PGA Tour Odds and Free Pick: Zurich Classic of New Orleans
by Alan Matthews - 4/28/2011
This week’s PGA Tour stop, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, is overshadowed a bit by the news of the latest knee injury suffered by Tiger Woods. Certainly Jack Nicklaus’ major championship record of 18 titles looks a little safer now. Tiger announced Tuesday that he will miss next week's Wells Fargo Championship because he hurt his left leg while hitting his second shot from underneath a tree on the 17th fairway in the third round of the Masters. This bears watching.
We could see another shift at the top of the world rankings this week. Lee Westwood won in Indonesia to regain the top spot last weekend but that’s only because third-ranked Luke Donald was beaten by Brandt Snedeker on the third hole of sudden death in Hilton Head. Westwood, who last year took the top spot from Tiger and held it for 17 weeks, now replaces Martin Kaymer (eight weeks). Donald, who leads the PGA Tour money list with over $2.75 million in earnings this year, can take over No. 1 with a win this week.
Donald is one of three Top 10 players in the New Orleans field this week, along with Graeme McDowell and Steve Stricker. Donald is the 9/1 favorite on Bodog to win. This is the first time he has played this event. Donald hasn’t finished worse than T10 on Tour this year other than missing the cut in his first event in the U.S. In fact he has finished in the top 10 in 19 of his last 34 worldwide events.
We could see a long shot pay off big this week. Nine of the last 15 Zurich Classic winners and 17 overall have not won on the PGA Tour, including six of the last nine. Thus take a look at someone like Jason Dufner (50/1), who has yet to get a victory. He was T7 and T9 here in his last two seasons and finished T14 last week in Hilton Head.
Ten of the last 19 winners, including 2010 winner Jason Bohn, 2009 winner Jerry Kelly and 2008 champion Andres Romero, had either missed the cut the year prior or were making their tournament debut. Don’t look for Bohn to repeat. He hasn’t posted a top 10 in 24 PGA Tour events since his victory at this tournament. And don’t look for Snedeker to win on back-to-back weeks. He has played this tournament three times and missed the cut in each.
Stricker represents good value this week at 16/1. In three starts at TPC Louisiana, Stricker has finished Top 11 or better twice. He has played well this month, with a T4 at the Shell Houston Open and a T11 in his last start at the Masters. But perhaps the best value is Jeff Overton at 40/1. He finished second at this tournament last year and was T13 the year before.
David Toms (35/1) always seems to play well in his home state. Of the entrants in this field, only Duffy Waldorf (18) has made more appearances at this event than Toms. Since this tournament shifted to TPC Louisiana, Toms has cashed in his last three, including a T5 in 2009. He has two top-five finishes in his past four tournaments.
Strong winds are expected for much of the weekend, which will play a significant role since there are relatively few trees around the 7,341-yard course. Greens in regulation will be key.
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