Deutsche Bank Championship 2013

Deutsche

TPC Boston, Norton, Massachusetts, United States

After a pulsating climax to The Barclays last week, 25 players have been cut and now we are left with the 100 top points leaders for the Deutsche Bank Open.

Adam Scott was sublime last Sunday and his confidence will be sky high as he joins the esteemed group of players who have won twice on the PGA Tour this season. (Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker)

As for this week, it is a completely different test to the gorgeous Liberty National as it ranks amongst the easiest on Tour – 31st for difficulty in 2012.  It is a 7, 216 yard par 72, designed by the great Arnold Palmer and does not seem to invite a particular player to do well.  It can suit every type of golfer – but you have to play well, score low and keep finding birdies.

The 10th at TPC Boston

The 10th at TPC Boston

We will obviously be looking at scoring stats – birdie average has been vital for the last 4 tournaments (the past 4 winners have ranked 7th or higher in birdie average) whilst the higher rankings for par 5 birdie or better has yielded winners in recent years – why? We don’t know!

Before we reveal our picks, we do not understand the betting market this week.  We have had a crazy Bank Holiday in the UK so we were busy anyway, but the odds did bewilder us and made things even more confusing.

5 players below 20s is criminal and we were gutted to see Rory McIlroy as low as 14s because he looked very useful for this course.

We must also reiterate that every tournament where Tiger Woods has this sort of outrageous course form, he has won…

Keegan Bradley (40/1 StanJames)

The concentration of Keegan Bradley

The concentration of Keegan Bradley

Here we are again.  Last week we plumped for Keegan Bradley, firmly believing he would be in and around the final reckoning.  The 74 he shot on Saturday completely ruined any chances of victory, but the fact he hit (at the time) a joint course record 63 the day before, shows how impressive he can be.  We all know how low he can shoot and this was a reminder that coming into this week he should be feeling confident but whether he can sustain it or not is another matter.

Our only worry is if he can put four low rounds together.  He has to get into his weird and awkward groove that makes him a genius.  He is currently 24th in birdie average, 1st in par birdie or better, 2nd in going for the green (the attacking players flood this category), 10th for rounds in the 60s, 21st in bogey avoidance and 11th in scoring average.  We could actually go on, but we feel that should be more than enough information on the fact this guy enjoys hitting low scores and on a track that warrants these rounds, Keegan could be the man.

Last year he finished T13 but did shoot 63 on the Saturday, which was the joint lowest round of the weekend.  He wasn’t able to get off to a good start but if he can, then anything could happen.

Come on you loveable weirdo.

Jim Furyk (35/1 BetVictor)

We deliberated over Jimbo for a long time about whether he would be useful this week.  We eventually decided that we will put our trust in him for one more week because his current and course form are too exceptional to ignore.  He has never missed the cut here and has 3 top 10s in recent years, whilst he did finish T13 in 2012 when he shot a 72 on Saturday to scupper any chances of victory.

We did feel he hardly shows the urgency to find birdie after birdie, because he is stereotypically a plodder.  However, his putting has been sublime recently and because his irons are so consistent, he could find birdies if he decides to turn up.

He has recorded 4 top 10s in a row and should have won the PGA but he made silly mistakes, whilst Dufner was just too good.

He lies in 1st for proximity to the hole and 27th in GIR.  Some may find it surprising, but his scoring stats are better than you would initially think – 35th for rounds in the 60s, 13th for bogey avoidance and 18th in scoring average.

One more chance Jimbo.

Brandt Snedeker (45/1 StanJames)

How can you ever get frustrated with that loveable mug?!

How can you ever get frustrated with that loveable mug?!

For someone as classy as Snedeker, 45/1 seemed slightly outrageous and we just felt it was too big to avoid.  He is a double winner this year and clearly one of the best in the world and this is a course that he has performed well at before.

He has recorded 4 top 10s in a row but in all of them had one average round which cost him any chance of a victory.  We all know how low he can shoot when his game is on, mainly because he is so consistent tee to green and one of the best putters around – 6th in one-putt percentage and 4th in strokes gained putting.  His form has not been impressive in the last 2 weeks admittedly; missing 2 cuts in a row is not something you want for a player you are backing in such a high-class field, but he seemed to be tired and not hugely bothered last Friday.  He was getting into this tournament whatever the weather, so it just seemed like he was turning up because he had to.  He is aware that this is a completely different situation and coming to a course he likes, it could be a blessing in disguise that he has had a few extra days off.

Obviously, when his game is on he can shoot as low as anyone – 12th in par 5 birdie or better, 8th in birdie average, 28th bogey avoidance and 10th scoring average.  That is highly impressive

The bookies obviously love a bandwagon and they have completely forgotten about Sneds, but we haven’t and we trust him like we always do.

Ryan Moore (80/1 various)

Ryan Moore is a name that is thrown around the DownThe18th office many times, because there is a real liking for his abilities.  He is just one of those players who can turn up on any type of course and perform outrageously, it is just a matter of getting on him when he does.

So why this week?

Because he finished T10 last year and should have been higher, were it not for a relatively poor weekend.  And in 2011 he ended in the same position, again suffering on the Saturday and Sunday.

When you look at his recent form, he could be an interesting outsider because he hasn’t missed a cut in 7 tournaments and has shot a low score most weeks but hasn’t been able to produce it for 4 days.  This is a frustrating aspect that could annoy us all, but he knows the course and performed well before, Moore could be the man if you want someone away from the main pack.

Matt Every (110/1 StanJames)

If you get a chance, type in Matt Every into Google, there are some hilariously similar mug shots of the man.  Lad.

If you get a chance, type in Matt Every into Google, there are some hilariously similar mug shots of the man. Lad.

With all the big names turning up this week, it is unlikely outsiders will be in the mix, but, just like Moore, we found a little gem in Matt Every.

He has had 2 very good weeks in a row, T9 at the Barclays and T5 at the Wyndham Championship.  A 72 on Friday ruined his chances at Liberty National, whilst he put 4 rounds in the 60s at Wyndham to finish impressively.

He may have only played here once (T35 finish) but his attacking nature could prove fruitful on a course that needs forward thinkers – 17th in going for the green, 44th proximity to the hole and 37th in one-putt percentage.  Whilst he lies in 21st for rounds in the 60s and 13th for birdie average.

