Tuesday, September 22

Golfworld: How 'the Course Setup at Winged Foot Played Into the Bombers' Hands'

BRYSON DECHAMBEAU IS NOW A BULKY GUY. But the new U.S. Open champion is a smart guy, too. This isn't a recent development. He figured out a few things before blasting his first tee shot at Winged Foot last Thursday.

Golfworld highlighted this and other points in its "18 Parting Thoughts From a Wild Week at Winged Foot."

Here's one of their takeaways:

2. In hindsight, the course setup at Winged Foot played into the bombers' hands. Length is always an advantage, and there's a temptation to combat it by making the fairways super narrow and the rough super long. The problem is, when fairways are that narrow, everyone's going to miss their share. The field only hit 39.6 percent of fairways this week—that's the lowest percentage of any PGA Tour event over the last 30 years, per stats oracle Jason Ray. (DeChambeau might have hit only 23 fairways, but he ranked a respectable T-26 in the category.) And when everyone is missing fairways, the guys closer to the green are going to fare so much better than the guys further away.

DeChambeau was well aware of this, maybe more so than anyone in the field. Here's what he said in his post-round presser: "[Statistician] Mark Broadie was talking to [coach] Chris Como, and they were talking about how they just made the fairways too small this week to have it be an advantage for guys hitting the fairway. So what I mean by that—let's take an example of you going like a yard wide. Nobody's hitting the fairway. OK, length's going to win. You make the fairways too wide, lengths going to win."

The takeaway: length is always going to win.

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