FedEx Cup: Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

Fed Ex Cup:        Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

Ten gallon hat? Check. Peewees? Check. Denim? Check. Ute? Check. Check? Check. And so we are ready – ready to stay on in Texas! Having completed one whole week at one of the Tour Players’ most detested courses at Las Colinas (49th of 52 on Tour suitably demonstrated by only 9 of the World’s top 50 in attendance!), it’s time to cross town a mere 30 miles in JFK’s perforated 1961 Lincoln cabrio to the scene of this week’s crime; the greatest game on grass is at the longest running event on the PGA Tour and home of caddy racing at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth!


Date:                     24th – 27th May 2012

Venue:                 Colonial CC, Fort Worth, Texas

Developed in 1936, this 18-hole par 70 layout is consistently rated as one of the best courses in the United States and wider in the golfing world. Colonial hosted the 1941 U.S. Open, the 1975 Tournament Players Championship, the 1991 U.S. Women’s Open, and continues to host this annual PGA Tour event. If you liked the atmosphere at The Players at Sawgrass, you will love it here! It’s party time – pass the beer nuts…

Yards:                   7,204 yards

Par:                        Par 70

Field:    

Much as with the BMW PGA at Wentworth, it is a quality home field this week including seven of the top ten on the FedEx Cup leader board, 11 winners with 13 trophy’s from 2012 and 13 major winners clutching 16 trophy’s. This week’s ugly mob specifically includes Ben Crane wannabe Bill Haas (40/1), 2011 winner David Toms (28/1), Sergio (33/1), one tired Matt Kuchar (16/1) and a lucky one from the Nationwide Tour, Mr Dicky Pride (100/1 – all BWin)!

Consider…:

Wind will serve as the primary challenge for the field this week with gusts from 25-30 mph expected during the first two rounds. Temperatures will flirt around 90 degrees most of the week.

Last year defending champion David Toms (30/1 at BlueSq) exemplified the requirements for success at Hogan’s Alley. He ranked fourth in both fairways and greens hit a year ago and there is nothing different this year to impede the golden paved path to victory – but a mere 84 bunkers and 3 water hazards. As last outing, fairways and greens hit will a considerable factor here again in 2012.

Ones to watch:

All three of Ben Crane’s top fives at Colonial have occurred in the last three even-numbered years – is this a likely converging trend? (…asked my learned PGA Tour colleagues!) Despite missing the cut at The Players two weeks ago due to an uncharacteristically shoddy 78 in the second round he comes off three top tens’ in his last four outings and ranks in the top half of the field in both fairways and greens hit. A bold move – but at 45/1 with Coral, there are good returns for a risk taking gambler.

Bo Van Pelt (28/1 with BetFair) has rebounded from an injury in his left wrist such that he finished in seventh at Sawgrass for his fifth top 10 of the season. His form in Texas is as good as anyone’s as he has been on the receiving end of eleven consecutive rounds in the 60s at Colonial over his last 8 starts here and finished a solo third last year.

Ones to win:

With eight top 25s in 16 appearances at Colonial that include six top 10s and his worst finish in his last six starts this year a mere 26th at Quail Hollow, its Jim Furyk (35/1 with BetFair) who could unleash his own brand of fury as a very likely contender this week. He currently sits third on the PGA Tour in fairways hit and 64th in greens and with the sizeable greens here (well, everything is bigger in Texas!) he ranks 12th in Strokes Gained-Putting.

Joaquin Phoenix look-a-like Zach Johnson (16/1 with Ladbrokes) sets “converging trends” once again after coming off a second at Sawgrass, and his second runner-up in three starts (Heritage) and he’s posted top 10s in his last three trips here, including a victory in 2010 when he established the tournament record (21-under 259). Zach ranks 8th in driving accuracy, total eagles and 3rd in scrambling inside 50 yards. He’s not in it for the (Johnny) Cash but can he Walk the Line?

Trick shots:

Look no further than the first round leader to be Rickie Fowler (25/1 with Bet365 and StanJames) – he has carded both a 64 and a 63 (last year in round one) at Colonial.

Louis Oosthuizen is available at a high 10/1 with PaddyPower to win with a handicap of -3. If offered at both the Masters and the Shell Houston Open, this would have lead to two impressive gambling victories!

Thank me later!

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!