FedEx Cup: RBC Heritage

Fed Ex Cup:        RBC Heritage

Leaving the colour and the Major appeal of Georgia we head out initially east over the Savannah River and down 125 and onto US278 bound South to the beautiful Hilton Head Island and the best course I have ever played (on a computer) – the Harbour Town Golf Links – and the RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) Heritage.

Date:                    12th to 15th April 2012

Venue:                Harbour Town Golf Links, Hilton Head, South Carolina

The golf course is a Pete Dye designed shot-maker’s course, which requires precision off the tee to avoid live oaks, pine trees and strategically placed bunkers. Getting your ball to the hole is also quite a challenge with subtle breaks in the small, well guarded greens, posing problems for golfers of all levels. While the course itself is one of the shorter courses on the Tour, number 18 is one of the most demanding finishing holes on any of the world Tours.

Yards:                 6,973, yards

Par:                      Par 71

Field:                   

17 Major Champions litter the field, light on any current holders or major challengers it must be said, and they hold 24 major trophy’s between them – so it’s not that light a field where 18 of the top 30 on the Fed Ex Cup are teeing it up. The field includes such notables as last year’s winner Brandt Snedeker who pipped Luke Donald in a tight ran playoff, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink. Less well considered include real outsider Tommy Biershenk and bizarrely David Duval, Chris Di Marco and Mike Weir. (All 949/1 with BetDaq).

Consider…:

Looking for a winner in this field and you should be asking for accuracy, precision, great putting, an ability to scramble well and overall a tidy golf game. Early in the round there is the easiness of the par 5 second hole at a mere 505 yards and very reachable in two while the later difficulty of the par three 14th with small green and hidden pot bunker claims a lot of mishit strokes. The winning score in 2011 was -12 so it still does not disappoint birdies addicts.

Ones to watch:

Last year’s runner up, still world number one and British – its Luke Donald (133/10 with BetFair) who once again returns to a course he likes and is looking to go one better. He ticks the boxes on the accuracy, precision, scrambling and overall tidy golf but something in me says it won’t be his week – but he will likely demonstrate a return to form after another disappointing Masters display.

Buoyed by the performance of his Countryman last week, and as a former Masters winner, Trevor Immelman (123/1 at Betfair) will be one who puts in a season best performance this week at Harbour Town. The South African has a strong game that suits the tight nature of the course but has yet to fully demonstrate it since his last win at the Masters in 2008. But if David Toms can do it – so can better golfers like Immelman.

Ones to win:

Bill Haas (125/1 with Ladbrokes) is one of the hottest men on tour right now after his win at the Tour Championship in 2011 and Februarys Northern Trust win. Is ranked 10th in the Fed Ex Cup, 18th in the World and with top ten stats at scrambling, GIR from fairway bunkers and consecutive cuts made this consistent regular has the game to go up a notch and join Hunter Mahon with two wins so far on the PGA Tour in 2012.


 
This native of Sea Island who will be sleeping in his own bed this week must stand a decent chance after his third place finish in the Masters and his all round solid and consistent game. Matt Kuchar (14/1 with Ladbrokes) looks lively for me (as he often does) this year – especially his 6 top 25 finishes from 7 starts and top ten stats in greens in regulation, scoring average and all round ranking. The Georgian golfer looks like a peach to me!

Trick shots:

For the RBC Heritage to finish in a playoff, as it did in 2011, the odds return 5/2 at 188Bet.

To predict a place finish for the only Scot in the field will return you 53/10 with BetFair – given his quiet nature, a win may not be on the cards but with 4 top 25’s from 8 cuts made including two top tens’ – it’s not unlikely!

Thank me later!

Jenks

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

Field:                   

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).

Consider…:

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!

