Winner’s Share – $1,530,000
FANTASY GOLF – Before we begin, we will be launching our Fantasy 2014/15 campaign soon and we are in the process of getting in plenty of cool prizes (monthly and overall). So please watch this place as we look to take both Fantasy Golf and DownThe18th to the next level – We would love to have you on board! We’ll let you know as soon as we can how you can join us.
After a successful week at the Canadian Open with Tim Clark winning and Jimbo Furyk coming 2nd, it’s time to build on that for 2014’s 3rd WGC event. Jason Day (Accenture Match Play) and Patrick ‘top 5’ Reed (Cadillac) have won the two previous WGC events.
Being played at Firestone Country Club, it really is one of the toughest tests of golf the players will come up against. The long 7,400 course is a par 70 and requires your long game to be in top condition. You need to be driving well, getting the long irons going and putting consistently on the small bentgrass greens.
Now, Tiger Woods has won around here on 8 occasions, including last year, and has pretty much made this place his second home, as he has many courses. But what we know about Tiger when he’s on form is that he drives it long, finds greens and holes plenty of putts. Whoever wins this week will need to do all those 3 and do them well.
Most recent winners Woods, Scott, Bradley and Mahan all rank high in the total driving (accuracy and distance) category on their day. And those names realistically show us that only the best in the business win on this track.
Look closely at total driving, GIR, hole proximity, par 4 performance (there’s 12 out there), scrambling, putting (so basically everything) and if you like yardages – 200-225 is a key distance we have highlighted. Also have a look at the cuter yardages, 100-125 in particular, with the shorter par 4’s, par 5’s and any scrambles from missed fairways all coming in at that sort of distance.
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Have a look on the link below to find the best odds and free bets for the week’s golf with our affiliates, Coral.
We toiled and toiled over our number one spot this week; any 1 of our main 4 picks could have sat atop our list. There was also that debate about Adam Scott who we think could go close but at 14s in this sort of field (i.e. Rory in his pomp) it was impossible for us to go outright on the Aussie.
So here we are with one of the finest iron gurus of our generation, Matt Kuchar. He is the sort of player who should be winning big competitions. He has already won a WGC (the 2013 matchplay) and The Players but as we all know he hasn’t lifted a major crown as of yet. His chance will come for that glory next week (we must admit he is firmly fixed in our minds at the moment for the PGA) and what a chance he has to put himself in the perfect knick for a memorable fortnight.
On paper he has had an outstanding season – 14 top 10s and 2 wins. That is ridiculous form, but it shows our opinions of him and arguably shows the caliber of player that we feel it could and should have been better.
He should have won the Valero, Shell Houston and had a great chance (again) at Augusta – even the Hyundai Tournament of Champions as well. He’s certainly had opportunities and even that win at the RBC Heritage was bizarre. He played out his skin front 9 to overtake Luke Donald and then for some reason, when he found the lead, he faltered but miraculously recovered with that 60-foot bunker hole-out on the 18th.
He can be frustrating when you think how impeccable he with his irons and saving par. We have so often seen him find fairways and it seems to be when he doesn’t, he really struggles (usually in the space of a few random holes). This week he will rarely enter the long stuff and when he regularly gets the chance to take aim, he is a dangerous proposition.
22nd for driving accuracy doesn’t tell the whole tale at times, but proves he finds them more often than not. He will have plenty of long irons to deal with and there are few better than Kuuuch – 19th GIR 200+ yards. Around these tight greens he will be able to show his true class as a scrambling and putting guru – 9th and 11th respectively and it is certainly a course he knows well.
Never finished outside the top 27 in his 4 starts, but 2 top 10s proves he has a liking here. 4th last week without really challenging is a massive plus in our eyes, because he never exerted himself, but just did what Kuch does best. Plodded his way round playing very good golf. KUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCH.
Sergio Garcia (28/1 Paddy Power)
You all need no introduction to what Sergio does and how he has been playing in recent times. The Spaniard has risen to 5th in the world rankings and asserted himself once again as one of the best in the game. But… without a major or a WGC title to his name, question marks are always raised about his mentality. He often says he ‘hopes’ to do well as opposed to saying he ‘will’ do well. So why is this week any different?
At only 34, Garcia has well over a decade of top quality golf left on the big stage and to think he will not win at least one WGC or major is simply crazy! With age has brought a cooler head and a more realistic outlook on the game. He knows he is on the verge of a big title and it’s just a case of not just knocking on the door but kicking it down!
He was McIlroy’s main threat on the final day at Hoylake and at one point looked like he could steal the claret jug and ended tied 2nd alongside Rickie Fowler. That followed a T12 at the BMW Open and T2 at the Travelers. The Spaniard could not be striking the ball any better.
Here is how he fares in the stats: 14th total driving; 4th GIR; 4th GIR +200yards; 2nd approaches 200-225yards; 3rd par 4 performance; T14 proximity to hole; T44 1-putts; T27 stokes gained-putting and 6th scrambling.
With the putter significantly improved in 2014 and two good showings in the year’s previous WGC events including T16 at the Cadillac, the time is now for Garcia.
