Pretty good results in my Wyndham Championship preview last week. I thought Sergio Garcia would contend but was still a bit surprised that he won – I would have jumped all over a Top-10 prop on El Nino but Bovada didn’t offer one. That victory essentially locked up a European Ryder Cup spot for Garcia. I picked Carl Pettersson to finish in the Top 10 (and win) and he finished T4. Also hit on a Top 10 for Jason Dufner and non-Top-10 finishes for Charl Schwartzel and Brandt Snedeker.
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This week, the PGA Tour begins its playoffs at The Barclays and on one of the best public courses in America: Bethpage Black in New York (until the postseason started in 2007, the golf season essentially ended at the PGA Championship). The Top 125 on the FedEx Cup points list are in Farmingdale. The Black Course famously hosted the 2009 and 2002 U.S. Opens, won by Lucas Glover and Tiger Woods, respectively.
I won’t even try to explain how golfers accumulate points from here forward other than obviously the better they finish, the more points. The Top 100 on the points will advance to the next tournament, the Deutsche Bank Championship outside of Boston. Eventually it’s whittled down a Top 30 that competes for the $10 million Grand Prize at the Tour Championship. You should know that last year no one who started the playoffs outside the Top 100 made it to the finale at the Tour Championship. The FedEx Cup has been won by big names pretty much every season until last year when Bill Haas was a surprise winner. But even he began at No. 15 on the points heading into the Barclays.
There is more on the line than just the FedEx Cup. There will be four wild-card spots chosen by captain Davis Love III for the USA Ryder Cup team and two by Europe captain Jose Maria Olazabal. Team Europe’s automatic 10 qualifiers will be announced on Monday; the USA’s Top 8 automatic qualifiers already are official and Love III will make his captain’s choices on Sept. 4. So, obviously, players who didn’t automatically qualify need to look good over the next two weeks to get noticed. Garcia would have been on that list if not for last week’s victory.
Also up for grabs is the PGA Tour Player of the Year. Woods is probably the favorite with his three victories and the fact he’s No. 1 in points and money. But Tiger doesn’t have a major and Rory McIlroy is making a late push. He has two victories, including the PGA Championship two weeks ago in which McIlroy reclaimed the No. 1 world ranking. If either one of those two wins the FedEx Cup, he is a lock to be PGA Tour Player of the Year. Tiger won the Cup in 2007 and ’09 but didn’t qualify for the playoffs a year ago. McIlroy is in just his second playoffs as he used to not play enough in the USA to qualify.
Golf fans are in for a treat in the first two rounds at The Barclays as Tiger and McIlroy are in the same threesome for the first time ever in a PGA Tour event (they were once in Dubai). Tiger, Rory and Zach Johnson tee off at No. 10 at 8:16 a.m. EST Thursday and on No. 1 at 1:06 p.m. Friday. I will warn you that past Barclays results should be taken with a grain of salt. Bethpage will be the fifth different course this event has used in the past six years.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: The Barclays Favorites
This really is a two-man show, with McIlroy and Tiger at 7/1 at Bovada and no one else close. You have to like how McIlroy has turned things around. Before that record-setting dominance at the PGA, he was T5 at the WGC-Bridgestone. It seems McIlroy might be the streakiest player on Tour. He was brilliant for the most part through early May, but then he was lousy from the Players Championship until the Bridgestone.
Tiger obviously knows this course (which really hasn’t changed much, other than the rough, since the 2009 Open) with his win at Bethpage a decade ago and a T6 three years ago. The two times Tiger has played this event as part of the playoffs, he has a T12 (2010) and T2 (’09). Throw out a missed cut at the Greenbrier where Tiger really was only playing thanks to an appearance fee, and Woods hasn’t finished worse than 11th in his past four tournaments.
The Top-5 favorites are rounded out by Justin Rose (20/1), Bubba Watson and Luke Donald (both 22/1). I am a big fan of Rose’s every week and his playoff finish has improved in each of the past four years, capped by a fifth in 2011. He has T15 finishes the past two years in this event and T5 finishes in his past two PGA Tour events.
Watson had a Masters hangover, to be expected, but is back playing at a high level. He was T11 at the PGA Championship, his fourth straight T25 on Tour. Watson has missed the cut in this tournament four of the past six years. Donald, who lost his top ranking to McIlroy, has back-to-back third-place finishes in the FedEx Cup playoffs. He disappointed at the PGA Championship with a T32 but was T12 in five of his previous six tournaments. Donald has T20 finishes the past two years at The Barclays.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: The Barclays Predictions
My Top-10 picks: “Yes” on Rose (+250), McIlroy (-140), Donald (+250) and Adam Scott (+250). “No” on Tiger (+110), Watson (-350) and Garcia (-350).
I wish there was a Top-10 prop on Keegan Bradley but there is not. He is 25/1 to win and that’s intriguing. He was T3 at the PGA after winning the WGC-Bridgestone. Bradley missed the cut a year ago at The Barclays but, again, that wasn’t at Bethpage. Meanwhile, I would like to say Phil Mickelson is good value at 33/1, but he hasn’t finished in the Top 25 of a PGA Tour event since May 20.
I am also very tempted on Hunter Mahan at 40/1. He’s one of the U.S. players looking for a wild-card spot, finishing just outside the Top 8. A win would almost certainly lock one up. But I am going with Rose, who leads the Tour in greens in regulation, as the winner.
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