WGC Cadillac Championship

WGC Cadillac Championship

Well. We have barely finished popping the corks celebrating our new world number one player and even before the hangovers have subsided and the full English breakfast has been digested, we are off again! It seems there is no rest for the wicked as the greatest show on grass rolls on…

Thankfully, it’s not even 90 miles from the PGA National and as with their other fine events, the World Golf Championships have brought together the best golfers in the world again to a special venue in the latest chapter of the WGC series.

Date:                     7th – 11th March 2012

Venue:                 Doral Golf Resort & Spa, Florida, USA – Blue Monster Course

Well. The famed TPC Blue Monster Course of the Doral Golf Resort & Spa has played host to the PGA Tour for almost 50 years. In fact, virtually every great name in golf has had a moment of personal triumph at this world-class venue. Originally designed by Dick Wilson, this course provide a challenging test for the world’s best players. At 7,334 yards, both length and finesse are needed to score well on this historic course. The now named TPC Blue Monster features the famous 18th hole, a demanding par 4 that is ranked consistently as one of the Top 100 Holes in the World.

Yards:                   7,334 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Well. The field here at Trumps new $150 million toy rivals that of any major and includes the top ten golfers in the world, the top golfing ten on the PGA Tour, the ten top golfers a-top the FedEx Cup standings and golfs top ten from the one and only European Tour as well as all of the winners of the bigger events on the all three of the worlds best tours. Funny what effects an $8,500,000 purse and a $1,500,000 winners cheque can carry. Interestingly, and perhaps reflective of the global game, if Poulter makes it through the man flu, 38 of the 74 field will be regular European Tour players.

Not everyone can be a punters’ favourite though – the WGC also has some also-rans in Tetsuji Hiratsuka, Garth Mulroy, Juvic Pagunsan and Tadahiro Takayama (all 969/1 with BetDaq). In case the long odds are your tipple.

Consider…:

There’s a lot to consider this week including Nick Watney (37/1 with BetDaq), last years winner and holder of two of the top ten shots from 2011 however, his putting may be a little too inconsistent to ignite your interest. Then there is the return of Paul Casey (242/1 with BetDaq!), after his long awaited recovery from a snowboarding injury at Christmas. Then lets not forget Tiger Woods (33/5 with BetDaq) – whose last win here in 2007 ensured that he was the first played in Tour history to win the same event six times! His current form, especially his closing course record 62 on Sunday, means he once again means business.

Ones to watch:

Four events in to 2012 and with two top tens and a victory to his name, WGC Match Play Champion Hunter Mahan has relatively long odds for someone in such competitive form. At 38/1 (with BetDaq) these generous odds are largely due to his form flying under the radar while the big four make all the noise – it is Mahan who sits quietly in the top ten of much of the stat line items on the PGA Tour and it is there in black and white that no one scores better than him on the front nine!


Our new world number one on this rich vein of form must always be worth watching as its Rory McIlroy (13/2 at BetFred) who is deadliest on tour with scrambling – ably demonstrated by the performance at the Honda Classic this weekend past. That said rightly pipping Westwood (above to the top of the stats board) is Rors who leads the PGA Tour in putting, scrambling and scoring – no wonder then that he leads the Race to Dubai, is second in the PGA Money List and heads the world rankings. But when will his bubble burst?

Ones to win:

I have to admit to not being his greatest supporter but it’s great to have golf’s biggest attraction back in the mix at the business end of the leaderboard on a Sunday. With those six victories in this very event to his name, a hot putter and a lightening resurgence up the world rankings (now in 16th) its’ Tiger Woods (7/1 at Ladbrokes) who as second favourite, still has a lot to prove to win on the PGA Tour once again. Would you bet against him?

With 6 events played on both sides of the pond culminating in 4 top 5s and no worse than a 17th place – its England’s Lee Westwood who has again lost out in the title race for the world number one spot but who will likely once again challenge this weekend. Westwood ranks in the top 5 on the PGA Tour in scrambling, proximity to the hole and scoring and comes with odds as long as 15/1 with BetDaq.

