Naturally the World Golf Championship event at the Blue Monster this week takes pride of place and Paul Williams has worked feverishly to pull together some tasty looking tips with no Kaymer, Westwood, Donald or Tiger in sight! Click the link for our WGC Cadillac Championship tips.
So with the WGC tournament on tap this week, why bother with the Puerto Rico Open I hear you ask? Well 2010 Champion Derek Lamely won at 110/1 and 09 winner Michael Bradley, who hadn’t played a tournament that year before winning in Rio Grande, won at 250/1. Are you starting to catch my drift here?! As I said 2 weeks ago before the Mayakoba Classic where Johnson Wagner triumphed at 125/1, expect the unexpected in Puerto Rico this week as those players with expectations to win inevitably don’t. When you remember how hard it is to triumph on the PGA Tour it’s hardly surprising that ‘mid pack’ players when thrust into the uncomfortable position of favouritism inevitably crack and finish Top 20 or worse.
The Trump International resort course in Rio Grande is a long Par 72 that sits on the coast. Seashore Paspalum greens add another dimension but effectively they play as Grainy Bermuda in their make-up. The Tom Kite design is effectively a resort type course where the level of scoring (i.e. difficulty) is totally dictated by the elements, especially wind. If the wind is up expect -12 to -14 winning, if conditions are tranquil a score of -19 to -21 will be required. The latest forecast is for 15 mph winds on Thursday dropping for Friday through Sunday, so for those who played at El Camaleon and PGA National this will be a walk in the park. Low scoring will be the order of the day so the winner will need to produce 5 birdies per round to truly contend.
Jerry Kelly leads the market and with his current form on a coastal set-up that suits I’d back him, but 16/1 is crazy short. Cink, Jacobson, Molder, De Jonge, Stenson and Ames head the market for obvious reasons but I’ll leave those selections to some other tipsters. Instead I’m going for a strategy that focuses on Southern State players who thrive on Bermuda. I’m looking for tournament winners, but as both Greg Kraft and Derek Lamely proved, being a PGA Tour winner is no pre-requisite to triumphing in Puerto Rico. Form in Florida and Latin America is favourable as are Top 10 results at ‘low scoring’ resort-type tournaments.
Form isn’t everything going into the Puerto Rico Open, but a little under the radar form certainly helps and Floridian Matt Every has bucketloads at the moment. He started 2011 at Pebble where he delivered a solid 31st position, but Every is a Nationwide Tour guy this season after a disappointing first PGA Tour season in 2010. 18th in Panama and 2nd in a weather shortened Colombia tournament show that Every will be one to watch on the Nationwide in 2011. Every has never played at Trump International but don’t let that put you off as his Latin America form is first rate. 2nd in the Mexico Open 2008, 12th in Panama Open 2008 and 7th in Mexico Open show that Jacksonville boy loves to play in tropical conditions. Interestingly his 2010 PGA Tour card was the result of winning the season ending Nationwide Tour Championship in 2009 on the long Par 72 Ralston Creek Course at Daniel Island, South Carolina on Bermuda. This guy has got previous so I’m on-board at a value mid price. RESULT: T22
Unibet are market leading on the Swede with a sweet price! The most obvious selection on my team this week, but I can’t resist the Florida-based Swede. I first selected Johnson as a tipster back in 2009 - interestingly for the Mayakoba Classic. Typically he withdrew from the tournament after a first round 71! However the method in my madness was duly delivered when he finished 8th at Turnberry in 2009 and backed that up in his next trip to Cancun with 4th last year. This season has seen a solid start to his PGA Tour season delivering a progressive form line of 40-39-35(Maya)-21(Honda) and that has to be encouraging. Johnson also interests me in terms of motivation. Here’s a guy that won the Nordea Scandanavian Masters back home in Sweden last July and duly gained effectively a 2 ½ year exemption on the European Tour. That winning performance is highly relevant as it was on a tough Par 72 beating the likes of Ed Molinari, Oosthuizen, Karlsson, Choi, Fowler and Dustin Johnson. Johnson though remains totally loyal to the PGA Tour where he only has part exempt playing status. You can guarantee that he’ll be fully motivated to win this week in Puerto Rico. RESULT: M/C
I almost had Wetterich as my Ton Plus Tip for last week’s Honda, but plumped for Webb Simpson who had a decent enough run to a Top 25 position after grabbing a Top 10 place in Round 3. Brett Wetterich (who missed the cut at PGA National) though attracts for a number of reasons and he’s on my ‘Florida Positive’ team for Puerto Rico. Wetterich played well in Mexico and delivered a 14th place finish and he ended 2010 strongly on Bermuda with 17th at Disney and 8th at Annandale after previously finishing 13th at the Valero Open mid season. For those that don’t know the history, Wetterich is fighting back from an injury that took him out of the game for almost 2 years and he’s definitely finding his feet. 2006/2007 saw Brett in the WGR Top 25 and he played in the 2006 Ryder Cup team. But this is no sentimental pick, as this Florida-based PGA Tour winning pro has a superb Florida record that includes 2nd in the 2007 WGC at Doral. Next step in the career rehab is serious contention and as Michael Bradley proved in 2009 anything is possible in Puerto Rico. RESULT: M/C
When it comes to shooting low totals Troy Matteson is as streaky as they come! Matteson is in the 2nd year of his PGA Tour exemption after winning at Greyhawk in 2009 after shooting -18 and holding off Rickie Fowler and Jamie Lovemark in a Play Off to capture the Frys.com Open. A 9th placed finish at Torrey Pines, when typically finishing with a 67 in the final round, grabbed my attention that the Bermuda-loving Floridian who lives in Georgia is starting to find his game. His first visit to Trump International in 2009 yielded a solid 31st position in windy conditions that don’t suit him and closing scores of -22, -18, -18, -14, -14 over the past couple of seasons highlight how Matteson can shoot incredibly low. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this Bermuda-loving 2-time PGA Tour winner popping up on the leaderboard this week at treble digits. Troy is as short as 80/1 elsewhere. RESULT: 2nd, Lost Playoff
This is an amazing price with Joe Coral - grab it quick as 40/1 dominates elsewhere. Every year at Puerto Rico a player finishes Top 20 at PGA National jumps on the plane and contends at Trump International. This year we have the choice of Jerry Kelly who I can’t back as favourite, Hunter Haas and Justin Hicks. Therefore it has to Haas for me who is a prolific Nationwide Tour pro who is starting to find his feet in his 2nd season on Tour. When I say prolific Texan Haas is one of those rare breed who has made a decent career/money from the Nationwide Tour and has pocketed 4 tournament wins into the bargain including 2 wins in 2010. He’s also amassed some amazing low scores….-26, -21, -17, -17, -17 in 2010 alone and his record in Latin America includes a 2nd in Panama and 5th last year at the Mexico Open. A progressive form line of 44-41-MC-35-14(Honda) also excites and I’m thinking Haas could have a strong week at a decent enough Each Way price. RESULT: T3rd
This Florida rookie appeared on the radar last week at PGA National and finished Top 20. 2 wins on the Nationwide Tour including a win last year prove that Hicks has a winning mentality and he’ll be right at home in Puerto Rico on this Florida / Bermuda type course. RESULT: T18
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:00GMT 8.3.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation.