TPC Four Seasons marks our last visit to Texas after the torments of Houston, TPC San Antonio and Colonial last week. Texas hasn’t been kind to this tipster but the next tournament always offers redemption, especially after Toms had the temerity of delivering his victory last week after letting me down in the playoff the previous week!
The course itself is another Par 70 fast bent-greened test, which was re-designed between the 2007 and 2008 tournaments. Every green and tee on the property was rebuilt and then the full course was reseeded with Bermuda grass, except for the greens themselves. Here D.A. Weibring resculptured the putting surfaces to be far more challenging with severe undulations and fast bentgrass greens were planted.
The redesigned course itself is interesting as both accurate ball strikers like Gay or Verplank, and power bombers like Jason Day or D.J. can be competitive and contend. Ultimately though all 3 of the ‘new’ course champions i.e. Day, Sabbatini and Scott are players who can bang +300 yards, so power off the tee is certainly factor.
Another key factor in previous tournaments seems to be strong recent form and naturally a liking for bent carpet. The course's only true defence is that famous Texan wind and the forecast this week is for similar levels of strong breeze gusting to 20mph. That will have an effect and the forecast seems to favour Thurs PM/Fri AM start times. However my team below are all players who have decent Bent/Par 70 course form and whose games are in the right spot to challenge for victories in blustery conditions. They also share the same key attribute. The key ability to make birdies and shoot low total scores.
The late withdrawal of "Snedders” means a late replacement for the team. Spencer Levin (withdrawn), Sean O’Hair (finding form) and Rory Sabbatini (the perfect CV) were all on the short-list but I thought, hey, let’s go for something a little more adventurous. Local Texan Ryan Palmer sits comfortably in the Worlds Top 70 and is often overlooked. His TPC Four Seasons form is appalling but then Palmer is a different “dose of salt” to the player he once was. Look at his CV and you see a win at Waialee on a classical Par 70. Yes he’s a lover of Bermuda first and foremost – all 3 of his PGA Tour wins are have been on the Tropical stuff – but Palmer can play fast bent and shoot low scores. 2010 produced stellar Bent performances including a 300/1 2nd at the WGC at Firestone (remember Paul Williams' tipping coup!), 5th at Ridgwood, 11th at TPC Boston and 8th at TPC Summerlin. But one season could be a fluke, Steve! Indeed, but he finished a superb 10th at Augusta in April and some close calls at Colonial over the years (15th in 08 and in contention after 26 holes in 09), allied to going out early on Friday before the gusty winds hit, suggest that a punt at 80-1 is truly decent value. (Added 20:30BST 25.5.11) Result: 2nd, lost P/O
Hoffman thrives in Texas and it’s no surprise to me that his price has already been backed in by 10 points since the markets appeared on Monday. There are definite form links between TPC Four Seasons and TPC Boston, and Hoffman won in Massachusetts back in September when he shot -22 to see off amongst other contenders both Jason Day and Adam Scott. I’m sure you recognise the significance of both players with regards to the Byron Nelson. A recent form line of 26-MC-40-2-27-24 is worthy of note. The 2nd was on his last visit to Texas at TPC San Antonio. The 27th was a creditable performance on the fast bent greens of Augusta and the 26th last time out at TPC Sawgrass is a bit of a “mis-read” as Hoffman was in 4th place after 70 holes and playing high risk golf when he shot a quadruple bogey at the Island hole. 5 apps at the Byron Nelson have gleaned a 7th and 8th, the former on the re-designed course. Indeed Hoffman is different gravy in Texas where he has 6 Top 10 finishes since joining the Tour in 2006. Put that in-tandem with 8 Top 10s on bent over the same period and you can see why I’m on. Result: M/C
A super price for the jovial North Carolina-based Swede who has a great habit of popping up with victories on Bent carpet Par 70s. Indeed 3 of Carl’s 4 victories have been on his favourite putting surface at Muirfield, Sedgefield (shot -21) and last year around the classical Par 70 of St Georges in Toronto. Pettersson is a true momentum player: streaky in the extreme, put when the putter's hot he can contend on any Par 70. Like the bear of a man he is, Carl usually rises from his sleepy winter slumber in late May and this year has been no different. Ok he finished 4th by shooting -20 at Kapalua in the first week of January, but then he delivered nothing worthy of note until Quail Hollow at the start of the month when his liking for Carolina courses came to the for with a 9th place finish. He kept the momentum with a decent 33rd at TPC Sawgrass and now arrives at a course where he finished 4th in 2008. The putters warming of late and he’ll love the greens this week. Result: T40
On Monday, Davis qualified for the Open Championship at the Gleneagles Par 70 in Plano Texas by shooting -6 on the bent-greened Par 70. That’s no real surprise when you look at his previous. 2nds at Colonial and Hilton in 2010, allied to further runner up positions at TPC San Antonio in 09 and St Jude in 07 just about say all you need to know. The term Par 70 specialist is often over-used but in this case totally measured. Davis also seems to have matured this season. 2 Top 20 finishes and a recent form line of MC(Colonial)-26-16-56-21-48-12 highlight a new found level of consistency which the Florida based Londoner has failed to achieve in previous seasons. Could TPC Four Seasons be the week he finally gets his first W? Possibly so on a course that suits... Result: M/C
I’ll take Day as my ‘saver’ bet of the week, although I was tempted on some Each Way action with Arjun Atwal. I’m a staunch Day supporter and looking at the Top 5 in the betting I’m backing the young Australian to defend this week. The course set-up is perfect for the Australian Number 2 and I reckon he’ll take this week in his stride. His current form line of 31-6-9-2(Masters) makes 18/1 look very good value. Highly bent carpet positive and a real momentum player who's a real star of the future. Result: 5th
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 20:00BST 24.5.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation