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!

FedEx Cup: Waste Management Phoenix Open

Buckle up ladies, this is your superior officer speaking and this might just get exciting…welcome to my new office…

Fed Ex Cup:        Waste Management Phoenix Open 

After the thrilling ending to last week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the PGA tour heads to the Arizona desert for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course, built in 1986, hosted its first Waste Management Phoenix Open in 1987 which has now become the largest attended golf event in the world and brings immeasurable attention to the quality field that entertain. Most of whom can be found as part of the largest and loudest gallery situated in the stands that circle the perimeter of the par-3 16th green…oh boy!

Date:                     2nd – 5th February 2012

Venue:                 TPC Scottsdale, Phoenix, Arizona

Set in the Sonoran Desert and surrounded by the majestic McDowell Mountains, TPC Scottsdale embodies the standards of excellence in golf operations worldwide. The Stadium Course, designed by the team of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, is a masterful blend of challenge and playability for the enjoyment of all levels of golfers, professional and amateur alike. It is not the toughest course on the PGA Tour (ranking 42nd of the 51 used) but offers a low scoring option that clearly excites and delights its sizable number of patrons each year.

Yards:                   7,216 yards

Par:                        Par 71

Field:                   

A quality field has returned “home” to Scottsdale for the biggest prize of the season to date as so many of the players have residences with an abundance of suntan lotion around Phoenix. Expect many of these ‘locals’ to be in the mix come Sunday afternoon including Simpson (26/1), Snedeker (29/1), Laird (37/1), Fowler (31/1), Watney (25/1), Mickelson (39/1), Bradley (45/1) and Dustin Johnson (51/1). The season also starts here for Ian Poulter (61/1 – all at BetFair) who joins the headlines of a field with a depth to it.

Consider…:

This week will boil down to those who minimise mistakes and take their chances on these greens and so we will be looking for players who hit plenty of greens. Over the last few years, there would seem to be a premium on good, solid drivers of the ball with previous winners Kenny Perry (189/1 with BetFair) and Hunter Mahan both ranking highly in the Total Driving stat at the time of their victories.

Two holes stick out in my mind; the par-3 195-yard 12th with water guarding the entire right side and sand bunkers to the left and behind. The green is long and narrow with a two-club difference between the front and back pin placement. Then there is the par-5 595-yard 13th with a split fairway. Downwind, the shot is probably the right fairway, driving between the water and island desert. Play this right and make it 50 yards shorter and reachable in two. Softies go left to the wider driving area, eliminating the chance to reach. Its good old fashioned exciting stuff!

Ones to watch:

World number 22 (did you know that?) and current FedEx Cup holder Bill Haas (51/1 with BetFair) has such long odds for someone of his caliber that he just has to be a consideration for a place. Had a great 2011 season earning $4M+ through 7 top tens including a PGA Tour win and two top two positions. Currently lies 5th in Greens in regulation and so given my considerations above, is a worthy contender this week.

A promising gymnast who quit to focus on the small ball game, it is bald headed funny guy Ben Crane (61/1 with BetFair) who is my tip for a place this week. With two top tens from three starts the form shows and with such strong stats for putting (with strokes gained) and one of the highest Eagle hitters on tour, just you watch the daft Beaver at the business end come Sunday!

Ones to win:

All round Mr. Nice guy Matt Kuchar (33/1 with BetFair) smiles his way into my vision as a hot prospect this week. He is just warming up after one start this season but his stats for 2011 are impressive: 24 events played, 19 top 25’s including 9 top tens – the only thing missing was a win but he has proven he has it in him previously. The second most accurate driver on Tour, Kuch is Mr. Consistent and high in birdie averages too. Surely this makes this Georgian a peach of a bet?

Breaker One, Breaker One, I might be crazy, but I ain’t dumb! It’s Bubba Watson at 45/1 (with Betfair). Generally (General Lee – get it!?) he’s gonna cuff ya and stuff ya! Having bought Bo and Luke Dukes real star, Watson has found a Hazzard he wants to be in and the Southpaw is the one to outrun the rest of the field this weekend – probably in it. A solid start to the season with two top 25’s, Bubba is just warming up (probably as all Arizona residents do – in ‘Daisy Dukes’ and a tank top!). With top ten stats for both driving (obviously) and greens in regulation he may just be the Boss (Hogg) come Sunday.

Trick shots:

Webb Simpson to be 1st round leader at 25/1 with BetFair and Aaron Baddeley and Ben Crane in a Double Chance win with SkyBet @ 22/1.

Thank me later!