At the end of the day, we don’t mind backing outsiders like Every because not a lot of money needs to be staked and a lot of money can be won.  He has ‘every’ chance of mixing it with the big boys as he has shown before and what a prospect he could be.

Quick Mention must go to Rory Sabbatini (80/1 various) who just missed out on our final 5 selections, but is an exciting prospect for this week because he has the game and scoring abilities to do wonders on this course – 2nd in birdie average, 50th scoring average, 3rd rounds in the 60s, 12th going for the green and 9th in GIR.  He also came T6 here in 2006 plus his form has been very impressive in the last few weeks.

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ISPS Handa Wales Open 2013

Handa Wales

Here we are again in the UK, this time in Wales for their Open, on a course many of us will know well. It is none other than the Celtic Manor Resort, Twenty Ten course which played host to the 2010 Ryder Cup. Only Miguel Jimenez and Ross Fisher are in the field this week from Colin Montgomerie’s victorious European side.

The course is a very challenging, links-style exposed course where players will not be going as low as last week in Scotland. Only 13 players managed to finish under par last year which tells a story in itself. The first part of the course features long rough and greenside swales on all the holes making accuracy absolutely vital. As the players go deeper into the course, more and more water hazards will await. Half of the holes on the Twenty Ten Course feature water hazards!

No matter who you back this week, the potential for double and triple bogeys will be very high for all 4 days. It will be the most consistent players who flourish. McDowell, Jaidee and Noren are the three most recent winners and all are known for their consistent iron play and course management. Statistically, you need to be looking at accurate players with good GIR stats (4 of the top 7 last year ranked inside the top 11 for GIR). 2012 winner Thongchai Jaidee also ranked 2nd for putts per GIR.

Don't underestimate how much water is in play!

Don’t underestimate how much water is in play!

Chris Wood (35/1 Paddy Power)

The huge Englishman is someone who we feel will go under the radar this week. At 35/1 for someone who has already won in 2013 and has good course form on Celtic Manor seems like too good value to miss. What we like is that Wood has an eye for links golf, coming 5th at the Open as an amateur in 2008 and then 3rd a year later on arguably two tougher courses. After winning the Qatar Masters in January, Wood’s confidence will have been taken to a whole new level and he will definitely believe he has what it takes in Wales. He also won around this time last year on the OneAsia Tour with victory at the Thailand Open.

Water does not scare Wood!

Water does not scare Wood!

You have to look at his average recent form with the knowledge that two of his last three events have been majors, but did make the cut at the Open. At the start of August, Wood did finish T7 at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational mixing it with the best in the world. Wood has limited his appearances this year, mainly taking part in the bigger events and his statistics reflect this. In Wales he has recorded a 10th in ’09 and 14th last year. Wood also played the majority of last year’s event with a back injury and still managed 14th place! So coming into this week fully fit, who knows…

Ross Fisher (20/1 Various)

Fisher enjoyed wearing Europe's colours around Celtic Manor

Fisher enjoyed wearing Europe’s colours around Celtic Manor

Fisher will be fancied by many this week and rightly so. He’s as accurate as they come and is definitely due a win sooner or later with the way he has been playing. It is surprising he hasn’t quite pushed on after shooting some really low rounds, but just hasn’t strung them together yet. He finished 10th here in ’08 and then 6th last year when perhaps his game was not in as good a shape as now. Many of his finishes have been on the PGA Tour as well, which features a lot tougher fields.

Fisher’s story last year at Celtic Manor was one of anger and disappointment. He was given a shot penalty and a 10,000 fine for slow play when he was just one shot off Jaidee on the final day. Fisher subsequently fell away and finished 6th. He will want to put the record straight this week. Statistically you won’t find may better, 5th scoring average, 36th driving accuracy, 19th GIR, 18th putts per GIR and 6th sand saves. He did of course feature at Celtic Manor in the 2010 Ryder Cup as well. So will Fisher be able to live up to the hype?

Paul Waring (60/1 888Sport)

Paul is a man who we have backed before and always keep our eye on. Last week he did enough to prove to us he can continue his good play into this week at Celtic Manor. He eventually managed to finish 6th last week. On his day he hits the ball very long and more importantly straight, which is exactly what he was doing last week. If you can drive well this week you will give yourself a chance. When looking at his recent form in Wales, Paul finished 10th in 2009 and therefore has the ability to do well here. Just like Fleetwood last week, Waring is still relatively young and will be itching to grab his first European Tour win. And he has previously finished T19 at the Open proving links golf will not be an issue. For 2013 the Englishman is averaging 297 yards off the tee, is 21st in GIR, 53rd driving accuracy and 36th stroke average. Watch out for him.

Alvaro Quiros (66/1 Bet365)

Watch out for Quiros off the tee

Watch out for Quiros off the tee

This is one player we have been waiting and waiting for to get back to full fitness, and we would say he is definitely 95% fit. The Spaniard not only has the ability to win tournaments like these with ease but could certainly go on to win majors. Just like Waring, Alvaro really caught our eye at the Johnnie Walker Championship and his driving was back to its dominant best. His swing is his own and when he’s on form there is nobody better or longer off the tee. But for a few errors, Quiros could quite easily have been in with a shout at the end of day 4 last week. He already has 6 titles on the European Tour so you won’t find many better in the field at these odds. When fully fit he finished 20th in 2010 and has not been back since. Quiros has the perfect game for links golf and a win this week would certainly announce his arrival back from injury.

Eddie Pepperell (100/1 Various)

Our 4th English pick of the week and in many ways the most exciting. The 22 year old will without doubt become one of the top English golfers in years to come and is already a high quality player. His best finish of late was a T6 at the BMW PGA, where he impressed us greatly, whilst finishing T22 at the Irish Open, T8 at the Open de Espana and T28 last week on similarly exposed links-style courses. Pepperell will have grown up knowing about last week’s winner Tommy Fleetwood and it is really hard to choose between them. It will definitely give Eddie massive confidence seeing Fleetwood win last week, showing it can be done. His odds are what they are because his is still such a raw talent and has never played at the Wales Open, but his ability to us makes this great value.

Will be looking to follow Tommy Fleetwood and make it 2 successive young English victors

Will be looking to follow Tommy Fleetwood and make it 2 successive young English victors

The Barclays 2013

It has been one hell of a fascinating season, with shocks, breakthroughs, Tiger, Rory and three 1st time major champions.  Now, the golfing world turns its attention to the final stretch, to tie up the FedEx Cup in a 4-tournament playoff system.

And for some extra opinion on the FedEx Cup system, please do check out our weekly blog post for Golf Monthly magazine.

‘Its All About The Money – FedEx Cup’

A picturesque course with views of the Statue of Liberty

A picturesque course with views of the Statue of Liberty

The 1st of these events is at the stunning Liberty National Golf Course for The Barclays.  The top 125 in the rankings will be embarking upon New Jersey, all trying to earn a mouth-watering $10 million.  It is utterly ridiculous that these sort of sums are being shelled out, but it has helped to attract the cream of the crop during the final few months.

The course itself is a 7,400-yard par 71 and will be a difficult proposition for the field due to its length and narrow fairways.  If the breeze whirls off the coast it will be even tougher. With quick, small, bentgrass greens, putting will be vital and they could be compared to Augusta’s famous surfaces (obviously not sloping as much!).

Heath Slocum won here when The Barclays last came to town in 2009 and his victory came about with over 80% accuracy off the tee and even with its obvious length, that proves how important it is to be in the fairway as well.  Tee to green ball strikers will run supreme here and we do feel long hitters in a bit of form will have the advantage.

All in all it will be an exciting week, with picturesque views of the famous Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline.  We are yet to see this true ‘playoff excitement’ but lets hope that this first event brings us plenty of thrills and spills!

Jason Day (33/1 various)

Two of our picks, Jason Day and Luke Donald joking together

Two of our picks, Jason Day and Luke Donald joking together

We must say before we go on that it was a very difficult decision to leave out Rory McIlroy this week.  At 20/1 we just felt it was too short to warrant an e/w bet of big significance. We are sure he will do well this week though!

As for Jason Day, he is a phenomenal talent but has had a really peculiar year.  He has performed so well at the majors with a 3rd at Augusta, T2 at the US Open and T8 at the PGA a couple of weeks ago.  He had chances to win in all 3 but never had the bottle to properly finish the job and it has seemed that way in most tournaments where has been in contention this year.  When he plays well he is one of the elite, but there are understandable question marks about what goes on between his ears when the heat is on.  So why should we be plumping for the Australian?  Because we do feel he is very close to getting over the line and he has had enough experiences this year to understand where he is going wrong and improve.

He will also be on a real high after his heroics on the Sunday at Oak Hill – he charged up the leaderboard to put himself into contention and he is one of the few who are yet to miss a cut all year – that is impressive.

He did play here in 2009 when he finished T12 and that gives us extra confidence, even more so when you think how his game has developed and matured since then.  His a-game is a perfect fit for this course – a long hitting (21st driving distance) putting machine (12th 1-putt %, 26th putts per round). His irons accuracy stats do not fully reflect how good he actually is, because when he gets going he can be so pinpoint (1st for GIR when he was 6th at the AT&T Pebble Beach).

We have plenty of faith in Day to finally get that win and if he plays anything like we know he can, he will be in with a great chance.

Keegan Bradley (40/1 StanJames)

Keegan looking as perplexed as usual

Keegan looking as perplexed as usual

Another superb young talent, there is no doubting Keegan Bradley has carved himself into one of the elite golfers in the world.

His game can be absolutely devastating when everything clicks (on the flipside it can be just as disastrous when it isn’t!) and we feel this could be a course that can showcase his talents perfectly.

He didn’t play here in 2009 but with his long hitting and relatively accurate driving he will find good positions from the fairway often – 7th driving distance, 81st driving accuracy and 6th total driving.  Whilst his irons are very strong (59th GIR) and once his putter decides to work, he has the ability to hole anything (49th strokes gained putting).  Tee to green he has everything and there a few better ball strikers, so he should be challenging here.

Plus, what makes him even more exciting is the fact that he has found form again.  T15 at The Open where he was relatively consistent, T2 at the WGC Bridgestone where he perhaps should have won and a T19 at the PGA.  His 66 on the final day will have given him a lot of confidence going into this week and we have every faith he can replicate it over the 4 days at Liberty National.

Come on you quirky, strange and wonderful weirdo.

Jim Furyk (50/1 Ladbrokes)

We are sure that DownThe18th favourite Jim ‘Jimbo’ Furyk will be a very popular pick among gamblers and experts this week and it is understandable why.  He has performed superbly in the past few weeks, recording 3 consecutive top 10s including that wonderful 2nd place at Oak Hill.  Yes, he could have won, but Jason Dufner was so irresistible on the Sunday, constantly firing in perfect shots, not giving anyone a peak.  But throughout the four days Furyk was nearly perfect himself.  We all know how awful he can be with a putter, yet he seemed to hole ridiculous putts on a regular basis – at vital times as well.

The 5-10 footers have always thrown us off Jimbo sometimes, but he persistently chose to ignore previous form on the greens and perform miracles.  Let alone the unerring accuracy of his approach play.  His irons look in great shape at the moment and as a ball strikers course, he could really attack the pins and give himself opportunities regularly.  He may not be long off the tee but he lies in 8th for driving accuracy, 31st for GIR and 1st in proximity to the hole, so he will usually get there safely and accurately.

He was also T15 here in 2009, so has some sort of form on the course and with his recent performances, Jimbo could be in for the money once again.

Luke Donald (55/1 PaddyPower)

Luke Donald is one of those irritating English sportsmen who promise so much and have so much, yet sometimes just don’t deliver.  There is a reason he got to number 1 in the world yet there is also a reason he is yet to win a major – because his head gets in the way.  He finished T8 at the US Open even though he should have challenged more and he has missed the cut at the previous two.  However, The Barclays is a big tournament that has nowhere near the intensity of a major, but the lure of a lot of money.

We just feel that, even though he has been inconsistent of late, he has a chance to prove himself against the best once more.  This is the sort of tournament where someone like Donald does very well and shows his true class.

He did finish T31 when it was last held here in 2009 and even though he is not a long hitter, much like Furyk, he relies on his approaches and unlike Furyk, he has superb short game prowess.

Below 125 yards, there are few better and if he gets himself into the right positions, he will have the chance to attack the pins like we all know he can do.  Considering his lack of consistency this year, the fact he is 55th for driving accuracy, 59th in proximity to the hole, 21st in 1-putt % and 5th in putts per round is very encouraging.

