FedEx Cup: Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

Fed Ex Cup:        Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

Ten gallon hat? Check. Peewees? Check. Denim? Check. Ute? Check. Check? Check. And so we are ready – ready to stay on in Texas! Having completed one whole week at one of the Tour Players’ most detested courses at Las Colinas (49th of 52 on Tour suitably demonstrated by only 9 of the World’s top 50 in attendance!), it’s time to cross town a mere 30 miles in JFK’s perforated 1961 Lincoln cabrio to the scene of this week’s crime; the greatest game on grass is at the longest running event on the PGA Tour and home of caddy racing at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth!


Date:                     24th – 27th May 2012

Venue:                 Colonial CC, Fort Worth, Texas

Developed in 1936, this 18-hole par 70 layout is consistently rated as one of the best courses in the United States and wider in the golfing world. Colonial hosted the 1941 U.S. Open, the 1975 Tournament Players Championship, the 1991 U.S. Women’s Open, and continues to host this annual PGA Tour event. If you liked the atmosphere at The Players at Sawgrass, you will love it here! It’s party time – pass the beer nuts…

Yards:                   7,204 yards

Par:                        Par 70

Field:    

Much as with the BMW PGA at Wentworth, it is a quality home field this week including seven of the top ten on the FedEx Cup leader board, 11 winners with 13 trophy’s from 2012 and 13 major winners clutching 16 trophy’s. This week’s ugly mob specifically includes Ben Crane wannabe Bill Haas (40/1), 2011 winner David Toms (28/1), Sergio (33/1), one tired Matt Kuchar (16/1) and a lucky one from the Nationwide Tour, Mr Dicky Pride (100/1 – all BWin)!

Consider…:

Wind will serve as the primary challenge for the field this week with gusts from 25-30 mph expected during the first two rounds. Temperatures will flirt around 90 degrees most of the week.

Last year defending champion David Toms (30/1 at BlueSq) exemplified the requirements for success at Hogan’s Alley. He ranked fourth in both fairways and greens hit a year ago and there is nothing different this year to impede the golden paved path to victory – but a mere 84 bunkers and 3 water hazards. As last outing, fairways and greens hit will a considerable factor here again in 2012.

Ones to watch:

All three of Ben Crane’s top fives at Colonial have occurred in the last three even-numbered years – is this a likely converging trend? (…asked my learned PGA Tour colleagues!) Despite missing the cut at The Players two weeks ago due to an uncharacteristically shoddy 78 in the second round he comes off three top tens’ in his last four outings and ranks in the top half of the field in both fairways and greens hit. A bold move – but at 45/1 with Coral, there are good returns for a risk taking gambler.

Bo Van Pelt (28/1 with BetFair) has rebounded from an injury in his left wrist such that he finished in seventh at Sawgrass for his fifth top 10 of the season. His form in Texas is as good as anyone’s as he has been on the receiving end of eleven consecutive rounds in the 60s at Colonial over his last 8 starts here and finished a solo third last year.

Ones to win:

With eight top 25s in 16 appearances at Colonial that include six top 10s and his worst finish in his last six starts this year a mere 26th at Quail Hollow, its Jim Furyk (35/1 with BetFair) who could unleash his own brand of fury as a very likely contender this week. He currently sits third on the PGA Tour in fairways hit and 64th in greens and with the sizeable greens here (well, everything is bigger in Texas!) he ranks 12th in Strokes Gained-Putting.

Joaquin Phoenix look-a-like Zach Johnson (16/1 with Ladbrokes) sets “converging trends” once again after coming off a second at Sawgrass, and his second runner-up in three starts (Heritage) and he’s posted top 10s in his last three trips here, including a victory in 2010 when he established the tournament record (21-under 259). Zach ranks 8th in driving accuracy, total eagles and 3rd in scrambling inside 50 yards. He’s not in it for the (Johnny) Cash but can he Walk the Line?

Trick shots:

Look no further than the first round leader to be Rickie Fowler (25/1 with Bet365 and StanJames) – he has carded both a 64 and a 63 (last year in round one) at Colonial.

Louis Oosthuizen is available at a high 10/1 with PaddyPower to win with a handicap of -3. If offered at both the Masters and the Shell Houston Open, this would have lead to two impressive gambling victories!

Thank me later!

The Players Championship

Fed Ex Cup:        The Players Championship

Welcome to PGA Tour HQ and the 3rd best event in golf (after the Masters and The Ryder Cup). Often referred to as the 5th Major, despite the 600 FedEx Cup points and $1,7M winners’ prize pot eclipsing any other winners’ cheque on any tour. 144 of the World’s best players are itching to clutch the famous crystal trophy but as always, there are four rounds ahead of us. It’s the spring break of world golf and for both players and spectators, the boozy party starts right now! Hot dang!!

