Some decent results picking last week’s Travelers Championship, although I certainly didn’t see Marc Leishman’s victory coming. I went with Ryan Moore and he played well after Thursday but that opening 72 doomed him to a T47 finish. I hit on Matt Kuchar at +125 to finish inside the Top 10 and barely missed on Hunter Mahan to do the same (missed by a shot). Also hit on Zach Johnson (-200) and Webb Simpson (-165) missing a Top-10 finish, but missed on Bubba Watson to do so.
This week the PGA Tour moves to the site of last year’s US Open: Congressional Country Club outside of Washington, D.C., for the AT&T National. That course needed two full years to prepare for the Open and thus hasn’t hosted this tournament since 2009, so what a player did in the past two years in this event may not matter much as it was held at Aronimink Golf Club just outside Philadelphia. Nick Watney won there last year, going bogey-free over his final 27 holes to beat K.J. Choi by two shots. Justin Rose, who is not playing this week, won it two years ago. So essentially Tiger Woods is the defending champion as he won the last time at Congressional in 2009.
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You won’t find any of the big-name Europeans this week as they are all across the pond preparing for the British Open. Thus, we won’t see how Rory McIlroy would have fared in his return to Congressional after tearing the course up in his wire-to-wire record-setting win at the 2011 US Open. Tiger is playing this week, however. He sort of has to as his foundation runs the event. It’s his first time playing since blowing up on the weekend after being tied for the US Open lead after 36 holes. The only other Top-10 player is Mahan.
Watney is here to “defend” and will play in an opening threesome of former champions with Tiger and Choi (2007 winner). Watney and Choi don’t seem likely to win again as Watney has just two Top-10s this year and Choi just one. Jim Furyk plays for the first time since his close call at the US Open. Neither Masters winner Bubba nor current US Open champion Simpson is on the field.
Since the AT&T National was last played there in 2009, Congressional has been lengthened 314 yards to a long 7,569. The sixth hole is now a par-5 (as it played for last year's U.S. Open), boosting overall par to 71.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: AT&T National Favorites
It’s not hard to understand why Woods is the overwhelming 5/1 favorite this week – if he can solve his short-game woes, he looks almost all the way back to pre-scandal Tiger. Actually, he’s a way more accurate driver than he used to be (although shorter now). In Woods’ two starts in this tournament at Congressional, he's finished no worse than sixth (he missed the 2008 tournament because of injury).
It’s also easy to see why Mahan is the second-favorite at 12/1. He finished second, just one shot behind Tiger, in 2009 at this tournament and was T12 and T8 the two years before that. He also closed huge last week with a final-round 61 at Travelers. It should be noted that twice this year he has won in his third start in a row and this is No. 3 as well.
Dustin Johnson is next at 16/1. He has mostly played well since his return from an injury absence, including a win the week before the US Open (where he missed the cut) in Memphis. He has never played this tournament at Congressional but was T23 in last year’s US Open there. His length should be a big advantage this week.
Furyk is at 18/1, but I consider him the favorite. He had the 36- and 54-hole leads at the US Open, where he finished tied for fourth. He has not finished worse than T7 in the three times this tournament has been held at Congressional.
The Top-5 favorites are rounded out by Aussie Adam Scott at 20/1. It’s his first appearance since a T15 at the US Open, one of five Top-15 finishes on Tour this year. He missed the cut in 2007 in his only AT&T National at Congressional.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: AT&T National Picks
I do like Tiger to finish inside the Top 10 at -250 as well as Furyk at +130 and Mahan at even. I don’t like Johnson this week for some reason, so take him outside the Top 10 at -175. Ditto for Watney at -450 and Scott at -270. I liked Bo Van Pelt to contend last week, but he finished T24. But he's in the top five in total driving and has five Top-10s this season. I like him here to get another at +275 – he hasn’t missed the cut ever in this tournament.
As far as a sleeper to win, Ryan Palmer is interesting at 33/1. He has four Top-10 finishes in his past five starts and was T22 here in 2009. Jeff Overton (66/1) has finished in the Top 10 the past three times he has finished this tournament: third the past two years and T9 when he last played at Congressional in 2008 (withdrew in 2009).
But I’m going with Martin Laird, one of the few Euros here, at 50/1 as the best value to win. He missed the cut at the U.S. Open but had three straight Top 25s before that, including a T2 at the Players. He’s a big hitter and that will be needed this week, although he missed the cut last year at the US Open on this course and was just T73 in 2009 at Congressional in this tournament. Call it a hunch.
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