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. 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 8/1, Ernie Els, Matt Kuchar, Luke Donald 55/1, Padraig Harrington 125/1, Vijay Singh 150/1, Fred Couples, Johnny Miller, Hale Irwin, Tom Kite, Johnny Miller, Larry Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino and Tom Weiskopf.
My tips to win:
I have always liked Adam Scott 20/1 relaxed tour schedule and the way he turns up at an event and invariably challenges for the title. Adam has played in two PGA Tour events this season and made the Top 10 in both. Scott finished off his Masters winning year by taking both the Australian PGA Championship, Australian Masters and was also a runner-up in the Australian Open so he will no doubt again be challenging here this week.
Graeme McDowell 20/1 had a combative WGC Match-play week with the Irishman making it through to the quarter finals, which followed on from his Top 10 finish at the AT&T Pro Am. Graeme has made the Top 10 here for the last three years and obviously likes the course, so look for him to be in the thick of it again this week.
Zach Johnson 20/1 has two wins already this season and with two other Top 10s Zach is proving that life just keeps getting better for the Iowan. Johnson didn’t have a great WGC Match-play championship going out in the first round, but I see no reason to believe that Zach wont be in one of the final pairings come Sunday afternoon.
My each-way tips:
Hideki Matsuyama 40/1 has not been outside the Top 25 on the PGA Tour this season, with two Top 5 finishes from seven events it follows on from last year where the lad from Ehime, Japan was again not outside the Top 25, apart from a missed cut at the beginning of 2013. That is a phenomenal record and I don’t think it’s going to be long before Hideki wins his first PGA Tour event.
Another player who had a very good WGC Match-play Championship was South African Louis Oosthuizen 60/1. Louis already has a win this year at the Volvo Golf Champions and lost to in the Quarter Final to eventual winner Jason Day at the aforementioned WGC. Oosthuizen has never really done well in this event, but then he had never been past the second round at the WGC Match-play!
My outside tip:
I think these represent great odds for Chris Stroud 100/1 who managed a Top 15 finish here last year. Chris had his best year on the PGA Tour in 2013 making eighteen cuts from twenty-six starts and won his first PGA Tour event at the Travelers Championship. This seems to have given him a massive confidence boost as he has staked up four Top 25 finishes already this season with two of those being Top 5 places from seven events.
For updated betting odds during the tournament go to planetgolfreview.com