PGA Tour Golf Odds and Predictions: Zurich Classic of New Orleans
by Alan Matthews - 4/25/2012
Golf Odds and Predictions: Zurich Classic of New Orleans
With all due respect to this week’s PGA Tour stop at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, this tournament is the finale of a three-week lull following the Masters. That all ends next week with a strong field at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte followed by the best non-major on the schedule, the Players Championship.
Because most top players will be playing back-to-back events starting next week, some of the biggest names in golf aren’t in New Orleans this week – the likes of Tiger, Phil, Lee and Rory, for example. But overall it’s actually a pretty good field with four Top-10 players, headed by world No. 2 Luke Donald and arguably the hottest name in the sport right now, Masters winner Bubba Watson.
Other big names playing this week include Steve Stricker, Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley and Webb Simpson. Ben Crane, off his victory last week at the Valero Texas Open – my choice, Charley Hoffman, finished 13th – looks to win back-to-back outings. Maybe a stellar tournament can help the residents of New Orleans not think about their scandal-ridden Saints for at least a few days.
TPC Louisiana can stretch to 7,425 yards and is a par 72 that ranked 20th of 51 courses in degree of difficulty on Tour a year ago. But it ranked in the Top 5 the past three years in terms of proximity to the hole, meaning very undulated greens to protect scoring. The course record is 64, shot by Kyle Reifers in 2007. This will be the fifth event held at TPC Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina. The course suffered severe damage during Katrina, but the hurricane did allow for several changes to be made on it.
Golf Odds: Zurich Classic of New Orleans Favorites
Last year, Watson overcame a three-shot deficit over the final eight holes to catch Simpson and then beat him with a birdie on the second playoff hole. Both shot a final-round 69 to finish at 15 under, two in front of K.J. Choi, Tommy Gainey and Jason Dufner. Watson deserved to win considering he led the field in distance off the tee (331.2 yards) and co-led it in greens in regulation (58 of 72).
Watson is the second-favorite at Bovada this week at 12/1, but I don’t believe he is a good pick. Post-Masters his life has been whirlwind. In fact, Watson admitted that he did not have a title to defend, he would have been inclined to take another week off to catch his breath: “I have not had enough time with my family, by myself or anything. But I felt obligated to my fans, to New Orleans, the city, that I should be here.” Since 1986, only once has a player won on Tour in their first start following a win at Augusta.
Donald is the 11/1 favorite. This course isn’t overly long, so that suits Donald. Last year in his first trip to this TPC Louisiana, Donald fired four sub-par rounds and finished T8 at 10 under. But Donald hasn’t been himself the past two tournaments this year, finishing T32 and T37.
Bradley is the third-favorite at 18/1. He has been off since a T27 at the Masters, which was his first finish outside the Top 25 all season. Bradley leads the Tour in the all-around ranking. Bradley debuted here last year and finished T26.
The top five favorites are rounded out by Rose and Simpson (both 20/1). Rose is playing for the first time since a T8 at the Masters. He hasn’t been good here, with two missed cuts and a T43 the past three years. Simpson probably should have won last year if not for a semi-fluke one-shot penalty he suffered on the 15th hole on Sunday when the wind moved his ball as he was about to tap it in. However, Simpson has only played well once in his past six starts.
Golf Odds: Zurich Classic of New Orleans Picks
No one in the field has more Top 10 finishes (four) at this event than Charles Howell III (35/1). He was a solid T13 last year and has missed just one cut in 11 stops this year. Howell hasn’t really been close to winning, however, since a T2 at the Sony Open in Hawaii back in January.
A lot of people think Matt Every (66/1) is a big-time sleeper this week to get his first win. Yeah, he missed the cut here last year, but Every is playing extremely well in 2012 with four Top-10 finishes, including co runner-up last week.
Brian Davis at 66/1 also is intriguing to get his first win. He has had three straight finishes on Tour of T13 or better. He has never had a Top 10 in six tries at this tournament.
But my choice is Dufner at 22/1. The guy has too much talent to not winner sooner rather than later. Plus he has finished in the Top 10 in the past three years here, including that T3 a year ago. Dufner is eighth in the all-around ranking this year.
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