Trick shots:

Dorals favourite poster boy Nick Watney with a -2 handicap is at 10/1 with PaddyPower.

Justin Rose to be first round leader returns odds of 50/1 with William Hill.

Thank me later!

FedEx Cup: Honda Classic

Fed Ex Cup:        The Honda Classic

Good afternoon and welcome to the Sunshine state – Florida’s PGA Tour home and the home from home for many of the European Tour and PGA Tours global superstars including Tiger Woods (12/1 with Stan James). However, it’s not all about the Sunshine, Florida is also famous for Disney world, NASA, alligators, oranges, Spring Break, its “snow birds”, fishing (just ask Greg Norman) and of course golf. The Honda Classic is the first of four big tour events on the Florida Swing so unpack your bags, fill the fridge and sit back and watch – we will be here for a while.

Date:                     1st – 4th March 2012

Venue:                 PGA National Champion Course, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

Our hardy overworked players will this week be tackling a course consistently ranked among the toughest in tournament conditions. In 2011, PGA National ranked as the second toughest on TOUR at 2.5 strokes over par — just a tick easier than Royal St. George’s Golf Club in the British Open. To give you a flavor of just how difficult, let me put it into perspective; there were 206 par 3s played on the PGA TOUR in 2011 including the four majors. Sitting 1-2 in terms of difficulty were the 17th and 15th holes, respectively, at PGA National’s Champion Course. This is a seriously tough course with a distinguished history of tournament play – including appropriately the 1983 Ryder Cup, the 1987 PGA Championship, and nearly two decades of PGA Seniors’ Championships.

Yards:                   7,158 yards

Par:                        Par 70

Field:                   

Woods will join a field that also includes reigning U.S. Open champ Rory McIlroy and his ever decreasing odds (this week 9/1 with PaddyPower), reigning British Open champ Darren Clarke (446/1 with Bet Fair) and English World number 2, Lee Westwood (10/1 with BlueSq). Given its ‘home from home’ locality for many of the players, why not consider the tenuously house themed Cink (251/1), Couch (489/1), Wi (Wii!) (117/1) and Claxton (494/1) not to mention Kokrak (271/1 all with BetFair) (everyone has a clax(t)on and kokrak at home don’t they?).

However look at these three big performers from the last 3 months of PGA Tour competition including Mr Consistent – John Rollins (75/1 with Bodog), Johnson Wagner (100/1 with Coral) and Jimmy Walker (80/1 with StanJames).

Consider…:

Consider the “Bear Trap” – the legendary 15th, 16th, and 17th holes on tour, let alone over The Champion course – considered by many as the toughest three hole stretch in golf. Also add the added excitement of the fact that even at the Riviera, the winner yet again came from behind, so clearly no lead is safe this year…

Ones to watch:

Mark Wilson (63/1 with BetDaq) claimed his first of what is now five PGA Tour victories at the first edition of the Honda at PGA National in 2007. Has played better than most of the Tour since January and won the Humana Challenge last month. Wilson placed third at the WGC-Match Play beating the on form Westwood to the $600,000 podium pay check and with it currently sits fourth on PGA Tour in greens hit and 11th in the all-around stats form.

Kyle Stanley sticks out towards the top of the form guide with a win and a second to his name in the last six weeks. Unfortunately though the cat is out of the bag now in terms of his ability but he is still worth following and his relatively low 38/1 (BetDaq) odds demonstrate the growing confidence in his ability to perform at the top level is on the up.

Ones to win:

This is his first appearance since a solo third in 2009 but its Ben Crane (36/1 with BetDaq) and his three top 10s this season including a solo second at the Waste Management Phoenix Open that make him a leader board king this weekend. Crane ranks 13th on the PGA Tour for greens hit, leads the strokes Gained-Putting and second in the all-around stats so will more than likely be the one towering above everybody else on Sunday evening.

