We were shown the meaning of grit and determination last week as Dustin Johnson closed out superbly to win the final WGC of the season and give us our 9th winner of the 2013 year.
The PGA Tour turns to Georgia this week for The McGladrey Classic, as a relatively strong field assembles in Sea Island.
The par 70 Sea Island Golf club lies at 7,005 yards and is short for today’s standards. It gives the shorter hitters a chance and actually relies on a more accurate tee to green approach rather than a boom, bash, wallop.
Being beside the ocean and containing lots of marshland give the course a links feel; as similar to a links as you are likely to get Stateside.
The slick putting surfaces will challenge anyone, so using the short stick will obviously be key but getting there safely will be the difference for the winner.
There is also similarities to the RBC Heritage, Harbour Town Golf Links course, where Graeme McDowell beat this weeks market favourite Webb Simpson in a playoff earlier in the year.
So do take into account recent history there as well as the previous 3 years this tournament has been coming to Sea Island.
The 3 favourite are pretty much untouchable at the odds they find themselves at – Simpson 10s, Matt Kuchar 14s and Zach Johnson 16s, but they are all great suits to the course and challenge and would not be a silly outright winner bet.
Boo Weekley (40/1 StanJames)
The very confusing but enigmatic Boo Weekley. When this man starts getting on a roll form wise, he is pretty hard to beat and his irons are really looking in shape once again.
Last week he finished T11 at the WGC HSBC Champions and was up there going into the weekend T2. He didn’t play badly for the following 2 rounds but others just had rounds of their careers. Two 69s is a good return and as we said before, his irons looked naughty…(2nd driving accuracy, 21st GIR)
On this course he has not had the greatest history – T27, T44 and MC – but he is a two-time winner of the RBC Heritage which heralds many similarities and did finish T13 back in 2009 at The Open, which shows he can hold his own on links courses.
Boo’s only problem is his putting and that is why he may of struggled here in the past, but it has looked better (it can’t look much worse) and if he can get it going, there is every chance he will be up there come Sunday.
Just trust us on the fact his tee to green abilities will get there nearly every time, whether he holes the putts or not is another matter.
But at the end of the day, it was Halloween this week and it is clearly Boos favourite time of the year…BOO.
Charles Howell III (28/1 PaddyPower)
One of the most consistent players on tour, he made 9 top 20s last season and regularly proved his worth. He has only ever won twice on the PGA Tour, the last victory coming back in 2007 but we have such a strong affiliation with Howell that surely his 3rd win must come soon.
He is too good a player not to pick up more trophies; he just has to find that extra push on the greens to get him there.
He is now arriving onto a course he has shown success at – T7 in 2012 and T6 in 2010, in a bit of form having recorded 2 top 10s in a row. He finished T7 last week at the CIMB and T5 at the Shriners the weeks before. His tee to green accuracy looked excellent once again (CIMB – T10 driving accuracy, 7th GIR) but like Boo, he is not always in command of his putter and that can let him down.
When you look at it, Howell is an obvious pick this week – in form and plenty of course form, so we just felt it would kill us too much if we saw him up there and we hadn’t backed him. He is a very likeable character and solid golfer to watch because he does rarely let you down.
Let’s hope he doesn’t this week.
Jeff Overton (50/1 PaddyPower)
Jeff Overton has caught our eye this week because, like Howell, is coming onto a course he likes and is showing some signs of recent form.
We cannot deny that he has never won on the PGA Tour, but that doesn’t mean he is a slouch.
He did have a poor season last year, but with 28 top 10s in his career, he can provide some quality golf. What originally caught our eye though was the fact his best major performances are at The Open – T11 in 2010 and T13 in 2009, which shows he has a liking for links style courses.
Then he finished T6 here in 2011 and has not been outside the top 20 in his last 3 outings – T16, T9, T14.
His driving accuracy at the Shriners, where he finished T9 was T27 and GIR was T16, so he is in fine fettle at the moment.
Lets hope it continues.
Sean O’Hair (80/1 StanJames)
Sean O’Hair is a 4-time PGA Tour winner and has every chance coming into the tournament this week to pick up his 5th.
He is a proven links player with quality finishes at The Open with 3 top 20 finishes, including a T7 in 2010.
Considering how he usually struggles to find fairways, he is a very solid player on those blustery seaside courses and could relish the challenge here.
Last year he finished T20 and in 2011 T15, so he has shown his abilities on this course and we see no reason why he isn’t able to improve on that when his recent performances have been impressive.
T15, T23, T8 and T17 makes fine reading and this sort of form could come good when the tournament reaches its climax this weekend. His putting saves him many times as well and lying in 6th for strokes gained is a good return, plus 80/1 – you can’t complain with that!
Freddie Jacobson (66/1 various) and Chris Stroud (66/1 various)
We rarely have two players joint together for our picks but we were simply unable to separate these 2 this week, so we decided to plump for them both.
Firstly, Freddie Jacobson is a player we have had traumatic experiences with in the past, yet he we still regard him as someone with potential to win any week he plays.
His putting abilities are well documented and it seems his form has taken an impressive turn following a T9 at the Shriners a few weeks back. His GIR for the week was T22 and putting? 11th. He just loves to putt, so when you think he enjoys links courses (3 top 20s at The Open) and he loves short, tight courses, he is a very interesting preposition.
Secondly, Chris Stroud on the surface seems like a random pick after poor showings at this course in its 3 years but his performance on his last outing at the CIMB was unbelievable. He eventually finished T3, but he displayed qualities tee to green that could stand him in great stead going into this week.
T12 in driving accuracy for the 4 days, T20 for GIR and 5th for putts per round are obviously the perfect, complete package for any golfer on a round of golf and if he can play anything like that again he will be up there without doubt.
We have had a cheeky flutter on a British stalwart this week whose odds just seemed too fun not to.
Darren Clarke (250/1 various) is a links god having won and recorded 7 top 20s at The Open throughout his career. He loves a challenge in any condition and what was very interesting was the fact he has finished T2 and T12 in his last 2 starts. There must be a reason he is coming all the way over to the States to play here. He must fancy himself…