So last week we had the chance to see how the players who played in Augusta two weeks ago faired, just one week on. Well notably two players playing at the Masters that were in the field this past week were Graeme McDowell and Webb Simpson who had to be separated by a play-off hole after both finishing on -9, McDowell was the one who held his nerve and went on to claim the 2013 RBC Heritage. A fantastic head-head as both players have won a U.S Open and both have shown they know what it takes to get it done, one difference however, is this was Graeme’s first victory in a regular PGA Tour event, something Webb had already achieved. In terms of my tips last week , again a familiar result as they fell short again. Both Camilo Villegas and Billy Horschel kept things interesting going into the final round, but unfortunately could not keep it together to get some each-way money. The last few weeks have been very difficult to take and hopefully fortunes can only get better as we look ahead this week to the Zurich Classic, in New Orleans.
The Zurich Classic, previously known as the HP Classic and Compaq Classic has been known by it’s current name since 2005 and in that time there have been 8 different winners, so this has certainly not been a one-man tournament. New Orleans has become a massive part of each American’s heart ever since Hurricane Katrina, and since then the tournament has been regarded of somewhat extra importance to many a player on tour. With yet another recent tragedy in the shape of the “Boston Marathon bombing” many people turn to sport in their time of need and many players would like to repay that by putting on a show this week. One player who will definitely be looking for a good week here is Keegan Bradley. Bradley who grow up just a three-hour drive from Boston is well known for supporting Boston in Baseball, Basketball and Ice Hockey so he has his attachments to the city. He will be looking to recover from what can only be described as a below-par performance at the Masters, after a devastating 3rd round 82. This will be his first time out since and he will look to rectify his missed cut last year and build on his T26 in 2011, his only two results here at this event. Keegan is one of the favourites in the field this week and at 18/1 he might not be everyone’s choice, however prior to the Masters his four previous results were, T10, T3, 7th and T4 so he has been in a rich vain of form in recent times. With the scoring being fairly consistent over recent years, the last three winning scores being, -19, -15, -18, players will now what they have to do to be in with a shot and with the winner being decided by play-off two years in a row, players with good composure will be as important as ever. Apart from a play-off win coming in the last two years, the 2010 Zurich Classic was won by Jason Bohn, finishing two shots clear of Jeff Overton and the 2009 won by 1 shot, when Jerry Kelly held off Rory Sabbatini to win at -14, so it is often close and no player seems to completely get away from the field. So we shall look ahead at how the tournament will be won this week and what players will have to overcome in order to win this years Zurich Classic.
The Course: TPC Louisiana, 7,425 yards, par 72. TPC Louisiana features more than 100 bunkers, with several large waste bunkers featured on the first six holes of the back 9. The course itself was ranked the 10th easiest on Tour last season and this is highlighted by the frequent low scoring we see year after year. Three players tied the 18-hole record (61) in 2012, Greg Chalmers, Ryan Palmer and Russell Knox, a score that should really kick start a round. This course isn’t difficult and will be a welcome change from the last couple of weeks for some players as they’ve struggled through difficult holes and conditions. To win here you’re going to have to shoot low, especially low if you want to win with any comfort.
Defending Champion: Jason Dufner. Dufner will be returning to New Orleans to defend what was his first win on the PGA Tour, when he won here in 2012 and it seems an eternity ago that he picked up his first win. Dufner has slowly become a headline name on Tour and with his laid back attitude coupled with his great skill-set, he really he gives himself plenty of chances to push for a strong finish and more wins, even in major championships. In 2012 Dufner had to take on major champion Ernie Els in a play off after both players posted -19, two clear of closest challenger Luke Donald. Dufner’s form has been inconsistent of late, but a solid performance at Augusta, finishing T20 should get him back on track. Although he followed up that decent finish at the Masters with a T35 at the RBC Heritage Dufner will still go into this week confident that he can defend his title, and should he get his putter working he might just do that. The defending champion is 18/1 (StanJames) if you believe he can.
With all that in mind, I will be looking to point out some value as well the players with a more obvious chance. We have seen some big odds winners this season and there’s a definite chance that can happen again. Greens in regulation are as important as ever as apart from Dufner last year, past champions tend to rank in the top 10 so accuracy and the ability to take advantage of the par 5s this week are the way forward. So here we go, my picks for the 2013 Zurich Classic. Alto
Nick Watney 28/1 (BETFRED) 1pt e/w: Watney is another one of those players that I’m always interested in when he is in the field and this week is certainly no different. His form here at this course is very up and down, however the key moment was his win here in 2007, the first of his 5 PGA Tour victories. Although that was a while ago he has since managed to post a T20 here in 2011 and has gone on to rack up four more PGA Tour wins. His missed cuts may be a worry, but players can often pick up their form at a course and hopefully Watney can do that here. I was very impressed with his final three rounds at Augusta two weeks ago, after such a poor opening round 78. He went on to shoot 69, 68 on the Friday and Saturday to put himself in a good position and with his final round of 72 he found himself T13, and at a Major championship that is very respectable. He is 12th in Greens in Regulation and 32nd in Par 5 performance so hopefully he an improve further on those stats on his way to his 6th Tour win. At 28/1 he stands out as the value pick of the headline players this week and I think he could go really well again.