Charl Schwartzel (26/1 with BetFair) tied for 14th in his debut here last year on the start of a 5 tournament run that culminated in his triumph at the Masters last April. Ranked fifth in putting and T5 in birdies for the week last year and has been a solid performer having had nine top 20s in 10 starts dating back to the Dunhill Links five months ago. Your money is welcome here at the Bank of Charl!!

Trick shots:

Camillo Villegas on a handicap bet to win (-4.5) at 12/1 with Stan James.

Graeme MacDowell is 12/5 to miss the cut with SkyBet – it’s a fairly negative punt but there are only winners in this game that we play….and that’s what you could be!

Thank me later!

 

WGC-Accenture World Match Play Championships

Fed Ex Cup:        WGC-Accenture World Match Play Championship

As the eyes of the golfing globe focus on Tucson, the Worlds’ top 64 golfers will this week try to etch their names into the golfing history book. Billed as the corner stone of the highly regarding WGC series, the WGC Accenture World Match Play Championship has a whopping $8.5 million dollar prize pot and a Redknapp themed (allegedly) tax avoiding moonlight flit by the winner to hide $1.4 million – sadly with recognition on the PGA, European Tour and the Japan Golf Tours as evidence and exhibit A: the famous mildly camp and twee looking oversized granny-esque looking fruit bowl in the living room – the Walter Hagen Cup.

All matches are held over 18 holes including the final. The losers of the semi-final matches play an 18-hole consolation match for third place. This five-day, six-match tournament begins on Wednesday, with a match per day through Friday. The quarterfinals and semifinals are played on Saturday; the finals and third-place match conclude the tournament on Sunday.

Date:                     22nd – 26th February 2012

Venue:                 Ritz-Carlton GC, Dove Mountain, Marana, Arizona

Legendary champion Jack Nicklaus took advantage of the High Sonoran Desert Brokeback Mountain-style setting to integrate strategy, variety and fair shot values into his Signature Design golf course at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain.

The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Dove Mountain is his first Tucson golf course in 25 years, playing at elevations ranging from 2,300 to 3,200 feet. Nicklaus created 27 holes with unique challenges and distinct character, blending naturally among noble saguaros and the surrounding Tortolita Mountain Range.

Yards:                   7,791 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Donald (18/1 with ToteSport) will go into the first WGC event of the year as the top seed and, for the first time, all four top qualifiers are European with Lee Westwood (22/1 with BetDaq), Rory McIlroy (13/1 with StanJames) and Martin Kaymer (25/1 with BlueSq) occupying the top four positions in the World Ranking although Rory McIlroy could take the number one spot this week if dominoes topple a certain way.

There are also 23 Americans in the 64-man field … and 10 of those Americans are in the Hogan bracket, led by No. 2 seed Steve Stricker (44/1). The Hogan bracket also has all four Golf Boys in it — No. 5 Bubba Watson (41/1), No. 6 Hunter Mahan (57/1), No. 9 Rickie Fowler (69/1) and No. 12 Ben Crane (79/1 – all BetDaq). Watson and Crane will face off in the first round.

There are some interesting first round duals taking place on Wednesday including Luke Donald vs. Ernie Els (137/1) (top overall seed vs. last seed); Keegan Bradley (47/1) vs. Geoff Ogilvy (51/1) Ogilvy, the two-time champ, is a 12th seed!); Dustin Johnson (36/1) vs. Jim Furyk (82/1) (power vs. precision) and there is potential for a Snedeker (69/1)  Vs Stanley (49/1) in match 2 that also might mean must watch TV. (All bets BetDaq)

WGC Accenture World Match Play Championship Bracket

What to know:

The weather forecast is scheduled to be around 20 degrees Celsius with no more than a one club wind across the five days of tournament play.  What does that mean? That it shouldn’t be as cold as last time around and therefore possibly does not lean in favour of the Europeans quite as much as last year?

