Chevron World Challenge Tips

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Steve Bamford's tips for the 2011 Chevron World Challenge

Tiger to win or not to win, that is the question! Forget about his price for a second or two and actually think through the key question: will Tiger win his first tournament since Cog Hill 2009 this week? Remember the Chevron World Challenge is his own tournament and the fact he is playing this week is on the basis he received 1 of the 2 “invitation” spots to play as his OWGR was too low to qualify automatically. In 9 appearances Woods has finished 1st 4 times and 2nd 4 times…not too shabby. Scratch the surface of his record and you see multiple wins at classical golf courses like Augusta, Quail Hollow, Cog Hill, Firestone and Muirfield. Thousand Oaks at Sherwood Country Club fits into this classification perfectly as it features fast undulating Bent greens, tree lined Bent grassed fairways where ball striking is critical and at just a shade over 7,000 yards it plays as a Par 72. In effect it’s Tiger’s idea of heaven as he can avoid using his driver on an increased number of holes.

Then ask yourself about Tiger’s motivation this week. Fact is he’ll be 100% motivated to win and you can’t say that with total belief about a vast number of the selected 18 man field. A win at the Chevron Challenge brings with it a massive haul of 50 OWGR points and that would catapult Tiger from 52nd to a Top 20 OWGR spot. The Joe LaCava influence is starting to shine through and now that Tiger is playing regular competitive golf his game and his results are starting to improve. 30th at CordeValle, 3rd at the Australian Open and a President’s Cup clinching singles win over Aaron Baddeley is generating confidence. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Tiger is the genuine favourite this week and only a truly inspired GMac in what I’d describe as one of the greatest golfing feats of 2010 stopped him from winning on the 72nd. He’s also our Number 1 Predictor Model pick. All in all I think you’ll agree the positives make for a strong case!

Despite thinking this is Tiger’s best opportunity to grab a “W” in 2011, I’m working through the support cast and have selected a team that boasts both experience around Sherwood and a couple of course virgins who I think have the raw attributes to go extremely close this week. Luke Donald won around here on debut in 2005 so it’s not impossible and after the season we’ve had in 2011, anything is possible.

Also worthy of note is that Paddy Power is the only bookmaker who are paying out the full ¼ odds on 4 places Each Way, despite this being only a select 18 man tournament. You can grab £100 of free bets with Paddy Power as a Golf Betting System visitor, plus a market-leading 3/1 on Tiger Woods at the time of writing - click here for details.

Hunter Mahan 1.5pt EW 14/1 with Bet365 Get £200 in free bets via this link: Bet365

If Thousand Oaks was made for Tiger Woods, Hunter Mahan must go to sleep dreaming about this track because his game fits Sherwood like a glove. Mahan is a great classical course player who has rallied from a mid-season lull to finish in white-hot form. Taking his 2011 season to one side, his best performances have been 6th Torrey Pines, 2nd Pebble Beach, 9th at Doral, 6th at TPC Sawgrass, 8th at Boston and 2nd at East Lake. From that I think we can say he play’s tough classical courses well. It’s also worth remembering he won last year at Firestone and 2 T10s at Augusta in 09/10 would suggest that he favours true testing tree-lined tests.

Another crazy fact I discovered takes us back to Mahan’s formative professional years where in 2007 he flew into Wentworth (tree-lined Bent green) as an unknown US talent for the HSBC World Matchplay and strikingly made it through to the Semi Final only losing eventually to 2009 Masters Champion Angel Cabrera 2&1. So what of his white hot form? Well in my view Mahan will see the Chevron as the opportunity to grab the elusive “W” he’s missed out on all season and his recent form line is mighty impressive (excluding a tactical WD at the Presidents Cup preceding Australian Open): 7th(Sheshan)-2nd(East Lake)-42(Cog Hill)-8th(Boston). You can add to that a Melbourne Presidents Cup campaign which featured 4 wins from 5 matches including a 5&3 destruction of Jason Day. 11/1 is available at 1/4 odds E/W with Paddy RESULT: T4

Matt Kuchar 1.5pts EW 18/1 with BetFred Free Bet Get a £50 free bet via this link: BetFred Free Bet

I place Matt Kuchar in the exact same classical category as the aforementioned Mahan. Indeed I tipped him last year on his debut at Sherwood at 16/1 for that reason, but a 7 week period of playing inactivity did for me totally. We can’t say the same thing in 2011 and that adds up to a whole stack of appeal for this tipster on the Floridian to win his first stroke-play tournament this season after just clinching the World Cup with Gary Woodland in China and the Presidents Cup in Australia over the previous 2 weekends.

