So we move forward to the Transitions Championship at the Copperhead Course, Innisbrook. The third leg of the Florida swing takes a break from the Atlantic coast and moves North West to Tampa Bay. Copperhead is a US Open type course that’s a really stern test, especially when the wind blows. However unlike the recent Honda, Puerto Rico and WGC CA events, wind won’t be a factor this weekend.
The field is stronger in 2010 than it has been for a while with Stricker, Harrington, Poulter, Ogilvy, Perry, Furyk, Zach Johnson, Garcia and defending champ Goosen, joined by Euro Tour regulars Fisher and Karlsson. All are now, like us, starting to think ahead to Augusta and The Masters in April, with Copperhead’s characteristics being perfect in starting to sharpen the skills required to win a major.
The Copperhead layout is a challenge for a number of reasons. Its Bermuda greens are small and lightning fast. It’s also deceivingly long at a Par 71 +7,300 yards. PGA Tour winners will conquer this week as patience and accuracy will work in their favour. A US Open form link is important, but don’t necessarily think one of the big guns will triumph this week. Traditionally a player from lower down the World Golf Rankings wins in Tampa, who comes into the tournament with decent momentum.
Early bird punters have snapped up the early 25/1 about VJ this week and as we publish 25/1 is only available from Victor Chandler who is offering £50 of Free Bets for all new accounts. With his recent two performances it’s not hard to see why as he looks close to his best tee to green. His dodgy short putting shouldn’t be so much of a problem here at Copperhead where Par on most holes is wholly acceptable. 7th in our Transitions Predictor model breeds confidence as do both VJ’s Copperhead and US Open records.
Believe me I’ve tried, but I simply can’t exclude Howell III from my selection plan this week. 3 Top 10s this season and a 50 position jump up the WGR speak for themselves. In 8 appearances Charles has a 2nd and 6th at Innisbrook and readily admits to loving the course set-up. Scratch a little deeper and you also discover that Howell III is ranked No 1 on Tour for Par 5 Performance. On a course where the 4 Par 5s HAVE to be exploited that’s a handy skill to have in your back pocket. Justifiably 2nd in this week’s Transitions Predictor model
Like VJ the early 55/1 about Englishman Rose has been snapped up, but I’m still keen at 50/1. I’ve always made a point of keeping a close eye on the Former European No 1 and for the past 18 months his form has been quite simply poor. However at the close of 09 and into 2010 gradual improvement in his iron game has been visible and that culminated in a superb closing round of 64, good enough for 3rd at the Honda Classic. Whether Rose has the mental fortitude to win for the first time on the PGA Tour this week remains to be seen, but I’m going with the momentum of the Florida resident. Sneaks into our Predictor model Top 25.
Like your typical Japanese life-style product, Imada has gone about his business quietly but efficiently in early 2010. 1T10 & 2T20s in his last 3 outings show that the Tampa based residents game is in a far better state than it was in 2009. 13th on debut at Copperhead, was followed by 2nd in 2008. In the Top 50 for Par 3, 4 and 5 performance allied to a razor sharp scrambling game will be invaluable this week. . Quite rightfully, in our Predictor model Top 20 for the Transitions.
Jason Bohn 1.5pts T10 @ 11/1 Sky Bet RESULT: T20
I Have a good vibe about Georgia based Bohn this week. You can thank me later!
Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:30GMT 16.3.09 but naturally subject to fluctuation.