FedEx Cup: Wells Fargo

Fed Ex Cup:        Wells Fargo Championship

Ahoy pickers! If you can hit the ball almost as far as you can throw your clubs, watching the Wells Fargo this week. With the financial haul of this week’s tournament at a whopping $6.5 million and a heavy handed slice for the winner totalling $1.17 million AND 500 FedEx Cup points, it’s no wonder the PGA Tour scatters its feed in North Carolina this Sunday while 150 or so parsimonious and penurious pro’s cock fight for prizes. Now that’s worth watching!

Date:                     3rd – 6th May 2012

Venue:                 Quail Hollow, Charlotte, North Carolina, US and A

Quail Hollow Club is one of the finest courses in the Southeast and was originally designed by George Cobb in 1961 capturing the beauty as well as challenging terrain of the Piedmont region. It received a full redesign by Tom Fazio in 1997 and again in 2003 and has exquisitely manicured greens following the unusual contours of the hills to challenge the sharpest short game. It’s famed for its’ ponds, creeks, water and rock wall and giant trees and tufted bunkers.

Yards:                   7,442 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

The usual PGA Tour suspects are accounted for including amongst the cream “Tonk” Woods (10/1), Jiminy Furyk (20/1), Rory Wozzilroy (8/1) and Rickie Fowler-Depp (40/1 – all Ladbrokes) but amongst this cream there are a few notable absences; there is no Donald; no Westwood; no Watson; no Stricker; no Kaymer and no Rose. GMac has withdrawn while Kuchar is practicing being less friendly. Never mind – if its outsider bets you like look no further than Rick Lewallen at 2,500/1 with Bet365.

Consider…:

For the first time in its nine years as host of the Wells Fargo Championship, Quail Hollow averaged under par in 2011. What has been one of the most difficult par 72s on the PGA Tour achieved a rather benign 71.something. The 16th, 17th and 18th of the Green Mile in particular is where the damage is usually done as average score in 2011 was 1 over par for the three holes! Vital for success at Quail Hollow is putting and scrambling; 10 of the 15 players who shared up to 10th place in 2011 cracked the top 25 in total distance of putts made. Winner Lucas Glover led that list.

Ones to watch:

Fresh from a water tight 7th place in New Orleans, his third top 10 in his last eight starts is Arizonian Ken Duke (151/1 with BetFair); he lead the field at TPC Louisiana in strokes gained-putting. Ranks 34th overall on the Tour in that stat. Has had two top 15s in five appearances at Quail Hollow and on current form looks likely to continue that feat in 2012.

Bald North Carolinian Bill Haas (46/1 with BetDaq) is still gunning for his first top 25 since his playoff victory at Riviera in mid-February, a drought that has extended to five starts. But Quail Hollow, as the Beach Boys would sing, gives out good vibrations as he’s finished fourth twice, including last year when he led by two after 18 holes. Ranks high in many scrambling stats including scrambling from 30 yards and in and putting from 15 – 25 feet.

Ones to win:

It’s two of the world’s top ten that excite me this week. First up, Lefty – Phil Mickelson (56/5 with BetDaq). It’s his first start since a 3rd place finish at the Masters, his fourth top five of the year. Phil hasn’t missed a cut in any of his eight appearances at Quail Hollow, six of which have resulted in a top 10. He sits 3rd on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained-Putting; second in bogey avoidance and everyone knows his ability to scramble with his quality of his “up-and-downery”.

Finally it’s the only multiple champion on the PGA Tour this season. Hunter Mahon (20/1 everywhere including SkyBet) ranks fifth in both fairways and greens in regulation and lies 39th in Strokes Gained-Putting and 15th in bogey avoidance. Top 25s in each of his last four starts at Quail Hollow signify he knows how to play the game over these links. I predict that he sits as the Boss of the Moss come Sunday.

Trick shots:

Ben Crenshaw mentored Jhonathan Vegas sits with unprecedented high odds for a top ten finish at 23/1 with BetFair – and he had three top tens in 2011 from 18 cuts made.

Nick Watney returns 50/1 everywhere to be the first round leader. Is having a quiet year so far but has it in him to scare the field. Now lets see if he can do it…

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!