Image courtesy of Golf.About.com
The FedEx Cup is halfway over and there still are a lot of unanswered questions left to be answered about how the playoffs will finish out. We have narrowed the field from 125 golfers in the beginning 100 golfers, and now entering the third tournament of the four-tournament playoff system, we have 70 players left with a chance to hoist the FedEx trophy at the end. The third round takes place in Carmel, Indiana at a challenging Pete Dye course known as Crooked Stick Golf Club.
Built in the mid-1960s by Mr. Dye, the course itself plays a little more than 7,500 yards and is an even-par 72. With well-protected greens and wide fairways, Crooked Stick features a wide variety of demanding approach shots from left-to-right with the next hole demanding shots right-to-left.
Overall, Crooked Stick, like most Pete Dye courses, is a course designed to not only test the golfer’s physical ability, but his mental toughness as well. Put it this way – the 30 players to survive this weekend safely belong among Golf’s elite.
Holes to Watch:
This week there are three holes that present opportunities to pick-up – and drop – strokes on the field. Each hole on this course has greens well protected by either bunkers or water. The Front-9 of the course is by far the more challenging of the 18 holes and will definitely “thin out the herd”. This could be a tough weekend for players who are on, or near, the 30-player cut line. Look for players who have struggled to get off to a quick start in tournaments to continue that trend at Crooked Stick Golf Club.
Hole #5: This is the first of four Par-5s on the golf course, and plays by far the hardest of the four (possibly the hardest of the 18). The hole plays 621 yards tee-to-green, and for most players will play as a three shot hole. With a number of fairway bunkers in play, an aggressive tee shot might not be the answer to this hole. Also, while birdies are always the goal, a par score on this hole would please most players, and possibly still give them a leg up on the field.
Hole #3: This is one of the many holes that will test players’ commitment to their strategy. The third hole is a 200-yard par 3 that will test the aggressive nature of the golfer. A front to middle pin location will allow the player to attack the pin, but if it is towards the back part of the green then it brings into play a beach party that no one wants to go to.
Hole #15: This is the shortest of the par 5s, and is where most players can make up some strokes. It plays just over 520 yards, and has 50 feet of green to work with. As long as players avoid the fairway bunkers on this hole, and with a front pin location, players can make this an “Eagle opportunity”.
This is a long and challenging golf course for players. It is going to take a special kind of both mental and physical skill to win the 1.4 million dollar purse. For players to find success at Pete Dye’s home course, they must be able to hit the long ball as well as, be skilled in their approach game. Here are my three candidates that can see getting the job done this week in Carmel.
Jeff Overton: Have to put the hometown hero as one of the possible winners. Jeff is from Evansville, IN and lives locally in Bloomington. Plus he knows the course well and has played it multiple times, so it’s safe to say he will have the right strategy. On top of all that, he drives the ball decently, 68th on tour this year, and has a very good approach game from 125 yards and closer.
Tiger Woods: All right I get it; we are all tired of hearing about how this is the time Tiger Woods will win his fourth tournament. We have heard it all year long, but like I said before he is not back, and this win will not change that. However, anytime there is a strategic Pete Dye course involved you have to assume Tiger will put himself in position to win. He loves these courses, and is still one of the best minds in the game. There are really only two issues stopping Tiger Woods: #1. His putting, and #2. Weekend Woes. If Tiger can putt the ball like he has been all year on the first two days, and semi-decent on the weekend like he did last week, then he will be in the hunt.
Lee Westwood: Westwood has been hanging around all year long. He has played in 13 events this year and has six top-10 finishes. On top of all that, he is ranked 33rd in driving distance, with a very good approach game from 50-175 yards out. Finally, if his short game shows up and can consistently put the ball 10-15 feet of the hole, look for Lee Westwood as your new BMW champion.
BMW Champ: Lee Westwood