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Steve Bamford's Reno-Tahoe Open Tips – Montreaux G&CC, Reno, Nevada 2011
Whilst the golfing world focuses on Firestone for the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, the PGA Tour undercard roll into the Reno Tahoe Open at Montreaux Golf and Country Club in Arizona. Don’t discard this tournament from your betting plan this week as it has a history of delivering big price winner and huge each-way pay-outs. Go on, have a little side dabble!
The course located in high Nevada desert country is a Par 72 Nicklaus Design, which at altitude isn’t as difficult length wise as its 7,472 yards would suggest, although length off the tee naturally helps. Green construction is with bent/poa mix grass and they run at 11.5 on the stimp.
Scoring at Montreaux can be variable with -11 getting the job done for Matt Bettencourt last year in a wind affected tournament, whereas Rollins' win in 2009 was achieved at -17. Weather conditions look tranquil with perfect sunny weather and light winds across the 4 days so expect closer to the latter score.
Brian Davis, Bob Garrigus, John Merrick, Chez Reavie, Bryce Molder and Kevin Na head up the market this week and show the distinct lack of quality in the field. These guys are hardly prolific golf tournament winners and all are shorter than 28/1. Fact of the matter is that players of this quality rarely enter a golf tournament with favouritism and expectation on their shoulders and it’s therefore no surprise that Bettencourt conquered at 200/1 last year. On top of that, money talks and the ‘better’ players don’t tend to get motivated by a mere $540,000 winner’s purse!
Motivation in these 2nd Division events totally outweighs World Golf Rankings and to some extent recent form. Throw the golf punting rule book out of the window as the winners list of ‘rank and file’ tournaments that run concurrently with larger major or WGC events makes for interesting reading. Chris Kirk, Michael Bradley (x2), Johnson Wagner, Bill Lunde, Derek Lamely, Cameron Beckman, John Rollins, Bo Van Pelt, Richard S Johnson, Mark Wilson, Brian Gay, and Greg Kraft all took the opportunity to bag a title and the 2 year PGA Tour exemption that goes with it. A truly ecclesial list!
My strategy therefore is based around value and selecting players who are in the right head-space to focus and play well this week. I’m also focussing on players who have experience of the altitude and who have banked cheques around this course in the past.
That’s correct, I start this week with a 66/1 shot and Woody is the shortest priced of my Reno-Tahoe team! 3-time PGA Tour winner Austin has always excelled on Northern state golf courses and wins at Warwick Hills (Par 72 Bent/Poa) and at TPC River Highlands fit nicely. Austin’s last win came at St Jude in 2007, so the Kansas domiciled Floridian lost his full PGA Tour exemption at the end of 2009. That was a culture shock for a player who was in the World’s Top 100 at the start of that season. 2010 was a struggle and produced a 129th placed finish on the PGA Tour money list so Woody now has to feed off the “crumbs of the top table” and only plays tournaments the top players reject in their schedules. This limited schedule and his usual slow start to the season leaves Austin in 160th place on this season’s Money List, so motivation won’t be a problem as Montreaux represents a huge opportunity to grab another 2 year exemption and catapult him into the big money FedEx Cup Playoffs. 3 Top 10 finishes here in 8 appearances highlight how Woody comes alive on Northern Par 72 tracks and Austin finished 6th 2 weeks ago at Shaughnessy on Bent Poa greens. He’ll want to contend this week and may well get his wish...RESULT: T50
Regulars will know that I have a soft spot for the talented Australian who I think can become a World Top 50 player and is a player that has delivered profit across 2009 and 2010. Leishman was prolific on the Asian Tour in his formative years and his first full season on the Nationwide Tour in 2008 brought a victory and promotion to the big league. His rookie PGA Tour season was amazing with 7 Top 20 finishes including a startling 2nd at Cog Hill promoting Leishman into the end of season Players Championship. The Virginia native was now in the World Top 100 and played in all 4 majors last year. That progress continued in 2010 with a 2nd at Torrey, 7th at Aronimink along with another 7 Top 20 finishes. 2011 again started positively with 9th at Torrey Pines and a contending 3rd at Bay Hill guaranteeing his PGA Tour card for 2012, but since then his game has stalled hence his appearance at Montreaux this week. Leishman will want to use this week as a momentum-building exercise and 14th here on his only appearance here in 09 shows he likes the set-up. 6th after 56 holes at the Nicklaus designed Par 72 Muirfield masterpiece in July shows he’s not far away from his old form and I think he can contend at a huge price this week. RESULT: M/C
As you can see, my Reno team is made up of both PGA Tour winning experience and talented younger players who I think can take an opportunity to win their first tournament this week. Recent Reno champions Matt Bettencourt and Parker Mclachlin were 2nd year Tour pros who grabbed the opportunity to produce “shock” wins and Josh Teater falls into this category perfectly. Here’s a Kentucky guy who won in neighbouring Utah on the Nationwide Tour in 2009 guaranteeing a 2010 PGA Tour debut. Top 5 results at Pebble Beach and on the long Par 72 at Turning Stone (in the corresponding Bridgestone support tournament) along with a further 5 Top 20 finishes capped a $1,000,000 grossing debut season and a Top 100 Money List finish. This season started disastrously though with 6 MCs and only $41,000 in the bank at the end of March. Since then Teaters’ form is improving with 19th at Houston, 16th at New Orleans, 16th at Colonial and 13th at Shaughnessy boosting the coffers. This Kentuckian thrives on the wider/longer formats and a pay cheque on his course debut last season plus the altitude experience that went with it will be put to good use. The next 2 tournaments are key for Teater in his quest for a FedEx Cup Playoff birth and a Top 125 position, so I’m expecting the recent up-shift in form to move up a further level this week. RESULT: T10
100/1 on this “Par 72 monster” is only available at Ladbrokes so I’d grab it quickly as it won’t last. Petrovic is a PGA Tour winner (New Orleans Par 72-2006) who excels on the longer format courses and who also has a penchant for Bent greened courses. Top 10 finishes at Quail Hollow, TPC Deere Run, Milwaukee, Turning Stone, TPC Summerlin, San Antonio and Muirfield in 2009/10 highlight a player who loves both Bent greens and Par 72 formats. With no winners exemption and only $323,000 in the bank Petrovic has to start delivering Top 10 performances again in the latter end of 2011 to grab a Top 125 spot on the Money List and the coveted full playing privileges card that goes with it. A recent from-line of MC-38-30-MC-38 shows a player whose game is close on his favoured Bent carpet. Tim’s only appearance here in 07 gleaned a pay cheque and he will see this week as a huge opportunity to grab a Top 5 and boost his chances of retaining his card and qualifying for the Playoffs. RESULT: T71
Let’s complete the team with another “hungry” player who is desperately attempting to rebuild a career that has yielded 2 PGA Tour wins on Nicklaus designed Par 72 tracks. Step forward Will Mackenzie who, throughout his career, has delivered on Great Bear designs: 1st Montreaux 2006, 1st Annandale 2008, 5th PGA National 2009 and 10th Muirfield 2009. PGA Tour winning exemptions can either make or break player careers and it has certainly been the latter for Will who is based in Florida. 2010 saw an all time low Money List finish of 152nd and with no PGA Tour status, Mackenzie is re-building his career with a mixture of low status full Tour events and Nationwide Tour starts. Progress has been slow but Will recorded his first Top 5 result in 26 months when finishing 4th at the BMW Charity Pro-AM in May and since then he hasn’t missed a cut in 2 Nationwide and 4 PGA Tour tournaments. This week is a huge opportunity on a track where he has happy memories from 1st, 18th (2010) and 30th (2007) position finishes and could truly be the start of redemption for Mackenzie and I’m hoping to cash in on what could be one hell of a ride this week. RESULT: T50
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 19:45BST 2.8.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation