A Week for Grinders: The Players You Can Count on to Avoid Bogeys at Pebble Beach

Jun 11, 2019 02:34 PM EDT
Credit:

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports. Captioned: Patrick Cantlay

  • The 2019 U.S. Open, which will take place at Pebble Beach Golf Links starting on Thursday June 13, will put a premium on players who can avoid big scores, perhaps more than any event on the golf calendar.
  • Which players does this grind-it-out style of golf favor the most? Jason Sobel examines the numbers.

At most professional golf tournaments, birdies are king. You can’t win if you don’t go low.

The U.S. Open ain’t most tournaments.

It doesn’t take hours of research to realize that this is the one week of the year when par is a good score. The one week when avoiding those dreaded squares on the scorecard is just as important as posting circles.

Whether the eventual winning score is a few strokes over par or a few into the red, that doesn’t negate the fact that grinding out pars will be of the utmost importance at Pebble Beach this week.

With that in mind, there are a pair of statistical categories to which I’m paying extra attention — and yes, they’re very close cousins.

Current season-long numbers for bogey avoidance and bogey average — very similar, yet different stats — should provide an informative look into the players who are best at saving par and staying away from those dreaded bogeys.

Bogey Avoidance

Bogey avoidance shows the percentage of holes on which players record that score. The top-10, through the recent Memorial Tournament:

1. Patrick Cantlay: 11.24%
2. Dustin Johnson: 11.67%
3. Matt Kuchar: 11.83%
4. Lucas Glover: 12.16%
5. Jim Furyk: 12.50%
6. Webb Simpson: 12.92%
7. Charles Howell III: 12.93%
T-8. Aaron Baddeley: 12.96%
T-8. D.J. Trahan: 12.96%
10. Scott Piercy: 13.19%

No surprise: Some of the world’s most talented — and most consistent — players are right near the top in this category. The list begins with Cantlay, the recent winner at Muirfield Village, who is sure to be a trendy selection to contend once again in his native California. For those already penciling him onto betting sheets and DFS lineups (myself included), this should simply serve as confirmation for what we were already thinking.

Next on this list comes Johnson, which many might not have predicted based on his aggressive mindset, but again, he’s proven to be uncommonly consistent. Kuchar is less of a surprise, and to an extent, so are Glover and Furyk, all players who understand the efficiency of keeping the ball in the fairways and on the greens.

Looking just below that aforementioned top 10, we find a bevy of potential contenders.