He will not be afraid of the daunting fairways and greens, we just hope he is not afraid of the leaderboard come Sunday!

Matt Jones 150/1 Coral)

Matt Jones looking useful

Matt Jones looking useful

Australian golfers have had a successful 2013, which all kicked of with Adam Scotts heroic win at Augusta.  On many occasions we have seen a cheeky Aussie flag next to a name at the top of leaderboards and our 5th pick, Matt Jones has been one of them recently.

T2 at the Greenbrier Classic, T7 at the John Deere Classic, T40 at the PGA (after a 68 final day) and last week he finished T5 at the Wyndham Championship.  He shot a miraculous 62 on the Sunday, which will give him so much confidence going into this weeks tournament.  His recent form has warranted a deserved place at the first playoff event and there is no reason he can’t continue it at Liberty National.

He is a big hitter – 45th in driving distance, accurate off the tee – 44th driving accuracy and 7th total driving, whilst his approach play is also impressive – 40th GIR.  The fact that his putting stats are just as consistent – 48th strokes gained putting – is a remarkable sign of how efficient he is from tee to green.  There is no reason Jones shouldn’t be up there come Sunday and if he gets his game going, he could be an interesting outsider.

Rory Sabbatini (125/1 Coral)

The wonderfully bizarre Rory Sabbatini.

The wonderfully bizarre Rory Sabbatini.

The only way to describe our 6th pick is curiosity.  Rory Sabbatini has certainly had bizarre career. He finished T2 at the Masters in 2007 when he could have won, has 6 PGA Tour titles and he has created controversy for some of his outrageous outbursts along the way. (Just type in Rory Sabbatini outburst into google and a whole world of fun opens up!)

He then hit some really awful form until the past few months he has started showing signs of recovery with 3 top 10s in his last 6, including a T12 and T17.  He could be on a mini revival and having sneaked inside the top 125, he will have nothing to lose on a course that could suits his eye.  44th in driving distance, 18th for GIR and 12th in proximity to the hole all add up to an encouraging player who could challenge for a place as one of the ‘randomers’ we often see.

Few spare pennies? You know the rest…

Johnnie Walker Championship 2013

It’s a shame this one runs alongside The Barclays because it really is a tournament with great history and tradition! Although this field does not get the juices flowing as perhaps the one across the pond does. But we have found some tremendous value this week and want to quickly get back to winning ways.

There will be some incredible scenery and golf this week!

There will be some incredible scenery and golf this week!

The Gleneagles Hotel PGA Centenary Course in Scotland is where the events will unfold for the week, on the 7,300 yard par 72 track. Although technically not a links course, it will have a lot of links attributes with harsh winds, penal rough and slow greens. And judging by the previous winners (Lawrie, Bjorn, Casey, E.Molinari) it’s a course where a level head is needed combined with good course management and accurate iron play.

Although you would assume accuracy Is vital on these types of courses, the trend over the past couple of years has been distance, not accuracy. Not one of the top seven players last year ranked inside the top 25 for driving accuracy. But only two of those ranked outside the top 25 for driving distance!  Whilst in 2011 only 2 of the top 12 ranked outside top 20 in driving distance. GIR will also be very crucial this week and people who have done well here have been high up the list.Walker

Marc Warren (28/1 Various)

He will play in any weather!

He will play in any weather!

Marc will be coming into his home tournament absolutely flying after a great performance at the PGA Championship a couple of weeks ago. He eventually ended up finishing T12 and was the 2nd ranked British player behind Rory McIlroy, so he beat some decent Brits! After a poor start he carded 67, 68 and a final round 69 to beat the likes of Woods, Rose and Mickelson. And that was comfortably his best ever finish in a major, previously was T65 at the 2012 US Open. So Warren is definitely taking his game to the next level.

He has great form in his home country, winning once already at Gleneagles in 2007 and came so close at the 2012 Scottish Open, throwing away a 1 shot advantage with four holes to play. But we have really liked what we have seen this year, and but for a bit of luck could have easily won both the Open De Espana and the BMW PGA. So when you combine his solid play this year with his performance around Oak Hill, he could be a very interesting prospect this week. He also ranks 45th in driving distance and 54th GIR which is impressive on the European Tour. We like him a lot.

Rafael Cabrera Bello (40/1 Various) 

We really fancy the Spaniard's chances in Scotland

We really fancy the Spaniard’s chances in Scotland

We have seen a real resurgence from the Spaniard in recent weeks after what has been a really disappointing 2013. He has been right up there from day 1 in each of the last two majors. He started with a 67 at the Open and a 68 at the PGA but could only turn them into T21 and T29 finishes respectively. Which is still not bad! But taking into account the toughness of the two courses, it gives us great confidence about Rafa coming to the Johnnie Walker where he finished 10th last year. Both of those finishes, just like Warren, were his best ever in majors by some distance. Before that, he also recorded T29 in France, T26 at the BMW and a T5 at the Irish Open. So his form is really quite impressive when you break it down.

Like many a Spaniard before him, Rafa is a great iron player and on his day can tear it up on any course. 26th in GIR for 2013 shows this.  He is a player who thrives on form and is certainly coming into a bit of it now!

Brooks Koepka (40/1 Various)

Scotland is his 2nd home!

Scotland is his 2nd home!

It may appear on the face of it that 40/1 for a player who has only been on the European Tour less than two months is a little low. But we beg to differ. He set the Challenge Tour alight in 2013 claiming 3 victories in just over a month and earning automatic promotion to the European Tour. One of those victories was on Scottish soil, at the Scottish Hyrdo Challenege. So we know he enjoys it in this country! Not to mention that he was paired with Tiger Woods on the Sunday of the USPGA a couple of weeks back. So things have been moving fast and he is one of the brightest talents in the game.

After his promotion, he went onto win his qualification for the Open and also finish T12 at the Scottish Open. You can certainly recognise a trend with the American and this country. So you can realise that Koepka has the perfect game for anything Scotland throws up. And if it’s distance you want, look no further. This guy hits it BIG. He is ranked 1st in driving distance on the European Tour for 2013 hitting it on average 324 yards. With his confidence at an all-time high, anything is possible for the American at Gleneagles this week.

