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So last week marked another 2nd place finish for us here at Golf Betting System in 2012 as we grabbed Brandt Snedeker (80/1) with Louis Oosthuizen (33/1) also washing his feet in tied 5th. This week sees the 2nd phase of the FedEx Cup Playoffs with the Top 100 players in the standings (less Garcia - resting, and Toms - injured) moving up from Long Island to Norton in Massachusetts, namely TPC Boston for the Deutsche Bank Championship. Last week was also memorable (for me) in the fact that I finally entered the world of Twitter! Follow me @bamfordgolf and I'll answer as many of your points / remarks / questions as humanly possible...
It's also worth remembering that TPC Boston runs from Friday 31st August to Monday 3rd September to mark Labor Day festivities in the US. The Deutsche also marks the final tournament where US players can impress Davis Love III as he will announce his 4 Captain's Picks directly after the close of play on Monday. I reckon that Steve Stricker and Dustin Johnson are virtual certainties; that leaves the out-of-sorts Rickie Fowler and Hunter Mahan (both highly probable picks) battling with Brandt Snedeker, Jim Furyk and, after last week, Nick Watney for the final 2 picks. That sub-plot will be fascinating to watch with Snedeker and Watney pressing really hard.
Of the 4 Playoff venues, TPC Boston is by far the easiest. Fact is this 7,214 yard Par 71, which is an original Arnold Palmer design, is one of the easiest PGA Tour tournament venues on the golfing calendar. Winning totals of -15 (Simpson 2011), -22 (Hoffman), -19 (Stricker), -22 (Singh) and -16 (Mickelson) across the past 5 renewals show that the slowish pure Bentgrass greens yield plenty of birdies. Last year's 269/-15 achieved by Webb Simpson was higher because wind was prevalent across the tournament and it's worth pointing out that 15mph winds are likely to be a factor across Thursday and Friday which might lead to slightly higher scoring. This year also sees a Hanse redesign of the Par 5 18th hole, which will again will make it slightly trickier with more sand traps and a smaller, raised green complex.
So what are the defining factors this week? Well previous winners since 2008 have all had great recent form on Bent or Bent/Poa putting surfaces. They've also all had a decent record at resort-style venues where low scoring is key. You can argue whether you'd classify TPC Boston as a pure resort course but in my eyes 262/-22 winning totals favour those who can make piles of eagles/birdies and importantly keep bogeys off the card.
Previous course form is helpful but Webb Simpson's win here 12 months ago was off the back of 2 appearances and 2 missed cuts in Norton. Decent recent putting form is also an advantage although those that hit a high percentage of greens will have more birdie chances to convert. I'm also looking for proven PGA Tour winners and players who are determined to keep the positive momentum of a strong 2012 season forward towards the Tour Championship at East Lake and the Ryder Cup.
After a week on the sidelines, which in itself shows a new level of confidence, US Ryder Cup Team member Jason Dufner is an absolute must for the team in Boston this week. Alabama's finest and the World Number 7 has a positive record in Massachusetts which reads 37th (04), 2nd (09), 18th (10) and 31st (11) and his performance last year was his first weekend pay cheque after his infamous meltdown at Atlanta Athletic Club. Since AAC though Dufner has been a fixture at world golf's top table and boy has he thrived upon it. 6th at Cog Hill and a 2nd appearance at East Lake led to an invite to the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa where Dufner finished an impressive 3rd behind Lee Westwood.
12th (-18) at PGA West, 8th (resort course level scoring) at TPC Scottsdale, 10th at Copperhead, and 24th at Augusta was a solid start to 2012 and then we tipped him up at 28/1 for his first PGA Tour win at TPC Louisiana where he shot -19. A second win on the Bent greens of TPC Four Seasons, 2nd at Colonial (Bent) and 4th at Olympic Club (Bent) then booked his place in the Ryder Cup team. What I'm trying to get across here is that Dufner is now a world stage performer with 7ths at Firestone + Sedgefield sandwiching 27th at Kiawah Island. So don't be fooled into thinking he can't compete in what's effectively a Major-quality field this week. PGA Tour category stats like Greens in Regulation: 4th, Birdie Average: 3rd, Par Breakers: 6th, Ball Striking: 2nd and Bogie Avoidance: 1st tell you exactly why he's perfect for TPC Boston. RESULT: T18
I'm prepared to take the plunge again on reigning Masters Champion Bubba Watson who despite his at times questionable putting stroke has still managed a win and 2nd on the Bent greens at TPC River Highlands in upstate Connecticut in the past 3 seasons and naturally grabbed his first Major Championship victory on the most famous bent grass greens of them all at Augusta National back in April. Like Dufner, the World Number 6 is showing a true level of maturity at the moment and a recent form line of 2(River Highlands)-23(Royal Lytham)-19(Firestone)-11(Kiawah Island)-10(Bethpage) includes 3 career-best performances.
Fact is Watson now understands how to peak for key tournaments and the Deutsche and next week's BMW Championship at the long/classical Crooked Stick Par 72 offer Bubba a huge chance to grab a 2nd PGA Tour win of 2012, position himself for a run at the FedEx Cup and most importantly get him in tip-top form for his 2nd appearance in the Ryder Cup. 2nd after 54 holes here 12 months ago, Watson's power allows him to eliminate a number of dog-legs and if the putter warms even a tad the amazing PGA Tour category combination of 1st in Driving Distance, 1st in Greens in Regulation and 5th in Par Breakers/6th Birdie Average is hard to beat, plus Bubba sits in the Top 15 of Bogey Avoidance. RESULT: MC
I've always been amazed that Zach Johnson hasn't got a better record at TPC Boston with just 2 Top 20 results, 13th on debut 2004 being the pick of the bunch. However I'm doubly pleased to see that Zach is available at the same 66/1 price that he was 12 months ago despite 2 Bent green wins at Colonial and Deere Run in 2012 plus automatic qualification in the US Ryder Cup team. Fact is that Georgia based, Iowa born and educated Johnson is absolutely perfect on shorter formats where accuracy is key; indeed 6 of Johnson's 9 PGA Tour victories have been on short Par 70/71 set-ups. Yes 38th at Beth Page, 70th at Kiawah Island and 40th at Firestone looks lacklustre but these were all on +7,400 yard set-ups which isn't Zach's game at all despite his Augusta 2007 triumph. Before those recent outings he'd got his best ever finish at the Open Championship and won the John Deere Classic with a -20/264 total. Zach has always had the ability to putt brilliantly where he ranks 7th in Strokes Gained Putting in 2012 and he also sits 10th in Birdie Average, 8th in Par Breakers and 31st in Bogey Avoidance. 16th here last term I'd fill your boots at a great Each Way price. RESULT: T47
Apologies to regular readers, but I can't leave Oostie behind right now as the Augusta National runner-up is ripe for his 2nd win of 2012 and his 1st win in the United States at this precise time. Yes like Copperhead (20th), Humble (3rd), Colonial (19th) and Bethpage (5th), this will be a course debut at TPC Boston but an extra day's practice in Massachusetts will be most welcome and we know that the Bent greens and wider format off the tee will suit Louis for sure. Fact is Oosthuizen knows he is playing good golf right now and will be pressing for his first Tour Championship start. A recent form line of 5(Bethpage)-21(Kiawah Island)-4(Firestone)-19(Royal Lytham)-24(Castle Stuart) is strong and regular golf punters know that Louis plays in strong pockets of form often ending in victory. He sits 14th in Ball Striking, 20th in Greens in Regulation and 25th in Birdie Average on the PGA Tour in 2012 and has a history of low scores when the putter truly clicks on his favourite Bentgrass carpet. RESULT: 2nd
Let's finish this week with another South African Tim Clark who washed his feet for us at Sedgefield when he finished 2nd (I know) behind Sergio at 30/1. Recounting my tips of a fortnight ago Clark was 105th in the FedEx standings but now sits 35th and within touching distance of his 5th appearance at East Lake and the guaranteed Augusta 2013 invitation that comes with it so don't worry about motivation after all Clark is fighting back from an injury-hit World Golf Rank that sank to 240th after Olympic Club in June. We all know Clark's rightful place is at world golf's top table and 4th at TPC River Highlands has been followed by recent form of 15(Hamilton - Bent Poa)-11(Kiawah Island)-2(Sedgefield)-10(Bethpage - Bent Poa). Kiawah Island and Bethpage are both 'alien' tracks for the South African and the shorter confines of TPC Boston will suit (15th here in 2008). His quality record at Waialae: 2nd (11); PGA West: 2nd (05 & 10); Colonial: 2nd (08 & 09); Deere Run: 2nd (07); Disney: 2nd (07); Sedgefield 2nd (12) & 6th (08) also excites. RESULT: MC
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