112th US Open Championship – Pins (R4)!

Saturdays hole locations were tough enough. Take a final look at the fourth and final rounds locations. In particular, observe the knife edge you play with on the last… Thank goodness its them and not me!

112th US Open Championship – Pins (R3)!

If you ever think that they put the pins in a hard place for your Club Championship – what about these tricky and unforgiving pin placements for the 112th US Open Championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco?

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!

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!

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!

Race to Dubai: Avantha Masters 2012

Race to Dubai:   Avantha Masters 

After a testing three week Middle East swing, much of Europe’s big hitting high fliers of the European Tour head for a break. Those who now play globally, head directly to Arizona for a practice week ahead of the Accenture World Matchplay. So, you could say it is without the usual suspects, but with longer odds, it makes it even more rewarding.

Date:                     16th – 19th February 2012

Venue:                 DLFG&CC, New Delhi, India

The dramatic Aravali range forms a magnificent backdrop for the stretches of lush turf, rolling fairways, meticulously manicured greens and fairways that compliment the flowers and streams that meander through this quiet paradise. It’s Augusta – only in India. Water is in spectacular abundance – be it in the form of a delightfully cascading waterfall on the 17th or the five lakes that add serenity all their own to the natural beauty of the course so it’s very American.

Yards:                   7,156 yards

Par:                        Par 72

Field:                   

Only ten of the top 60 from the European Tour are competing this weekend and there are 35 Tour winners with 64 event titles between them – the most successful of which is Richard Sterne (but recent return from back injury likely removes his chances of taking the sacred cow come Sunday) (46/1). However, the most recent is Joost Luiten (18/1 with BetVictor) who having knocked on the door towards the tail end of 2011, succeeded in landing the Iskander Johor Open and looks likely to compete at this new higher level more in 2012. However, also joining the field are US born one time Major winners in John Daly (79/1) and now European Tour convert and expert from “just off the green with a hybrid” – it’s Todd Hamilton (314/1 – All with BetDaq)!

Consider…:

The European Tour bridesmaids – who in the absence of the sponsor saturated limelight stealing tweeters stand a great chance of making the breakthrough at events just as this and include Scot Jamieson (42/1), Soren Hansen (49/1), Gareth Maybin (59/1) and Rhys Davis (88/1).  However, if its longer odds you like, look at these three spicy options that may curry favour; Zaw Moe (431/1), Berry Henson (266/1) and the gloriously titled Shanker Das (969/1 – all with BetDaq) – who really should be right down the courts tomorrow to have that changed if he knew what was good for him.

Ones to watch:

Shiv Sanker Prasad, known to all as SSP (Chowrasia) (66/1 at BoyleSports), used to sneak on to the historic Calcutta Golf Course before starting a career in golf as a caddie. Latterly he was persuaded to plough a furrow on the Asian and European Tours as a golfer with two victories to his name. SSP won this event in 2011 and is a firm favourite to place highly again this year. His putter is working as well as it ever has, even if length is not his strongest point. SSP is not one to win.

Great Dane Thorbjorn Oleson (33/1 with Bet365) has made the transition from also ran professional to a quality and oft-in-contention golfer – and did so frequently within 2011 en route to a whopping 640,000 Euros salary from just 30 events. Is one of the players expected to be in contention this week and with relatively attractive odds given his status this week, is surely worth an each way flutter?

Ones to win:

With six top ten finishes in  32 events and a pay check of just shy of 1 Million Euros in 2011, Aberdeen’s former favourite golfer (now that Paul Lawrie’s is firing on all cylinders!) Richie Ramsay (37/1 with BetDaq) is one stepping into contention this week.  With greater statistics in greens in regulation clear to all, his season is yet to see the rewards from the efforts of all of his off season “work” which includes reducing salt and vinegar condiment use on deep fried pizza and trying not to start a fight with Rangers supporters should they meet. His golf is set to improve even if his waistline isn’t.

Welsh born but Macclesfield surviving, Jamie Donaldson (20/1 at SkyBet) is one of the favourites this week after a career best 38th in the Race to Dubai after seven top ten finishes and a third in 2011. Shooting lower than ever already this season and with steady and improving results in his few consecutive outings since December last year, the lack of a top quality field should allow the red dragon to add some a significant win to the three challenge wins already on his Pro golfer CV.

Trick shot:

Richie Ramsay at 9/1 with Ladbrokes as top finishing GB and Ireland competitor.

Thorbjorn Oleson to be first round leader with 40/1 from BetFred.

Jenks out!