David Horsey (80/1 Various)

Big Dave

Big Dave

Horsey on his day is one of the best links golf players around and he is someone who will go under the radar before a ball is struck this week. We watched a lot of the Englishman in the middle part of the season where he recorded three top 6 finishes in a row, two of which on courses where the wind was blowing and links style golf had to be played. He impressed us and will definitely be looking to do well on British soil. His last two finishes have been T24 at the Scottish Open and T17 in Russia, which suggests another high finish is just around the corner.

His one drawback would be lack of length off the tee, but he makes up for that by ranking 17th in driving accuracy. Combine that with 34th stroke average, 20th putts per GIR and 19th putts per round, we have a very consistent performer. You have to trust us on this one, when the wind gets up, David will come into his own! He already has two European titles to his name, we don’t see why he can’t make it three.

James Morrison (110/1 Stan James)

Nike don't sponsor just anybody...

Nike don’t sponsor just anybody…

The Englishman is always one of those players who you often see at the business end of the leaderboard without really getting any recognition. Morrison comes to Gleneagles knowing he has two solid finishes of 19th and 21st the last two times he has played here. He is a player who has worked his way up the golfing ladder after going to college in America, and is now a regular member on the European Tour, and has been for some time. 2013 has not been exciting but just consistent and his best finish of T5 came just a few weeks ago at the M2M Russian Open. This is perfect for coming to Gleneagles, a track he knows really well. Statistically he impresses us, with him 34th driving accuracy and 54th GIR.

Fun fact: He played in the same English youth cricket teams as current England stars Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara and Tim Bresnan…

Wyndham Championship 2013

Before we start, please check out our weekly piece with Golf Monthly! A look at the losers of 2013…

‘My Major Disappointment’

And a quick reminder: We’re trying to get as many people involved in the DownThe18th Fantasy Golf for 2014 with prize incentives hopefully on offer. Email us at downthe18th@hotmail.co.uk or tweet @downthe18th to get on board!

Usually in the past this would be rather a depressing week, with the next major some 8 months away! But with FedEx play-offs just round the corner, there is plenty to look forward to. The top 125 will go into the play-offs and everyone will be thinking about points this week, which makes it a really important tournament.

Wyndham

The Wyndham Championship has been held at Sedgefield Country Club since 2008, after previously holding it around 30 years ago. Garcia, Simpson, Moore and Pettersson have all won on the 7,100 Par 70 course. It is often regarded as one of the easier courses on the tour with the winner usually having to shoot around 20 under. So if you have a taste for a birdie or too, it will be a real help. As with any ‘birdie-fest’ it is always crucial to focus on GIR and putting. If you don’t get on the greens, you can’t make the putts! Sedgefield had a bit of a makeover for 2012 as well, with the greens all being changed to the very fast Champion Bermuda grass. This would ‘putt’ even more significance on putting statistics for this week. It’s a course for high scoring ‘plotters’.

Stan James and BetVictor have very kindly given us 6 places this week.

Webb Simpson (16/1 Bet365)

Lucky Bastard

Lucky Bas…

Webb is definitely due a win and why not at a course that he won on in 2011! The American will be the highest ranked player in the FedEx without a win in 2013 in the field. It has been an up and down year with 11 top 20’s thrown in amongst 4 missed cuts, but in general Simpson has just been very consistent. His first ever win on the PGA Tour was this championship and it will definitely evoke fond memories when he tees off on Thursday. And after being born right here in his home state of North Carolina, it seems like everything is pointing towards him.

Simpson has all the right statistics as well! 43rd GIR, 23rd birdie average, 16th scoring average, 38th strokes gained – putting and 55th proximity to the hole. We do feel 16/1 may be a little short so would advise betting TO WIN. This does of course mean he will finish 2nd

Bill Haas (20/1 Various)

More than capable of win number 2 in 2013

More than capable of win number 2 in 2013

Bill Haas has been in fine form of late, picking up a delightful victory at the AT&T National back in June and barring a MC at the Open he has found 2 more top 10s and a T25 at the PGA last week.  He looked impressive at times at Oak Hill and could have finished higher but for an inconsistent weekend.

Now this week he will be coming onto a course where he has shown a liking in previous years.  T10 in 2009 and T7 last year when the greens were completely overhauled and made a lot more difficult.  His accuracy from tee to green is sublime – 63rd driving accuracy, 12th GIR and between the distances of 150-220 his GIR stats are not above 27th (where he will be playing most of his approaches).  His putting has probably been the difference in his recent performances as he was prone to missing the odd putt – 42nd in strokes gained putting and 26th in 3-putt avoidance.  What makes us interested more than anything in the big bald nut of Bill is the fact he has the ability to shoot low and he rarely makes bogeys.  7th in bogey avoidance, 18th in scoring average and 26th for rounds in the 60s all help his cause.

Bill to win 2 this year? Yeah, course he can!

Chris Kirk (66/1 Various)

This is not our first pick Webb Simpson

This is not our first pick Webb Simpson

Chris Kirk is a really peculiar player for us.  He has been on our radar for quite some time, not because we saw much of him playing but because his stats are simply ridiculous.  Once we had him firmly in our sights, we saw quite a lot of him and he is an interesting prospect this week because of his short game prowess – 24th strokes gained putting, 10th 1-putt percentage and 65th 3-putt avoidance.  His accuracy stats are also ridiculous – 53rd GIR and 5th in proximity to hole.

He played incredibly well at the AT&T Pebble Beach where he came 2nd and he showed his potential to shoot low – 4th round in the 60s, 27th in scoring average and 3rd in bogey avoidance.  Since then he has only missed 2 cuts but rarely been able to mount a challenge, apart from a valiant T9 at the Sanderson Farms Championship a few weeks ago.  He was inside the top 20 after Friday at the PGA last week but he struggled over the weekend and eventually finished T57.  He will surely be feeling confident of continuing some promising performances and when you think he finished T22 last year, it could be interesting how he equips himself.

Let’s hope he can pick up his first victory since the 2011 Viking Classic!

Tim Clark (50/1 Various)

Last chance Timbo!

Last chance Timbo!

Here we are again.  Timothy Henry Clark.  We have kept going back to the South African in the hope that he produces a display we all know he is capable of, but he hasn’t quite delivered for us as of yet.  His form hasn’t been eye-catching recently, without a top 10 in 5 tournaments, but he is arriving on a course that he finished 2nd at last year when his putting was on top form.  He also finished T6 back in 2008 which proves this course suits his eye.  He is 1st in driving accuracy and 23rd in proximity to the hole which shows how he is able to attack pins with unerring efficiency.  He is also 74th in strokes gained putting, 9th in 3-putt avoidance, 55th in scoring average and 79th for rounds in the 60s.