Date:                     10th – 13th May 2012

Venue:                 The Players Stadium Course, TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, US and A

The Players Stadium Course was built to challenge the pros like no other golf course had before while also providing an unprecedented experience for spectators at the same time. After St Andrews’ Old, this is possibly the world’s most famous golf course with its signature island green on the par-3, 17th hole being one of the most recognized in golf. This legendary track has captured the imagination of golf fans all over the world and is consistently named among the top golf courses worldwide. While the 17th hole gets a lot of attention, the 18th hole on this golf course – a 462-yard, par 4 guarded by water down the left side, is a formidable finishing hole.

Yards:                   7,220 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

This collective of the World’s best golfers should not be called a field, it should be called the PGA Tour zoo as there will be many wild animals on display this week including a Crane (66/1), Herron (400/1), Tiger (25/1), Colt (300/1), a Goose (150/1), and a monkey (off Rickie Fowlers back!) – and several Hunters to keep them all in check. It also includes many of the recent winners of this tournament including KJ Choi (100/1), Tim Clark (200/1), Henrik Stenson (125/1), Davis Love III (200/1), Justin Leonard (300/1) and Adam Scott (45/1 – all Coral). A winner here joins an illustrious and exclusive club of the best golfers in world golf. Bring it on…

Consider…:

…only one thing: the closing three. These final three holes can make or break your round and will be the determining factor in success versus failure. The 16th is a birdiable par 5 – the easiest hole on the course in 2011 but with trouble lurking, a wayward shot still ends chances if you can’t hold your nerve. The 17th is the island green that requires you must to stay on dry land – do that and you are on your way to a par, or at worst, a four. And at the par 4 18th, the water all the way down the left tops off 3 holes that have made many a beige trouser dark brown without warning.

Ones to watch:

Ben Curtis (89/1 with BetFair) remains on fire since winning in San Antonio. He’s backed the win up with a 13th place in New Orleans and a top 5 at the Wells Fargo and has 4 top 25’s in 4 appearances. If he had enough rounds logged to qualify, he’d rank fifth on the PGA Tour in greens hit, second in Strokes Gained-Putting and 25th in scrambling. All ensuring some pretty consistent stats to support his position safely into my top four this week.

Fresh off his maiden victory on the PGA Tour last week beating Rory McIlroy and some other guy in a playoff is Rickie Fowler (50/1 with Bet365). Ranked second in fairways hit, fifth in greens hit and 21st in putting at Quail Hollow – his performance finally matched the hype so finally welcome to the party! Prior to the victory, he chased 10th in New Orleans as the 3rd top 10 in 2012. Has no great history at Sawgrass but now that he’s shed the monkey of a non-winner, he belongs here.

Ones to win:

This one is on and off the top of the world rankings more times than a bride’s nightie, but its current number 2, Luke Donald (73/5 with BetDaq) who has taken the week off after a solo third in New Orleans. Should be fresh despite a stunning 19 under par with one bogey in the last 55 holes! Currently leads the PGA Tour in scrambling, 2nd in fairway bunkers and 4th in putting. Donald makes his 10th start at TPC Sawgrass where he shared 4th last year. Was also co-runner-up in 2005.

 

…but there’s a storm a brewing. Il Nino is lurking. If its stats you want, this will trump them all. Sergio Garcia (42/1 with BetDaq) lies first in all-time earnings at TPC Sawgrass. He’s 10 cuts from 12 starts at the Stadium Course with a win in 2008. Was a solo second in 2007, 4th in 2002 and finish last year’s event in 12th. This will be his first start this season since a share of 12th place at the Masters and his petty foot-in-mouthery outbreak that followed. Currently sits 14th on Tour stats in the all-around ranking and a very likely and well liked winner if the form guide tells no porky pies…

Trick shots:

Brandt Snedeker to finish in the top ten is at 9/1 with Bet365. The cheeky looking red heads’ form in 2012 has been far more consistent than that in 2011 and he already has the Farmers victory from January. Brandt Snedeker’s results include 3 top tens’ including the win from just ten starts and he currently sits 10th in the FedEx Cup. Positioned 7th in top tens’ and 5th in consecutive cuts, The Sned is a likely candidate for a sure each way bet but beware of the form that may mean he cheats us all and takes the title!

Mr. Worksop – England’s, Lee Westwood is 7/2 with SkyBet to miss the cut. I am tempted by this bet and won’t lose any sleep regardless of your thoughts about betting only on winners. As Stewart Milne (Chairman of Aberdeen FC) would say though – “you’re awfa negative”…

Thank me later!

FedEx Cup: Honda Classic

Fed Ex Cup:        The Honda Classic

Good afternoon and welcome to the Sunshine state – Florida’s PGA Tour home and the home from home for many of the European Tour and PGA Tours global superstars including Tiger Woods (12/1 with Stan James). However, it’s not all about the Sunshine, Florida is also famous for Disney world, NASA, alligators, oranges, Spring Break, its “snow birds”, fishing (just ask Greg Norman) and of course golf. The Honda Classic is the first of four big tour events on the Florida Swing so unpack your bags, fill the fridge and sit back and watch – we will be here for a while.

Date:                     1st – 4th March 2012

Venue:                 PGA National Champion Course, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Our hardy overworked players will this week be tackling a course consistently ranked among the toughest in tournament conditions. In 2011, PGA National ranked as the second toughest on TOUR at 2.5 strokes over par — just a tick easier than Royal St. George’s Golf Club in the British Open. To give you a flavor of just how difficult, let me put it into perspective; there were 206 par 3s played on the PGA TOUR in 2011 including the four majors. Sitting 1-2 in terms of difficulty were the 17th and 15th holes, respectively, at PGA National’s Champion Course. This is a seriously tough course with a distinguished history of tournament play – including appropriately the 1983 Ryder Cup, the 1987 PGA Championship, and nearly two decades of PGA Seniors’ Championships.

Yards:                   7,158 yards

Par:                        Par 70

Field:                   

Woods will join a field that also includes reigning U.S. Open champ Rory McIlroy and his ever decreasing odds (this week 9/1 with PaddyPower), reigning British Open champ Darren Clarke (446/1 with Bet Fair) and English World number 2, Lee Westwood (10/1 with BlueSq). Given its ‘home from home’ locality for many of the players, why not consider the tenuously house themed Cink (251/1), Couch (489/1), Wi (Wii!) (117/1) and Claxton (494/1) not to mention Kokrak (271/1 all with BetFair) (everyone has a clax(t)on and kokrak at home don’t they?).

However look at these three big performers from the last 3 months of PGA Tour competition including Mr Consistent – John Rollins (75/1 with Bodog), Johnson Wagner (100/1 with Coral) and Jimmy Walker (80/1 with StanJames).

Consider…:

Consider the “Bear Trap” – the legendary 15th, 16th, and 17th holes on tour, let alone over The Champion course – considered by many as the toughest three hole stretch in golf. Also add the added excitement of the fact that even at the Riviera, the winner yet again came from behind, so clearly no lead is safe this year…

Ones to watch:

Mark Wilson (63/1 with BetDaq) claimed his first of what is now five PGA Tour victories at the first edition of the Honda at PGA National in 2007. Has played better than most of the Tour since January and won the Humana Challenge last month. Wilson placed third at the WGC-Match Play beating the on form Westwood to the $600,000 podium pay check and with it currently sits fourth on PGA Tour in greens hit and 11th in the all-around stats form.

Kyle Stanley sticks out towards the top of the form guide with a win and a second to his name in the last six weeks. Unfortunately though the cat is out of the bag now in terms of his ability but he is still worth following and his relatively low 38/1 (BetDaq) odds demonstrate the growing confidence in his ability to perform at the top level is on the up.

Ones to win:

This is his first appearance since a solo third in 2009 but its Ben Crane (36/1 with BetDaq) and his three top 10s this season including a solo second at the Waste Management Phoenix Open that make him a leader board king this weekend. Crane ranks 13th on the PGA Tour for greens hit, leads the strokes Gained-Putting and second in the all-around stats so will more than likely be the one towering above everybody else on Sunday evening.

Charl Schwartzel (26/1 with BetFair) tied for 14th in his debut here last year on the start of a 5 tournament run that culminated in his triumph at the Masters last April. Ranked fifth in putting and T5 in birdies for the week last year and has been a solid performer having had nine top 20s in 10 starts dating back to the Dunhill Links five months ago. Your money is welcome here at the Bank of Charl!!

Trick shots:

Camillo Villegas on a handicap bet to win (-4.5) at 12/1 with Stan James.

Graeme MacDowell is 12/5 to miss the cut with SkyBet – it’s a fairly negative punt but there are only winners in this game that we play….and that’s what you could be!

Thank me later!

