94th PGA Championship – Pins (R2)!

If you ever thought a 10,000 metres open water swin looked hard, being pummelled for 12 minutes against a heavy weight boxer or a gold medal winning performance in the triathlon looked hard – take a look at some of these pin positions – in particular holes 12 and 13! Enjoy watching this on TV!

94th PGA Championship – Pins (R1)!

There are some tight pin positions on the opening round of the last shot at glory in 2012 over Kiawah Islands brutal Ocean Course. Take a look.

141st Open Championship – Pins (R4)!

Some cute pin positions on the final round of the biggest and most prestigious major tournament today – holes 9 and ten in particular. Im glad the sofa beckons as these are enough to halt anyones ascendancy up the leaderboard on final day!

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: Travelers Championship

Fed Ex Cup:        Travelers Championship

We have crossed from the Pacific to near the Atlantic as the greatest game on grass arrives in the 3rd smallest state – Connecticut. Now they say ‘the past is a foreign Country, they do things differently there’ and looking at this place that maybe true (that’s what happens when the Irish and Italians get together!) but look a little closer and the stereotypes are not so true – this place is clever. It’s famous for Yale and Trinity, George Bush, Martha Stewart and Paul Newman! Join them clever folks at the insurance capital of the world at the Travelers (spelling?) Championship!

Date:                     21st – 24th June 2012

Venue:                 TPC River Highlands Course, Cromwell, Connecticut

The TPC Network provides the ultimate host venues for PGA Tour events and here we are at yet another quality resort course to see how this week’s story plays out. The TPC River Highland course meanders over 148 acres with corridors of mature maple, oak, sycamore and pine trees framing gently rolling fairways while lakes and ponds add to the golf course’s beauty. The course is a well-balanced golf test with a mixture of long and short holes but overall it’s a short one at a par three under 7,000 yards so expect low scoring – likely around the 20 under mark.

Yards:                   6,841 yards

Par:                        Par 70

Field:                   

Playing the pantomime dames this week could be one of nine 2012 winners holding 10 pieces of silverware including Bubba (33/1), 12 major champions holding 17 major trophies including Angel Cabrera (125/1) and Keegan Bradley (40/1) and seven former winners including last years’ winner Frederick Jacobson (40/1), old timer Kenny Perry (100/1) and, on the plus side, Brad Faxon who will return beautiful odds of 1,500/1 if he pulls it off again in 2012! Even here, the lord loves a trier… (All bets StanJames)

Consider…:

It really is anyone’s call this – few of the top world ranking are playing but still the quality of the field is apparent and scoring could be very low despite TPC River Highlands boasting a tough finishing stretch. The 15, 16 and 17th holes all play around a four-acre lake and the four-hole collection is, according to Stewart Cink, the man that robbed Tom Watson of his final major trophy “four of the most exciting finishing holes in a group anywhere in the world.”

Ones to watch:

Making his professional debut after two years at “school” is Patrick Cantlay (80/1 with Bet365) – the first second year student ever to win the Ben Hogan Award. He leaves his amateur status on top of the world amateur rankings and his 60 in the second round here last year was just the 25th score in the history of the PGA Tour! Overall in 2011, he posted 4 top 25s in eight starts and has survived seven cuts including the Masters and 2 U.S. Opens – now the games a bogey!

Despite sharing his name with the elephant man, the marginally better looking real John Merrick (60/1 with SkyBet) finished in second place at the St. Jude Classic two weeks ago – one of just two golfers with four rounds in the 60s – and ranks 23rd in greens hit and 43rd in birdie average. Despite his middle of the road stats he was tied for 11th here in 2009 and shared ninth last year. I’d watch him as the other John said, ‘people are frightened by what they don’t understand…’

Ones to win:

Coming off a sterling 68 to grind out a fourth place at the US Open and with three top ten finishes and 6 top 25s from 9 cuts made in the US already, Padraig Harrington (29/1 with BetFair) is also a solid sand player on a course that has 119 bunkers. He’s eighth in scoring average, and also finished T5 here in 2010. With the Ryder Cup selection looming, it’s crucial that he starts to focus on either European points or Global points so the pressure is well and truly on.

From 2006-2009, this tournament flicked the switch that started Hunter Mahon’s (25/1 with SkyBet) summer however, in the last three years, he’s done the damage earlier in the year. That said, the 2007 champ currently ranks sixth in greens hit and 24th in adjusted scoring and has won there in 2007, runner-up in 2008 and 2009 and is in the midst of arguably his best season on Tour. Key to success this week though is his stats lying 6th in Greens in regulation top 25 in scoring.

Trick shots:

Sang-Moon Bae is 6/1 with SkyBet for merely completing this in a top twenty finish. With three top twenties already polled from 16 events in 2012, the South Korean is highly likely to reward your vote of confidence.

