PGA Tour Odds and Predictions: The Barclays
by Alan Matthews - 8/24/2011
The PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup playoffs begin this week – sans the biggest star in the sport, Tiger Woods – with The Barclays at Plainfield Country Club in Edison, N.J. Of course the FedEx Cup is a four-event playoff system capped at the TOUR Championship that is essentially the end of golf season for most top players. This is the first-ever PGA Tour event at Plainfield.
The Top 125 players in the points standings are allowed into The Barclays – actually 123 are playing this week. Only the top 100 in points after The Barclays will move on to next week's Deutsche Bank Championship. The ultimate goal is that $10 million prize for winning the FedEx Cup. Any player who fails to qualify for the second round of the playoffs and isn't otherwise exempt will likely need to join those who missed the playoffs in the Fall Series to retain full status on the PGA Tour in 2012. If you have one of the top five spots in FedEx Cup points going into the Tour Championship, then you decide your own fate: If you are in the Top 5 entering East Lake and you win the Tour Championship, then you win the FedEx Cup.
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Perhaps the most memorable thing about this tournament was what happened last year. Jim Furyk’s alarm clock didn’t work and he missed his pro-am tee time, which at the time meant he was disqualified from the tournament (a rule since changed). Furyk still went on to win the FedEx Cup and Player of the Year honors.
PGA Tour Odds: The Barclays Favorites
American Steve Stricker isn’t the favorite this week on Bodog at 16/1, but maybe he should be. Although Stricker has never won the FedExCup points race, he's been the best playoffs player. He's the only player to have started in all 64 rounds in the first four years, and one of just two players (Hunter Mahan the other) to make all 16 starts. He's won two of those starts. Also, he has more Top-10 finishes in Playoffs events (10) than any other player and has the most rounds in the 60s (39). He enters this year ranked No. 2 in points behind Nick Watney. Stricker has finished in the Top 3 of this tournament three of the past four years, winning it in 2007.
World No. 1 Luke Donald is the betting favorite this week at 12/1. Donald enters the playoffs with 10 Top-10s in 14 starts -- and he finished second in two of last year's playoffs events. Donald has two Top-10 finishes at this tournament in seven tries. He was T15 last year.
Adam Scott is the co-second favorite with Stricker at 16/1. Scott has finished in the Top 10 in three of his last four starts, which included a win at the WGC-Bridgestone. Here’s hoping he doesn’t win this week so we don’t have to hear about caddie Steve Williams again.
Watney (22/1) has only one Top 10 in six Barclays stops, but again those were at different course. In an interesting twist, Matt Kuchar (25/1 this week) won his third career event at this tournament last year and for the third time he won't have the opportunity to defend his title on the same course. In fact, no playoff tournament winner has ever defended it the next year and Kuchar hasn’t won since. He has been a bit off of late as his last four events saw two missed cuts and two ties for 19th (Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA Championship).
PGA Tour Odds: The Barclays Interesting Long Shots and Pick
An excellent value play would seem to be Charles Howell III at 40/1. Chucky Three Sticks was fourth last week at the Wyndham Championship, which was his fourth top five in seven starts. He had just three bogeys all week at the Wyndham. I also like Zach Johnson at 40/1. He hasn’t won this year but is playing well, having made 10 straight cuts, with four of those inside the top six. Finally, I also like Geoff Ogilvy at 66/1. He’s just too good of a player not to win once a year and he has yet to this season. Ogilvy missed the cut at the PGA Championship in his last tournament and has missed the cut a whopping six times in eight tries at this tournament. So perhaps a new course benefits him more than anyone.
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