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2009 The Tour Championship Tips

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Let’s start with Tiger Watch!  His record around East Lake Golf Course is excellent reading Win, 2nd, 2nd in his last 3 visits.  He is desperate to regain his Fed-Ex Champion mantle and looks like a certain contender.  I can’t professionally tip Tiger at these prices but personally placing the bet with Betfair at a market best price of 23/18 at the time of writing, with their guaranteed £25 refund policy on new accounts, seems like an opportunity to print money completely risk free!

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Tiger Woods @ 23/18

This Top 30 elite field will be well rested after a week’s break since the BMW Championship.  The course is another Rees Jones design, which at 102 yards per shot over a Par 70 doesn’t require a venomous power game.  Instead with 2-3 inch rough promised and lightning fast greens I’d expect accuracy off the tee and great ball striking to play a key role in success. 

The course set-up will be tough so don’t expect low scores like at the BMW Championship two weeks ago.  Instead patience and course management, allied to some superb GIR% numbers will be required for contention this week.  Also worthy of note is that Each Way only pays out Top 4 this week and some ‘tight’ bookmakers are only paying out 1/5 on the place….. So the bookmaker walk of shame this week includes Sportingbet, BlueSQ, Skybet and 888 Sport at the time of writing.

As ever we’ve done the hard work and only highlight best priced bookmakers paying the FULL 1/4 place. 

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Zach Johnson 1.5pt EW @ 20-1

Look at Johnson’s resume and you’ll see strong performances on tough classical courses with fast green conditions.  We are talking about a Masters Champion after all.  Zach also attracts on the basis that he is a two time PGA Tour winner in 2009.  Check through the most recent Tour Championship results (08 & 07) and a pattern soon emerges.  Tour Championship Top 3 finishers have all won a PGA Tour event and have multiple Top 10 results in that respective season.  A 2009 record of 2 wins and 8 Top 10s appeals as does Zach’s 2nd place at East Lake back in 2007. 

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Retief Goosen 1.5pt EW @ 28-1

I’m expecting the Goose to fly this week in Atlanta.  His record at East Lake is absolutely first class.  In 5 visits he has never finished lower than 9th place.  Link to that a win here in 2004 and a 3rd in 2003.  Scratch a little deeper and Retief becomes attractive especially at a juicy 28-1 with Bet 365. There must be something about the Georgia air that the South African loves as his Augusta record is splendid as well.  His recent form also adds another vital ingredient to the recipe.  He was leading the Deutsche at TPC Boston after 3 rounds and at the BMW Championship at fortnight ago he delivered a 23rd place on a course he’d never seen before. His recent form is solid and shows his game is in order to perform well and challenge Tiger this week.

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Jerry Kelly 1pt EW @ 70-1

Next up is the reigning Zurich Classic of New Orleans champion who scraped into the Fed-Ex Cup Top 30 and gained qualification into the Tour Championship by the slenderest of margins.  Kelly has been revitalised in 2009, where he scooped his first PGA Tour victory in Louisiana since 2002.  His real motivation that has fired him out of the golfing doldrums has been provided by his best friend and fellow Wisconsin native Steve Stricker.  Whilst Stricker has been arguably the best player of 2009 (if we ignore Tiger), Kelly has taken heart and fired in 6 Top 10 PGA Tour finishes in 2009 in addition to that Zurich victory.  Stricker has also provided Kelly with tuition around his short game and putting and that has fired him brim full of confidence.  Kelly’s East Lake course form is ‘stand-out’ with a 3rd on his last visit in 2004, backed up with 13th in 2003 and 4th in 2002.  He won’t win but 70-1 is attractive in a 30 man field as an each way punt.

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Scott Verplank 1pt EW @ 40-1

I’ll finish my staking plan this week with Scott Verplank.  His recent Fed Ex Cup play off form has been out of this world with a 9th four weeks ago at the Barclays in New Jersey and 3rd at the following week’s Deutsche at TPC Boston.  Indeed Verplank has been on a roll in the latter half of the season as 5 T10s from 8 events played highlights! His game is purely accuracy based.  The 7th most accurate driver on Tour in 2009 is a great skill to have around East Lake and Verplank converts that into a 68% Greens in Regulation number that equates to the 23rd best on Tour.  His natural game shines through with his East Lake course form numbers.  Never lower than 14th in 7 visits grabs the attention with 6 Top 10s! 

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at time of publishing 20:30BST 22.9.09, however both are subject to fluctuation