great time and has seemed to have had a lot of fun in the interim.
Welcome to Beef’s Golf Club @TonyFinauGolf
— Beef’s Golf Club (@BeefsGolfClub October 25, 2022
Finau’s elite form in the last few months aside, Finau ended his season ranked 12th in approaches, fifth for greens–in-regulation, and the same position for the tee–to-green. All aspects that give him the look of Hovland.
The ‘Big Break graduate has always finished in the top echelons of all vital statistics in previous years. He now has confidence with his putter, which has seen him rank in the top-20 in six out of nine complete outings.
He has two top-10 finishes from six El Chamaleon outings and one 16th. He is obviously a much better player now.
Relevant course comparison forms include a pair of Riviera runner-up finishes, linking him to winners Hovland, Kuchar, and you can also add 2019 winner Todd for form at both the Charles Schwab and Pheonix Country Club.
Farmers’ form is positioned alongside those of Hovland (again), and 2012 champion John Huh. John Huh only attends half-a dozen courses per year, while Hovland won this after Puerto Rico (20-under). On and on.
The excitement over Finau’s chances is causing a lot of people to be nervous. However, the rest of this field has a limited chance of beating the top half dozen.
But, I’ll back the main selection with a smaller wager Tom Hoge. This player, who looked like he would become a journeyman and clock up the money with the odd top-10, has found his level.
The victory at Pebble Beach in February changed his life. He beat Jordan Spieth, Cantlay (4th), and Matt Fitzpatrick (6th). But it was possible that it was telegraphed as he won five at Torrey Pines, third in Hawaii at the Sony, and two top-10s at Sea Island. It also saw him finish first in Texas and on the Barracuda three times.
Although the victory was a significant step up for Hoge, he has maintained his form with top10 finishes at the US PGA and 3M, Tour Champpionships, Shriners, Zozo, and 3M. Hoge’s 13th-place finish at the CJ cup meant that he now has five top-13 payouts for the same number of events.
Hoge returns to the course where he finished third in 2020. His course form is fine mixed with improving his current form. All this is based on his iron play, for which he ranks about 10th for six of his six starts.
Whilst we can surmise Finau’s current form, Hoge is already showing up on the 2022/2023 wraparound stats – sixth in greens-in-regulation, 20th for tee-to-green – whilst over three months he is 11th for all-round ranking, the highlights being 23rd for greens, and 19th for putting average.
He will be a strong contender if you do that this week.
The trio of each-way wagers for this week are completed by Jason Day , a 34-year-old .
Despite all his problems – withdrawals due to injury, illness, and personal tragedy – the Australian has managed to get through them all. He is on his way to being in the top 50 and getting invited to the majors.
Day seems like he has been around forever, but that’s because he was a consistent leaderboard member of all majors – second and third at the Masters, fourth and fifth at the US Open and three top-10s each at the US Open. He also won the sole major win and five top-10s respectively at the US PGA.
His history shows that he is good enough to win an event like this. Recent evidence suggests that he will continue to improve his game before he finally does so, adding to his 12 PGA Tour wins.
Day, who had suffered from back problems for years, was able to bounce back at the Farmers in January. He couldn’t keep hold of a third-round lead and lost the play-off by one shot. Day was nevertheless happy with his performance.
Golf Digest’s David said that the last two years had been “a bit of an uphill battle.” “But it’s a real plus, not just for my back but also because when I get on the course, I feel good.”
He clearly found that the slower, gentler swing was more effective. However, he admitted that it was necessary. That’s why I have to be careful.
The bronze medalist at Torrey Pines has seen him finish 15th at Wells Fargo, top-20 at Rocket Mortgage, and most recently, eighth at Shriners. He was also 11th at CJ Cup where he did better each event.
He birdie-crackers in the Las Vegas round. Although the CJ Cup may have been too demanding of his driving skills, he was 11th in approaches and 19th tee to-green. Also, he was good at putting. Day was also able to find greens-inreg at both rounds and was very skilled around the greens.
The 2015 PGA champion seems to be within reach, and the price makes it well worth the effort.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR October 9, 2022
Take a chance on arrow-straight Greyson Sigg for the top-10/top-20 picks.
Many of the good stuff was written about 11 months ago in our 2022 Player To Watch column. However, it is worth noting that the 27-year old was one of many top-class KFT graduates of the Lockdown years. This may have obscured his individual talent.
Two-time KFT winner Patton Kizzire (2017 Mayakoba champ), has taken his time to showcase his best. His best result includes a top-10 finish behind Finau at Twin Cities, and at Sanderson Farms. Finau came in 25th overnight thanks to a final round of 67 on a difficult Sunday.
Last week, the Barracuda Championship saw the ex-Bulldog finish with eight rounds and six going into payday. However, the final round was tougher than the first, where he finished in 11th place, his fifth consecutive cut.
Sigg is simply not able to compete on big tracks. He ranks well outside of the top-120 in the last three-months. So look out for him at all the circa-6800/7000-yard tournaments. We have this course here this week. Sigg recorded the joint-lowest round on Sunday with 64 last year.
Tony Finau WIN
Tom Hoge WINS
Jason Day (WIN/TOP-5/TOP-10
Greyson Sigg Top-20