Muirfield Village Golf Club, Dublin, Ohio, 7,392 yards, par 72
Jack Nicklaus design, 1974
Defending champion, William McGirt, -15, won in a playoff over Jon Curran
Weather: 75-80 throughout the weekend. Tomorrow, perfect, sunny 75, wind 10-18 MPH. Chances of t-storms over the weekend, winds anywhere from 7-17 MPH.
TV: Thursday-Friday, Golf Channel, 1:30-5:30 PM CT/2:30-6:30 PM ET; Saturday, GC, 11:30 AM-1:30 PM CT/ 12:30-2:30 PM ET; CBS, 2-5 PM CT/3-6 PM ET; Sunday, GC, 11 AM-1 PM CT/12-2 PM ET, CBS, 1:30-5 PM CT/2:30-6 PM ET.
Notes, Don Wallace, the senior director of Shotlink on the PGA Tour, which is an amazing service that gives the networks the ability to show the viewer the actual distance of drives and a players exact position on the green with his exact proximity to the hole, meaning Jordan Spieth is on a green and Shotlink shows the viewers he has 31'1" to the hole. It's great stuff. Wallace said the old axiom, "Drive for show, putt for dough," is not accurate. He says it's more like "drive for dough," as the stats show players positioned well in the fairways, fare better in tournaments than players who putt well.
I think it's both. To me, driving accuracy, distance and strokes gained putting are equally the top stats in golf. But really, you have to have it all. Greens in regulation are very important, proximity to the hole, the closer you are to the hole the better chance you have or making birdie, and scrambling are critical also.
It depends on the course. At the U.S. Open, which comes up in 2 weeks at Erin Hills in Wisconsin, I would say scrambling is key as are strokes gained putting. Driving accuracy is always important. A U.S. Open is more about surviving, so saving pars is critical. Getting up and down is a major part of winning a U.S. Open. When Martin Kaymer won at the Open at Pinehurst in 2014, his "Texas wedge," his putter from off the green, was superb. Dustin, last year at Oakmont, was putting superbly, but everything was clicking. His distance is always tremendous, and like Jay Bilas, ESPN expert basketball commentator, says, "Don't let anyone kid you, size matters," and I believe that axiom applies to football that "recruiting rankings matter." Alabama's done OK with No.1 recruiting classes I'd say. So does distance in golf. Accuracy is critical as well.
So with all that it's about putting it all together. I like the driving and putting stats the best, but greens in regulation, proximity to the hole, scrambling all matter in winning golf tournaments, especially majors. Can't wait for the one coming up. Always sensational at the United States Open, with many heavyweights competing for that coveted major.
Number 18, Par 4, 444 yards
An uphill tee shot with room in the fairway can cause problems if you over-cut it with sand to the right, a tough sand trap with a large lip on the end of it that players will have to clear on their second shot. If a player over-cooks it, he could be in the creek on the left or blocked by the trees for his second shot, so driving accuracy, with the pressure of the 72nd hole and a championship within grasp, will be a challenge off the tee. The second shot has to clear the bunker in front and needs to try and stay clear of the bunkers guarding the entire green. Long is a tough up and down from behind the green. The great one, Jack, will be waiting for the winner who can navigate this hole the best. Toughest hole on the course, and one of the more famous ones in golf.
This week's winner:
I'm going with the 23 year old to get back into the winner's circle and shake Jack's hand on 18. He shot 65 in the final round of the Dean and Deluca last week at Fort Worth, and his greens in regulation percentage is tied for number one on the tour. He putted very well last week. His driver can be an issue at times, with accuracy causing him problems, but I like this stellar player and person to take home the trophy and be ready for Erin Hills in two weeks.