PGA Tour Odds and Predictions: Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Classic
by Alan Matthews - 10/19/2011
It’s the final official event of the PGA Tour golf season this week at Disney in Orlando for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic. (Quick aside, I will still provide betting previews for the rest of the year for any relevant strong-field tournaments, things like next week’s event in Malaysia, the following week’s HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, the Presidents Cup, Tiger Woods’ Chevron World Challenge, etc.)
Normally this event, which concludes the Fall Series, is all about jockeying on the money list. Any player who finishes in the Top 125 of the money list gets fully exempt status for the following year. Anyone from 126-150 gets conditional status (approximately invitations to 20 or so tournaments). And any player from 151 on down might as well be at 1,551 because it’s Q-school for them. There is always a ton of drama at this event with jockeying around the No. 125 bubble usually going to the 72nd hole on Sunday.
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And there are other numbers to hit this week. Top 30 on the money list guarantees a player entry into the following year’s Masters and U.S. Open. And Top 70 gets players into special invitationals like Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill tournament, the Colonial and Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament.
This year, however, is a bit different. Most of the focus will be at the top of the money list and the duel between world No. 1 Luke Donald and Webb Simpson. Heading into last week’s McGladrey Classic, Donald held a lead of about $68,000 on Simpson for No. 1 on the money. That’s notable because Donald has a pretty sizable lead for the money list crown in Europe and no player has won both titles in the same season.
However, Simpson finished runner-up last week and now has a lead of a little more than $363,000 over Donald. Simpson has two wins and three second-place finishes this year, so winning the money crown could earn him PGA Tour Player of the Year honors. Incidentally, both Simpson and Donald (whose wife is about to give birth) entered this tournament right at last week’s deadline. It’s a long shot that Donald can overtake Simpson. The Englishman can’t finish worse than a two-way tie for second (that would be worth $413,600). Even if Donald wins, Simpson could still win the money title by finishing solo second.
PGA Tour Odds: Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic
As one would expect, Donald (+700) and Simpson (+1000) are the two favorites at Bodog this week. And the PGA Tour is capitalizing on this duel by pairing the duo for the first two rounds. It should be noted that only once since 1990 has the money list lead changed hands in the final week of the season. That came when Tom Lehman won the Tour Championship to overtake Phil Mickelson in 1996.
Simpson is playing the better golf right now, or at least playing “more” better golf. Since missing the cut at the PGA Championship, he has two wins, last week’s runner-up and two other Top-10 finishes. Donald hasn’t played in the USA since the Tour Championship, when he finished tied for third for this third straight Top-5 finish on the PGA Tour. He still has just the one win in the States this year, way back in late February at the WGC-Match Play.
Neither Donald nor Simpson has a ton of experience in this event. Simpson has played the last two years, finishing T40 last year and withdrawing the year before. Donald hasn’t played in this event since missing the cut way back in 2003.
Past the Big 2, the only other player under +2000 is Justin Rose (+1400), who was another late entry into this event. He also hasn’t played since the Tour Championship but did win the week before at the BMW Championship. Rose has played here four times, the last coming when he was T4 in 2009.
PGA Tour Odds: Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic Long-Shot Predictions
Everyone keeps waiting for Spencer Levin (+2800) to get his first win. Last week he finished T32 at the McGladrey Classic but tied for seventh in greens hit. That result followed a pair of Top 10s to start the Fall Series. Levin, who was T3 here last year, has missed only one cut since early June and needs a great result to get into the Top 30 in the money.
It’s hard not to take a look at Robert Garrigus at +5000. In the final round last year at Disney, Garrigus shot an 8-under 64 on the Magnolia Course to beat Roland Thatcher by 3 shots. Garrigus had started his final round 5 shots behind Thatcher, who started the day with a 4-shot lead over the field.
But this event tends to lend itself to first-time winners, so apologies to Levin I’m going with Jeff Overton at +4000. He has been up and down this year but finished T6 last week. Overton posted 13 under scores in his last three starts here, picking up three Top-25s in the process (high of T6, didn’t play last year). His scoring average here is 68.75 for his last 12 rounds, one of the best in the field.