The tour heads off to Florida this week and back to stroke play after last week’s exciting match play tournament at the WGC. The Champions course held at The PGA National Resort at Palm Beach Gardens was originally designed by George and Tom Fazio in 1981 where Jack Nicklaus was commission to undertake a re-design in 2001, adding the famed “Bear Trap” group of holes from 15th-17th.
With its wide fairways and large accepting greens, the course relies on course management and strategy for its defence. There are 107 bunkers and sixteen of the holes have water on them. The Championship Course has been dedicated to Jack Nicklaus, in honour, they say, “of a man whose commitment to golf has been an inspiration to the game and personifies the high standard of excellence we associate with the “Player of the Century.”
Past champions include; Rory McIlroy 12/1, Ernie Els 45/1,Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, Vijay Singh, Fred Couples, Johnny Miller, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Johnny Miller, Larry Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Tom Weiskopf.
My tips to win:
Charl Schwartzel 14/1 seems to be a man on a mission this season, although he went out early at the WGC Accenture Match-Play. He has already notched up his first Top 5 finish on the PGA tour at the Northern Trust Open, which followed up four Top 5 finishes on the European Tour, one being a win at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, so don’t be surprised if the South African is the one picking up the silverware on Sunday.
I must admit I was surprised to see Justin Rose 14/1 crash out so early in the WGC Accenture Match-Play. Justin had a great end to the year last year and started this year’s European Tour season where he left off, with two Top 20 finishes, one being a second place finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. I think this is a big season for Justin and he will want to go into The Masters with a win to his name, so look for him to do well leading up to Augusta.
Fredik Jacobson 28/1 is having a great season, he got off to a bit of a rocky start, missing the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but he has now made the Top 10 in the last three tournaments he’s played in. Fredrik had a Top 20 finish here last year when he finished strongly with rounds of 67 and 69, so he obviously enjoys the track so look for him to be around the final groups come Sunday.
My each-way tips:
I think these represent good odds for Jason Dufner 33/1. It seems Jason hasn’t settled back down to life on the PGA Tour after his excursions to the European Tours, Middle East swing where he played two events finishing inside the Top 10 on both occasions. Jason also took an early bath at the WGC Accenture Match-Play, going out in the first round to Richard Sterne. But you can’t keep a good golfer down and it won’t be long before last years two times winner will be back picking up the big cheques.
I was going to go for Jimmy Walker again this week, but he has pulled out due to his wife giving birth to their second child, so up steps Henrik Stenson 50/1 who has had a pretty solid start to his season after winning the SA Open Championship. From his last five European Tour events Henrik has only been outside the Top 25 once, he also had a Top 25 finish in this event last year.
My Outside tip:
I must admit I was surprised to see Brendon De Jonge 80/1 this far down the betting odds, I know he didn’t do well at the AT&T Pro-Am and followed that up by missing the cut at the Northern Trust Open, but this is a man who finished last season with three Top 5 finishes on the spin and had eleven Top 25 finishes from his twenty seven starts. So I think Brendon will make a good outside bet this week.
For updated betting odds during the tournament go to planetgolfreview.com