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: Northern Trust Open

Fed Ex Cup:        Northern Trust Open

This week the PGA TOUR moves from Pebble Beach on to Los Angeles for the Northern Trust Open at the historic Riviera CC – a course with as much history as the United States itself; Riviera having hosted major tournaments way back to 1948 when it hosted its first US Open.

Date:                     16th – 19th February 2012

Venue:                 Riviera CC, Pacific Pallisades, California 

Riviera has long been known within golfing circles as “Hogan’s Alley”, a nickname bestowed upon it by three-time Masters champion Jimmy Demaret after Hogan won the 1947 and 1948 Los Angeles Opens and the 1948 U.S. Open at the Club within a span of 18 months. Today, Riviera remains one of golf’s few genuine classics, with a course layout that is virtually unaltered, yet every bit as great and testing as the day it was opened.

Yards:                   7,279 yards

Par:                        Par 71

Field:                   

From young to told, East to West, the field for this event is a hugely all encompassing affair – from Danny Lee (360/1) to Fred Couples (113/1) and Chris DiMarco (484/1) to Ryo Ishikawa (142/1 – all BetFair) – this is an exciting collection of golfers regardless of event and so it’s a difficult choice for any tip hungry gambling monkey. But that’s why Im here.

Let me start with where you could put your dollar: last years winner Aaron Baddeley (31/1 with BetDaq)– had an awful fall on the PGA Tour and so starts as an unlikely outsider. Then there is the return of Luke Donald (16/1 with WilliamHill) and the start of his 2012 PGA Tour season – will a first time outing result in victory – probably not this time around by my calculations.

Then there’s where not to put your buck – this list is not exhaustive but may include T. Biershenk (969/1), S. Gangluff (969/1) and M. Battencourt (731/1 – all Betdaq) who resemble not so much a trio of top class pros and more a gathering of second class lawyers. The defence rests.

Consider…:

Up for grabs this week is an eye watering $1,188,000 to the winner – no doubt paid into a Northern Trust Account with interest but with few players standing out too far – maybe the answer lies in the course set up?  Notable holes include number ten, a driveable par four that yields birdies and double bogeys with equal swiftness, and a massive par four at number fifteen that plays directly into the ocean breezes. The monumental par five 17th hole measures 578 yards, all uphill before the finishing hole is a world-famous 454-yard par four that plays to an elevated fairway, then requires a long second shot to a narrow green. All in – this requires great course management more than brute strength or direct accuracy.

Ones to watch:

Last year Jason Day (37/1 with BetDaq)– outperformed everyone in the four majors. He also broke into the top ten with sand saves, strokes gained putting, money leading and scoring average across a season. His form was so good he had ten top tens in 21 outings – and rocketed to world number 7. It’s his first outing in the US in 2012 but I’m confident that for an each way bet, the Queenslander will make sure that this dog has not yet had its Day.

Now that the furore with racist bag carrier, Steve Williams, no longer seems to tar his name, Adam Scott (30/1 with Bet365) has a white sheet of paper and the chance to capitalize on his return to form in 2011. He has won here over this track in the past (2005) and with his belly putter still improving his putting with every outing, Scott looks a good each way bet – for an Aussi.

Ones to win:

Following an exceptionally strong finish to tame the Tiger last week, this superb left hand scrambler has already two wins here at Riviera and could be in with a shout – he’s on form, he’s fiery and he can be deadly accurate. More than that – he’s hurt himself a good number of times to learn when to play smart – so keep your eyes on Phil Mickelson (10/1 with 188 Bet).

Since taking the worst ever score on the PGA Tour since the tour began recording hole-by-hole scores in 1983 at a par 4, making a 16 on the ninth hole at the Valero Texas Open last year, Kevin Na (43/1 with BetDaq) – third here last year, has enjoyed 7 top tens including two consecutive top fives in his last two outings this season. Is a reliable performer and likely about to make another step up to the big league. For those thinking “nah”, think again….

Trick shots:

Aaron Baddely to lead after the first round rewards 40/1 with Ladbrokes.

Martin Laird with a -5 handicap returns 12/1 with StanJames.

Thank me later!