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!