PGA Tour Odds and Predictions: Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open
by Alan Matthews - 9/28/2011
You can tell when the PGA Tour’s Fall Series begins because it’s when the golf tournaments start sounding like some weird NASCAR event. For example, good luck fitting “Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open” on a golf ball! This week’s tournament is staged at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas – the event is hoping to move to the spring after next year.
Most big-name players are done competing in official PGA Tour events after last week’s Tour Championship, the conclusion of the FedEx Cup playoffs and won by Bill Haas, who collected a cool $11.4 million for winning the tournament and the playoffs. However, golf fans will get a rare treat as Tiger Woods will tee it up in next week’s Frys.com Open because U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples essentially told Tiger he needed to play another tournament if he wanted to be picked as a captain’s choice for the American team (and Tiger was, along with Haas).
Anyways, the importance of the Fall Series is generally for players to earn fully exempt status for the following season. Players must finish in the Top 125 of the money list to get that status (if not previously exempt). Those who finish 126-150 get conditional status, which means usually entry into about 20 tournaments. If you finish 151 on down, see you at Q-School! In addition, players who finish in the Top 30 on the money list get entry into the following year’s Masters and U.S. Open. And those in the Top 70 get into certain invitationals like Arnold Palmer’s tournament at Bay Hill or Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament.
Some big names outside the Top 125 entering the fall include Louis Oosthuizen, Angel Cabrera, Paul Casey and Justin Leonard. Oosthuizen and Cabrera are still exempt from their major championships (2010 British Open for Oosthuizen, 2009 Masters for Cabrera), but they must be in the Top 125 to qualify for The Players Championship. Only three of the world’s Top 50 are in the field this week.
PGA Tour Odds: Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Favorites
You may remember this tournament because of how it ended last year. Jonathan Byrd became the first golfer to win a PGA Tour event with a hole-in-one. The American aced the par-3 17th with the opening shot of the fourth hole of a three-man playoff with Cameron Percy and defending champion Martin Laird. Ironically, the trio had decided to play one more hole despite the growing darkness in order to avoid coming back on Monday to complete the tournament. Byrd is 33/1 at Bodog to repeat as champion, according to PGA Tour odds.
The betting favorite and clearly the best player in the field is Nick Watney at 10/1. The Las Vegas resident has two wins this year but never contended in the four playoff events. However, Watney has a pair of T6s in six starts here, including last year when he carded only three bogeys all week. It should be noted that no golfer with Vegas ties, and there are a bunch of them, has won this event.
Speaking of golfers with Vegas ties, Ryan Moore, a four-time All-American at UNLV, is the second favorite with Baird at 14/1. Moore didn’t play here last year but was T7 in 2009 for his best result in five stops at the event. It may be hard to bet against Laird, with his 2009 win and last year’s runner-up. His scoring average is 66 in the past two years at this tournament. Laird comes off a T12 at the BMW Championship.
PGA Tour Odds: Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open Predictions
Laird is my top choice, but since we always offer a long-shot pick, consider George McNeill at 33/1. No golfer has a better average finish in the field than McNeill. In four visits here, he has a win in 2007 and a runner-up finish in 2009. He has never finished worse than 15th. McNeill hasn’t won since that ’07 tournament. If you really want to go out on a limb, consider Cameron Beckman at 150/1. Has hasn’t had a Top-10 finish this year, but he is outside the Top 125 in money so will be duly motivated. Beckman was T6 here last year and T3 in 2007.