 

FedEx Cup: Waste Management Phoenix Open

Buckle up ladies, this is your superior officer speaking and this might just get exciting…welcome to my new office…

Fed Ex Cup:        Waste Management Phoenix Open 

After the thrilling ending to last week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the PGA tour heads to the Arizona desert for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course, built in 1986, hosted its first Waste Management Phoenix Open in 1987 which has now become the largest attended golf event in the world and brings immeasurable attention to the quality field that entertain. Most of whom can be found as part of the largest and loudest gallery situated in the stands that circle the perimeter of the par-3 16th green…oh boy!

Date:                     2nd – 5th February 2012

Venue:                 TPC Scottsdale, Phoenix, Arizona

Set in the Sonoran Desert and surrounded by the majestic McDowell Mountains, TPC Scottsdale embodies the standards of excellence in golf operations worldwide. The Stadium Course, designed by the team of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, is a masterful blend of challenge and playability for the enjoyment of all levels of golfers, professional and amateur alike. It is not the toughest course on the PGA Tour (ranking 42nd of the 51 used) but offers a low scoring option that clearly excites and delights its sizable number of patrons each year.

Yards:                   7,216 yards

Par:                        Par 71

Field:                   

A quality field has returned “home” to Scottsdale for the biggest prize of the season to date as so many of the players have residences with an abundance of suntan lotion around Phoenix. Expect many of these ‘locals’ to be in the mix come Sunday afternoon including Simpson (26/1), Snedeker (29/1), Laird (37/1), Fowler (31/1), Watney (25/1), Mickelson (39/1), Bradley (45/1) and Dustin Johnson (51/1). The season also starts here for Ian Poulter (61/1 – all at BetFair) who joins the headlines of a field with a depth to it.

Consider…:

This week will boil down to those who minimise mistakes and take their chances on these greens and so we will be looking for players who hit plenty of greens. Over the last few years, there would seem to be a premium on good, solid drivers of the ball with previous winners Kenny Perry (189/1 with BetFair) and Hunter Mahan both ranking highly in the Total Driving stat at the time of their victories.

Two holes stick out in my mind; the par-3 195-yard 12th with water guarding the entire right side and sand bunkers to the left and behind. The green is long and narrow with a two-club difference between the front and back pin placement. Then there is the par-5 595-yard 13th with a split fairway. Downwind, the shot is probably the right fairway, driving between the water and island desert. Play this right and make it 50 yards shorter and reachable in two. Softies go left to the wider driving area, eliminating the chance to reach. Its good old fashioned exciting stuff!

Ones to watch:

World number 22 (did you know that?) and current FedEx Cup holder Bill Haas (51/1 with BetFair) has such long odds for someone of his caliber that he just has to be a consideration for a place. Had a great 2011 season earning $4M+ through 7 top tens including a PGA Tour win and two top two positions. Currently lies 5th in Greens in regulation and so given my considerations above, is a worthy contender this week.

A promising gymnast who quit to focus on the small ball game, it is bald headed funny guy Ben Crane (61/1 with BetFair) who is my tip for a place this week. With two top tens from three starts the form shows and with such strong stats for putting (with strokes gained) and one of the highest Eagle hitters on tour, just you watch the daft Beaver at the business end come Sunday!

Ones to win:

All round Mr. Nice guy Matt Kuchar (33/1 with BetFair) smiles his way into my vision as a hot prospect this week. He is just warming up after one start this season but his stats for 2011 are impressive: 24 events played, 19 top 25’s including 9 top tens – the only thing missing was a win but he has proven he has it in him previously. The second most accurate driver on Tour, Kuch is Mr. Consistent and high in birdie averages too. Surely this makes this Georgian a peach of a bet?

Breaker One, Breaker One, I might be crazy, but I ain’t dumb! It’s Bubba Watson at 45/1 (with Betfair). Generally (General Lee – get it!?) he’s gonna cuff ya and stuff ya! Having bought Bo and Luke Dukes real star, Watson has found a Hazzard he wants to be in and the Southpaw is the one to outrun the rest of the field this weekend – probably in it. A solid start to the season with two top 25’s, Bubba is just warming up (probably as all Arizona residents do – in ‘Daisy Dukes’ and a tank top!). With top ten stats for both driving (obviously) and greens in regulation he may just be the Boss (Hogg) come Sunday.

Trick shots:

Webb Simpson to be 1st round leader at 25/1 with BetFair and Aaron Baddeley and Ben Crane in a Double Chance win with SkyBet @ 22/1.

Thank me later!

111th US Open Championship: Golf Boys

In celebration of the 111th US Open Championship, this tickled my humour today.