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STOP PRESS! Ladbrokes are offering 6 places each way at the McGladrey Classic this week, the only firm to be doing so at the time of writing. To check out Ladbrokes prices for the McGladrey Classic click here.
It has to be said that I enjoyed the inaugural McGladrey Classic last year. Held at the famous Seaside course on the golfing commune that is St Simon's Island in Georgia, I happened to grab the winner Heath Slocum at 50/1 and that always helps, but being impartial for a moment this tournament really adds something a little different to the PGA Tour.
The Seaside course is an original Harry Colt design who, by the way, designed Royal Lytham and Portrush. The original “Marshside” and “Seaside” sets of 9 later received a Tom Fazio redesign and today’s Seaside course was established. It’s a rarity i.e. an "American links-style" course with manmade sand dunes, ridges, and elevation fluctuations. Wind off the Atlantic change the course conditions on a daily basis. The Par 70 also features fast Bermuda greens. Worthy of note is a forecast that is pretty perfect but the sea-breeze will pick up over the weekend.
St Simon Island's location on the eastern sea-board allied to the courses challenging nature has attracted a superb field this week even though the prize fund is the lowest of the 4 Fall Series events and the 5th lowest of the PGA Tour season. Webb Simpson (looking to overtake Luke Donald for the PGA Tour Money List No.1 spot), Jim Furyk, Rickie Fowler (winner last week in Korea), Matt Kuchar, David Toms, Paul Casey, Zach Johnson, Lucas Glover, Brandt Snedeker, Stewart Cink, Graeme McDowell, Angel Cabrera...the list goes on.
The course itself, allied to the fact that this is the 2nd last PGA Tour tournament, adds up to an interesting tipping scenario. However I’m going to stick to my Fall Series strategy and get into the psyche of the players, after all it has produced some superb results this year - we snared Bryce Molder at 40/1 last week, following on from EW payouts Gainey (100/1), Pettersson and Levin at TPC Summerlin - as well as last season. So I’m looking for players who are hungry to achieve and use this tournament as a platform for greater things in 2012.
I must also highlight Ladbrokes this week for their excellent 6 place Each Way terms both on the McGladrey and Portugal Masters. Tie that in with a superb £50 Free Bet account opening offer and in many cases market leading prices and you can see that Ladbrokes are offering unbeatable terms this week. To check out Ladbrokes current prices - and qualify for a £50 free bet - simply click here.
Both Kevin Na and Bryce Molder highlight that “choker” type players can get the job done during the Fall Series. Now it’s unfair to categorize Georgia born and Sea Island residing Howell III in this category on the basis that he’s already a 2 time PGA Tour winner (Kingsmill 2002, Riviera 2007), but if ever a more talented professional was overdue a win Charles, like Sergio Garcia and Chad Campbell, heads the list currently. 2011 has yielded an incredible 14 Top 20 results including 7 Top 10 finishes following on from a further 7 Top 10s in 2010! Scratch the surface and you see a player destined to lift a trophy soon on Bermuda carpet where he’s accrued Top 10 finishes at Copperhead, New Orleans, Waialee x2 (coastal), Phoenix, St Jude, Disney, PGA National, San Antonio and last time out at the Tour Championship at East Lake in the past 3 seasons. So what’s different this week? Well Charles sits 25th on the Money List and 68th in the OWGR and if he wants to move back into the world elite – a place he held for 6 years in the noughties - he needs to keep producing, so as to guarantee firstly a spot in Shanghai plus on-going appearances next season at Doral, Dove Mountain, Augusta etc. His recent contending performances have shown a new level of steel and he delivered a 6th here in 2010. Fact is the crazily talented Howell hasn’t graced the world’s top table since 2008……that’s a big deal…and deep down he knows that a win will catapult him back to where he belongs plus validate himself again as a winner. RESULT: T32
G-Mac as an overall project is very much Work in Progress at the moment after a terribly disappointing 2011 season, but I truly like the look of him at 33s & 6 places this week. You can forget about PGA Tour Money List or World Golf Rankings with Graeme, as the US Open 2010 Champion he can play in any tournament he wants. Instead it was an interview I saw with David Livingstone and Butch Harmon on the “Rory crowning” Sunday of the US Open in July that sticks in my mind. In it G-Mac stated that he felt that a weight had been lifted off of his shoulders and instead of looking back to Pebble Beach and Celtic Manor he could now look forward and recapture his form and win golf tournaments again. As Tiger is finding out, a slump in form is difficult to change but a 37th in Boston and a contending 5th at St Andrews last time out highlights that Graeme’s outlook is positive. We all know that McDowell is happiest by the sea and although he prefers Bent greens, 4 of his 6 Top 10 US finishes since 2009 have all been on Bermuda carpet: 7th TPC Southwind (09), 6th Doral (10), 4th Kapalua and 6th PGA National (11), which makes sense when he is based in Florida and went to University in Alabama. The fact that G-Mac is playing this tournament when he doesn’t have to (unlike Casey, Oosthuizen and Stenson who are playing to accrue their 15 minimum PGA Tour appearances) highlights to me a player who wants to do well on a course he knows will suit. RESULT: M/C
I highlighted Spencer in my tips at Summerlin a fortnight back and he delivered a part EW return at 45/1 with a tied 5th. He backed that up with 7th last week in California, so I’m amazed that we can still grab him at a market leading 40/1 with 6 places! As I’ve previously highlighted, Levin’s crusade is a place in the PGA Tour Money List Top 30 in turn promoting the Sacramento, California based player into the world elite of golf with guaranteed starts in Shanghai, Kapalua (if he were to win this week), Augusta and Olympic Club San Francisco. Again I like the idea that Levin is using the Fall Series as a platform for breaking into the world elite group and unlike many of the big names he’s got plenty of game and momentum right now. The mark of a quality player is that they can play on all putting surfaces and Spencer is as adept on Bermuda as he is on Bent or his home state Poa Annua. This season has also seen him grab 4th at Pebble Beach and 2nd at El Cameleon on coastal tracks allied to decent Bermuda finishes of 6th at Bay Hill, 12th at TPC Sawgrass, 14th at Hilton Head and 15th at TPC Southwind. Like CHIII, Levin needs a result this week and is more than capable on a course he has experience of from 2010. RESULT: T32
For me Carl Pettersson cuts a frustrated and dangerous man. He ranks 95th in the world after decent 2010 and 2011 campaigns but still has no spot at Doral, Dove Mountain or Augusta next year as he falls between the golfing cracks. Just where is the sugar? However the North Carolina based Swede is playing some of the best golf of his career and he doesn’t want the season to end hence his “overtime” participation this season. A recent form line of 5 (Summerlin) – 16 (Cog Hill) – 37 (TPC Boston) – 32 (Plainfield) – 4 (Sedgefield) – 18 (TPC Old White) says everything about his current form and it’s well worth remembering that this guy can’t ever be discounted on either Bent or Bermuda carpet. A CV that holds 8th at St Jude, 4th at Kapalua (coastal), 8th at Copperhead, 5th at Waialee (coastal), 9th at Disney and 8th at Bay Hill since 2008 highlight a player that can go well around the Seaside Course. 6th at the US Open held at Torrey Pines in 2008 adds more fuel to the fire. A win here promotes the Swede onto the brink of both the PGA Tour Top 30 and OWGR Top 64 and grabs him a place in Shanghai in November. He’s hungry on a course he has the advantage of playing last year. RESULT: T20
After +50 points of profit in the past 2 weeks, I’m affording myself the luxury of an additional 2 points in my staking plan this week. Texan Chris Stroud has had the best season of his 5 year tenure on the PGA Tour grossing over $1,000,000 for the first time. Stroud, who finished 113th and 102nd on the Money List in 09 and 10 respectively, like a majority of US players is more accustomed to fighting for his playing privileges during the Fall Series rather than using it as a platform for the following season but that’s exactly what he’s doing in 2011. Indeed his current 81st on the Money List means that another Top 5/6 finish will see him qualify for Bay Hill, Muirfield and Colonial Invitationals next season plus he has jumped over 100 places on the WGR this year. No mean feat and a genuine step up in world golf status. What really attracts me to Stroud this week is his current Bent form line of 15 (Corde Valle) – 22 (Cog Hill) – 42 (Boston) – 18 (Plainfield) following on from a tremendous 6th at the classical Aronimink test back in July. In reality, bentgrass is Stroud’s secondary surface and a return to the Bermuda greens he considers home – he’s delivered Top 10s at Disney, El Cameleon, Greyhawk, Annandale and TPC Sawgrass in the past 2 years - in my view will lead to a contending performance this week. RESULT: M/C
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 20:00BST 11.10.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation.