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"Fields" of Dreams

publishedabout 2 months ago
11 min read

The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers

Muirfield has hosted sixteen Open Championships, eleven British Amateurs, and the Ryder, Walker, and Curtis Cups alongside countless other notable Amateur Championships. Yet this week, the club will make history once again. For the first time, the AIG Women's Open will be contested on these sacred links. This stunning landscape, home to so many of golf's greatest champions has opened its doors to professional women. The excitement building in and around 2022's last of nine men's and women's major championships is palpable.

Muirfield is a big deal. Set alongside the Firth of Forth, these windswept holes have determined some of golf's greatest champions. It takes a complete game to win here. In looking at the names of the last six Open Champions who secured the Claret Jug at Muirfield, you quickly notice they are not just all great golfers, but Hall of Famers. In order going backward through the years, we have Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els, Nick Faldo (twice), Tom Watson, Lee Trevino, and Jack Nicklaus. When you consider that company it leads one to believe it will be a very special woman that wins this week.

The golf course sits adjacent to the coast and tests every aspect of a player's ability and patience.

  • The ladies will be playing a Par 71 layout over 6,680 yards.
  • Eleven Par 4's, four Par 3's and three Par 5's constitute the scorecard.
  • Muirfield has exquisite bunkering. One hundred and forty-seven bunkers outline, intrude and decorate the course. Seventy-seven of them fill the fairways and another seventy surround the greens.
  • The front nine takes you around the property perimeter and the back nine layouts sit completely inside the opening nine holes.

Great courses test your ability to manage the elements. Wind and weather can play a significant role on the course. You will play holes facing in all four directions; north, south, east, and west. That level of design combines well with an uneven landscape to produce a test for every club in the bag. Throw in a little weather and it gets even more challenging.

  • Wind will be a factor this week. Thursday through Sunday sustained winds in the high teens will blow. This level of the constant challenge becomes even more difficult when you include gusts over twenty miles per hour as well.
  • The ladies will remain quite dry this week. Showers are currently predicted for Friday into Saturday morning. It's always best to check the weather again Wednesday in case there are any significant changes.
  • It's summer in Scotland, temperatures will range in the mid to high 60's throughout the four days.

Those ladies who competed last week in the Scottish Open on the west coast of Scotland faced similar competition. Since it is the fifth and final major championship of the season, and MUIRFIELD, we have one of the best fields on the 2022 schedule.

  • All ten of the Top 10 players in the Rolex World Ranking are playing. Thirty-three of the top 35 are competing as well.

Much like St. Andrews three weeks ago, if you were invited to this championship, you are coming. It will take time to digest the social and historical significance of this championship coming to the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers. Much like the list of players who have won here before, this test evaluates the best in the world. When the week is complete don't be surprised if the champion golfer is someone we know quite well placing her name where it belongs alongside the greatest in the game.

Closing time

The Wyndham Championship is tournament number forty-four on the PGA Tour schedule this season. The final regular season event, the drama that usually takes place on the Donald Ross design seldom disappoints. Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina is a Par 70 scorecard covering 7,131 yards. Much like many of the shorter courses on the PGA Tour (Harbour Town, Waialae), it is extremely predictive in determining similar leaderboards year after year.

Although the field may only have four of the Top 25 in the OWGR and fourteen of the Top 50, players are paying attention to a different list this week. Much like the women will face the external pressure of the moment to try and win at Muirfield, the men face elimination from the PGA Tour for next season.

  • All eleven players from 120-130 on the FedEx Cup points list are playing this week. From Rickie Fowler to Justin Lower some names we know and others we don't. In all cases, they are fighting to remain on tour.
  • In the last five FedEx Cup standings the average difference between the last spot and elimination has been less than four points!
  • In five of the last ten years, the difference has been two points or less.

Fowler may not feel the same pressure as some others, but when you're ranked 380th in the world like Justin Lower... this is a big moment in your career. Keeping your card is the ultimate barometer for believing you belong. Year after year we return to Greensboro to figure it all out. That level of side story has produced some very expected and unexpected finishes.

  • The average odds from the last five Wyndham winners is +16000. If we go back ten years the average winner odds jump up to +17000.
  • We have seen winners here from Henrik Stenson in his prime to Davis Love III well after.

Sedgefield is a birdie fest. The length creates plenty of birdie opportunities for the best in the world.

  • The average winning score over the last five years is twenty under par, over the last ten it shrinks to seventeen under par.
  • The course conditions will dictate scoring for the most part. Greensboro has had some wet weather recently and we expect more this week. Temperatures will be hovering in the high 80's and low 90's. We don't expect much wind this week, but it will be very very humid and the players will see some wet weather over the course of the four days. Up to a half inch of rain may fall on Friday into Saturday with a little more coming over the weekend. Soft wet conditions with minimal wind and high humidity equate to low scoring. To win this week you better get well past twenty under par.


Finish like Finau

If you enjoy my weekly narratives, give reading my golf coaching content a try on PGA.com. Each week, I write four or more articles covering the LPGA and PGA Tour. This past Monday, I wrote the article linked below on Tony Finau's fine finish at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. In order to get better at all aspects of the game, read a little coaching content and fill that wallet on and off the course by learning from Read The Line writer Keith Stewart.

Hit the button picture or button below and go to PGA.com.


By land, sea and air

I mentioned this in the narrative above; great players win at Muirfield. If you wish to join the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, you must be great yourself. To tackle this lovely landscape of links land, you better be prepared to conquer the game by land, sea, and air. Let's start with the sea.

