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!

FedEx Cup: HP Byron Nelson Classic

Fed Ex Cup:        HP Byron Nelson Championship

It is only 1,071 miles (17 hours in a car “at legal speeds Officer”) but The PGA Tour bus has navigated from PGA Tour HQ back to the Lone Star State to Irvine, deep in the Heart of Texas for this week’s HP Byron Nelson Championship in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. If it is true what they say and everything is indeed bigger here – what on earth has happened to the prize pot since Sawgrass? It drops $2.5M while 1st place shrinks $600,000.

Date:                     May 2012

Venue:                 TPC Four Seasons Resort, Las Colinas

TPC Four Seasons Resort in Irving is hosting this event for the 27th time but had shared the pre-cut rotation with its neighbour, Cottonwood Valley Golf Club, for 14 seasons however since 2008, the TPC Four Seasons Resort has flown solo. A redesign in 2008 has lead to the Driver being in the hands of the players more over the revamped links for more attacking play and also, as Sawgrass, to create a more fan friendly multi view point course for spectators.

Yards:                   7,166 yards

Par:                        Par 70

Field:    

There are very few top tens’ of the PGA Tour playing (in any category; FedEx Cup; World Golf Rankings or Money!) this week but those that can be bothered after the 5th major of last week include Carl Petterson (33/1), Johnson Wagner (50/1) and Phil Mickelson (18/1) and 2012 Tour winners John Huh (50/1) and Jason Duffner (28/1). Further down exists a malady of medically misaligned golfers in Flesch (Steve – 150/1), Ricketts (Brian – 400/1) to Lamely (Derek – 250/1) and Lovemark (Jamie – 250/1 (all Bet365)) all seeking an appropriate ointment for their ailment!

Consider…:

In 2011, TPC Four Seasons Resort averaged 72.354 strokes, resulting in the third-most challenging par 70 in non-major competition. There’s zero letup tee to cup and scrambling is the order of the day. It’s set to be warm (at a constant 30 even with clouds) but there’s a consistent 15 – 17 mph wind just to test the best.

Ones to watch:

My Tour favourite, Adam Scott (22/1 with StanJames), overcame his European disappointment at TPC Sawgrass specifically with a 15th place finish and has won this Championship in 2008 and shared third in 2006. If he logged enough rounds to qualify (less is most definitely not more Adam!), he would rank fifth on Tour in greens in regulation and first in birdies or better on par 4s. With an 8th place finish in the Masters, all this guys needs is some fire in the belly (putter!).

My next one to watch is Jeff Overton (50/1 with Ladbrokes)…who has illustrated an affinity for the host course, posting a 2nd here in 2010 and an 8th last year when he ranked inside the top 25 in stats across the board. Sits 24th on Tour in birdie average, 35th in birdies or better on par 4s and 32nd in bogey avoidance. We are seeing a form of resurgence from Overton – especially through March and April where he recaptured the form of his best season – 2010. Now Over to(n) you…

Ones to win:

John Rollins (50/1 with Ladbrokes) has made eight cuts this year, seven of which have gone for top 25s, including a 25th place at The Players Championship. He leads the PGA Tour in total driving distance and ranks 30th in greens in regulation. The Virginian guitar playing golfer finished just outside the top 60 in the FedEx Cup in 2011 but currently lies 34th and does sit 4th in the top ten finishes – so statistically you can justify popping a fiver on him…

You can never rule out back-to-back victories despite a seminal title at The Players Championship last week where Matt Kuchar (19/1 with BetFair) ranked 3rd in greens hit and second in strokes gained-putting. Kuuuuuuuch shared sixth place at last year’s event and currently sits eighth in scrambling and fourth in bogey avoidance – let’s not forget 6th in the FedEx Cup with 4 top ten finishes in 10 starts. No wonder he is the professionals professional.


Trick shots:

Chad Campbell, enjoying a resurgence in recent weeks can deliver 4/1 returns with SkyBet for a top 20 finish! He had 7 top 25’s in 2011 and has had 95 in 300 starts on the PGA Tour! So it’s easy then…

And if Jeff Overton repeats his first round lead of 2012 (at 45/1 with ToteSport) its money in your pocket boy!

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: 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: Zurich Classic

Fed Ex Cup:        Zurich Classic of New Orleans

Welcome to the Big Easy! Birthplace of modern jazz, jambalaya, mufaletta’s, Hurricane Katrina and the Mardi Gras (No! Not the bar in Dundee!). None of which are relevant this week as the finest game on grass takes up residence in New Orleans for some good old Southern hospitality…

Date:                     26th to 29th April 2012

Venue:                 TPC Louisiana, Avondale, Louisiana

The 2012 Zurich Classic will be the sixth event held at TPC Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina when the course suffered severe damage, but that opened the floodgates (no pun intended) to allow for changes to be made on the course. Former President George Bush called the rebuilding of New Orleans one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen, second only to Cher.

