EDS Byron Nelson Championship preview: Time for Kim to be a man
There’s this piece of poetry going round in my mind (yes, I went to school once) about not losing your head when all about you are losing theirs. This column being nothing if not educational, you can read it here, although its echoes of long-distant days of empire might leave some a bit queasy.
Very rarely has a potential winner stood out so starkly, so much that I had to go back over the stats three times to make sure. Fresh out of college, but already burning up the fairways of America like Sonic the Hedgehog on steroids, Kim has precisely the all-round game this competition over two rather worn-out courses demands.
If you don’t believe me, have a look at my stats. He easily heads my all-round table for this event - 4th for distance, 7th for greens in regulation, 15th for putting and 18th for accuracy. No one else gets anywhere near that completeness of game. The figures are especially striking because they closely mirror those posted by Brett Wetterich when he won last year.
So why haven’t the bookies made Kim favourite? I sometimes get the impression they don’t look much beyond the official world rankings. But they do have a case for arguing that being a hot young golfer is one thing, winning PGA tournaments another. As I said last week, Kim’s got to come up with the goods over four days. Since he hasn’t played these courses before how do we know he’ll like them? And we haven’t really seen him yet coping with the Sunday top-table pressure cooker. I’m also justifiably wary of “shoe-ins” - cue that AC Milan moment.
Even so, a price of more than 40 on the exchanges represents a decent punt because two top fives in his last three outings suggests a strong chance of his price going lower by the weekend even if he doesn’t win.
Elsewhere, word on the fairway is that we should be looking for the best all-round packages we can find - none of last year’s top 12 came first in any one discipline, but with some exceptions were in the top quarter for all of them. Any bias is towards accuracy off the tee and greens in regulation, the latter particularly significant with the bumpy greens likely to make long-range putting a bit of a lottery.
So if our Anthony comes up short, here’s what the form book suggests about some others:
Vijay Singh: No way I’d oppose him, but I was very disappointed with his weekend performance at the Masters. Still, two wins and five other top 20s this season. The worst he’s been is 39th.
Phil Mickelson: Maybe we should call him Lucky Lefty. He escapes a penalty for using his golf bag as a sun shade, now he’s let off for missing the pro-am. Those golfers whingeing about double standards are right, but it’s a brave PGA tournament that chucks out its top attraction. Phil is taking experimentation to a new level with his tie-up with Butch Harmon and the wisest course would be to sit on the sidelines and observe. His accuracy stats are dire and recent course record modest.
Sergio Garcia: Was doing alright until he ran into the buffers at Augusta. A winner here three years ago, but his last two visits have been horrors. The lowered emphasis on putting is a big plus, but he needs to be much less wayward off the tee to stand a chance.
Sean O’Hair: Second only to Kim in overall stats, he too has a good all-round feel to his game, although not as impressive as Kim’s. But he has played here twice already and knows the angles - second two years ago and 19th last. He’s missed five cuts this season but has perked up lately with four top 20s. I was disappointed he didn’t do better last week, but maybe he was pacing himself for this one. I’d pencil him in for a fighting finish.
Luke Donald: There’s a lot of money going on the Englishman’s head for this one. But for a bout of ping-pong on the Sunday he might have been a Masters hero by now and was sixth here last year. His stats, though, are good but not spectacular.
I’m not a fan of Wetterich to repeat, but will keep an eagle eye out for Jerry Kelly now his brain has apparently been rewired. Three top tens in his last three outings, including fifth at the Masters.
One outsider I’ll be watching is Matthew Goggin. His exchange price is 290, but he’s been top 30 in his last two outings, was 13th here last year, and has stats that put him third in my all-round table.
PS: Some of you may spot another link between the poetry I quoted and our intrepid young golfer. Rudyard Kipling’s defining novel is called, simply, Kim.
|« EDS Byron Nelson round one: Why does Mickelson's exemption surprise anyone?||Zurich Classic round four: It's OK Nick, you can celebrate now »|
No feedback yet
Comments are closed for this post.