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!

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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!

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!