Yards:                   7,341 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Notable troops levied into battle this week include Luke Donald (13/1), Blubber Watson (14/1), Carl Petterson (33/1) and Brandt Snedeker (40/1). While downstream but at least back to business playing the beautiful game again after a spell reporting for the Golf Channel is Mickelson cheat accuser Scott McCarron (500/1 – all BoyleSports) (who once finished tenth in a major).

Consider…:

The course is 7,520 yards long and a stern test for the tour players but it is designed to give players a chance but to also challenge their shot-making ability as there is plenty of trouble if players stray from the fairways. Look out for the hard par-3 215-yard 17th where bunkers left were eliminated and replaced by bulk heading while a solitary pot bunker on the right remains. Par here is a great score on the newly reshaped green. Then look out for the finish – a daunting par five where, needless to say, anything right finds a typically New Orleans watery grave.

Ones to watch:

With three top tens and no finish worse than 27th (at the Masters) its 2011 US PGA Champ Keegan Bradley (20/1 with SportingBet) who looks tidy for a place this week. Leads the PGA Tour on all round stats and ranks in top ten for sand saves, scoring and birdies and will be fresh after a two week lay-off since the first major in early April. I’m hoping that his form will tide him over to the business end of the week.

Having a quiet season by his own high standards, but with 9 top 25’s in 2011 and three already in 2012 despite a drop in form, it is Aussie grinder Geoff Ogilvy (80/1 with BetFair) who could be waterskiing down the Louisiana streets in celebration come the weekend.  One of the best putters on the Tour within 10 feet, he will be put to the test over these tricky greens and one would hope that he plays as he should leaving others in his wake.

Ones to win:

With one win to his name already and three top tens’ from just six starts, Steve Stricker (25/1 everywhere including WilliamHill) will be doing his best to take another victory come hell or – no pun intended – high water in New Orleans. The World number 7 currently lies 15th in the Fedex Cup and leads the Tour in consecutive cuts with 48! Is one of the best wedge players around which will be needed when the big clubs go a little awry.

England’s Rose, that’s Justin (23/1 with BetFair) to you, believes another win will mean the victory floodgates are open again after his recent win at the WGC Cadillac tournament. He has amassed an incredible $2.2M already this year from just 8 starts and returned 5 top 25’s. Rose ranks in the top 5 for scoring, greens in regulation and in approaches from 200 yards and so these fundamentals should stand him in great stead for his next wave of high finishing results.

Trick shots:

Reigning Masters Champion and all-round awesome golfer, Bubba Watson (22/1 with SkyBet) to be the first round leader exactly as he was when he won this same event in 2011.

Goofball and former village idiot, Ben Crane rewards 7/1 with Ladbrokes for a top ten finish – and he has had seven of them in the last 16 months!

Thank me later!

FedEx Cup: Valero Texas Open

Fed Ex Cup:        Valero Texas Open

Welcome to River City, the seventh largest city in the USA and the famous home of the Alamo, the Riverwalk and the San Antonio Spurs. We are here for one thing; and one thing only. It’s the greatest game on grass and it’s always bigger and better in TEXAS! It’s the 2012 Valero Texas Open – GET IN THE HOLE!

Date:                     19th to 22nd April 2012

Venue:                 AT&T Oaks Course, TPC San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas

This course is not for the impatient and the wayward – you take what it gives you – and it’s never much! Greg Norman designed the 7,435-yard course with ball-striking supremo Sergio Garcia. What they concocted was a test emphasizing precision tee to green as well as imagination around seriously difficult greens, mimicking what you find in Australia and with average scoring of 73.67 a year ago, it was the most difficult par 72s on the PGA schedule.

Yards:                   7,522 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

It has only a dusting of the high fliers on the PGA Tour but still shows enough quality and flair in its make up that this weekend could be very interesting in the overall FedEx Cup race. Back in the fight is Johnson Wagner (28/1) – who could retake the lead in the big race with victory this weekend and last year’s champ Brendon Steele (66/1) although his form in 2012 is far from that in 2011. Let’s also not forget Kevin Na (25/1 – all StanJames) and his amazing 16 in last year’s event but perhaps in the words of Davy Crockett maybe he was only “born for hardships, misery, and disappointment”.

Consider…:

The AT&T Oaks Course is the epitome of taking it one shot at a time, and then not trying to do too much with it! It’s customary breezy conditions will add to the considerable challenge and there is a threat of rain and thunderstorms creeping into the picture late Thursday, and is expected to linger throughout the day on Friday. The weekend looks dry and clear but the golfing picture is by no means as clear or predictable!

Ones to watch:

Son of 13 times PGA Tour winner and ’82 Masters Champion “The Walrus”, Kevin Stadler (53/1 at BetDaq) secured share of fourth place at the RBC Heritage with 10 birdies shooting 67 and 68 at the business end of the week. Ranked second in greens hit for the week to hit third top 20 in his last four starts. Kevin lies 71st in both fairways and greens and 39th in Strokes Gained-Putting so if he brings the game that his father used to play the field better watch out!

