FedEx Cup: AT&T National

Fed Ex Cup:        AT&T National

“Thank you for calling the AT&T National, please hold….“

Welcome to The Old Line State – Maryland; America in miniature with Countryside that ranges from sandy dunes dotted with sea grass in the east, to low marshlands teeming with wildlife and large bald cypress near the bay, to gently rolling hills of oak forest in the Piedmont Region, and pine groves in the mountains to the west. Despite the 3,400 mile distance, this is McIlroy County – home of Rory’s sensational US Open victory in 2011 but he’s not hearing the call (he’s in Ireland) – leave a message – tell him it’s the greatest game on grass and the PGA Tour is dialling in!

Date:                     28th June – 1st July 2012

Venue:                 Congressional Country Club (Blue Course), Bethesda, Maryland

Steeped in tournament history, Congressional has hosted many leading tournaments from juniors, ladies and seniors to majors in the form of the PGA and US Open as well as this established annual gathering – although the AT&T has had a 3 year absence from the roster at this venue and this year is 314 yards longer than it was in 2009! The exclusive Club counted Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D Eisenhower and Gerald Ford amongst its esteemed members and is so posh that the ice cubes are frozen twice to help them last longer in their G&T’s – now that’s cool!

Yards:                   7,569 yards

Par:                        Par 71

Field:    

“Just one moment please….”

If you are looking for your AT&T host – he’ll be a long in a minute, as for the first time since he took the trophy back in 2009 Tiger Woods (11/2 with SkyBet) has accepted an invite – from himself!! This invite only event at the Congressional is restricted to a field of only 120 including nine players who have already won on the 2012 PGA Tour, 11 major championship winners with a mantelpiece holding 28 major trophies and two of the current top three in the FedEx Cup standings, all of whom will be competing for a $6.5 million purse and a winner’s cheque in the region of $1,100,000.

Consider…:

“How may I direct your call?”

The World watched in 2011 as McIlroy obliterated the US Open field, and we knew the Blue course was tough – some would say brutal, but the scores were unlike many a US Open for at least 19 players ended in red numbers! It may not quite play so brutal this time around but the course still hosts tricky but rewarding holes – no more so than the 489 yards par 5, 6th hole and the 471 yard par 4, 12th holes that could make a big difference to a cards.

Ones to watch:

Potentially the hottest player on the Tour without a victory (yet) this year, Ryan Palmer (37/1 with BetDaq), if recent history is anything to go by, could see another finish in a placed position this week. In his last five starts, he’s posted four top 10s including in each of his last three outings. At a staggering aggregate 33-under in those 4 starts, with averaging 3.74 birdies per round and having finished 21st in 2011 U.S. Open, he knows how brutal but rewarding the course can be.

England’s Brian Davis (90/1 with BetDaq) recorded his third fourth place finish of the year at the Travelers Championship where he shared the 54-hole lead. He ranked within the top 10 in fairways hit, greens reached and birdies obtained at TPC River Highlands. He is certainly consistent currently sitting 29th on the PGA Tour in the all-around ranking but has yet to make the breakthrough into the winners circle and as such, it may just be a podium (and no more) on this call.

Ones to win:

Bo Van Pelt (35/1 with BlueSq) tied for 24th at the Travelers delivering his fourth top 25 in five consecutive starts and his ninth of the year from 13 cuts made! He is currently sitting fifth on the PGA Tour in total driving accuracy, 52nd in greens hit and third in Strokes Gained-Putting and tied for 14th at Congressional in the 2011 U.S. Open. The World number 32 sits 37th on the FedEx Cup and with a few strong events could be a contender for a valuable Ryder Cup spot in Chicago.

Scot Martin Laird (63/1 with BetDaq) is a good call this week in theory, if you consider his length off the tee and the frequency of hitting greens in regulation (he currently sits 10th in the Tour rankings). Like some of Scotland’s other finest exports, he has a tendency to play the difficult courses well – coping well with the firm and fast conditions that suit his game. With warm, dry weather expected, don’t expect him to lose his cool.

Trick shots:

“I’m just putting you through…”

On fire Marc Leishman fresh from his win at the Travelers last week, returns 147/10 with BetDaq to finish on Sunday in a place… and with two top fives in his last 4 outings, you wouldn’t bet against it would you?

Martin Laird also delivers 51/10 (also with BetDaq) for a top ten finish – he has had three already in 2012 and 18 in his career. The odds are looking in our favour…

Thank me later!

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!