Winner’s Share – $1,242,000
Course – TPC Louisiana (7,341 par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Everyone missed the cut barring Stuart Appleby (T17)
It was great to Jimbo Furyk back in the winners circle last week, an unbelievable effort in the playoff when he’s so often bottled in recent years! But moving onto a new week and we’re in New Orleans.
The Zurich Classic has been a mainstay of the PGA Tour for a number of years now, with TPC Louisiana being the host track since 2007. The Pete Dye course is one of the most well-known during the calendar and often provides us with some entertaining action. Over 100 bunkers, water hazards on 8 holes and 5 par 4’s measuring in at under 400 yards shows that there’s plenty to attack and defend during the 4 days. You can clearly overpower a track of this nature, with brute force propelling you to needing just a short wedge game and top scoring on the greens, but if you go to askew, then the bunkers, water or rough will eat you alive.
There is a definite need to be relatively straight and outstanding with your irons – proven by past winners here – The likes of Noh Seung-Yul, Billy Horschel, Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson, Jerry Kelly have all won here which shows that is an iron players course. You can hardly say big hitters suit it because the comparison between Bubba and Kelly are beyond ridiculous and just don’t exist. If you are long, you have to be straight and if you are short you have to be consistent and challenging pins on every approach. A fascinating prospect ahead and for us, it’s best to take a look at total driving, GIR and scoring because the last 3 winners have come in with at least -19…
Keegan Bradley (22/1 Stan James)
Keegan Bradley has been in and out of form this season, but has shown enough glimpses for us to think that he’s due a big, big performance. On this sort of track where a top tee to green game is required, he suits everything on paper. He is 1st in total driving and 90th for GIR, which is a very decent and interesting combination.
He hits the ball long and straight and has done for most of the year, but his putting is currently letting him down. His switch to a shorter putter started very well in the first few weeks, but consistency over the long term hasn’t been the same.
Even 76th in scoring average shows that he has the ability to go low and we were impressed with a relatively solid outing at Augusta – T22 and a top performance at the Shell Houston Open – T5.
Whilst last year at this event, he finished T8, when in all probability, he should have ended much nearer the top. A +3 final day completely ruined his opening brilliance which included a 66 and 65.
We are sure he has the perfect match for the Louisiana track and we are desperate for someone to actually score under par on a final round – surely he wouldn’t do it 2 years on the trot?!
Daniel Berger (66/1 Various)
Okay, so Berger is one of these young players who you feel uncomfortable backing at short odds given the pressure they have to undergo when challenging for their first PGA title! For some, that pressure is too much. Just look at Graham DeLaet and Brendon De Jonge. But this guy it seems is a little different.
We were on him when he missed out to Padraig Harrington of all people earlier in the year but to even get to a play-off in your first few months on Tour is some going. Over the years this tournament has been won by all sorts of golfers but Berger is someone who could overpower it and make a ton of birdies.
Statistically speaking it’s hard not to get excited really – T14 ball striking, 6th par 5 birdie or better, 4th total birdies, 2nd rounds in the 60’s. Those are essentially saying he’s unbelievable tee to green and has no problem holing the putts either.
We see many youngsters come and go on the tour but this guy seems like he’s a class above and a win here would certainly show that.
John Peterson 50/1 Various
It’s not pretty seeing the American at these odds so the bookie’s must have buzzed off him as much as we do. None the less we’re not going to let odds grab us by the balls, we like him and we’re chucking our money on him.
Why? He’s played 3 times here, 2 missed cuts but then an 8th in 2013 – there is some liking for the track. His current form is as good as you’ll ever get for this man in current times, 18th RBC and 11th Valero Texas. No missed cuts in 5 events either. So plenty of boxes ticked.
The stats – 22nd ball striking (which takes into account GIR and total driving if you were unfamiliar), 40th total birdies, 28th rounds in the 60’s.
And last week at the RBC Heritage, Peterson was comfortably first in GIR finding over 80% of greens! All of which tells us tee to green his game is there, all we ask for is a red-hot putter for at least 3 days and he’ll be in the mix
Lucas Glover (100/1 Various)
What a bizarre career Lucas Glover has had. Three PGA Tour wins, one of which includes the US Open. Many of his outings are fighting for a pay check, sticking perilously close to the cut, but he is, in paper, a major winner.
This season the struggles have continued, with a best finish of T15 at the Humana, but we did see some sort of decent effort at the Heritage last week.
He actually managed to shoot to rounds below 70 which should give him plenty of confidence, whilst he was inside the top 27 for both driving accuracy and distance and 2nd for GIR. So, that makes it obvious what is letting him down – the short stick. When does it not?!
But we are looking past that simply because this is a track he has played so well at before. Four top 10s in his last 8 outings here, including a T4 a couple of years back when he was in appalling form. He actually went into the final day with a 2-shot lead but completely bottled it. We’re just hoping he can draw on that experience and challenge once again.
Jason Bohn (110/1 BetFred)
If you followed us a few weeks back Jason Bohn was almost our number 1 pick for the Shell Houston which shows how much he featured on our radar. So we come to the Zurich Classic where he won one of his two PGA Tour titles back in 2010 – it would be rude not to have a nibble.
His aforementioned victory here is the major factor in backing him. And this season we have seen a new and improved Jason Bohn. The fact that he has already earned more money this year than he did for each of 2011, 2012 and 2013 tells the story.
Coming into this event he has a pair of top 20 finishes in his last 4, no missed cuts. For the season he ranks 64th ball striking (28th GIR), 27th total birdies and 21st rounds in the 60’s. Like Peterson, also had a healthy GIR% last week, ranking 14th.
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.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£3.50 WIN on Keegan Bradley at 18/1
£1.25 e/w on Daniel Berger at 60/1
£1.00 e/w on John Peterson at 50/1
£0.40 e/w on Lucas Glover at 100/1
£0.60 e/w on Jason Bohn at 80/1
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power
Find the Golf Monthly Preview here (http://www.golf-monthly.co.uk/news/tour-news)
Current Standings after 14 weeks (and it makes for horrible reading…)
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £-38.70 European Tour: £-53.75
PGA Tour: £-69.38 PGA Tour: £58.50
Total: £-108.08 Total: £4.75
Golf Monthly leads by: £112.83