Playoffs time! More subdued build up this year, due to some poor scheduling last week’s Wyhndam Championship fell opposite the terrific Solheim Cup, so it picked up few TV hours and even less column inches; all a shame as it was a tight finish with Patrick Reed edging out rising superstar Jordan Spieth on the second hole of a play-off. This looks set to be a brilliant event with the top 125 on the money list teeing it up, trying to secure the win and/or make sure you are in the Top 100 to qualify for the Deutsche Back championship next week.
The Par 71 7,353 yard course took a hammering by the players last time it was used for this event back in 2009, the rough was 4 inches high and there were some fierce slopes on the greens that the Pro’s did not like one bit. Architects Tom Kite and Ben Cupp have changed 15 holes in all, some widening of fairways, some reduction in length of holes and perhaps most importantly the flattening of some of the harsher inclines on the greens. Despite these changes it is still likely to be one of the tougher tests on tour this year, although the weather is also predicted to be benign for the most part (small chance of rain Thursday afternoon), so scoring could be significantly better than in 2009. Heath Slocum was the unexpected winner in 09, he finished 6th in GIR and 8th in scrambling that week, and they are likely to be the pivotal statistics again, although 8 of the top 14 in 09 were also in the top 10 in putting average.
A couple of Aussie’s, a Swede and two Americans make up my team of this week, here we go-
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Adam Scott – 16/1 Win
Impressive form in all the major’s this year, but specifically at the Masters which is why he is selected here, the greens here are seeded with A4 grass, apparently this is the same as Augusta National, Scott also dominated in terms of GIR (1st) and scrambling (3rd) leading to his victory at the Masters. These factors and Scott’s two top 5’s in his last 3 outings make him my favourite for the event, happy to go WIN only on him and my next selection.
Henrik Stenson – 20/1 Win
Well, Top 3 in his last 4 starts, top 10 in his last 5!! That says all we need to know about his current form, also finished top 20 at the Masters so should be able to putt these greens effectively, ranked 2nd in GIR on tour this season, which will be a great asset. Ranked a more lowly 98th in scrambling but it’s his putting might just of held him back from winning in recent weeks, if Adam doesn’t triumph Henrik is my man to pick up the trophy.
Keegan Bradley – 40/1 EW
Excellent EW chance at 40/1 which to me seems very generous, 3rd in all around ranking this season and it’s a mystery how he has not won already this season, twice a runner up and another couple of top 5’s. Excellent driving (ranked 6th in total driving) will be useful this week; he is also ranked 59th in GIR and 42nd in scrambling this season; very happy to have Keegan on board at this price.
Boo Weekley – 125/1 EW
Boo’s outstanding ball striking has won him his place here, along with another couple of factors, firstly he is ranked 4th in GIR on tour this year so should hit plenty of greens, also he has a good record at Harbour town which is another tough links layout and his putting, which seems to hold him back, is better on that course. The final reason is that his good pal Slocum won here in 09, while Boo finished 42st (4th in ball striking) the memory of his good pal winning and his return to form (including a win) this year could provide the perfect storm for a Weekley revival.
Marc Leishman – 125/1 EW
Returned to form with a 12th place finish on a tough course at the PGA championship, Leishman was clearly struggling before that performance, but with his excellent performance in the Masters this year, a return to similar greens should be a plus. Missed the cut here in 2009 and he will need to drive more accurately than he has of late, but he is ranked 70th in GIR and 44th in scoring average and I hope we are catching him on an upward form trajectory; happy to back him at the price with his form on the A4 greens and his 12th place finish last week.
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