Staggeringly the new leaner, meaner and fitter Darren Clark is 250/1 rank outside for this event! Interesting odds given he won this tournament in 2000 pipping Tiger Woods at the post and that his record in Match Play is pretty decent including in the Ryder Cup and this very tournament. Albeit you should recognise the form guide for Clarke is not filled to the brim with positives about his current form.

Ones to watch:

Poster boy, Nick Watney (49/1 with BetDaq) – not on form but he makes a shed load of birdies and so the attacking style must be worth watching – especially with an easy-ish entry to the event with a head to head with Mr Clarke (see above!).

The perpetually young looking Sergio Garcia (20/1 with Paddy Power) enters this big tournament after an earth shattering final round 64 at last week’s Northern Trust Open. Belongs to a particularly strong group with three of the 4 major winners in it – but with that sort of form, its confirmation that he’s back to his very best.

Ones to win:

Dustin Johnson (36/1 with BetDaq) – will need to break the duck of his last three appearances here but his current form in undeniable; striking the ball long and accurate – DJ will make light work of the nearly 8,000 yard track and provided he makes it to round two and beats Furyk then Scott (34/1 at BetDaq) and then Donald will be right in it come the business end of the weekend.

With a core speciality that is avoiding making bogeys, it is Matt Kuchar (50/1 with SkyBet) who is sticking his head above the parapet this week and will be fighting his way in every match. Accurate and deadly with a putter – his form in 2011, showed he was a major contender and as the next big tournament on any tour, a win here would put him some way to show his true metal and with relatively long odds this weekend, a win would be just a Kuchie coup….

Trick shots:

The competitive Ian Poulter is at odds of 12/1 with BWin to reach the final! Perhaps a bet worth taking, win or lose …

Dustin Johnson AND Rory McIlroy to make the final and you will receive a massive 100/1 with BWin. Go do it! Even a pound… I dares ya!

Oh, and you can 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!

Selectabet: Dubai World Championship

Date:                     8th – 11th December 2011

Competition:     Dubai World Championship presented by DP World

It’s all about the Benjamin’s…and with a share of US $7.5 million up for grabs in both The Race to Dubai and the Dubai World Championship, the total prize fund on offer this week is one of the most lucrative in all sports.

Entrance at this week’s season finale is strictly for the 60 top performing (by money) Professionals across the full season but it is the bonus pool that most are playing for, given the Championship itself is a two horse race, and in order to achieve a share, you must be in the top 15 leading money winners when the last putt is holed on Sunday.

Venue:                 The Earth Course, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, UAE

The Earth course is the first course ever to have been built for a specific championship and unveiled as the first shot was hit at that Championship. Some say it’s not one for strategy but it does require you to hit it straight, high and long – although some of the courses 105 bunkers are also strategically placed in the middle off the tee.

For all the agronomists amongst you; with the tournament taking place two weeks later this year it has given Jumeirah Golf Estates the opportunity to overseed the tees, fairways and rough on the Earth Course with ryegrass. It will be the first time the Earth Course has been overseeded for the event and will give even greater contrast and definition to the brilliant white bunkers and bark mulched landscape areas. It will also provide a tougher challenge to the players than was the case in 2009 and 2010, with more of a premium on finding the fairways with tee shots.

Yards:                   7,675 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

There should be no also rans this week as the biggest, best and most consistent (lets also not forget Darren Clarke) from the European Tour will fight it out for big bucks this weekend in the Race to Dubai season finale (trying not to sound like I’m plugging the last show of some weak plotted American Cop action series reshown on Channel 5).

The big guns you would expect, are all here – counted, present and ready, although there are some surprise entries close to the squeaky bum cut off line nearing the 60 mark. These include James Morrison (360/1) in 55th  – fresh from a sell-out performance at the Picture House in Edinburgh on the 6th December; the famous Lawrie Brothers; “fly away Peter (256/1)” and “fly away Paul (370/1)” in 57th and 56th place respectively; Henne Otto (237/1) – who thanks to a win last week in South Africa makes the grade in 58th; Scotland’s Scott Jamieson (569/1) in 59th who has achieved more or less nothing since July (demonstrating how good a first half of the season he had) and in the last available place – some lad called Christian Nilsson (265/1 – all BetFair) who made it courtesy of a strong October’s work on the greens.