Texan Brandt Jobe (75/1 with BetFair) (isn’t this the name from Electrotanks online golf game?) bids to become the King of the Wild Frontier and appears a good fit for the job. He ranks high in driving, mid table in GIR and has the putting game to match proven by a 9th in Puerto Rico. He shared 15th place here last year and has been fairly consistent with 2 top 25’s from 4 cuts and with attractive odds, a place would be a good result for all concerned.

Ones to win:

Coming off a season best so far of 8th in the RBC Heritage, Charley Hoffman (28/1 with 188Bet) is one to keep in your sights this week – especially after a field destroying 65 in round 2! Has had 5 top 15’s in 6 starts here including runner up in San Antonio in 2011 and on current improved form has no reason to buck the trend. With bogeys a near certainty, the ability to bounce back is a must and our fat Jeff Daniels look-a-like here ranks number 1!

Bearded long hitting wunderkind J.B. Holmes has taken two weeks off to rest following a T8 at Shell Houston, his second 8th place of the season. During last year’s Texas Open, he led the field in distance off the tee and ranked top 10th in greens hit and scrambling so if the same rules apply, he will be definitely be a contender. Often known to “whup the tar” where the field is concerned if he finds his golfing mojo which would leave a tremendous casualty rate by any standards!

Trick shots:

Former two time winner Justin Leonard is at 14/1 with StanJames to have a top ten finish – will history repeat itself and he delivers you far more?

Boo Weekley is a 40/1 punt for leader after the first round – if he drives it straight and long then this is very much achievable!

Thank me later!

FedEx Cup: RBC Heritage

Fed Ex Cup:        RBC Heritage

Leaving the colour and the Major appeal of Georgia we head out initially east over the Savannah River and down 125 and onto US278 bound South to the beautiful Hilton Head Island and the best course I have ever played (on a computer) – the Harbour Town Golf Links – and the RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) Heritage.

Date:                    12th to 15th April 2012

Venue:                Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head, South Carolina

The golf course is a Pete Dye designed shot-maker’s course, which requires precision off the tee to avoid live oaks, pine trees and strategically placed bunkers. Getting your ball to the hole is also quite a challenge with subtle breaks in the small, well guarded greens, posing problems for golfers of all levels. While the course itself is one of the shorter courses on the Tour, number 18 is one of the most demanding finishing holes on any of the world Tours.

Yards:                 6,973, yards

Par:                      Par 71

Field:                   

17 Major Champions litter the field, light on any current holders or major challengers it must be said, and they hold 24 major trophy’s between them – so it’s not that light a field where 18 of the top 30 on the Fed Ex Cup are teeing it up. The field includes such notables as last year’s winner Brandt Snedeker who pipped Luke Donald in a tight ran playoff, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink. Less well considered include real outsider Tommy Biershenk and bizarrely David Duval, Chris Di Marco and Mike Weir. (All 949/1 with BetDaq).

Consider…:

Looking for a winner in this field and you should be asking for accuracy, precision, great putting, an ability to scramble well and overall a tidy golf game. Early in the round there is the easiness of the par 5 second hole at a mere 505 yards and very reachable in two while the later difficulty of the par three 14th with small green and hidden pot bunker claims a lot of mishit strokes. The winning score in 2011 was -12 so it still does not disappoint birdies addicts.

Ones to watch:

Last year’s runner up, still world number one and British – its Luke Donald (133/10 with BetFair) who once again returns to a course he likes and is looking to go one better. He ticks the boxes on the accuracy, precision, scrambling and overall tidy golf but something in me says it won’t be his week – but he will likely demonstrate a return to form after another disappointing Masters display.

Buoyed by the performance of his Countryman last week, and as a former Masters winner, Trevor Immelman (123/1 at Betfair) will be one who puts in a season best performance this week at Harbour Town. The South African has a strong game that suits the tight nature of the course but has yet to fully demonstrate it since his last win at the Masters in 2008. But if David Toms can do it – so can better golfers like Immelman.

Ones to win:

Bill Haas (125/1 with Ladbrokes) is one of the hottest men on tour right now after his win at the Tour Championship in 2011 and Februarys Northern Trust win. Is ranked 10th in the Fed Ex Cup, 18th in the World and with top ten stats at scrambling, GIR from fairway bunkers and consecutive cuts made this consistent regular has the game to go up a notch and join Hunter Mahon with two wins so far on the PGA Tour in 2012.


 
This native of Sea Island who will be sleeping in his own bed this week must stand a decent chance after his third place finish in the Masters and his all round solid and consistent game. Matt Kuchar (14/1 with Ladbrokes) looks lively for me (as he often does) this year – especially his 6 top 25 finishes from 7 starts and top ten stats in greens in regulation, scoring average and all round ranking. The Georgian golfer looks like a peach to me!

Trick shots:

For the RBC Heritage to finish in a playoff, as it did in 2011, the odds return 5/2 at 188Bet.

To predict a place finish for the only Scot in the field will return you 53/10 with BetFair – given his quiet nature, a win may not be on the cards but with 4 top 25’s from 8 cuts made including two top tens’ – it’s not unlikely!

Thank me later!

Jenks