So friends we've finally made it! After 41 sets of tips we've reached the end of the PGA Tour road for 2012. Don't worry though as we've still a couple of weeks of high quality European Tour action and the World Challenge presented by Northwestern Mutual to cover off before Paul and myself finally down tools for a well earned rest in late December. 9 winners plus a hugely frustrating 10 separate tournaments featuring runners-up selections (arghh!) has produced the following PGA Tour 2012 Tips performance. I hope you've made a few Bob following me this season and you never know, the Magnolia and Palm Courses this week at Walt Disney World in Florida might just deliver that 10th winner to even up the overall score! With profit in the bank I'm stretching to 5 selections this week in a tournament that's notoriously difficult to call.
As we've had a couple of weeks between Sea Island and this final Fall Series tournament I'll re-cap the important motivating factors up for grabs in this final week. Remember: 1) The Top 30 in the Tour Money List at the end of the season are exempt into the Masters. 2) The Top 70 are granted starts at both Bay Hill and Muirfield invitational tournaments (William McGirt is currently 70th) whilst the Top 80 get invites for Colonial (Greg Owen is currently 80th). 3) The Top 125 (Billy Mayfair is currently on the bubble in 125th spot) earn full playing privileges for the shortened 2013 PGA Tour and 'partial status' is given to those in spots 126-150. 4) Players who are in the Top 50 of the World Golf Rankings at year end get an automatic invite to Augusta. 5) On top of these motivations a Fall Series tournament winner will also receive a 2-year Tour exemption as grabbed so far by Ryan Moore (14/1), Jonas Blixt (28/1) and Tommy Gainey (200/1).
Currently luminaries such as Retief Goosen (133rd), Jerry Kelly (137th), Justin Leonard (138th), Heath Slocum (141st) and Camilo Villegas (150th) all sit outside the Top 125. With their exemptions all used up (Goosen and Leonard could choose to use their Top 50 Life Time Career Earnings single season exemption for 2013) they will only have partial status for 2013 unless they go through Qualifying School or can grab a huge pay cheque this week in Buena Vista. Robert Karlsson incredibly sits 161st in the Money List and will need to win over $100,000 this week to grab just a Partial Status lifeline. So, as you can see, the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic is a huge tournament for lots of different reasons.
Disney's Magnolia and Palm courses host the traditional season finale just outside of Orlando. Both courses are typically Florida in their setup featuring lots of water hazards and Bermuda grass greens. Both courses are also Par 72 tracks which are resort (low scoring) in nature but vary incredibly in terms of length with the host Magnolia (which is played 3 times) measuring in at 7,516 yards and Palm just 7,010 yards from its tips. The plan is obvious for those wanting to contend: shoot incredibly low on the short Palm setup and then keep banking birdies on the Par 5s of Magnolia whilst trying to avoid damaging bogies. Donald's win here 12 months ago featured a -17/271 winning total whilst Robert Garrigus shot -21/267 on his way to his first (and only) PGA Tour win here in 2010. The interesting factor this week will be the impact of winds that are forecast to be sub 10 mph Thursday and Friday increasing to 15mph on Saturday/Sunday. That could keep the winning target at around -16 to -18.
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Of the notables there is only one player that interests me in the slightest and that is the Florida-based Henrik Stenson who, as we all know, is a different gravy on Bermuda greens and has risen 92 spots in the OWGR this season. Stenson's well known career slump has in the main been caused by a tee-to-green game which in 2011 Stenson ranked as the worst both for Total Driving and GIR% on the PGA Tour. However 2012 has seen a marked improvement across Driving Accuracy, Greens in Regulation and Birdie Average categories and this was highlighted recently at Oceanico Victoria and Lake Malaren on the Euro Tour where Stenson finished 6th and 26th respectively powered by Top 10 Driving Distance in combination with GIR% performances. Indeed recent form reads: 26(BMW Masters)-27(Sea Island)-6(Portugal Masters)-MC(Dunhill Links)-5(KLM Open). That's impressive. An international CV that holds victories in Qatar (06), Dubai (07) and TPC Sawgrass (09) highlight a world class player on Bermuda carpet who can also play well in the wind as 3rd at The Open Championship in 2008 and 2010 testifies. Was 4th here last year going into Sunday (finished 12th) when his game was in total disarray. RESULT: T19
