Bob Hope Classic Tips by Steve Bamford

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Whilst fellow profit tipster in-crime Paul Williams has been licking his chops since last Friday as the cream of world golf kick off the European Tour ‘proper’ in Abu Dhabi this week, I’m left to feel slightly in the cold with the PGA Tour offering. Okay the PGA Tour hits mainland US for the first time on 2011 and that should be applauded as we will get to see more of the action live on Sky. However the Bob Hope Classic is a true enigma. Played on a 4 course rotation (Home Course - PGA West -Palmer, PGA West – Nicklaus, Silver Rock and La Quinta) over 5 rounds (don’t ask!), the BHC is one of the weaker events on the main PGA Tour schedule. Serving the wealthy city of Palm Springs California, the tournament is a Pro-Am where rounds can last up to 6 hours and more importantly pins are extremely accessible to professional golfers. Scoring therefore is incredibly low.

I’ve often thought that they should re-name this tournament the Bob Hope Lottery as picking the winner has proven to be tricky over the years. The recent winners list of Bill Haas, Pat Perez, D.J Trahan, Charley Hoffman and Chad Campbell is disparate group of US professionals. However key factors can be lifted from recent events that can help us to pin-point the winner. 3 of the 5 were based in Nevada/Arizona so were upto speed with desert conditions and altitude golf. The other 2 were from South Carolina so comfortable on shot making courses with Bermuda greens. Haas, Perez and Hoffman were first time PGA Tour winners and Campbell and Trahan only had 4 victories (all on Bermuda carpet) between the two of them when triumphing in 05 and 07 respectively.

You can view the US domination of this event in two ways. Will it continue? Potentially, but for me the fact that foreign winners Jesper Parnevik (2000) and Mike Weir (2003) were based in the US opens up the fact that any nationality can win as long as they are US based and can shoot incredibly low scores. Any score of 69 or above is pretty fruitless as 330 stokes across 5 Par 72 rounds is likely to be required to get the job done. It’s also worth remembering that short favourites that include Kuchar, Clark, Haas, Watson and Moore aren’t exactly prolific (8 victories between them) so outsiders can end up winning this. So we are looking for players who are in decent nick (preferably with no rust) can make a whole bunch of birdies and who have a history of performing well on ‘resort’ courses. They must also be comfortable on Bermuda Poa Trivialis mix carpet and have a minimum of 2 full seasons on the PGA Tour milometer. Here’s hoping I’ve got at least 3 of the right numbers this week! Click here for my spread betting tips for this event.

John Senden 1pt EW 40/1 with Paddy Power Free Bet £50 In Free Bets, get it here: Paddy Power Free Bet

This Australian can be confused with a ‘plodder’ who can’t shoot low, don’t be fooled. This guy has course and current form on his side. I’m on Senden for a number of key reasons. His resume covers off a number of strong top 10 finishes on courses where I’m looking for form. 8th at Torrey Pines in 2008 appeals as Senden can play on Poa (remember the green mix)and in California. 4th at Bay Hill (Bermuda Poa Triv carpet) in 2009 also jumps off the page, as do decent Top 10s at the Turning Stone resort course and Boston where low scoring is a must. Senden is also a PGA Tour winner so has experience of getting over the line after a win at the low scoring John Deere Classic in 2006. After a poor 2010, Senden ended the season strongly and continued that a 4th and 10th in Australia over December. RESULT: M/C

Kevin Na 1pt EW 45/1 with Stan James £25 free matched bet, get it here: Stan James

Great price as he is short as 30/1 elsewhere. Na will be motivated this week in desert surroundings where he is extremely comfortable. The World Number 70 has become a classy performer and his world ranking helped him grace the ‘top table’ in 2010. I guarantee that Na is motivated to get back into the Top 64 for World Golf Championship qualification come February (he’s already in The Masters). 2nd at Bay Hill behind Ernie last year and 3rd at the BMW shows that Na is ready for the final step onto the top of the rostrum and a quick look at his history shows that a Desert setting with Bermuda greens is likely to deliver. 8th here last year and totally ‘rust free’ after a decent warm up in Honolulu last week. RESULT: T5

Webb Simpson 1pt EW 66/1 with BetFred Free Bet Get a £50 free bet via this link: BetFred Free Bet

I tipped North Carolina ‘boy’ Simpson at the recent Las Vegas tournament and he almost delivered at 80/1, slipping up when shooting a double on the 17th, although he still finished 4th for an Each Way pay-out. I’m still a believer and I think he can have another strong week on a course that yielded 5th on debut in 2009. Webb is into his 3rd season on Tour and that can often yield that elusive 1st victory. That 4th at TPC Summerlin (desert resort course) plus a 7th at the Turning Stone resort course in his first year show that Simpson can shoot low and I have a sneaky feeling that momentum as Dennis Pugh says “will be in this players mind.” RESULT: T13

Kevin Streelman 1pt EW 66/1 with BetFred Free Bet Get a £50 free bet via this link: BetFred Free Bet

Scottsdale resident Kevin Streelman is accepted as being a talented player who ‘must’ win on the PGA Tour. Like Steve Marino and Kevin Na, we are still waiting…..but like Na I think that the Bob Hope Classic‘s ‘familiar’ format could be just what the doctor ordered. A superb 3rd place in The Barclays boosted Streelman’s stock further at the close of 2010 and he went onto to get to his first ever Tour Championship (as did Na) where he finished a magnificent 9th on Bermuda carpet. The fact that Kevin never played the Sony is a negative factor but I’m going to overlook that as his recent form of 15-16-9 (Tour Champ)-43-45-3(Barclays) tells us all we need to know. RESULT: T33

Ryuji Imada 1pt EW 100/1 with Paddy Power Free Bet £50 In Free Bets, get it here: Paddy Power Free Bet

Before I start Imada isn’t my ton plus tip for the week, but 100/1 is a thing of beauty on an extremely talented PGA Tour winner who is fighting back from his obvious 09/10 slump. Imada truly “arrived” in 2008, winning early in the season on Bermuda at TPC Sugarloaf. 2008 harvested 5 Top 10 finishes and a 3rd in the World Cup culminating in a Top 60 World Ranking. However rather than acting as the catapult, the 2 year PGA Tour exemption actually took away Imada’s focus for the game and he slumped to a +200 World Rank by the middle of last season. Florida educated Imada though is upwardly mobile and this guy can play. His record in California is excellent as his resort course resume. Shooting low isn’t a problem on any surface when on his game and his current form line of MDF-3-8-6 includes a fine 3rd in Japan in December plus excellent Fall Series results. RESULT: T33

Ton-Plus Tip: Vaughan Taylor 125/1 with Stan James £25 free matched bet, get it here: Stan James

All I can say is get on! The fact that a number of bookies has Georgia resort course specialist as short as 40/1 - 50/1 shows that the market maker at Stan James is having a serious off day! Bloody brilliant and the crazy thing is that Taylor who finished 2nd in a play off to Anthony Kim in Houston last year has the game and course form (2008 – 8th 2010 – 10th) to actually win this thing. The twice PGA Tour winner claimed both his victories at the Reno – Tahoe…… altitude on a desert style course! RESULT: T25

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