Labelled, “The Greatest Show on Grass” you would like to think we have a golf tournament to look forward to this week! This is a tournament that has only seen one multiple winner in 10 years, J.B Holmes winning it first in his rookie season in 2006 and then two years later in 2008. Kyle Stanley picked up his first and only tour win to date here last year, just one week after disappointment at the Farmers Insurance losing in a play off to Brandt Snedeker. Bearing all that in mind it makes for a week of surprises and maybe even a place for another first time winner.
This will be a tough tournament to predict this week with no player proving dominant in the past and only a select few having regular form here. The event itself is very popular and has attracted some of the top players once again to make a turn out in order to get their seasons going. The bookies’ favourites this week are Jason Dufner 14/1, Nick Watney 14-16/1, Brandt Snedeker 14-16/1 and Rickie Fowler also coming in at the same price. Although reasonable prices for market leaders as most are undecided who stands out, this also reflects in the tight odds all the way through the board. Bubba Watson is also amongst the favourties at 14 or 16/1 but he has been ill and I’m not sure how much golf he’s played.
The Course: TPC Scottsdale. Situated in Arizona this is the first of the “Players Club” courses to be played in the PGA Tour calender and a place that plays host to one of the most popular tournaments of the early season. The course par value is 71 and and spans over 7,216 yards. There are 3 par 5s on the course with two of them being reachable in two for most players and one made for the big hitters. Although all three of the par 5s offer a good chance to score accuracy plays a big part on all of them.There is a par 4 that can be driven but the green is surrounded by sand and water so a real risk that can lead to reward or disaster. Most of the holes are rewarding for a player on form off the tee and that should be a leading statistic for anyone that can win here this week.
Spencer Levin proved last season as the 54 hole leader that when you hit 80% of the greens in regulation your in with a good chance. When it came to it in the final round Levin blew a six shot lead (started the round eight shots clear of Stanley) which led to Kyle Stanley picking up the win.
Defending Champion: Kyle Stanley as previously mentioned came from eight shots behind in the final round to pick up the win here this time last year. He made a bogey free round of -6 65 whilst Levin the leader shot +4. A complete contrast to the week before where he managed to blow a lead. Stanley was rewarded for his consistent scoring going under par in every round. Stanley has not had much form since then and is not a player that I will be looking to back this week, but if last years performance persuades you otherwise he is available at 135/1 at StanJames.
Taking all of this information into account it backs up the obvious, play well and you will get rewarded. Anyone can be involved at an event like this with rookies and players looking for their maiden victory alike all looking to be in the hunt. Tee shots will prove vital, combining that with regular scoring it shouldn’t be too hard to find a winner right? Here are my picks for the week!
Jason Dufner 14/1 (General) 3pts Win: Dufner has two appearances at this event, T8 last year and 2nd in 2011, so he has shown he can play here at TPC Scottsdale. Dufner ticks all the boxes for winning this event, he is consistent and accurate with the ability to shoot low. He had a great 2012 picking up two wins and a second placed finish within a month, which was followed by his T4 in the U.S Open. All of this and Ryder Cup appearance underlines what a player Dufner has become. He has has played on the European Tour over the past two weeks finishing t9 on both occasions on unfamiliar territory. So returning to a course where he has played well I fully expect him to be in contention.
Keegan Bradley 40/1 (Bet365/Ladbrokes) 1pt e/w: I will never shy away from tipping this guy, he has all the attributes to win any tournament in my opinion, including majors. When he is on, he is on and his determination drives him forward. He can hit it as far as most of the tee and that could work in his favour this week. He tends to make clutch putts at the right moments and for these reasons I hope to see him go well here. He is a massive price probably down to him missing the cut last week and only managing T49 in the Sony Open, but with his T4 finish in the first week at the Hyundai TOC he has proved he is far from out of sorts. 40/1 is a big price for a player of calibre and considering he came T15 here in his first appearance there is little reason not to go for him.
Russell Henley 66/1 (StanJames) 1pt e/w: Henley has made a great start to his rookie season, already winning once and playing with the confidence of a seasoned pro. As we know he picked up his first win at his very first PGA Tour event which takes some doing, he followed that up by making the cut at The Humana Challenge with a score of -15. It’s hard to know what to expect from him this week as he is only making his 3rd appearance on tour here, but at a price he is definitely worth a shout and I hope his good start can lead to him being a factor come Sunday.
Luke Guthrie 100/1 (William Hill) 1pt e/w: Luke has started his first full season on tour pretty well. Had it not been for his +4 final round last week his T21 could of been a lot better, more than likely up there at the -8/-9 par players that were around the top 5 or 6 in the leader board. Guthrie has got stacks of ability and has been getting a lot of guidance and reassurance from Steve Stricker as they both came out of the University of Illinois, the difference being it took Stricker five years to get his card, it only took Guthrie four months. He was a multiple winner on the Web.com tour last year and also played three PGA events making it to the top 20 every time and coming in a tie for 5th at the John Deere classic. It won’t be long before he makes his first big impression this year and lets hope it can come this week.
Dubai Desert Classic tips:
Thorbjorn Olesen: 22/1 (General) 1pt e/w
Michael Campbell 75/1 (Bet365) 1pt e/w
Total Points Staked: 13
Profit/Loss for 2013: -15.4
Looking to get on the board with a win here this week, with Dufner being the one that I’m hinging my hopes on. Good luck this week and always any feedback or questions are welcome on Twitter @TomJacobs8