JJ Henry allows generous odds of 11/1 with William Hill for one step better than Mr Bae – a top ten finish. With two top tens from ten cuts made – your odds are looking better by the minute!

Ryan Moore is 33/1 with StanJames for first round leader – emulating the feat he achieved last year with Andres Romero.

Thank me later!

112th US Open Championship – Pins (R4)!

Saturdays hole locations were tough enough. Take a final look at the fourth and final rounds locations. In particular, observe the knife edge you play with on the last… Thank goodness its them and not me!

112th US Open Championship – Pins (R3)!

If you ever think that they put the pins in a hard place for your Club Championship – what about these tricky and unforgiving pin placements for the 112th US Open Championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco?

FedEx Cup: St Jude Classic

Fed Ex Cup:        St Jude Classic

Ahem. Can I please have the attention of the class…? Today’s geography lesson centre’s mainly on the 4th Chickasaw Bluff on the confluence of the Wolf and Mississippi rivers in Shelby County in the Southwestern corner of the State of Tennessee. Or the great city of Memphis as its more commonly known. Memphis is famous for one thing, and one thing only – music – and everything connected with it. From W.C. Handy to Elvis and BB King to Marc Cohn at whatever time in recent musical history, Beale Street in Memphis is the centre of the Blues and Rock n Roll Universe but for one week only, the city’s focus turns to sport; its hometown FedEx Cup event, the St Jude Classic.

Date:                     7th – 10th June 2012

Venue:                 TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee

TPC Southwind is one of 33 TPC Networked courses and here at Southwind, we are dealing with the hoi polloi as it is the only private club in the state. The golf course features undulating fairways, lush Bermuda greens and numerous lakes, streams and ponds and adding to the charm of the golf course are two grain silos and a windmill; remnants of the dairy farm once located on the site. With Fuzzy Zoeller as one of the consultants to architect Ron Prichard, isn’t it great to see that there is life after making a name for yourself on Tour due to your funny name? This links has long been rated one of the more challenging courses on the PGA Tour and currently ranks 23 in the world by Golf World.

Yards:                   7,244 yards

Par:                        Par 70

Field:                   

Bearing in mind next week’s US Open in San Fran, the field for this week has many of the seasoned players of the PGA Tour including 13 major winners who hold 17 titles including Padraig Harrington (42/1) and US Open champs, Graeme McDowell (24/1) and last year’s runaway victor, Rory McIlroy (107/10). There is also a glut (or should I say gut?) of over 40s including Lee Janzen (368/1) and David Duval (712/1), rowdy Australasian’s (11 in total including Robert Allenby (69/1) and Stuart Appleby(557/1)) but just 8 former winners of this event with David Toms (21/1) and Justin Leonard (232/1 – all BetDaq) amongst them. This should be interesting…

Consider…:

It’s a long track this for such a low par and the hunt for birdies isn’t helped by undulating, smaller than normal greens, smaller target areas and tight pin positions. So expect this event then to be more about avoiding bogeys than finding the eagles and birdies and so, we are likely looking at good scramblers and putters given that driving accuracy from the tee is a significant challenge! Players! Be inspired by Elvis – now shake rattle and roll!

Ones to watch:

Colombian, Camillo Villegas (69/1 with BetDaq), has demonstrated his fondness of TPC Southwind regardless of form entering St Judes week. In six outings, he’s made the cut six times and delivered four top 20s including top 10s in each of the last two visits here. Despite not yet striking the results he would expect in 2012 his putting he is amongst the very best on tour from within 25 feet – and in Memphis that sounds like he’s just taking care of business to me.

This long driving, accurate scrambling and hugely successful with the putter plays tough courses as well as anyone. Ryan Palmer (36/1 – BetDaq) has shot par or better in eight of last nine rounds, and has top-10s in three of his last four starts. Although he sits just 46th in the FedEx Cup, top 5s at the other end of music highway in both New Orleans and the Colonial in Houston, demonstrate a man who had a great May and that he can deliver an unchained melody.

Ones to win:

Spencer Levin (40/1 with BetDaq) held the 54-hole lead at the Memorial before it all got too much and his challenge faded, like the awning above the Graceland shop, to a share of fourth place with a Sunday 75, despite being at the turn in a bogey-free 1-under. Led the field in strokes gained putting for the week so clearly a contender if that continues this week. Will history repeat itself? I got a feeling in my body! He ranked 2nd in fairways hit en route to a T15 here last year.

There may be players with higher world rankings in the field but no one is playing better in the world than Zach Johnson (107/10 at (yes you’ve guessed it!) BetDaq) and he is potentially the most dangerous player in the 156 strong field. Took a week off following his victory at Colonial which followed a pair of runner-up finishes in his previous three starts including the Players Championship. Has great stats this year and sits third (crucially) in bogey avoidance and has had 2 top-15s in 3 appearances here but is it a case, yet again, of Zach’s Steamroller Blues for everyone else or will he be crying in the Chapel come Sunday?

