It’s difficult for this tipster to see past the monstrous hitting South Carolina boy this week. Let’s run you through the reasoning. His skill attributes are obvious, but Johnson is also incredibly Bent positive as a player with wins at Turning Stone (long Par 72) in 2009 and Cog Hill in 2010. Many though are duped into a false sense of security with Johnson on the basis that he can only play resort type courses. Think again! 2 wins at Pebble Beach (08 & 09) + the Cog Hill win already highlighted show that Johnson has all the game to dissect tough courses. His recent US Open and PGA Championship near misses shouldn’t be taken negatively either as yet again he performed excellently on major toughened Pebble Beach and Whistling Straits (Bent). 3rd at Torrey Pines 2nd at Doral and 4th last week in South Korea (on Bent), highlight a player ready to stamp his mark at Quail Hollow. Result: M/C
I’ve been advised against this one by our European Tour expert (read his Open de Espana tips here) Paul Williams who says he is way out of form, but I’m on-board with the talented World Number 38. I’ve always felt a little for the Californian who in only his second PGA Tour season gets priced up most weeks to win his first championship at 20/1! However 40/1 on offer with Totesport vs 28/1 available elsewhere highlights that some market makers are on-board with why I think Fowler will go well at Quail this week. 38th at Augusta on debut after being in the Top 15 after 36 holes shows the talent on tap and even an “out of form” Fowler delivered 26th in New Orleans last week. 2 Top 10 and 4 Top 20 finishes in 2011 show a player bubbling under in terms of form (very much like McIlroy before winning here) and credible performances last year at Torrey Pines, Hilton Head, Quail, Muirfield and St Andrews show the characteristics of a future major winning player all ends up. Result: T16
It’s hard to describe the third member of my Quail team as a young buck, but Mahan is only 28 and is still developing as a player. It’s crazy to think this is Mahan’s 9th season on the PGA Tour and that he already has 4 Major Top 10 finishes to his name. In fact all 4 of those performances including an 8th and 10th at Augusta were on his beloved Bent carpet. Fast forward to 2011 and you see a player who has performed brilliantly on both Poa and Bermuda greens. 4 Top 10 finishes prior to hitting his favourite section of the season has impressed me. Indeed 6th at Torrey Pines, 2nd at Pebble Beach, a bracket final at the World Match Play and 9th at Doral were all gleaned on courses where Mahan had previously had no success. 9th at Houston followed, expectation rose and he promptly Missed the Cut at Augusta. However my advice on the World Number 20 is to take the trend highlighted and get on-board because his record book is littered with superb performances at tough Bent tracks like Firestone, Congressional, Augusta, Beth Page Black and in Canada. 2 PGA Tour & further WGC win highlights that Mahan can make a Sunday charge and get the job done. Result: T16
Tip followers must be aware that I’m fully supportive of Australian Leishman in certain circumstances and Quail Hollow allows me to recruit the Virginia resident into my team. Adept on both Bermuda and Bent greens, it’s the type of courses where Leishman performs well that really interests me. 2011 has already seen a 9th at Torrey Pines and a contending 3rd at Bay Hill, both on long and classical set-ups. A relatively quiet 2nd season last year on the PGA Tour saw Leishman finish runner-up at Torrey Pines, 7th at the tough as teak Aronimink and 11th at Cog Hill, where in his Rookie Season (2009) he finished 2nd behind Tiger Woods. That’s right classical setups suit the Aussie and his 308 yard driving from the tee on his only previous visit in 2009 highlight that he has the attributes to play well in North Carolina second time around. Result: T48
Along with Webb Simpson, Gary Woodland has to be the most improved player of 2011 and his current form shows no sign of stopping despite capturing his first PGA Tour win at Copperhead in March. His win at Copperhead is worthy of further scrutiny as despite being on Bermuda, the tough and long nature of the Par 71 has a history of favouring those with a “Major” game. Indeed previous Quail champions O’Hair, Singh and Furyk have also won at Tampa. Woodland has played at Quail Hollow on a single previous occasion. Back then he had an OWGR of 969 and was a wild, temperamental player who was literally all over the place! Despite being +13 on the Par 4s he still made the cut and his 313 yard drives probably helped! Under the tutelage of Randy Smith, the 2011 Woodland is a totally different animal and his Top 50 World Ranking is only likely to improve this season. 4 Top 10 finishes including that Transitions win have been backed up 13th at Houston and an impressive debut 24th at Augusta on Bent carpet. The chances of another Top 5 at Quail this week cannot be under estimated. Result: T68
The talented Tasmanian Goggin who has a Charlotte base was ‘relegated’ to the Nationwide Tour in 2010 after a horrid season. His stay in the 2nd Division will be a short one as Goggin won straight off the bat in Panama and has backed that up with a 4th at TPC Stonebrae and 2nd last week in Georgia and sits atop of the Order of Merit. 6th at Torrey, 4th at Tampa, 5th at St Andrews 4th at Ridgwood and 2nd at Memorial during 2008/9 would suggest that Goggin has a liking for tough classical courses and his positive mental approach and a determination to show the PGA tour that he can play should see the “local boy” play well this week. Result: T48
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 20:00BST 3.5.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation.
Finally, we run a weekly competition on our facebook group where you can win a £25 free bet with Paddy Power simply by predicting who will win each week’s events – it’s great fun and free to join, here’s a link to the page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=254181393361
Looking at the first third of the season, last week’s Webb Simpson tip became the 4th tip of 2011 to finish second (at 55/1 EW) when they should have won! Add Simpson to the list of Matteson (Puerto Rico 125/1 EW), Marino (Bay Hill 80/1 EW) and Mickelson (Torrey Pines). Looking at it a different way my 2011 PGA Tour record is a win (Sabbatini @ PGA National), 4 second places and a further 3 Top 5s. I’d be leading the Fed Ex Cup standings for sure!
We move onto the 3rd Bent-greened tournament of 2011 as we move inevitably towards summer and the predominance of up-state bent green golf. Bent greens requires a change of emphasis as we look for specialists in their field and Quail Hollow is one of the best classical golfing tests of them all on a par with Muirfield and Riviera and only behind Augusta. Championship courses, and no-one could argue that Quail Hollow should not host a US Open or PGA Championship, provide high quality winners. Tiger Woods, David Toms, Jim Furyk and Vijay Singh are previous winners and all are Major champions.
However the last 3 visits to the long +7,400 yard Par 72 splendour of Quail Hollow in North Carolina has seen a change in emphasis where young chargers have beaten the establishment and thrown down their credentials as major champions of the future. Anthony Kim, Sean O’Hair and Rory McIlroy will all be challenging for Major championships and Ryder Cup glory well into the future. Indeed a field that contains Major winners like Phil Mickelson, Martin Kaymer, Jim Furyk, Geoff Ogilvy, Padraig Harrington, David Toms, Trevor Immelman, Angel Cabrera, Stewart Cink, Zach Johnson, Vijay Singh and Lucas Glover (I’m always shocked when I write it!) should never be underestimated, but I have a sneaky feeling that another hard-charging young buck will grab the coveted Quail crown and the $1,170,000 that goes with it.
My 10 point stake “Team Quail” this week is therefore packed full of talent. All young players who hit it a mile (The Green Mile demands power) make birdies for fun, but who have already shown the capacity to thrive on classical golf tests where maturity and making par is required on a number of key holes.
It’s also worth being aware that Stan James are the only bookmaker paying out Each Way to 6 places this week and are also offering some competitive prices into the bargain.