We have said it before, but this is last chance saloon for us and Tim Clark; he does have the game for this course and if his putter gets going, he will be up there come Sunday.

Justin Leonard (125/1 Various)

Lets hope he has a bit more composure on the greens than this

He just loves putting…

Leonard really ticks all the boxes for us this week. His price is very inviting for such a PGA veteran. His course form is impressive, 3rd, 17th and 19th! And he has not played badly recently, making the cut in 5 of his last 6 events. Statistically, you can’t ask for much more. 33rd strokes gained – putting, 53rd birdie average, 16th total birdies and 29th total putting. He currently lies 89th in the FedEx standings and will certainly be looking to build on that this week. The 41 year old represents a real solid bet for us.

 

PGA Championship 2013

FINAL PREVIEWpga2013feat

Location: Rochester, New York (USA)

Course: Oak Hill Country Club – East Course

Date: 8-11 August 2013

Current Champion: Rory McIlroy

If you get a chance do check out our article for Golf Monthly on their website all about Tiger Woods and how he wont win this week!

‘Tiger Woods Still Lacking Major Mentality’

Quick Reminder: We’re trying to get as many people involved in the DownThe18th Fantasy Golf for 2014 with prize incentives hopefully on offer. Email us at downthe18th@hotmail.co.uk or tweet @downthe18th to get on board!

The majors have brought about some fascinating contests and winners this year and now it is time for the final one to take centre stage.

Often called ‘Glory’s Last Shot’, the 2013 PGA Championship will be another fine test for the field of 156 players at a course which has consistently proved too much for many.

We have had a successful year in terms of betting for the majors, with a win and two 2nd places, so lets hope we can create perfect symmetry and add another win!

In the previous 5 majors that Oak Hill Country Club has hosted, only 7 players broke par. In 2008 the Senior PGA Championship was held here and nobody finished below par, meaning that only 10 out of 1,074 entrants in six major championships have finished in the red. That is less than 1%.

The Famous Leaderboard of '03

The Famous Leaderboard of ’03

In other words this is not an easy course and its rich history has provided some fine winners. Legendary amateur Charles Coe won the US Amateur in 1949, Cary Middlecoff, Lee Trevino and Curtis Strange all won the US Open, whilst Jack Nicklaus became PGA Champion here in 1980.

However the last major held at the East Course in 2003 warranted a shock champion in Shaun Micheel – not to be confused with Shaun Michael, the heroic wrestler. His 2 shot victory still baffles many people and remains Micheel’s only PGA Tour career win.

TRENDS

As with all the majors we have tried to find some trends that could help us narrow down the field and pick a winner. We initially struggled with this PGA Championship, until we looked at the astonishing similarities the winners have since it was last held here.

2012 – Rory McIlroy, Kiawah Island Golf ResortRory

WGC Bridgestone (the week before) – T5

Tournaments won (during the season) – 1

Top 10s (during the season) – 8

2011 – Keegan Bradley, Atlanta Athletic Club

WGC Bridgestone (the week before) – T15

Tournaments won (during the season) – 1

Top 10s (during the season) – 3

2010 – Martin Kaymer, Whistling StraitsKaymer

WGC Bridgestone (the week before) – T22

Tournaments won (during the season) – 1

Top 10s (during the season) – 9

2009 – Y.E Yang, Hazeltine National Golf Club

WGC Bridgestone (the week before) – T19

Tournaments won (during the season) – 1

Top 10s (during the season) – 3

2008 – Padraig Harrington, Oakland Hills Country ClubHarrington

WGC Bridgestone (the week before) – T20

Tournaments won (during the season) – 1

Top 10s (during the season) – 7

2007 – Tiger Woods, Southern Hills Country Club

WGC Bridgestone (the week before) – 1st

Tournaments won (during the season) – 4

Top 10s (during the season) – 8

2006 – Tiger Woods, Medinah Country ClubWoods

WGC Bridgestone– 1st

Performance at the tournament before PGA – Buick Open, 1st

Tournaments won (during the season) – 4

Top 10s (during the season) – 7

2005 – Phil Mickelson, Baltusrol Golf Club

Performance at the tournament before PGA – T10

Tournaments won (during the season) – 3

Top 10s (during the season) – 8

2004 – Vijay Singh, Whistling Straits

Performance at the tournament before PGA – Buick Open, 1st

Tournaments won (during the season) – 4

Top 10s (during the season) – 11

So, after researching this information, we can find certain trends that keep cropping up

  • 3 out of the last 4 winners won their first major at the PGA.
  • The last 7 winners were inside the top 22 at the WGC Bridgestone prior to the PGA.
  • Winners since it was last held here in 2003 won during the year of their PGA victory.
  • Winners since it was last held here in 2003 recorded at least 3 top 10s.
  • Every winner since it was last held here made the cut in the tournament before the PGA.
  • The last 17 winners made the cut in the tournament before the PGA Championship
  • 13 out of the last 17 winners finished inside the top 20 in the tournament before the PGA Championship

THE COURSE

In short, this will be one of the toughest tests you could wish to face. Everybody talked about the rough at Merion for the US Open, well the rough at the USPGA is meant to be just as bad, if not worse.

Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York will be playing 7,163 yards. Knowing this yardage, we are already casting our minds back to Merion where Justin Rose claimed his first major and the sort of players we were looking at for the US Open.

The key is don’t miss it one foot in the rough,” Woods said. “And that’s what I did a lot of times. I missed a chip barely in the rough and that’s the worst part to be in” Tiger Woods on his last time at Oak Hill ESPN

Just one of the 18 tough greens!

Just one of the 18 tough greens!

You would expect nothing less from Oak Hill where anyone who wants to win a major will be tested to their absolute limit. But combine the rough with lightning fast greens, narrow undulating fairways and horrible pin locations and these four days are going to be one hell of a scramble. Looking a little more in depth at the greens, we found that the greens Donald Ross initially designed have been reduced in size and shape by as much as 25% on the whole. And these greens are renown for being the most slick surfaces in world golf. If you are not good with the short-stick, it could be a LONG week. If you want to know what these greens will feel like, have a few practise putts on your dining table at home.

So what statistics are we going to be looking at?

