Before I preview this week’s PGA Tour Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, which has to be the longest tournament name in pro sports history, let’s look back at a very successful Ryder Cup if you followed my advice.
Needless to say, the United States should have beaten Europe, leading 10-4 at one point late Saturday and 10-6 entering Sunday’s final singles. But the Europeans staged the biggest comeback in the event’s history – U.S. rallied from a similar deficit in 1999 but that was on home soil – to win 14.5-13.5 and retain the Cup.
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I did predict Europe to win by exactly that score – so that paid off at Europe at +125 and the exact score at a whopping +1000. I also hit on Dustin Johnson at +700 to be the top American scorer. He tied with four other players with 3.0 points. I missed on Luke Donald to be Europe’s top scorer as Ian Poulter played out of his mind and finished with 4.0 points – Poulter might be the best Ryder Cup player ever. Not sure what gets into him in that competition.
The rest of the golf season has no chance of living up the Ryder Cup, but this week’s Fall Series opener, the JTSHCO, is the end of an era in two regards. For one, the Fall Series won’t exist after this season. Earlier this year, the Tour announced that new seasons would start in October (Europe does it much like this) following the Tour Championship. Thus, the four Fall Series events, presuming they stay where they are in the current schedule, would be the openers of the 2013-14 wraparound season.
The Fall Series has been a way for those fringe players to finish in the Top 125 on the money list and earn their Tour cards for the following year. But starting next year, it essentially will be broken up into the Top 125 on the FedEx Cup points/money list before the playoffs. Then there will be a three-event stretch where the players from 126-200 in the FedEx Cup standings/money list and the Top 75 from the Web.com Tour (formerly the Nationwide Tour) will compete for the final 50 Tour cards. Qualifying school will be a thing of the past as a way to graduate to the big-boy Tour.
Apparently, this also will be the final year this tournament has Timberlake’s name attached. Timberlake has hosted the event since 2008, but organizers apparently don’t think his celebrity endorsement will be necessary next year because more big-name players figure to attend because the tournament will count for FedEx Cup points. Timberlake hasn’t really been able to attract any big names despite being involved.
There are no big names playing this week and none of the Ryder Cup competitors. Probably the biggest names here Nick Watney, Vijay Singh, Justin Leonard and John Daly. Look for very low scores at par-71 TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. Last year, several players shot all four rounds in the 60s, led by Kevin Na, who closed with a 6-under 65 for a tournament-record 23-under 261 total. It was the first Tour win for the Las Vegas native.
Golf Odds: Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Favorites
Watney, another Las Vegas resident, was the runner-up last season and he is the co-14/1 Bovada favorite with Ryan Moore, another resident of Sin City and who starred collegiately at UNLV. Watney finished two shots behind Na in 2011 despite not shooting a round worse than 67. Watney played his last 51 holes in bogey-free 16 under. In 2010, Watney finished T6.
Moore missed the cut last year but has three Top-25 finishes in six visits. He closed the FedEx Cup playoffs on a roll with three straight Top-10 finishes, including a T3 at the Tour Championship. Moore was just inducted into the Las Vegas golf Hall of Fame, so winning would be a quite a cherry on top.
Robert Garrigus is at 18/1, followed by Jason Day and Scott Piercy at 22/1. Garrigus has never missed the cut in six stops at this tournament and was T16 a year ago. He’s also playing well, closing the FedEx Cup with back-to-back Top-10 finishes. Day looked like he was one of golf’s rising young stars in 2011 but has regressed in 2012 with just three Top-10 finishes. Day hasn’t played this tournament since 2008 when he was T17. Piercy is playing here the fourth year in a row and was a career-best T10 a year ago. He’s another Vegas resident – Las Vegas and Orlando easily house the most PGA Tour players.
Golf Odds: Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Picks
There are no Top-10 finish props as of this writing at Bovada, but there are a few interesting head-to-head options. One is Leonard (-120) vs. Daly (-110). Leonard hasn’t played here since 2006. He also didn’t qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs and thus hasn’t played in PGA event since mid-August. Daly has just one Top-10 in 11 visits to this tournament and hasn’t played since 2010. He also hasn’t played since mid-August when he missed the cut at the Wyndham. I just can’t bet on JD in Vegas, ahem, so go Leonard.
I also like Singh (-115) vs. Tim Clark (-115). Neither has much history here, but Singh was playing better and better in the FedEx Cup playoffs and just missed a spot in the Tour Championship after an eighth-place finish at the BMW Championship.
It’s hard to go against Moore or Watney to win, but I like Singh as the best value there at 28/1. The big Fijian gets career Tour win No. 35 and first since 2008.
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