European Tour Course Primer: Porsche European Open
This week the European tour heads north to the Green Eagle Golf Course a bit south of Hamburg, Germany. This event was historically played in the British Isles up until 2009 and then revived in 2015 after a brief hiatus. This will be the third year in a row played at Green Eagle so we have minimal data to work with. This tournament received a fair amount of media coverage last year due to Bryson Dechambeau and Patrick Reed’s antics, Bryson’s handshake mishap in the final round after he lost to his playing partner and Patrick Reed yelling at the cameraman were not great looks for the yanks across the pond. Reed is back here this week for his third straight start in Germany, but Bryson did not make the trip over. Still the field is very strong this week and I think we’re seeing the European Tour benefit greatly from the early FedEx cup finish and the backloaded European Tour schedule.
Course: Green Eagle Golf Courses - North
Type of Grass (greens): Bent/Poa blend
Yardage: 7,544 Yards (6,898 Meters)
In looking back at last year, one thing that’s striking about this course is the large greens -- the 18th green alone looks like it could be two greens merged together. So hitting greens will be easy this week, but hitting greens in the right places will be the key as the greens are fairly undulating. Looking at the scorecard might cause you to do a double-take as the front nine is a par 34 and the back is a par 38. The back has four -- yes, four -- par 5s, which is not something we see in professional golf very often and certainly something to be noted. The course is fairly long, at a bit north of 7,500 yards, and a lot of that yardage comes in the par 5s, with all but one of them playing at more than 590 yards.
Par 5 18th hole: I’m a sucker for a good risk-reward par 5, and especially so if it comes on the closing hole. The 18th hole at Green Eagle is only 517 yards on the card, but there is a lot of water to be found. There is water running along the left side of the fairway for the most part, and then it widens to a fairly large pond right in front of the green with a small chute of grass on the very right as the only way to run one up this green. A safe drive erring to the right side of the fairway or into the right rough is the play off the tee. Most of the long hitters finding the fairway will be going for it in two, but they can easily find the water short, or if they blow it long, they will have a scary chip/bunker shot going back towards the water. Last year this hole yielded 21 eagles, so a late lead is not safe on Sunday.
Par-5 Scoring: With so many par 5s at this course, it is pretty clear that par-5 scoring will be a key stat. This course has played fairly tough the last couple years, so with five chances at par 5s, scoring will need to be done on those holes. When you look at how the winners won this event the last few years, the importance of par-5 scoring becomes even more evident. In 2017, Jordan Smith finished -13 and played the par 5s in -9, and Alexander Levy, who lost to Smith in the playoff, played them in -7. Last year, McEvoy finished -11 for the week but played the par 5s in -12.
Driving Distance: This course is long -- very long -- so driving distance will be key this week. It wouldn’t seem like it based on last year’s leaderboard, but if you look to 2017, a lot of longer hitters were on the top of the board. Smith is fairly long off the tee, and his distance helped him win as he finished third that week in driving distance. Levy lost to Smith in a playoff and finished 10th in Driving Distance. Others of note include Zander Lombard (T5, sixth in driving distance), Alexander Knappe (T12, first in driving distance) and Charl Schwartzel (T12, 9th in driving distance).
There are a handful of PGA players making the trek over, headlined by betting favorite Xander Schauffele as well as Patrick Reed. But other big names include Matt Kuchar and Paul Casey. With only two years at this course, there isn’t a lot to look at for player course history, but a couple standouts are Reed (9-19) and Alexander Levy (13-2).