FedEx Cup: Transitions Championship

Fed Ex Cup:        Transitions Championship

Day 15, Dear Diary, we are still in Florida. I’m now sick of the oranges and bored of the theme parks and even after a four and half hour drive, we are in Palm Harbor but it doesn’t feel like Florida.

This week on the greatest game on grass, it’s the PGA Tours Transitions Championship from Copperhead; a favorite among PGA TOUR professionals. The Copperhead Course is the most recognizable of Innisbrook’s four courses – not least due to 12 years of this tournament but also the Legends Tour Open Championship.

Date:                     15th – 18th March 2012

Venue:                 Innisbrook Resort, Copperhead, Palm Harbor, Florida

Tree-lined fairways and rolling terrain define the course – a lengthy challenge for even the longest hitters at more than 7,300 yards. Striking in beauty and challenge, the surrounding lakes and ponds are home to abundant flora and fauna including fox squirrels, bald eagles, alligators, blue herons, and probably more oranges. As a resort course lacking in property developments, Copperhead provides the opportunity to enjoy golf the way nature intended. With its unusual elevation changes, the natural setting of the Copperhead course will probably remind you of a Carolina layout rather than Florida’s West Coast

Yards:                   7,340 yards

Par:                        Par 71


The pros love it here – Curtis Strange says if he could only play one course forever, it would be Copperhead and Paul Azinger says it’s the best you play on the PGA Tour. With its elevated tee shots and undulating fairways it’s a fair test of golf welcoming much of the world’s best golfers including Matt Kuchar (25/1/), Lucas Glover (80/1) and Louis Oosthuisen (80/1). It also welcomes European Tour players who have made the journey over like Tom Lewis (175/1), Padraig Harrington (66/1) and Arjan Atwal (600/1 – all with SportingBet).


Copperhead Golf Course, host of the PGA Tour’s Transitions Championship this week, has caused a certain Tiger Woods at his peak to remark, “this is not a course I can overpower”.

From it’s the black tournament tees, the 7,340-yard, par-71 Copperhead layout presents a stern test of golf – the daunting layout combines narrow, tree-lined fairways with elevation change and very firm, fast greens. In addition its lakes and ponds help make it a breath-taking experience from tee through green. It’s a toughie!

Ones to watch:

My pick this week grew up near Augusta National GC, home of the Masters, and was a member of Augusta Country Club, which is adjacent to Amen Corner. He has had 3 top 25’s in 8 outings in 2012 including a 2nd at the Sony Open in Hawai. Charles Howell III lies 18th in the FedEx cup despite a quiet start to the season and ranks as high as anyone in eagles and birdies – perfect for a course with 4 par fives. A sleeping giant in the field this week – showing in his odds of 50/1 with bwin. Don’t say I didn’t tell you…

In his last two starts in the U.S., Peter Hanson (40/1 with BetDaq) has reached the quarterfinals at the Accenture Match Play, then tied for fourth at Cadillac. He also was runner-up in Qatar earlier this year, and he’s familiar with Innisbrook. A generous each way bet – but worth it on this stateside form.

Ones to win:

Charl Schwartzel (16/1 at Ladbrokes) is clearly one of the five best players in the world, and he showed it last week at TPC Blue Monster. Even as some of his shots misfired, he made up for it by holing putts from all over the greens. He has had two top 5’s from three starts in the US – and three top 5’s in 6 starts in Europe – and that’s just this year!  Came 4th last weekend at the WGC Cadillac but prove at the Masters last year – he can turn on the form to win.

KJ Choi (45/1 with 888Sport) is the reigning Players champion and who always plays at his very best on the most demanding of courses. This is reflected by the quality of his eight career victories. Two of those have come on the Copperhead course, where the South Korean was also runner-up in 2010. You may not know but KJ is one of the Tours best from inside 150 yards – a strong asset on a course like this where recovery and course management will be required.

Trick shots:

Scott Stallings to go lowest in the first round returns 200/1 with StanJames – he did it last year here!

Sergio Garcia & Jason Day together in a Double Chance returns 16/1 with SkyBet.

Thank me later!

Race to Dubai: Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Race to Dubai:   Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Assalamu alikum! Here we are back in the UAE for The Omega Dubai Desert Classic. This tournament was born in 1989 when the European Tour visited Asia for the first time. Look at it now – we can’t actually get away from the place and it’s not even in Europe!

Date:                     9th – 12th February 2012

Venue:                 Emirates GC, Dubai, UAE

The flagship course at Emirates Golf Club, The Majilis is a challenging championship par 72, 7,301-yard layout designed by architect Karl Litten, the original 18 holes were built in and around the dunes of a beautiful site on the edge of the city of Dubai – it was the first all grass championship golf course in the Middle East when it opened in 88!

Yards:                   7,301 yards

Par:                        Par 72


This week there’s a welcome return to some of the games’ best players who have been using the perfect UAE weather to perfect their game in time for this tournament. It also includes some significant experience from stateside including Fred Couples (94/1), Mark O’Meara (189/1) and US Walker Cup star in the making – Peter Uihlein (189/1 – all BetFair).

However, no one is currently on form like perma-odd shortening Paul Lawrie (28/1 with BetFair) – he has amassed 1 Million Euros since mid December in winnings and currently lies third in the Race to Dubai after a sensational 1st place in the Commercialbank Qatar Masters – a tournament he won 13 years ago in the same year he triumphed in the little known Open Championship!


Unlike in Qatar – the weather will be on the side of all of the players and the locals will be keen to see an exciting finish similar to Middle Eastern delights the Majilis course has delivered on many occasions previously. However, here’s hoping the interested locals will bring more billionaires and belly dancers than bombers and leave explosions of any sort strictly to the professionals coming from the sand traps!

Ones to watch:

Alvaro Quiros (19/1 with BetFair) again! In 2011, Spain’s Quiros was tied 65th after an opening round of 73, staged one of the biggest comebacks in the history of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, to win the tournament at 11 under. He was eight shots behind the leader after 36 holes. He’s getting back into the swing of things now and his enormous length will prove of some sizeable advantage this time around as his average drive is blowing in a desert storm at 324 yards!

World number 75, George Coetzee (31/1 with BetFair), is enjoying a hectic but satisfying schedule across both African and Middle Eastern regions since an off season focus on specific practice has delivered rewards meaning a career high 17th position in the R2D. In particular, an improvement in driving accuracy and putting have been the key factors to his ever developing game that he hopes will blow sand in the faces of his golfing colleagues giving them all the hump.

Ones to win:

Hoping to win the coveted decorated but grotesquely smelly camel ride is Peter Hanson (21/1 with BetFair) of Sweden who with three top fives in his last four outings is playing some fantastic competitive golf. Benefitting in 2012 from a little more length from the tee and a white hot putter – providing both of these key elements are on fire, he will surely be leaving the Desert Classic Competitors eating dust.

World Number three Rory McIlroy (24/5 with BetFair) looks tasty yet again as each of the last six outings on the European Tour have netted him six figure winnings and include – at their very worst, an 11th place. On a course he loves, Rors will be looking to retake the 2nd world ranking spot, enjoying further success in the desert after a recent second place in Abu Dhabi. Hopefully the return to the scene of one of his three victories will motivate the youngster as all eyes look to him to fulfill his Middle Eastern promise.

Trick shot:

A winning margin of 4 strokes here at the Emirates will return 34/5 with BetFair.

Jenks out!

(In case it wasn’t hugely obvious, all odds this week have been brought to you by our friends at BetFair)

Selectabet: Saab Wales Open

Date: 2nd – 5th June 2011
Competition: Saab Wales Open
Venue: Celtic Manor Resort, The Twenty Ten Course

The well lush Twenty Ten course was designed with the 2010 Ryder Cup and all the thrills and spills of team based match play in mind, but it also provides a unique stage for traditional stroke play. Water hazards feature on no fewer than half of the holes and classic risk reward considerations frequently add to the drama depending upon what’s occurring.

Yards: 7,378
Par: 71
Field: 149

For a European Tour event with a top ten prize fund, and a tidy £300,000 awaiting the winner, the field seems remarkably light but for those on their game, it is a good opportunity to make a move on the order of merit.

Ryder Cup heroes Jimenez, Fisher, Peter Hanson and MacDowell – master of last year’s Ryder Cup proceedings – all turn in an appearance. John Daly adds colour to the event and Paul Lawrie and his putter also return to dismiss the demons of 8 putting the 2nd green in 2010.

Arguably, the Saab Wales tournament is too open an Open to call, however, bare the following in mind…


With risk reward being a crucial element; accuracy and length are the key tools for a high placing finish.

There are opportunities to shoot low including the dogleg 15th 377 yard par 4 (though drivable at 270 as the crow flies), the 575 yard par 5 last with water catching all short mishit 2nd or third shots and the cracking par 4, 14th with lakes either side of the fairway that catch the shot that leaks left or right but is a realistic chance for the longer straighter hitter who can carry the first stretch of water.

Ones to watch:

My two to view this week come in the shape of Johan Edfors, 60/1 (Bet365), fresh from an encouraging performance over a testing West Course and has shown good levels of consistency throughout May.

Edfors is an increasingly potent performer with three European Tour wins to his name from 2006 and looks like being on the cusp of a return to winning ways soon.

Daffodil dressing Bradley Dredge (55/1 at Bet365) also shows signs of flowering in time despite the disappointment of a wilting 78 in his last round at Wentworth.

One Each Way:

One of Denmark’s many Hanson’s is my each way tip for this week. Anders Hanson at 33/1 (Bet365, Betfred) currently sits 5th in the Race to Dubai, 12th in stroke average, high in the ranking for both putts and scrambles and at 38th in the World Rankings is a strong contender for a podium finish.

One to Win:

I won’t lie to you but its home grown 25/1 shot (Bet365, Blue Sq) Taff, Rhys Davies that catches my eye this week. 2nd here in 2010, 18th at the PGA last week and ranking high in putts per round this year, the 40,000 strong home-support will aid a performance-of-the-season display that ensures it’s Rhys’ lightening that strikes this year!