Well we know Oak Hill will be all about course management, playing the percentages and plotting your way around each hole. The main areas that we believe will be vital are:

Driving Accuracy

PGA Tour Driving Accuracy Leaders 2013

With the rough at Oak Hill worse than Merion, it will be crucial you keep the ball in the fairways this week! One venture into the long stuff and a bogey would be a good achievement. And of course, keeping it in play allows for a better approach into these tough greens.

Greens In Regulation (GIR)

PGA Tour GIR Leaders 2013

Of all the people in the USPGA 2003, everyone towards the top of the leaderboard came into the week with impressive GIR statistics. And it makes sense. Good GIR means you can putt your way to victory, or 2-putt as the case may be this week!

GIR % – 125-150 YardsPGA TOUR

GIR % – 125-150 Yards Leaders 2013

Based on our calculations of the average drive, there will be 4 holes that will leave this yardage. This is good to know and looking at these statistics filters out some very interesting names.

GIR % – 150-175 Yards

GIR % – 150-175 Yards Leaders 2013

Same as before, our calculations show 2 holes will leave this yardage around Oak Hill, with a further 2 at the 180 yard mark. The players knowing their yardages this week could be the difference.

Ball Striking

PGA Tour Ball Striking Leaders 2013

The term essentially means who is swinging the club the best and making the cleanest connections on the ball. It is a great way to filter out, excuse the pun, the ‘ball-strikers’ out there who will thrive on this course.

Strokes Gained – Putting

PGA Tour Strokes Gained – Putting Leaders 2013

These greens could be the toughest most will play on in their careers and if you are not putting well, the cut will look very far away. With the pressure of it being a major and big crowds, emphasis on putting has never been higher.

3-Putt Avoidance

PGA Tour 3-Putt Avoidance Leaders 2013

This could be massive this week. It is often those 2 putts for par that make the difference on courses like Oak Hill. If you 2-putt your way around the course this week, you will be up there. Don’t get frustrated if the putts are just not going in, avoiding those 3 putts will be everything.

Other areas that you also need to consider for sure are: Proximity To Hole, Scrambling, Scrambling from the rough, Putts per Round

OUR PICKS

Brandt Snedeker (28/1 BETFRED)

We have shown this picture before, but blimey does he not look incredible?!

We have shown this picture before, but blimey does he not look incredible?!

Before you read the reasons why Brandt Snedeker is our main man, please do check out our weekly write-up for Golf Monthly all about the man himself.

‘The Wonderful World Of Snedeker’

Snedeker will win a major. There is no doubting that he is far too good not to, but it is just the matter of when. The obvious hope is that we have lumped our hard earned cash on him when the moment finally arrives and this last major of 2013 looks like an ideal chance for all parties to end Sunday evening with a smile.

On a course that is relatively short with 10 par 4s offering the opportunity to use a mid to short iron approach shot, Sneds becomes the ideal candidate. When he has been firing this year his irons have been incredible, especially from short distances – arguably the best in the world.

And then when he reaches the dance floor there is an even stronger argument that he is right up there with the best putters. His stroke is so effortless and when the pressure is on you will not find Sneds struggling with bottle because everything flows in the way only a major champion flows.

Plus, as we have said before the recent form going into the PGA has been a critical factor in previous winners and he is certainly in fine fettle. Winning the RBC Canadian Open a few weeks ago at pretty much a canter, whilst a steady performance at Firestone will give him an extra boost.

Many experts have been stating how this is a ‘Drivers Course’ and Sneds is one of the most accurate off the tee and when you add in his all round natural abilities, Oak Hill could be the place that lives long in all of our major memory.

As the man who started it all off for us at the end of the 2012 season, it would be perfect symmetry for him to win this final major of 2013.

PGA Tour Stats 2013

Snedeker PGA Tour StatsFinish in Previous 5 Tournaments

WGC Bridgestone RBC Canadian Open The Open AT&T National US Open Best USPGA Finish
T33 1st T11 T8 T17 T18 – 2007

Hunter Mahan (40/1 Coral)

Hunter’s name has been on our lips for quite some time now; his game will be perfect for Oak Hill. Often regarded as one of the best iron players and ball strikers in the game, Mahan will be looking to prove that this week. Despite a winless 2013, he will be more than happy with the way he has played.

It's just written for Daddy Mahan to win this week

It’s just written for Daddy Mahan to win this week

A 2nd place at the WGC Accenture Match Play, T25 WGC Cadillac, T19 the PLAYERS, T4 the US Open and T9 at the Open shows he has a taste for the big events. Statistically he also ticks all the boxes for us. His best finishes in the PGA have been T16, T18 and T19. But in this kind of form he will certainly be looking to push on from them!

And we have to mention the events at the Canadian Open two weeks ago. 2 shots clear going into the third day, playing some incredible golf and the American gets the call telling him his wife has gone into labour. Without hesitation, Mahan withdrew and was on the next flight out to be at the bedside of his wife Kandi. It shows what a great guy Mahan is and more importantly puts him in a perfect frame of mind for the PGA. You can argue the break will have not given him enough preparation, but he will be coming to Oak Hill off the back of a T9 at the Open and a withdrawal at the Canadian Open where many think he would have gone on to win. 3 of the last 4 winners of the PGA have also been first-time winners which also makes for good reading. Mahan will have a great chance this week.

PGA Tour Stats 2013

Hunter PGA Tour StatsFinish in Previous 5 Tournaments

RBC Canadian Open The Open AT&T National Travelers Champs US Open Best USPGA Finish
W/D T9 MC T24 T4 T16 – 2009

Matt Kuchar (33/1 Various)

Kuchar needs no introduction now, he has well and truly cemented his place as one of the best golfers in the world with two wins in 2013 including the WGC Accenture Match Play. The all-smiling American is getting better with age, only starting to really pick up wins and contend in majors over the last four years. And in those years he has now recorded five top 10’s in majors including a T10 at the 2010 PGA Championship. 2013 has seen him miss no cuts on the PGA Tour and claim 7 top 10’s including 2 wins and 2 runner-ups.

Admittedly, we did struggle to decide between Kuch and Henrik Stenson who is simply flying on all cylinders at the moment.

Kuchar sporting the rugged look for what will be a rugged test at Oak Hill

Kuchar sporting the rugged look for what will be a rugged test at Oak Hill

We just thought that someone with his quality will win a major, and his game is perfect for the way major courses are setup. Accurate and methodical is the way he plays, and will look forward to the tough prospect that Oak Hill will inevitably prove to be. Just like Mahan, Kuchar will take confidence from 3 of the last 4 winners being first-timers.

Interestingly, a 20-year old Matt Kuchar came to Oak Hill 15 years ago and finished in the final 8 of the US Amateur Championship where a young Sergio Garcia overcame him in the quarter finals. So if you are after a bit of course form, there you have it. We know Kooch has the game, but now he needs to prove it on the biggest stage!

PGA Tour Stats 2013

Kuchar PGA Tour StatsFinish in 5 Previous Tournaments

WGC Bridgestone RBC Canadian Open The Open US Open The Memorial Best USPGA Finish
T27 T2 T15 T28 1st T10 – 2010

Zach Johnson (66/1 various)

Zach Johnson is always found sporting delightful sunglasses.

Zach Johnson is always found sporting delightful sunglasses.

Johnson has been plugging away recently, finding some very good form at just the right time. Finding yourself inside the top 10 3 tournaments in a row is impressive and at the WGC he was unerringly consistent across the 4 days. It is the unerring ability to be consistent that makes us like his chances at Oak Hill even more.

You will not find him missing many fairways – so crucial here, whilst the abilities he possesses with irons are well known and probably the reason he already has a cheeky major trophy in his cabinet. He has a knack of knowing when to attack pins and sit back and take a par, which may seem like boring golf but in a major tournament on a difficult course that is vitally important.

He did also look very useful at Muirfield, where he lead after round one and did remain in contention throughout the week. He never fully pushed himself forward but on this sort of course where there is a mixture of all round golf, he has the tools to grind out birdies at the right moments and he could become a double major winner.

PGA Tour Stats 2013

Zach Johnson PGA StatsFinish in 5 Previous Tournaments

WGC Bridgestone The Open John Deere Classic The Travelers US Open Best USPGA Finish
T4 T6 P2 T58 MC T3 – 2010

Jordan Spieth (125/1 Coral)

Unbelievably this photo was only taken a few years ago.  That is how young he is...

Unbelievably this photo was only taken a few years ago. That is how young he is…

The young American rookie has an abundance of talent and has remarkably been very consistent throughout his debut year. He has only missed 4 cuts, found 6 top 10s and won his first PGA Tour title at the John Deere Classic a few weeks ago. All at the ripe-old age of 20. (Considering he celebrated his birthday just over a week ago as well…)

Of all the very talented youngsters the game has been lucky enough to witness this past year, Spieth is most definitely one of the elite and alongside Japanese maestro Hideki Matsuyama, will be challenging many majors for years to come.

So why do we feel money should be put on him now for what will be his first PGA Championship?

Because this a talent who has absolutely no fear and nerves are not part of his DNA. Just a few weeks ago, whilst still a teenager, he managed to beat seasoned pros Zach Johnson and David Hearn in a playoff to become the first teenager in 82 years to win a PGA Tour title. Even Tiger didn’t manage that feat…

We have also noticed how precise and accurate he is from tee to green, which will be key to this course. His mid and short irons have looked sublime at times and when you look at the trends of previous winners, it is bizarre that he actually fits most of them.

We are not saying that Spieth will win the PGA, but he could be a surprise outsider who could be an interesting run for your money, especially at such high odds where place returns are still very healthy. Beware though, most bookmakers have him at 66s, so the Coral worker who priced the tournament clearly has no idea the talent of this kid. Take advantage while you can!

PGA Tour Stats 2013

Jordan Spieth PGA StatsFinish in 5 Previous Tournaments

The Open John Deere Classic Greenbrier Classic AT&T National US Open Best USPGA Finish
T44 1st T23 6th MC DNP

Paul Casey (150/1 SportingBet)

Just like last week, this feels great backing Casey once again. We backed Paul at the WGC Bridgestone and he came in with a very respectable T27. After a mixture of injury, swing difficulties and loss of form, the Englishman dropped off the golfing radar.

Casey is back and he means business!

Casey is back and he means business!

The once 3rd ranked player in the world was struggling to make cuts and his career was in doubt. But 2013 has seen the arrival of the Paul Casey we know and love, and a player whose game is a great fit for Oak Hill. Just over a month ago he stormed to the very prestigious Irish Open title and confirmed to the world he was ‘back’. We watched all 4 days and what impressed us the most was his driving, an area that will have to be in top shape if you are to contend this week.

With 15 professional wins to his name, his quality at those sorts of odds is unbeatable. His major track-record is more than respectable with five top 10 finishes and T12 in 2010 and T15 in 2008 at the PGA. And he does have vital experience around Oak Hill, making the cut here in 2003. Definitely worth a gamble if you have a bit of spare change on you!

European Tour Stats 2013

Casey StatsFinish in 5 Previous Tournaments

WGC Bridgestone Scottish Open Irish Open BMW International Open US Open Best USPGA Finish
T27 T24 1st T53 T45 T12 – 2010

John Merrick (250/1 Ladbrokes)

Only a quick mention to John Merrick, who is just an interesting outsider considering his recent form and consistent stats which will be needed for this course.

The times we have seen Merrick, he has looked useful and obviously he picked up a victory at the Northern Trust Open earlier in the season by defeating Charlie Beljan in a playoff.

On the day his tee to green abilities were outstanding and he has recorded 3 top 10s in majors previously, so he certainly is no slouch! If you have any spare coppers floating around the house or in your account, it could be worth chucking them on Merrick!

PGA Tour Stats 2013

John Merrick PGA StatsFinish in 5 Previous Tournaments

WGC Bridgestone RBC Canadian Open AT&T National Travelers Champs FedEx St.Jude Classic Best USPGA Finish
T19 T6 MC T30 T63 T10 – 2009

MAIN BOOKMAKERS

Most will be offering 6 places this week at 1/4 odds, but those who are only doing 5 will have some very tempting odds!

Paddy Power – PGA Championship Outright Betting (6 Places)

Stan James – PGA Championship Outright Betting (6 Places)

Coral – PGA Championship Outright Betting

Bet365 – PGA Championship Outright Betting (6 Places)

William Hill – PGA Championship Outright Betting

Ladbrokes – PGA Championship Outright Betting (6 Places)

Bet Victor – PGA Championship Outright (6 Places)