Another name change across the pond this week, as the PGA Tour moves to Maryland and the 2011 US Open track Congressional Country Club.
It is the place where Rory McIlroy decided to actually play a different course to the rest of the field and break all sort of records. It is a historical place and the field looks to be matching up to the quality of the place. So much so that the long awaited return of Tiger Woods is due to commence and every fan, journalist, cameraman and punter will have their eyes fixed keenly on what the former world number 1 has to offer after a horrible back injury.
Wouldn’t be just so Tiger for him to come back and win here?! He won’t though, don’t worry!
The course itself is a 7,569 yard par 71 and it’s length will challenge all the players, but it is by no means the key to finding a winner this week. There is just as much importance on keeping it in play and giving yourself the chance of attacking pins on enormous greens, where 3-putts will be a regular sighting.
The putters and scramblers will certainly come to the fore as well, but for us, there is not really a type of player that will win here, you have to have a good all-round game, which excels in a key area to win – whether that be avoiding those 3-putts, hitting it long with an outrageous wedge game or an accurate plotter who knocks it next to the pin regularly. Basically, anyone!
We have been going through a rough patch with our betting recently, so we can only apologise if you have been following us, but we have spent many, many hours this weekend trying to get us back to winning ways!
Jason Day (14/1 various)
The price?! We know, we felt it as well. It’s absolutely criminal to think Jason Day is at 14s but we couldn’t help but go there. Those of you who have followed us for a while will know that we rarely back front runners or guys at horrendous odds, so this is a rare choice and in some ways shows our real liking for the Australian.
His last 3 outings at Congressional have yielded top quality performances, especially at the US Open in 2011 where he finished a solo 2nd. Yes, we all know he was a country mile behind McIlroy, but considering he was +1 going into the weekend, he ripped the course apart to climb the leaderboard. He matched McIlroy’s incredible first day 65 with one for himself on the Saturday and to do that on this track shows you have a liking for it and ways to combat its challenges.
He also finished T8 and T12 in the following years and will be going into this week not just in good nick, but in a period of time where he has actually been playing consistently for a few weeks. He is one of those golfers that can take weeks off at a time, but 3 events in the last 4 weeks can only help his rhythm and aid him on a course he enjoys – especially after 3 rounds in the 60s in a row at the Travelers last week.
He will be able to attack the pin positions if he drives it well, especially considering how long he is and when his irons are on song it is terrifying how good he is. As we all know, once he gets on a roll, his putting is unstoppable and birdies will come rain or shine.
At the end of the Day, he has to start winning more tournaments considering how esteemed he is regarded among the very best, so let’s add to the WGC please.
Nick Watney (80/1 PaddyPower)
Massive difference in price for our 2nd pick here, Nick Watney at 80s. It may also seem slightly bizarre considering he is a player who is yet to record a top 10 this year, but we just have a hunch that he could go well here and finally put together 4 quality rounds.
Last week he shot 3 rounds in the 60s to finish T11, but it was how he played that excited us the most. He was hitting the ball with real velocity – averaging 293 yards, but regularly surpassing the 300 mark. Yet his accuracy did not falter and when you are averaging over 80% FIR, then something is going right. If he can do that here then he well consistently set himself up to attack pins on the massive greens Congressional offers.
What went wrong for the American was his actual putting and at times that has cost him in his career, so he must get everything going if he is to justify why we chose him!
He did finish T10 a couple of years ago as well, so he has course knowledge and let’s hope everything finally clicks for Watney.
Hunter Mahan (50/1 various)
Hunter Mahan is another golfer who has had an absolutely shocking season, especially by his incredibly high standards. This is someone many (including us) tip to win a major in his career, but there is no way that will happen with how his season is turning out. BUT there have been signs for us that show he is working incredibly hard on his game to try and turn it around, his main problem seems to be getting everything going at once.
He showed promise at the Memorial a few weeks ago and even last week, he shot a 68 on the first day, going on to miss the cut somehow with a poor round on Friday. He drove the ball well and got some rhythm going with his irons which has certainly encouraged us.
But he will be coming onto a course where he has found 3 top 10s in recent years, including a 2nd place in 2009, where he finished 1 shot behind Tiger after a magical 62 on the Sunday. THAT is the sort of player he is and on the face of it, his game is absolutely perfect for this course.
It’s just a matter of whether he decides to turn up or not.
Angel Cabrera (125/1 Coral)
Angel Cabrera only turns up when the field is of top quality. So, with the return of Tiger, we would not be surprised to see the burly Argentinean propping himself up with the leaders come Sunday.
He is a perfect fit for this course – he hits it long and straight and only ever has attack on his mind when it comes to his iron play. He has been averaging at least 297 yards in his last 4 outings, but what impressed us about his T11 finish last week was the fact he found the fairway 71% of the time – the highest average all season.
That can only mean he has found some rhythm and a bit of confidence in his swing. He did finish T13 last year as well, so if everything clicks then he could be an outsider certainly worth looking at.
Kevin Chappell (100/1 Coral)
Kevin Chappell somehow missed the cut last week after an impressive opening round of 66. Many players suffered on the 2nd day and he was certainly one of them, but when you look carefully into how he has been playing recently, we feel he is a sleeper, waiting to come from ‘nowhere’ and challenge a tournament.
His T10 at the Crowne Plaza International was a solid performance, but the recent shorter, tight tracks do not quite suit his eye and therefore Congressional will be a place he can free his arms a lot more. He averages over 300 yards regularly and is an incredibly solid tee to green player.
Plus, he will be coming onto a course where he finished T3 in 2011 at the US Open and really announced himself on the world stage. If he can put it all together and produce the qualities we all know he can, this will be a good week for Chappell.
Peter Hanson (100/1 various) and Shawn Stefani (200/1 various)
Our two real outsiders come in the form of Peter Hanson and Shawn Stefani. Firstly, Hanson has not played a lot of golf recently, but is one of the more consistent performers in the game. He rarely finds himself missing cuts, unless an injury is on the horizon. He averages it over 296 yards and is an iron guru, who can find greens for fun. He finished T7 here in 2011 and could surprise a few this week.
Secondly, Stefani caught our eye because of how impressive he is off the tee and on the greens. 3rd for total driving and 36th for strokes gained putting could be the perfect combination this week.