Kuchar thrives on Bent Par 72 formats and a win this week would make him the Top American in the World Golf Rankings at Number 5. What a way to answer the naysayers who claim that Kuchar isn't World Class. I’ll close by detailing some telling Kuchar finishes on key courses that link into Sherwood positively: Firestone – 9th 2010; Doral – 3rd 2010, 5th 2011; Cog Hill – 10th 2009, 3rd 2010; Muirfield – 8th 2008, 5th 2009, 8th 2010, 2nd 2011. Okay now onto 2 Chevron Challenge debutants who in my eyes have great chances this week at very differing odds. 16/1 is available at 1/4 odds E/W with Paddy RESULT: T4

Jason Day 1.5pts EW 16/1 with Totesport Free Bet £10 match bet, get it here: Totesport Free Bet

How Bent green monster Jason Day hasn’t won in 2011 is well beyond me, but you can hardly call this season disappointing as 12 Top 10 finishes around the globe have taken the likeable US based Aussie from 38th to 8th in the World. I’m certain that Thousand Oaks will appeal to Day who this season has finished 2nd at Augusta, 5th at TPC Four Seasons, 2nd at Congressional, 4th at Firestone, 3rd at Boston and even managed 6th at the classical but Bermuda greened East Lake.

The close of the PGA Tour and inclusion within Greg Norman’s Presidents Cup team meant a return to his homeland (something he hasn’t done for a number of years) and with came the unreported pressure of winning his first professional tournament on home soil. Day contended at both the Australian Open and PGA tournaments which bookended the Presidents Cup and finished 4th and 9th respectively. For me a return back to the States and the resultant release of Aussie golf fan expectation from his shoulders could well result in yet another contending performance for Day at another Bent green track he will like. A special talent. 14/1 is available at 1/4 odds E/W with Paddy RESULT: 15

Martin Laird 1pt EW 40/1 with Boylesports Free Bet Bet £20 get £20 free here: Boylesports Free Bet

He may be at the base of every bookmakers betting list but I’m thinking the 40/1 about Laird (33/1 is available at 1/4 odds E/W with Paddy) is huge especially as he returned to contending form when finishing 4th in the World Cup with Stephen Gallagher last week. Scottsdale Arizona based Laird loves classical golf tests and is equally adept on Bent, Bent Poa or Bermuda green surfaces. 2011 has been a “break-out” year for Martin who now sits in the World’s Top 50 and has his invite to Augusta next year in his back pocket.

He started the season in red-hot form and contended at Palm Springs before falling away to eventual winner Gary Woodland; then delivered Top 5s at Phoenix and Copperhead. Laird then “arrived” on the world stage by contending all week at the WGC in Doral and topped off his great run with a superb victory in an invitational class field that included Woods, Mickelson, G-Mac and Schwartzel at the true golfing test that is Bay Hill. Great results indeed, but if you go deeper you start to understand how Sherwood should suit Scotland’s Number 1.

Back in 2008 in his rookie PGA Tour season Martin finished 4th at the long tree-lined Par 72 at Montreaux (Nicklaus design). Move forward 12 months to the same venue and the Scot collected a 2nd place in Nevada before accomplishing his dream PGA Tour maiden victory on the Bent greens of TPC Summerlin in Nevada. West coast swing golf = no problem! 16th and 11th at Firestone in 2010 an 2011 respectively add fuel to the “classical” fire as does 20th at Augusta on debut and 12th at Cog Hill this season. In a field of little value Laird’s chances have been grossly under-estimated. RESULT: T6

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:30GMT but naturally subject to fluctuation.

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