Consider…:

“The Greatest Show on Earth” comes down to the battle between the two best players in the world for the Race to Dubai crown. Due to Luke Donald’s (12/1 at SkyBet) enormous lead, McIlrory is required to win the Dubai World Championship and Donald has to finish 10th or worse for the Irish one to win – even if Rory wins while Donald finishes in 9th, the winning margin (in favour of the current world number one) would only be five Euros!!

This is a long track and accuracy is not the ultimate factor but with tricky bunkering and strategically placed water, it will be a case of “he who dares…”  Course designer Greg Norman created this track specifically for this event and spent time ensuring a great climax which has become known as the toughest home stretch in the golfing calendar where the last four holes fall just short of a mile in length and are the most challenging and exciting in the sport.

Ones to watch:

A rejuvenated Sergio Garcia (16/1 at 188Bet) hopes to keep his impressive run of form going right to the end of the 2011 campaign as he targets a place in the top 15 in The Race to Dubai. The Spaniard completed back-to-back successes for the first time on The European Tour with victory in last month’s Andalucía Masters, a week after also winning on home soil in the Castelló Masters and moving from 11th place to seventh in The Race. The World number 18 currently leads the Ryder Cup points list and will be keen to put another top finish her in the bag for the team event next year, as a player, not just as backroom staff.

Win or “lose” this weekend, the eyes of the golfing world will be on Rory McIlroy (11/2 with BetDaq). Can he overturn the largest lead in professional golf, stop the world number one, win the Race to Dubai and the Dubai World Championship? I fear not, but if anyone will ensure we remain glued to the box, sitting on the edge of our seats until his ball hits the bottom of the cup on Sunday, it’s the exciting youngster who’s season has been spell binding from the start to present moment. A top four finish would be a great achievement and another feather in the young man’s cap.

Ones to win the Dubai World Championship:

With 8 top ten finishes this year Lee Westwood (6/1 at BetFred) is one tip to take the honours this week. The world No. 3 had the benefit of a seven-shot lead heading into the final round after a sparkling third-round 62 last Saturday in the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa and comes here with form on his side and experience from his win in the same event in 2009. Will be a difficult contender to beat – and with Luke and McIlrory both having firmed up their positions in the World rankings, Lee will be looking to ensure he doesn’t fall too far behind.

Raking in over a cool million Euros in an easy schedule over the last three months, Martin Kaymer (16/1 at UniBet or 9/1 at SkyBet without the Big 2) and his win in the WGC HSBC Champions in early November have catapulted the calculating German right back into form and the fight at the top of the World Rankings. Sure he can’t win the Race to Dubai this year, but he will make sure he doesn’t give up the biggest prize in golf easily will be something that he will take great pleasure from after a rather uninspiring season – especially after last year’s amazing performances.

One to win the Race to Dubai:

Luke or Rory? Rory or Luke? Steady versus aggressive? Youth versus experience? For me only one person truly deserves to be awarded the Race to Dubai this year – despite a late charge that means that it is only one from a possible two – and they exist as World Number 1 and 2 respectively just for completeness.

In twelve outings in Europe, he has missed only one cut, and barring a 45th and an 11th position – the other 9 outings have been within the top ten and within that there has been three wins! Earning a whopping £3,856,394 – that equates to winnings of a whopping £1,210.78 per shot and we are not even on the big money game yet! He has also snatched the money list title of the PGA Tour and is the first person ever to be on the cusp of doing so on both sides of the pond in the same season.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your truly inspirational World Number 1, PGA Tour Money winner and soon to be Race to Dubai winner 2011 is…..Luke Donald. Thank you, good evening and good night.

Till next year…Jenks out!

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