Prize Fund – $5,700,000
Winner’s Share – $1,026,000
Courses – PGA West Nicklaus Course (6,924 yards par 72)
PGA West Palmer Course (6,950 yards par 72)
La Quinta Country Club(7,060 yards par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Keegan Bradley (T18), Ryan Palmer (2nd), Gary Woodland (T38), Nicolas Colsaerts (MC), Kevin Chappell (T58)
It’s been a week where injuries have dominated the golfing headlines with Robert Allenby’s extreme ordeal and Tiger Woods getting himself into a spot of bother while watching the other half, losing a front tooth in the process. That’s what his agent said anyway. Aside from this, the PGA Tour keeps on going in Hawaii for the Humana Challenge.
This event is the pinnacle of ‘birdie fests’ as we like to call them. You will struggle to find an event on tour this year that will not see as many birdies. The winning scores of Reed (-28), Gay (-25) and Wilson (-24) give you a feel for what’s to come. And Reed’s total of -28 came with a final round 71. It’s a fun one for the guys out there though with the pro-am format over 3 different courses, all of which are pretty easy to navigate.
A key thing to note and look at is the slight trend in people coming in with a good finish or at least a low round in their locker from the week before. And it makes sense, your game needs to be in good shape if you’re going to shoot 30+ birdies. Even looking at Reed last year who, despite not playing in the Sony Open, came T16 at the Tournament of Champions 2 weeks prior. It’s a trend that could be said of every event but in something like the Humana with the different courses, pro-am format and low-scoring – you need to hit the ground running from the first tee and a good week prior could make all the difference.
The yardage to really have a look at is 150-175 and for a lot of these guys they will make this look like a pitch and putt. But someone who has a healthy scoring average, loves a birdie or three and is in the grove with the putter will ultimately find themselves at the top end of the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.
DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.
You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Webb Simpson (40/1 Stan James)
To say our number 1 spot has been deliberated over is an understatement and we’ll talk you through our problems. The 3 way battle was between Simpson, Bradley and Palmer. Simply, Palmer at 25/1 was just too short – we often feel uneasy going Palmer at 40/1. And then Bradley; the new putter and little tournament play was enough for us to say no – again, best price was 30/1. So, Webb Simpson.
Like Bradley he also has changed to a new putter and last week at one point he looked like he could get things done after starting 62, 66. Although Bradley had an impressive 3rd at the Hero World Challenge, Webb gave us concrete evidence things are working just fine with the swing and putter. Stats-wise, as most of the top boys are, the American is all over them. Birdies, par 5’s and even 150-175, Webb was 16th in that yardage for the whole of 2014.
Of the 3 this was the best bet but by no means would we put anyone off chucking a bit of their account on Palmer.
Jerry Kelly (80/1 Paddy Power)
2 weeks on the spin with Jezza, not something we could have envisaged at the start of our season. But quite simply, he fits the bill. A very respectable T6 last week at the Sony where he ranked 2nd in putting average behind eventual winner Jimmy Walker. Before the winter break Kelly went 5th, 22nd showing time away from tournament play did him no harm. The Humana has never been harsh on the American either, 8th being his best finish in recent times adding to a couple of top 15 finishes over the last 4 years.
Lies 22nd total birdies, 15th scoring average and 17th 1 putt %. Shot a 62 last week at the Sony which shows Kelly’s game is right there to go out and grab plenty more birdies.
Jason Kokrak (80/1 Bet365)
The big-hitting American is a perfect match for this track and when you consider his form, excluding the winter break, it reads 20th, 16th and 17th. Now is the time to push on from those finishes. For someone moving into his 4th year on the PGA Tour, Kokrak needs a year where not only does he find more consistency but adds big-money finishes to his game. He still only has 2 top 3 finishes to date. Knowing this, one of his highlights was the T8 he got here a couple of years ago, finishing 3 shots off Brian Gay. And that was with a pair of 69’s in rounds 2 and 3.
So with improved consistency and bags of experience, could this week finally be the one. He ranked 21st last week in putting and for the season is T14 total birdies and 15th 1 putt %. And with his prodigious distance off the tee, we know the par 5’s out there will be his for the taking.
Paul Casey (80/1 Coral)
A bit like Webb Simpson, Casey started like a train last week with a 62 and the first round lead. But of all people, his average play over the weekend will not make him despondent. It’s been a while since the Englishman has challenged in this calibre of event and the 62 will give him so much confidence.
The Humana is new to Paul and the fresh outlook on the 3 courses almost gives him an advantage. It’s not uncommon for people who haven’t played here or even made the cut the before to go on and win. And then when you look at the numbers, for someone at these odds, we’re impressed. Last week he was 10th GIR and 19th putting. In 2014, Casey ranked 1st in 150-175 birdie or better % and was 26th scoring average, 31st par 5 birdie or better. He’s undoubtably in good touch, now it’s time to get back to winning ways on the PGA Tour.
Daniel Summerhays (80/1 Paddy Power)
Our final pick and one which we’re as confident in as much as the rest. A mixture of solid play last week (66, 67, 67 for his first 3 rounds) and some interesting reading on the stats made us really happy with the American. He’s often a name you will see up there in these shoot-out, low scoring events and when you look into it you can see why. For 2014 he looked like this – 49th scoring average, 22nd total birdies, 9th strokes gained putting (31st in 2015) and 22nd 150-175 yards. There’s not a bad word we can say about him. Of course there are similar quality players at this sort of price but he is a guy who when he wins on the PGA Tour, it will be one of these events.
He was also 5th GIR last week – he just needs the putter to get hot in Hawaii.
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
So, for this Humana Challenge our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£1 win on Ryan Palmer at 25/1
£1.75 e/w on Webb Simpson at 33/1
£0.90 e/w on Jerry Kelly at 80/1
£0.85 e/w on Jason Kokrak at 66/1
£0.75 e/w on Daniel Summerhays at 80/1
£0.50 win on Paul Casey at 66/1
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power
Find the Golf Monthly Preview and their £10 picks here – (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news/humana-challenge-golf-betting-guide-2-64484)
Current Standings after 1 weeks
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £-3 European Tour: £0
PGA Tour: £-7.88 PGA Tour: £-10
Total: £-10.88 Total: £-10