  • Muirfield is located in the town of Gullane right alongside the Firth of Forth. It's a large body of water that will produce nasty playing conditions. The sea consists of water and sand. Muirfield may only border the water, but there's still plenty of sand on the course. Every hole has at least three bunkers. Every fairway has bunkers and every green is decorated with them. Short game and sand play are vital to each player's success.

The air can be a funny thing in golf. It can be cold, it can be heavy and it certainly can be moving.

  • Wind coming off the coast of the Firth of Forth will play havoc with the competitors at the Women's Open. Trust, patience, and acceptance are key ingredients to survival this week. Although last week was a links test for the Scottish Open, the weather did not show up. The ladies were able to play comfortably along the west coast. This week's current forecast calls for some showers and an above-average amount of wind. Twenty miles an hour of wind to compete against on this course will be a test.

Golf is played on the ground. At Muirfield, that's a lesson that is taught over and over again.

  • The beauty of this course lies in the way in which it rolls with the landscape. Take the sixth hole for example as the ground mimics the rolling water nearby. The terrain at Muirfield is very uneven. Players will be tested by uphill, downhill, and sidehill lies all day. I love the blind tee shot on the eleventh with nothing in the background. Try to pick a target. Fairways and greens sit at funny angles and require the keenest amount of concentration to perform in the moment. Hole nine moves right to left off the tee and left to right toward the green.

To determine our short list of contenders, I have looked closely at previous performances in the championship. Short game and sand play are important alongside great tee to green play. This course will play much longer than Dundonald last week with the Par 4's averaging 400 yards in length. For that reason and more I'm favoring power and Par 4 scoring. Skills needed to compete in all three facets are difficult to master, but if you can keep them under control for one week, you stand a chance to join an immortal collection of champions.

Lydia Ko leads the list of contenders because she is the best links player on tour. Her record in this championship is significant mainly due to her ability to score around the green. She's ranked first on tour in putting, second from the sand, and Top 40 around the green. The fifth best approach player on tour, she hits plenty of greens and will need to this week. She's fifth on tour in scoring average and holds a resume worthy of winning at Muirfield.

Any player who is ranked sixth tee to green, sixth on approach, and fourth around the green can compete anywhere. The difference this week, those specific skills will not only help Hyo Joo Kim compete but give her the chance to win. She finished T3 at the Évian and T3 at the Scottish Open with a final round 66. She's ranked 2nd on LPGA for Par 4 scoring. Sixty-one percent of the holes played this week will be Par 4's. Her edge there is a difference maker. When looking at previous major championships, the player who played best on the "four shot" holes won.

Outright winners - AIG Women's Open

Lydia Ko (+1100)

Hyo Joo Kim (+1400)

Pick 3* (+2000)

Pick 4* (+3500)

Pick 5* (+6600)

(*- member content)

Donald déjà vu?

We have two weeks in a row for Donald Ross. Detroit Golf Club and Sedgefield Country Club are both designed by one of golf's greatest architects. One of the best traits of a great course designer is their ability to create subtle differences between their layouts.

  • Sedgefield requires the players to hit the fairway. Unlike the Rocket last week, this is not a bomb and gouge landscape. We have switched to Bermudagrass and the rough is known to be more penal at SCC.
  • Week after week we talk about approach differences between courses. The Wyndham will be no different.

Ross green complexes are some of the best of all time. Most believe his best work came in the Carolinas. SCC will challenge these competitors on the putting greens. Just like last week at DGC, the winner will roll his rock effectively.

  • If you take five foot increments, 5-10', 10-15' all the way up to 25' the putting surfaces are more challenging than the tour average.
  • Simply stated, a 12' foot putt at SCC is more difficult than the average 12' putt on tour.
  • The greens are Bermudagrass down here in Greensboro. Certain players putt better on this type of grass. This is another reason why this course is so predictive.

Only six holes have a scoring average over par. The guys will be hitting a plethora of greens. Proximity to the hole and creating birdie opportunities are definitely factored into our approach. One last point before the outright list, this collection of Par 4's is very specific. Eight of the twelve fall into a certain range. Performance on this style/length of the hole is vital and played a significant role in determining this list of names.

  • Russell Henley - One of the best wedge players in the field. His course history at SCC is solid and although some may balk at his putting statistics, he putts well at Sedgefield. His Top 10 last week after a summer break assured us his stellar play this season is still intact. He always rises on the leaderboard at comp courses like Waialae. At a place where accuracy matters, I'm going to pick the most accurate player. He's ranked first in the field in SG:APP.
  • Adam Scott - He is quietly having a very strong year. He finished in the Top 15 at the last two majors and has only missed two cuts in 2022. Both of those misses came in terrible weather conditions at the PLAYERS and the PGA. A specialist on courses that favor accuracy and control, he showed his ability to patiently contend at the Open Championship a couple of weeks ago. He's ranked second in the field for overall proximity to the hole on approach. Last year everyone remembers the putt he didn't make to win, I remember all of the putts he made on the property in order to get there!

Outright winners - Wyndham Championship

Russell Henley (+2500)

Adam Scott (+3500)

Pick 3* (+4000)

Pick 4* (+7000)

(*- member content)


The schedule is set

It's taken a while to get there, but the PGA Tour has released their 2022-23 schedule. Much remains the same at first glance, but overall there is a huge increase in purses. The players will compete for $415m in purse money over 44 tournaments and $145m in off the course incentives as well. That adds up to over a half a billion dollars available for the players next season.

Hit the button picture or button below to see the press release from Ponte Vedra.


One more major, can we get our 4th of the season?

Set the alarms for Scotland and let's get ready for the playoffs!

Live media all weekend covering both from a betting perspective.

Stay tuned to Read The Line.

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