Steve Bamford takes you through his St Jude Classic betting tips:
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The St Jude Classic at TPC Southwind, Memphis, Tennessee is now the recognised US Open warm up event. Its tight nature, water features and Bermuda greens make it an ideal warm up for the second major. Strange in my opinion when the US Open is usually played on long courses, usually with bent grass greens! This year is no exception with Pebble Beach being the venue for the US Open, which naturally is a classical links course with poa annua greens, although not too lengthy. ‘Warm up’ events are strange in nature for other reasons. Look through the record books and you’ll find that winners of majors DON’T win the week before. The energy required to contend for PGA Tour wins means it’s virtually impossible to win back to back, indeed it’s virtually impossible to contend and then pick up the ultimate prize the next week. Talking of the US Open, check out our guide to doubling the price of your top pick - 13/1 on Tiger Woods or 14/1 on Lefty, or even a massive 44/1 on Harrington anyone?! Read this for more.
Do we really see Westwood, McIlroy, Harrington and Poulter giving it their all for victory this week at skinny prices? I for one don’t. Instead I’ve built my 10 point selection around players who are motivated to win and who have the right course type form and player attributes to compete around the tight confines of TPC Southwind.
It was no surprise to see Rose, Cink, Fowler, Barnes, O’Hair and Moore fight it out at the top of the board last week. They are ALL fighting for berths in the Ryder Cup and need to impress. Justin Rose knew that his only chance to make the European Team was to win in America to impress for a Captain’s Pick and he duly delivered for us at 80/1.
I’m pressing ahead with the same strategy this week, focussing around 4 players who have varying chances of making it to Celtic Manor, but let's start with a Colombian! It's fact that players from the Deep South of the US thrive in Memphis. Memphis offers up huge levels of heat and humidity which many players struggle with over 4 rounds. Normally TPC Southwind is also hit with considerable winds, but in 2010 the forecast is for tranquillity so expect lower scoring in-line with 2009.
Camilo Villegas is excellent value this week and I’ve plunged in at 33/1 with 888 Sport. Camilo who is based in Florida, plays best on Bermuda greens. He won on the tight confines of PGA National in March to win the Honda Classic and his other stroke play Top 10 this year was at the Verizon Heritage. Like Anthony Kim at the Houston Open, the week before The Masters, Villegas will mentally be ready to contend for the win and won’t be holding back for Pebble Beach. 3 rounds of 68, 70 & 70 (-7) at Muirfield last week were noted.
For the rest of my 8 points of opportunity I’m looking for players who have Ryder Cup ambitions who have to perform now to get in contention. I’ve also committed to players who have levels of recent past form and who have played well at La Cantera, Warwick Hills and Harbour Town. These courses set up similarly to TPC Southwind and it’s no surprise that past winners at St Jude go well across the other 3 tracks.
I’ll start with Robert Karlsson who is a whole lot of golfer for 66s with Ladbrokes this week. A tournament winner in the Gulf in 2010, Karlsson jumped into the limelight with his amazing 3rd round performance at the re-worked Wentworth. Currently 18th in the World List and 28th on the Euro Tour list, Robert needs to start contending in tournaments to rise up both sets of rankings, or like Rose appear on the radar for a captain’s pick. His US base is in Orlando so he’s used to Bermuda based set-ups. No TPC Southwind experience is a negative but a 22nd finish at Harbour Town in April shows he can play well on these style courses.
Another Ryder Cup contender is Freddie Jacobson. As a PGA Tour player his only chance of Ryder Cup participation is a captain’s pick. Sounds crazy? Well he’s currently 31st in the World List. If that doesn’t win your over in terms of motivation enough to back him, he’s not playing in the US Open will focus on the tournament at hand. Allied to that Jacobson is at home on these tight Bermuda courses, where his superb short game is perfect for the job. 6th at the Honda Classic, 2nd at New Orleans and 10th at The Players already in 2010, Jacobson is playing great golf. He also has a superb record at the 3 ‘type’ courses. 40s has gone but 35/1 with Bet 365 is just too tempting.
‘Southerners’ Boo Weekley – 66/1 at 888 Sport - and Vaughan Taylor finish of the team this week. Both have played in the Ryder Cup and both have chances again but time is running out and a tournament win is needed. Weekley was the hero of the US Team at Valhalla and if in-form would be difficult for Pavin not to pick in September. After 18 months in the wilderness the recent signs have been extremely positive. Current form of 9th, 10th and 12th across The Players, New Orleans and Harbour Town show that Weekley’s chronic putting problems are starting to ease. Put simply Floridian Weekley comes alive on tracks like TPC Southwind as 4th in 2008 show. A double winner at Harbour Town, I’m expecting a great performance from Boo this week.
Streaky Taylor pops up when you least expect. A play off defeat to Anthony Kim in Houston in April shows what he’s capable of and the Georgia based 2 time PGA Tour winner is currently 33rd in the Ryder Cup qualification list, just behind southern luminaries (who both have a great chance this week) Brian Gay and Heath Slocum. Like Weekley and Jacobson, Taylor has performed well at Harbour Town and Warwick Hills across his career and was 5th at TPC Southwind in 2004. May not be strong enough to win, but a Top 10 finish including ties at 8/1 with Extrabet does the trick. Talking of Extrabet, check out my Top 20 tips after a 166% profit last week on my top 20s. Good luck!
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 19:30BST 8.6.10 but naturally subject to fluctuation