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So Keegan Bradley amazingly won the PGA Championship at 175/1. It has to be said that it was a major shock (excuse the pun) but if you read my tips last week my selection reasoning held true: 1) A Top 30 finish at Akron 2) A 2011 tournament winner 3) +290 yards in Driving Distance. However I never had the conviction to keep Bradley in the mix due to his poor finish at Akron allied to the PGA being his debut Major championship. Oh well we live and learn and we didn’t do too badly here with Stricker, Watney and Garcia all finishing tied 12th with Paul delivering another major long shot in the form of Robert Karlsson at 100/1. Stick with us ladies and gents as we deliver profitable tips and will do in 2011 through till close of play in mid-December.
This week we go from the pressure cooker atmosphere of Atlanta Athletic Club to the more subdued surroundings of Sedgefield Country Club in North Carolina for the Wyndham Championship. This tournament signifies the cut-off point for the season-end FedEx Playoffs, where the top 125 point scoring players will move forward to The Barclays in New Jersey next week. From there 125 players will be whittled down to 90 for TPC Boston, 70 for Cog Hill and then 30 for East Lake. That’s why the Wyndham entry list has a slightly different feel this year with a number of “humbled” big names having to belittle themselves and appear in North Carolina to either keep their endangered Top 125 spot or grab one. True to form, Tiger Woods decided he was above such humble surroundings and instead of fighting for a Top 125 place will rely on a Presidents Cup pick from Freddie Couples and make an appearance in Shanghai for the WGC HSBC and star at the Chevron Challenge.
However Camilo Villegas (on the bubble at 125th), Ernie Els (126th), Paddy Harrington (130th), Paul Casey, (147th) and Angel Cabrera (150th) are all descending (metaphorically) on Sedgefield to try and get a piece of the next week’s Playoff action. Even Ian Poulter and Retief Goosen are playing to try and improve both current form and their positions where currently they sit outside the Top 100. I’m ignoring these so-called star names and keeping things simple for a tournament which has only been played at the Bent greened, 7,130 yard- Par 70 Sedgefield track since 2008. This Donald Ross design is a classical Carolina course, which doesn’t tax off the tee in terms of either accuracy or length required. Instead scoring will be low, with tranquil conditions forecast and negligible rough meaning that low scoring will be essential.
Ryan Moore, Carl Pettersson and Arjun Atwal – who can forget his crazy win last year when he wasn’t even a member of the PGA Tour or quoted by the bookies as he qualified on the Monday – had all tabled Top 10 successes on Par 70 Bent tracks prior to their win in North Carolina. Expect some crazy names in the mix this week including Jason Bohn, Bob Estes and potentially even Henrik Stenson, but I’m going for a mix of 2011 Bent performers and those who have “popped up” on low scoring Bent leaderboards previously. I’m also ignoring anyone who even semi-contended last week in the heat of Georgia for obvious reasons.