What a season Martin Kaymer is having. Admittedly, there are many big tournaments in a golfing season, but there are 5 that rule the roost. (discounting the Ryder Cup obviously!) So far this season we have cried, laughed, intently scrutinized and bet (and lost…) on 4 of these biggies. And Kaymer? Well, he has only gone and won 2 of them.
We really feel it has been understated how ultra impressive that sort of form is – The Players Championship and The US Open. If Rory goes on to walk a few tournaments then fair enough if he wins player of the year, but if he leaves it at his Open crown, then for us, Kaymer has been on another level.
You have to bare in mind the collapse he had after reaching the summit of world golf and winning the 2010 PGA Championship. He vanished. In 2012 he made just 4 top 10s all year, but holing that infamous putt to clinch victory at the ‘Miracle of Medinah’ seemed to give him an extra push.
On his day he is without doubt one of the best in the world (as proven by that runaway victory at the US) and his tee to green efficiency and brute power made us plump our money on him for this week.
16th for total driving (48th distance and 65th accuracy) is an impressive combination for this week and it will give him a chance to hit those gorgeous iron shots. He is a wonderful long iron player as well – 14th GIR 200+ – he can unleash so much power it is scary.
His putting stats are not great from the season as a whole, but we have all seen what he can do when he gets on a roll. He has played here every year since 2008 and it wasn’t until last year that he found his first top 10. It may have taken him a while, but to us that means he is only getting started at Firestone.
Jim Furyk (25/1 BetVictor)
If we hadn’t have backed Tim Clark last week then we would have probably been feeling quite a bit different about the veteran American going into this event. Jim, our number 1 pick last week, added fuel to his critics’ fire with yet another failure to convert from the 54-hole mark. That’s now 7 54-hole leads in a row without a win.
But we’ve got a sneaky feeling his incredible play will continue and he will stick two fingers up to anyone who has doubted him over the last few years.
There’s no denying he will have been hurt by last week’s loss especially considering Clark was in the same group. Furyk failed to convert anything on the greens whereas Clark had to get the fire extinguisher on the putter when he finished the round. Nevertheless, that 2nd place was his 5th top 20 in his last 6 starts which has included a 4th at Hoylake, T12 US Open and T2 at the Players – not bad going!
He will find most of the fairways this week given his form and combine that with his outstanding long iron play, he’s a perfect fit. 9th 2013, 2nd 2012 and 6th 2010 are his best recent performances around Firestone as well. You don’t finish that high on a regular basis if you don’t like the course.
Stats are saying this: T70 total driving; 30th GIR, 26th GIR +200yards; T34 approaches 200-225yards; T12 par 4 performance; T3 proximity to hole; T9 approaches 100-125yards and 1st scrambling.
Despite his final day in Canada and general perception of Jimbo’s putting, he really has been holing a lot of yardage on the greens of late. And we always say, when Jim holes putts he goes close…
Usually our outsiders are high into the hundreds, but this week the odds are so low due to a small and best possible field, that we are putting our smaller change on an Argentinean stalwart at 66s.
Angel Cabrera (66/1 Ladbrokes) BEST PRICE.
We have actually done really well with our outsiders in recent weeks – Tim Clark (66/1) winning last week, Jerry Kelly (100s) T3 at the John Deere, Chris Stroud (66s) T4 at the Greenbrier, Shawn Stefani (200s) 2nd at the Quicken Loans and Fabrizio Zanotti (100s) win at the BMW.
So when you think that this week we are going in with our outsider being Cabrera, we begin to feel shaky at the knees. The 45-year old is a 2-time major champion for starters.
And he has this really weird way of only challenging for the very biggest tournaments on Tour. Before winning a few weeks ago at the Greenbrier, his only 2 PGA Tour victories were majors… His 3 other European Tour wins came on home soil (unquestionable how valuable a win on home turf is to every golfer) at the Open de Argentina and 2 in England – the biggest non major in Europe, the BMW Championship.
Here is a stat for you – 11 of his last 19 top 11s on the PGA Tour have been in either a WGC or major championship. That is slightly bonkers, especially considering that stretches right back to 2005…
So, looking at the fact he has played here 9 times, finding 3 top 4s, you have to consider that this is a course he enjoys and one he could really attack following some remarkable form – 11th, 24th, 1st and 19th going into a WGC is very respectable. He still batters a ball – 13th in driving distance and is a master with a long iron – 13th GIR 200+.
Seems great value to us!
NOTE: We did find it very difficult to discount Rickie Fowler this week, but eventually his low price got the better of us. Do not be surprised if he ends up challenging!
Prize Money – $3,000,000
Winner’s Share – $540,000
FedEx Cup Points – 300
Just a quick look at this tournament. The modified stableford format rewards those who take the most risks. Birdies and eagles are the order of the day and on the 7,200 track, there are plenty of those out there. Long hitters have an advantage but realistically those who are finding the greens in regulation and sinking plenty of putts will rack up the points. Look out for people who can take advantage of the 4 par 5’s out there and who can get up and down regularly with the shorter clubs.
Our Picks –
Brad Fritsch (66/1 BetVictor)
Morgan Hoffman (66/1 Stan James)
Will Wilcox (80/1 BetVictor)
Danny Lee (100/1 Coral)