I'm on-board with DLIII this week who has an unbelievable record here at Disney and who is playing awesome golf right now. In fact statistically he's playing better golf in 2012 than he did back in 2008 when he won the season ending finale here as you can see from these key PGA Tour skill categories. 133rd (up 29 spots) in Driving Accuracy, 96th (up 10 spots) in Greens In Regulation, 115th (up 9 spots) in Stokes Gained Putting, 59th (up 47 spots) in Birdie Average, 65th (up 33 spots) in Par Breakers and 25th (up 12 spots) in Scoring Average. The numbers might not be that eye catching but fact is Davis is one of those players that can always produce decent scores and his putter is warm right now going into a tournament that has delivered 1st (2008), 2nd (1998 & 2001), 3rd (1990) and 5th (2003 & 2006). One look at his CV highlights a player that has always produced stronger results on Bermuda carpet and this season is no different with all 3 of his Top 10 finishes coming on Bermuda at St Jude (3rd), Sedgefield (10th) and last time out at his own Sea Island tournament where he delivered a great 4th place. I can easily see DLIII grabbing his 21st PGA Tour victory to blow away the Ryder Cup demons and capture a Top 45 Money List finish and yet another 2 year exemption. RESULT: T40
With relatively tough breezy conditions scheduled for Saturday and Sunday I reckon that 4-time PGA Tour winner and Augusta specialist (the ultimate Par 72) Chad Campbell will be up for the fight this week and for me, like Stenson, Chad's game is slowly back on the up. Wins at East Lake (03), Bay Hill (04), PGA West (06) and Annandale (07) highlight a player totally comfortable on Bermuda carpet, Par 72 formats and southern state golf (excepting PGA West of course). Texas based Campbell for a supposed plodder has a great record on resort-style formats as a strong record at PGA West, Redstone, River Highlands, Annandale and TPC Summerlin highlights and his current upturn in form has been driven by results on Bermuda greens namely: 3rd St Jude, 4th Sedgefield and 7th Sea Island, with the latter 2 results coming via -15 & -11 respectively. A CV that also holds multiple Top 10s at Waialae, Bay Hill, Copperhead and interestingly TPC Sawgrass (6th 03 & 10th 08) suggests to me a quality player that is comfortable in Florida and who will see this week as a huge opportunity knowing his tee to green game is back to near its best and with a warm putter in the bag. RESULT: MC
Regulars will know I rate Georgia-based Matteson highly on Bermuda greened resort courses and right now Troy, who sits a very safe 74th in the Money List, is playing decent golf without piecing together 4 full rounds..........yet. Take last time out at The Mines in Malaysia where Troy was the 1st Round Leader and produced 27 holes of great golf to lead comfortably at -10. Then he realised Tiger was on the prowl and he collapsed. However there are no doubts that the 2-time PGA Tour winner thrives on Bermuda greens as his victories at TPC Summerlin in 2006 (-22) and Greyhawk in 2009 (-18) highlight. Motivation-wise a 3rd PGA Tour win here would grab a 2 season exemption + catapult Troy into the Top 40 of the Money List with total control over his 2013 schedule. Recent form reads 33(Malaysia)-MC-MC-16(Crooked Stick)-20(TPC Boston)-65(Bethpage)-10(Sedgefield)-MC-10(Hamilton)-39(Royal Lytham)-2(Deere Run) and a quick glance at Matteson's CV highlights the fact that on Resort courses where runs of birdies are required he can go extremely low. 2nd (-21) and 6th (-18) here in 06 & 08 respectively. RESULT: MC
I'll finish my PGA Tour tips with Jacksonville Beach, Florida resident Matt Every who has had a great 2nd season on Tour after a successful Nationwide Tour (as it was) in 2011. The beauty with Matt is that he specialises on Bermuda greens and delivers both high numbers of birdies (19th in Birdie Average) allied to decent results on tighter more classical courses. As we know Magnolia is no easy track and I love the look of Every's game when he has an iron in hand from anything between 125 to 200 yards which will suit this week for sure. 6th at Waialae, 3rd at El Camaleon, 8th at Harbour Town and 2nd at AT&T Four Oaks in 2012 highlight a Bermuda-positive player who can tackle tight and technical courses. His late summer campaign hasn't been so positive but 14th at Sedgefield, 35th at TPC Boston and 51st at Crooked Stick tied in with 52nd on the Money List is more than respectable. On a Par 72 Bermuda course that is sure to suit I can see Every popping up from nowhere and potentially contending at a triple digit price. A win at Daniel Island (Bermuda Par 72) back in 2009 at the Nationwide Tour Championship with a winning score of -21/267 highlight what is possible with Every this week. RESULT: Tied 2nd
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:00GMT 6.11.12 but naturally subject to fluctuation.