Charles Howell III 45/1 (PaddyPower) 1pt e/w: Howell is in fantastic form this season, and with last week being only his 2nd missed cut of the year he has certainly proved that. Of course just making the cut isn’t anything special, but Howell has also placed 3rd in the opening week in Hawaii, T2 at the Humana Challenge missing out to Brian Gay in a play off and then went and finished T9 in the Farmers Insurance Open so three top 10s in three weeks, a good feat for any player. Since then Howell has beaten Tiger Woods in the opening round of the Accenture Match-Play and also a T12 in the other WGC the Cadillac Championship. He then finished T10 at the Shell Houston Open three tournaments ago so he’s shown no real signs of fading away and this course should not de-rail him either. Although he is only 44th in Greens in Regulation and 36th in Par 5 scoring, he comes in at 4th in the Scrambling and Scoring Average stats, two things that highlight his season so far. Howell’s last four results are pretty impressive most notably his T2 in 2009, other than that he has placed, T39, T13 and T43 so the signs are there for another good finish this week and hopefully Howell can get his overdue win!
Boo Weekley 70/1 (SportingBet) 1pt e/w: Two things that I mentioned earlier that will be key this week were both Greens in Regulation, and Par-5 performance and Weekley places 6th & 11th in these categories. A man who doesn’t seem to struggle with pressure, he’s quite happy to knock his way round the course without too much worry, unless of course he’s missing fishing! Joking aside Boo has had two top-10 finishes this season, with a T8 and a 2nd back to back in mid-March. Although his recent results haven’t been that inspiring I think he’s doing enough to pose a threat this week and with him in the top-20 on both of those key stats he’s got to be worth a punt at 70/1. Although he missed the cut on his last attempt here in 2011, he finished T10 and T13 in 2010 and 2009 so certainly can find his way around this track and hopefully he can build on recent play and finish in the top 5 this week.
Greg Chalmers 100/1 (General) 1pt e/w: Chalmers is not a player that springs to my mind each week, and in terms of the two stats I’ve highlighted this week, you would be forgiven if you had questioned why I have picked him. Chalmers currently sits 173rd in Greens in Regulations and 54th in Par 5 performance, but his course form is what made me include him in the end. His last four finishes here are, T30, T8, 5th and T24 so its seems to be a course that suits his eye and hopefully he can recreate that this week. Unfortunately last week Chalmers had to W/D from the tournament with a hand injury, but he has not made any noise of pulling out this week so far. Chalmers has two good finishes this year, T10 at the Northern Trust Open and T4 in the Tampa Bay Championship and with a course that suits his game hopefully he can build on that and finish high again this week. At 100/1 I found him hard to ignore and I hope he can prove why he seemed difficult to leave out.
This is an interesting field this week and hopefully the four players I have picked can turn around current fortunes and get back on track in terms of profit. I am also going to post my tips for this weeks European Tour event the Ballantines Championship here because of time restrictions, so be sure to check them out below.
Ballantine’s Championship Tips
Marcus Fraser 40/1 (General) 2pts e/w: Fraser a previous winner of this event has showed some very decent form early on in the season, with his first four results being, T21, T22, T5 and T17 so just from that 40/1 would never seem short, but what’s really important is his record here. In his attempts at this course he has finished T3, T27, 1st and T34, an outstanding record and one that should see him give you a run for your money at 40/1. He is 6th in putts per round this year and that is just another thing on his side this week!
Felipe Aguilar 40/1 (General) 1pt e/w: Aguilar missed out on a win in a play off last week, to eventual winner Raphael Jacquilen. Apart from last week Aguilar has finished T3 twice and T9 so far this season and he really seems to be finding some of his best form. He came T7 last year and also finished T35, T16, T31 and T50 in his other four attempts so his result last season wasn’t out of the blue on this course and hopefully he can continue his good run of form this week.
Brett Rumford 80/1 (StanJames & Coral) 1pt e/w: Sticking with the Australian theme I have picked Brett Rumford this week due to what seems a very big price. His results at this event are T20, T7 , 2nd and T15 so at 80/1 I think he is extremely overpriced, however apart from his T12 at the Africa Open his form has been average of late so that will be why you can get such an attractive price on him. I’m happy to ignore recent form in favour of incredible course form and hopefully he can repeat his past form again this week.
Romain Wattel 100/1 (Bet365) 0.5pt e/w: T12 here last year Wattel has already shown he can score here, especially as that was on his first attempt. He has been out of form recently but he did have a T10 finish at the Tshwane Open and at 100/1 he price did catch my eye, especially after last years result.
Total Points staked this week: 17
Profit/Loss for 2013: – 66.5
I feel really good about my selections for both tours this week and I really do hope they get me back on track. Although the profit/loss is not anywhere near where I want it to be I have already tipped a winner this year and a further 6 top 5 finishes so hopefully some of that early form can be found again. With Australian golf buzzing at the moment after Adam Scott’s win at the masters hopefully the three players above can find inspiration and dig out a win between them! Good luck this week and I hope you have enjoyed reading my article this week. Twitter @TomJacobs8