Trick shots:

Danny Lee to finish as top Australasian is at 7/1 with BetFred. He has finished above all of his continental colleagues on 7 occasions since joining the tour in 2011 – if not this time, it’s a case of return to sender to Oz for Danny.

Big Boss Man McIlroy is 8/1 (Ladbrokes) to miss his 4th consecutive cut – which would be a disaster ahead of his defence of the US Open next week! 4 consecutive cuts would be his worst streak since turning professional in 2007 with a plus 6 handicap!

Class dismissed!

FedEx Cup: the Memorial Tournament

Fed Ex Cup:        the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance

Greetings from the Midwest and specifically Jacks Place – a dictatorship in any other language where Jack (yes, him of many majors!) controls everything; the committees, the $10M+ valued properties price, the street lighting, car parking and even the prices of the Reuben sandwiches in the Clubhouse. Tour Pros have been coming here since 1976 and as with Augusta; changes are regularly made by Mein Fuhrer so it is always relevant to technology and the game for both tour pros and well heeled members alike.

Date:                     31st May – 3rd June 2012

Venue:                 Muirfield Village GC, Dublin, Ohio

The name of this posh suburb was inspired by Jack’s first Open victory in 1966 at Muirfield in Scotland and since has hosted National and International competitions, including the 1992 U.S. Amateur, 1987 Ryder Cup, the 1998 Solheim Cup and the 1986 U.S. Junior Amateur and has been selected to host the President’s Cup in 2013. It has consistently been among the top 25 courses in the US – little wonder, inspired by a $1,160,000 first prize cheque and two weeks ahead of the US Open, that so many top pros have been called to action this week.

Yards:                   7,265 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:    

Unsurprisingly it’s a strong field and includes eight of the world’s top ten, seven of the top ten in the FedEx Cup and nine previous winners including grizzled vets in Stricker (28/1), Vijay Singh (140/1) and Couples (140/1). It also includes some of the greatest players out there from Mickelson (16/1) to McIlroy (12/1) and Woods (12/1) to Webb Simpson (30/1). For novelty sakes, don’t look far past Davis Love III (225/1) or his brother in number, Billy Hurley III (750/1 – all Bet365).

Consider…:

Physically consider only 71 bunkers and water on 11 holes – but with a new routing of the stream on 18. Also this course has a high par for its length but we know that it’s still a challenge for the players with scoring averages around 72. So looking mentally, consider this when deciding who to put your “hard earned” on: Ryo Ishikawa (537/1) with a local caddie, Justin Rose’s (35/2) current form, Jason Days (39/1) Muirfield membership and the return of BubbaGolf (34/1 – all with BetDaq)…

Ones to watch:

With 6 top 20’s in seven starts at the Memorial, and 5 top 5 finishes in 12 starts this year, wrong way golfer Phil Mickelson (88/5 with BetFair) lies 5th in the FedEx Cup and should be a focus for your placed bets this week. Did you know that he is right handed in everything except his golf? Don’t let that curve ball sway you but he also likes baseball.

Looking like an inmate of Guantanamo Bay or an Orange march participant each and every Sunday, it’s Rickie Fowler (181/10 with BetFair) who once again continues a show of consistency following three consecutive top 5s and 16 straight sub par rounds into this event. A former runner up here in 2009, the Floridian lightweight (150lb) would be an easy bet for a place this week as the fight for automatic Ryder Cup selection continues…

Ones to win

Posting four top 15’s in his last 4 PGA Tour starts and 13th here last year, Ohio resident Ben Curtis (73/1 with BetDaq) ranks high in greens hit and leads strokes gained putting. On this rich vein of form, no wonder there is $2.2 Million dollars in his current account from this year alone. You wouldn’t bet against a strong placed finish again here – but will he go one better? With one win already this year, and 4 over his 12 consecutive year Tour history – you wouldn’t bet against it!

Only a man dressed in half baked office attire and wearing sneaker type shoes would be cocky enough to take the fight to Luke Donald’s own BMW PGA Championship last week but while a runners up spot boosted Justin Roses’ (88/5 with BetFair) automatic Ryder Cup hopes, his 6th top ten in ten starts and his previous form here (a win, a second and a fourth) means that on this form, he can wear what he wants and still be a strong contender this and in subsequent weeks.

Trick shots:

Aarron Baddeley to finish top Australian returns 12/1 with Stan James. With odds this good, he only has to be the other 10 wallabies for you to celebrate in style…

Newbie PGA Tour boy, who turned pro post a 62nd finish in the Masters delivers a whopping return of 18/1 with SkyBet merely for turning in a top 20 finish. Easy? Inspired by The Dictator standing by the 18th, no problem…

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!