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Steve Bamford'stips for the 2011 AT&T National at Aronimink
Some congratulations are in-order. Firstly to Freddie Jacobson who garnered his first PGA Tour victory at the Travelers last week. Like Tim Clark you wondered if it would ever happen and, after a collapse of sorts at Congressional the previous week, Jacobson’s decent form meant that he got the job done at TPC River Highlands. Excellent work, just a shame he didn’t do it when I tipped him up a couple of weeks back on his favoured Bermuda carpet at Southwind!
After I bagged Rory at the US Open, our European tipster Paul Williams had a storming result last week at the BMW International Open where he grabbed Pablo Larrazabel at 45/1. Too add insult to injury he tipped Scott Jamison who returned a 150/1 Each-Way result. That’s 3 winners in the past 4 weeks, so why not sign up for our weekly tips email so you won’t miss another set of profitable tips through the rest of 2011?!
The PGA Tour stays “up-state” this week with a trip to the tough Par 70 at Aronimink, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This 7,200+ yard Par 70 is a bit of a brute by PGA Tour standards and Justin Rose won here last year with a winning score of 270 (-10). It’s a technical Donald Ross-designed test that was re-designed by Ron Pritchard, the designer of TPC Southwind, in 2000. As a typical Ross design there are elevation changes, tight landing areas off the tee, plenty of dogleg holes and some severely undulating putting surfaces.
The AT&T National, or “Tiger’s tournament”, won’t be graced by the former world number 1 this week who is still recuperating from his recent injuries. Whether you love or loathe him, the threat of the Open Championship without Tiger is starting to look a real possibility and as someone who will be venturing down to Sandwich in a couple of weeks time, a missing Tiger from the line-up will be a huge loss. Qualification for the Open Championship will be on a lot of players' minds this week as the highest non-qualified player in the Top 5 will effectively receive an invite to Royal St George's (Freddie Jacobson and Harrison Frazar look fairly safe to win the Open Championship PGA Tour Money List spots which cover TPC Sawgrass to Aronimink this week).
With over 75% of the field without an Open Championship invite it’s impossible to tip up players purely on this basis, but for players whose games are in good shape the thought of qualifying for The Open with a Top 5 won’t harm motivation at all.
This week is the 5th edition of the AT&T National and the tournament has already developed a strange quirk factor. Choi, Kim, Woods and Rose had all won a tournament in the same season prior to their victory here. Indeed Choi, Woods and Rose had all won at Muirfield (with Kim triumphing at Quail Hollow). If Steve Sticker had committed this week can you imagine the price we’d have been quoted! With this “quirk” in-mind I think that Gary Woodland is a great punt who is backable at an Each-Way price. I last tipped Woodland (who is already in the Open field) at Quail Hollow where he disappointed with a 68th, but his Bent performances since have been strong with 49th at TPC Four Seasons, 6th at Muirfield and a mature 23rd at the US Open last time out. The beauty of Woodland is his recently-tamed power and the fact that he can play both Bent and Bermuda technical tracks well. 6th in tough conditions at PGA National was backed up with his fist PGA Tour win at Copperhead in March. 24th on debut at Augusta was then followed by the aforementioned 6th at Muirfield. His 305 yard driving average dissects fairways. Woodland backs that up with an iron game that ranks as 14th in GIR% and 9th in Ball Striking across 2011. AT&T National favours form players and 5 Top 10s this year works in Woodland’s favour as does the fact that his lack of course experience won’t be a negative due to this only being the 2nd AT&T National played at Aronimink. RESULT: T47
Haas (another who has already qualified for Sandwich) was on my tip shortlist for the US Open a couple of week’s back and my logic back then still stands true for Aronimink. I ultimately tipped Sabba who finished 30th compared to Haas who played well and landed a solid 23rd position, which was Bill’s second best major finishing position after he finished 18th last year on debut at Augusta. 6 Top 20 finishes including 5 Top 10 finishes in 2011 suggest a player who is both talented and motivated enough to move forward from his current World Number 46 rank and become a regular ‘Major’ player. Link Bill’s current form line of 23-45-8(Colonial)-MC-4(Quail) to his game which includes season long stats like 9th in Total Driving, 10th All-Around, 6th in GIR% and 3rd in Ball Striking and I’m thinking he is a perfect fit for Aronimink (he debuts in 2011). 4th at Quail Hollow in 2006 and 10th at Sedgefield and Cog Hill in 2009 highlight a player comfortable on technical tree-lined courses and, like Woodland, is in the right space to contend this week prior to catching the plane to the UK for St George's. RESULT: T34
I know, I know and I won’t go into depth around Webb this week, but this guy is in amazing form right now and a 41st finish here in 2010 allied to an 8th place finish at Sedgefield last August highlight that yet again he’ll be comfortable with the Ross set-up this week. He was in 4th place after 56 holes last week but a double bogey and 2 bogeys in the opening 10 holes Sunday did for the youngster. He then finished with 5 birdies in the closing 8 holes! Latest Bent form line reads: 13-14(US Open)-7(Memorial)-21-16-4 and highlights why I’m still prepared to stay on-board. After experiencing and finishing 14th at his first Major at Congressional a fortnight ago I’m thinking the carrot of his first Open Championship start could be just the spur required for Simpson to get the job done this week and convert! RESULT: T8
The 60/1 about the Florida-based Colombian is just too strong to resist for me this week and looking at Villegas’s record you’ll be able to see why. Villegas (whose 2010 form qualifies him for the Open) ranks No 1 in the field this week on technical tracks and has won multiple tournaments that link into Aronimink nicely. Naturally Camilo’s recent St Jude 3rd place at 80/1 registered with both myself and the bookies and showed a player finally coming back from his 9-month slump. Now I know that Camilo is stronger on Bermuda greens and that reality is borne out in the prices available on the Colombian this week, but he can perform on Bent greens. 1st on the Trent Jones Par 70 at Bellerive, a pair of 3rd place finishes at TPC Sugarloaf, 3rd at TPC Boston and 4th at the PGA Championship hosted at the Ross designed Par 70 classic at Oakland Hills, show a player who can perform on technical Bent courses where scoring isn’t too low. A 1st and 8th at the Tour Championship held at another Ross Par 70 – East Lake - adds further interest. So I’m thinking Villegas, who has always been both a Par 70 and momentum specialist, could show his face at Aronimink this week and motivation won’t be a problem as he’s just happy to be playing decent golf again. He’ll be hungry and one to get on our side at a value price we won’t see in a couple of month’s time. RESULT: M/C
The 2009 US Open and 2011 Quail Hollow Champion was as short as 33/1 to win the Travelers last week but a single missed cut later and he’s out at 60s. I fancy a piece of that Each Way action on a player who historically has always played both classical and technical tracks far better than low scoring resort courses. Glover is one of those frustrating players who simply pops up from time to time and usually hangs around around when he does. He’s also adept around tree-lined courses which obviously fit the South Carolinian’s eye like Quail Hollow (1st 2011, 2nd 2009, 4th 2006), Congressional (5th 2009, 12th 2007), Hilton Head (7th 2008), Memorial (8th 2005), Sedgefield (7th last year) and Copperhead (4th 2007). His Bent form in 2011 sits at MC-42(Congressional)-MC-40(Colonial)-1(Quail) typical Glover! A contending appearance this week on a course where he finished 25th on debut last week is more than possible. You could easily wager Watney at 14s or Moore at 20s but they have only a single Bent win between them. Instead I’m on Glover whose a true Bent technical course specialist. RESULT: W/D
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