Come on guys, I just have to have a saver on Webb this week! Can you imagine if he finally got the job done in his North Carolina state and I wasn’t on-board after tipping him up for the past 9 months! I won’t bore you with the obvious, safe to say a little more space of the tee this week will suit, it’s just a case of whether his mental game can keep up with his current Bent form, on his local course where he’ll receive masses of support. RESULT: Winner
Kim has the full package this week to get the job done and after the season he’s had I think his motivation will be high to get in contention and stay there after he predictably scuppered his 54 hole lead in West Virginia 3 weeks back with a final round 74. Sedgefield will be like a breath of fresh air after the horrors of the Highlands Course last week which was probably the most “anti-Kim” course setup imaginable. Instead 1) Anthony has a track record on Carolina tracks - Quail – 1st (-16) 2008, 7th 2010 & Hilton Head – 2nd (-12) 2008, 2) comes alive on Bent putting surfaces and 3) favours Par 70 set-ups. 5th at Sandwich in July paved the way for this tip as does his historical form both in Canada and at Congressional pre-Rees Jones US Open redesign. Discount the MC here last year and take that course experience as a positive as he should never have come back to play in 2010 after his thumb injury scuppered the momentum he’d built up pre US Open where he’d been playing his best ever golf. RESULT: M/C
Next I’m on perennial choker Steve Marino at a jaw dropping 80/1. 20/1 against a Top 5 finish feels like superb business on a man who I’d describe as a Par 70 “monster” on a track that has produced a number of first time winners. Indeed Steve delivered one of my numerous 2011 second place finishes (yes unfortunately there have been many!) at 80s back in March at Bay Hill so he has previous! After a crazily successful / busy 2011, Marino rested up after a predictable MC at the Open Championship and took the rust off his game at the PGA last week so he’s ripe for a decent week. 2011 Bent Par 70 form of 16th at Colonial and 20th at Aronimink undervalue Marino as the latter (on a Ross design) saw Steve in 4th after 56 holes. 3 Top 5 finishes and 21st at Quail Hollow earlier this season add fuel to fire as does the play off 2nd (behind Stricker) at Par 70 Colonial in 2009 where he shot -17 in regulation. Sedgefield suits as 10th here in 2009 after again being 4th after 56 holes. RESULT: M/C
An outstanding 80/1 on Canadian Open 2008 winner Chez Reavie is lovely business especially when he’s understandably as short as 50/1 elsewhere. Reavie was as short as 22/1 to win the Reno-Tahoe 2nd division event 2 weeks back and predictably for a player who knew he was both in good nick and secondly an unaccustomed pre-tournament favourite threw in an opening round 74 to take himself out of contention. The core fact is though that Reavie has always performed best on Bent greens and his 2011 Bent form is impressive: 18th TPC Old White - 5th Deere Run - 45th Congressional (US Open) - 5th Colonial. The story of Chez in 2008 reminds me of a number of tournaments in 2011 where a PGA Tour season rookie grabs the winning price. He shocked the golfing world when he held off O’Hair, Kim and Marino (would be lovely this week) to capture the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey. Success was way too early as the “impact” of a 2 year Tour exemption led to a single Top 10 finish across August 2008 to May 2011 where he finally grabbed that 5th at Colonial. That Top 10 was at Sedgefield in 2009. Reavie is confident in his game again and ready to introduce himself to the golfing world and where better than in North Carolina this week. RESULT: T9
I know many a tipster has been here before, but I just have to cover off the perennially erratic, talented and damn-right frustrating John Rollins this week and that’s why I’m only using 1.5 points on him. The best way I can describe the Texas-based man of Virginia is that he’s far better than a journeyman – after all he has 3 PGA Tour wins to his name - but John has always lacked the mental dedication/motivation/fortitude to propel himself onto the world scene. However his record from 2005 onwards is littered with great results on low scoring tracks including 3rd here in 2010 and 2nd at another Ross design TPC River Highlands back in June. Recent form since his Travelers near miss reads 65-MC-MC-51 and that’s perfect in my mind for another decent showing this week. RESULT: T25
I was torn between Walrus Jnr (Kevin Stadler) and Mr Gillis for my long-shot birth but placing both Rollins and Stadler in any single tournament staking plan is like throwing cash into a liquidiser. You can take it as read therefore that Rollins and Gillis will MC and that Stadler will deliver at 125/1! Gillis came onto my radar during the FedEx Cup Playoff event at TPC Boston last year where his -16 total both delivered 5th and a 250/1 EW punt. That came on the heels of 18th here at Sedgefield and helped to deliver Tom’s best ever season which yielded $1.1 million and a year ending 118 World Golf Rank. Gillis had previously reinvented himself on the Nationwide Tour in 2009 where he delivered 8 Top 10 finishes including his first tournament win interestingly at the Bent greened Pete Dye Golf Club in neighbouring West Virginia. Fast forward to here and now and you’ll find Gillis in a comfortable 95th on the Money List and 102nd in the FedEx Cup. Recent “Ross” Bent form is decent with 9th (-14) at TPC River Highlands backed up with 25th at Aronimink and after the experience of his first PGA Championship last week I’m expecting the welcoming surroundings of Sedgefield to kick start another great week for the Michigan man. RESULT: T40
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 19:45BST 16.8.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation.