The Fortinet Threat Score holes helped shape the narrative all week at the 2022 Genesis Scottish Open.
By playing the second and third-most-difficult holes on the course in even par for the week, Xander Schauffele avoided the pitfalls many of his peers encountered. The field was a combined 353-over-par on those two holes, overall, over four rounds.
Almost nobody could solve the closing hole at The Renaissance Club – the champion included. The 18th played more than six-tenths of a stroke over par, the first closing hole to do that since the U.S. Open at Merion in 2013. Schauffele made a six foot, nine inch par save on the 17th Sunday that proved to be absolutely vital – it meant he could take a two-stroke advantage to the final tee box, play the hole conservatively, card his third bogey of the week there and still win by one.
Let’s break down the three toughest holes from last week at The Renaissance Club, and why they proved to be the strongest tests for an excellent field - which boasted 14 of the top 15 players in the Official World Golf Ranking - in East Lothian:
Difficulty Rank: 1st (+0.62)
The closing hole at The Renaissance Club was an absolute monster, yielding only six birdies for the entire tournament. The field was a combined 285-over-par on the 18th for the week – in comparison, they were just 18-over-par on the rest of the back nine. There were far more bogeys or worse made for the week (251) than pars (205), and just 22 percent of players found the putting surface in regulation.
A total of 55 players hit their tee shot into one of the fairway bunkers for the week. Not a single one of them went on to hit the green in two. If a player missed the green, this was also the toughest scrambling hole on the course, yielding an up-and-down rate of just 34.2 percent. On the greens, players averaged 2.1 putts in the final round at 18, the most of any hole on the course. Any way the data is sliced, this hole was an absolute brute.
Difficulty Rank: 2nd (+0.39)
The par four eighth proved to be the toughest hole on the front nine for the week, giving out birdie just 4 percent of the time. The hole played most difficult in round two, with the pin in a front right position on the green. With the flag in that spot, the field averaged outside of 31 feet from the hole with their approaches on Friday. Recovering after missing the green was difficult here, as well, with just 41.2 percent of players able to get up-and-down for the tournament.
Despite missing the fairway three times on this hole, Xander Schauffele was able to make par here in all four rounds. Schauffele executed three difficult two-putts there, gaining about three-quarters of a stroke on the field putting at the eighth for the tournament.
Difficulty Rank: 3rd (+0.37)
The second hole wound up as the third-toughest hole on the course, as well as the third-toughest to find the green in regulation (36.4 percent). On Saturday, it was the most difficult green to hit in regulation, with a scant 27.8 percent finding the green in two shots. At more than 490 yards on the scorecard, the field didn’t get much help off the tee, averaging less than 275 yards for the week.
Schauffele’s birdie at two in the final round boosted his win probability by 16.1 percent, the largest increase of any hole by any player for the entire week. It provided a much-needed buffer for Schauffele, who was able to take a conservative approach playing the tough 18th hole with a two-shot cushion. With the win, Schauffele became just the fifth American to win the Genesis Scottish Open, and the first in seven years.