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!

Race to Dubai: Volvo World Match Play Championship

Race to Dubai:   Volvo World Match Play Championship

Here we are again in Southern Spain as the circus comes to Andalucia but forget tournament golf as we know it and stick this in your mental microwave and see how it defrosts. (If you have any questions there will be time after). It’s a more complex format than it needs to be; a field of 24 will contest 18 holes of traditional match play drawn into eight groups of three with the group matches being played on Thursday and Friday. The top two players in each group will progress to the knock-out stages for the last 16 and quarter-finals, played on the Saturday and semi-finals and final, played on Sunday. All matches will be contested over 18 holes of traditional match play. You still with me?

Click to view the Volvo World Match Play Championship Draw 2012

Date:                     17th – 20th May 2012

Venue:                 Finca Cortesín, Casares, Andalucía, Spain

Designed by award-winning American golf course architect Cabell Robinson, Finca Cortesín opened to great acclaim in 2007, a challenging golf course with world-class facilities and a luxury boutique hotel immediately setting a new gold standard for Spain in general and Andalucía in particular.

Yards:                   7,290 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

The Volvo World Match Play Championship returned to Finca Cortesín in May 2011, when loud mouth Poulter took the title in a field that was of the highest calibre where all four ‘Major’ champions took part and six of the top-10 players in the world. It’s not quite so topical this year but it will see 2011 Open Champion and bounce gamer, Darren Clarke (106/1), 2010 US PGA Champion Martin Kaymer (39/5), two-time US Open Champion Retief Goosen (46/1) and 1999 Open Champion, Paul Lawrie (27/1) all lining up. Justin Rose, who will be playing in Europe for the first time since winning his first World Golf Championship title earlier this year, also stars. Casey has withdrawn with Robert Karlsson (28/1 – all BetDaq) stepping in.

Consider…:

This is essentially a flat course on a very undulating piece of land. It will be hot and windy, especially on the weekend and that’s when it can play a very different course. Three of the par fours could be reachable with a drive depending upon wind direction and some of the holes have been shortened for the spectators benefit and some low scoring.

Ones to watch:

Biting my tongue as I write this, it’s last year’s winner Ian Poulter (10/1 with BetFred) and his incredible match play record that stands out for me (for the same reasons I predicted his victory last year) but desperate to automatically make the Ryder Cup this year, I don’t think he will make the last step required to recapture the trophy come Sunday.

The battle of Spain kick starts Sergio Garcia’s (21/2 with BetFair) tournament on Thursday at 1250 when he takes on Alvaro Quiros (25/1 with BetFair). For my money, it’s Sergio all the way following his form everywhere but on the PGA Tour with four tops tens in six starts and a home crowd to inspire and ignite the passion he has when he plays in Spain.

Elevation drops as sharp as Poulters dress sense.

Ones to win:

Another player with 4 top tens in 6 starts in Europe is Justin Rose (109/10 with BetFair) although his includes a win at the WGC Cadillac and an 8th at the Masters not counting his 6 top 25’s including 4 top tens on the US PGA Tour. If form follows him across the water, and as second highest World Ranker in the field, it’s his tournament for the taking.

Its private pilot’s license holder and general golfing high flier, Charl Schwartzel (who took no time to take advantage of Rory McIlroy’s collapse in 2011) who stands out for me this week. With 7 European Tour wins its the permanently smiling South African who ranks 15th in the World list and currently 11th in the Race to Dubai that has the edge this week – especially with two wins on Spanish soil in 2007 and 2008.

Trick Shot

Retief Goosen is 8/1 (bWin) to make the semi final! The best putter on tour available at these odds? It’s practically stealing from the bookies….

Ian Poulter is 5/1 (bWin) to just make the final. A spirited and experienced match play professional – this bet is as close to a sure thing as you will get this week.

Any questions?

Jenks Out!

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!