US Open Preview

Growing up as a kid and as die hard sports fan in Northern California, I don’t remember being overly infatuated with sports statistics. Sure I could tell you how many homeruns Will Clark had hit for the Giants in 1989 when the team went to the World Series, or number of Joe Montana touchdown passes, but I don’t recall the landscape of sports hinging on what I would call meaningless and “geeky” statistics. Those who play fantasy baseball can attest that categories like WHIP, Holds and OPS have contributed to statistical overload! Still, stats can be very telling and can prove to be valuable when analyzing and prognosticating.

So when JB asked me to write this year’s U.S. Open preview, I decided to fasten on my pocket protector, tighten my bow tie and tackle this preview from a geek’s perspective. After all, anyone can give you their opinion on who is going to win, but let’s face it, stats don’t lie.

The following preview looks at five key categories:

• Driving Distance (I hear a rumor that Beth Page Black is playing long, so long drives will be critical)
• Putts Per Round (When the USGA is setting up the course, you can bet on quick – sometimes impossible – greens)
• Greens in Regulation (You can’t run the ball into the greens at BPB, so precise ball striking is imperative to set-up whatever birdie opps may exist)
• Consecutive Number of Cuts Made (This tells us who is hot and a good bet to make the cut)
• Top 10 Finishes (This stat tells us who has been there and can withstand pressure of competing)

PPR- Putts per Round
DD- Driving Distance
GIR – Green in Regulation
T10 F’s – Top 10 finishes
CNOCM – Consecutive Number of cuts made

Note – Player receives star if they break the top-25 in each respective category. Stats are thru St. Jude Classic.

1. Tiger Woods * * * (Top 10s, CNOCM, PPR)

As much as people want to hear golf prognosticators go out on a limb with their Major picks, TW is a no-brainer given the fact that he excels in almost every statistical category. We know he can putt and after hitting every fairway in the final round of the Memorial, one has to believe that he has solved his driving accuracy issues. Tiger has also made a PGA Tour best 36 consecutive cuts and is tied with 5 others in the Top 10 finishes category (keep in mind, he has only played in 7 events!).

2. Paul Casey * * * * (GIR, Top 10s, DD, CNOCM)

According to the statistical categories, Paul Casey has the best chance of winning the U.S. Open. He is THE ONLY four star player. I am not totally sold on him, but again, the stats don’t lie. He is ranked No. 22 in GIR and No. 25 in driving distance. He has also made eight straight cuts (T10) and has recorded three top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour (T19). Oh yeah. He also averages 295 yards off the tee. If he was a better putter (T63), he would be the statistical odds-on-favorite to win. A good week of putting could put Casey in the winner’s circle.

3. Geoff Ogilvy
* * * (Top 10s, CNOCM, PPR)

If you are participating in a U.S. Open pool and are forbidden from choosing TW, Geoff Ogilvy would be the next best pick. After a lengthy conversation with a fellow media member last week, he convinced me that Ogilvy’s high draw gives him a great chance this week. Ogilvy’s ball flight will allow him to be aggressive and drop high, soft landing shots into the green. Stats tell us that if he can hit greens (ranked 50th), his putting can close the deal as he is ranked 7th in PPR. Both Ogilvy and Woods average a blistering 293 yards off the tee, so even though they aren’t in the top 25 in this category, they certainly have the length needed at BPB.

4. Dustin Johnson * * * (GIR, Top 10s, DD)

The winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is third in driving distance (307 yards off the tee) and a surprising ninth overall in GIR. He also has three Top-10 finishes to his credit. If DJ can putt (T86), he, like Casey, could turn some heads this weekend. DJ is my darkhorse to win the U.S. Open.

5. Kenny Perry * * * (GIR, Top 10s, CNOCM)

Forget about the collapse at Augusta, this guy knows how to win. He is 14th in GIR, T1 with six Top 10’s and has made 18 straight cuts. My money is on KP to be one of the last golfers standing on Sunday.


• Zach Johnson also accumulated three stars ranking 23rd in GIR, T8 in Top 10’s with five and T14 in CNOCM. In the end, his lack of length off the tee (ranked No. 138) and sub par putting prevented him from breaking the Top 5.
• Sean O’Hair is a two star player (ranked No. 1 in GIR, T1 in Top 10’s) and has plenty of length thanks to his R9 driver. Sources in Carlsbad tell me however that his wrist isn’t 100% and that his wife may go into labor this weekend, which would force a WD. I like SOH, but not this week.
• One of the best dressed players (See Sligo promotion on THP) and one of my favorites Brian Gay would be a nice story to win, but aside from ranking No. 8 in putts, he doesn’t have the GIR or DD to win.
• I am pulling for Phil Mickelson because my heart goes out to his family, but he is only a two star player (Top 10s, DD).
• Jim Furyk sure is impressive on the green (ranked No. 3 in PPR) and is tied for first with six Top 10’s, but his DD and GIR hurt his chances of cracking the top 5.

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  • Awesome coverage. I had no idea about O’Hair’s wife. Thank you.

  • Another incredible article Caleb, what amazing coverage. I can’t wait for tomorrow when the US Open begins.

  • As a fantasy geek like you, I loved the column. Great preview and look forward to the next one.

  • Nice preview, I loved how you strapped on the geek tools and dug deeper to get some stats to help you predict the winner. You made some strong observations and I’m pretty confident that the winner will come from your top 5 there.

  • No mention of Sergio Garcia huh? As much as it pains me to speak about a golfer who seems to not care, I think Mr. Garcia will have a pretty good shot here.

  • Not sure I can fully get behind such a limited numbers-based handicapping of the Open — just too many variables at play — but I entirely enjoyed the read! Nice work, and great to have your thoughts. Myself, I like TW, Casey, and Furyk this week.

  • I liked reading this because I am a fantasy football nut. Not sure I agree with the picks, but hard to argue with Tiger. I guess we will see if your Theo Epstein theories work. HAHA

  • Nice write up. Im with you on Kenny Perry, the guy has been solid the last 2 seasons.

  • Very good report. I actually agree with just about all your picks. With the weather like it is, I really like the long hitters. I love your style here, keep it up.

  • Very good article from a geek’s perspective! I love stats, so I can’t argue with many of your picks here. It should be a fun tournament to watch.

  • I enjoyed the article and the methodology. In the end however, it’s almost impossible to pick the winner if you take Tiger out as a possible pick. I didn’t know about Sean O’Hair’s wife so I may have to change a pool I entered yesterday. I would love to see Kenny Perry win!

  • Good stuff, C!

    I enjoyed reading it.

  • Loved everything about this. Play rotisserie baseball and it brought me back to that. Really like the Paul Casey pick this week.

  • This is a wonderful preview.

  • Yep, have to agree that Ogilvy is a big chance. But I wouldn’t write off Stricker either.

  • I saw Andy North also picked Ogilvy. Looks like a solid pick. I would love to see Tiger vs Rocco round 2.

  • Fun article–I love anything with good stats.

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    Your topic The Hopkinson Report ” Episode 57: Has Gillette taken the “razor and … was interesting when I found it on Monday searching for golf stat…

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