Golf Odds and Predictions: Franklin Templeton Shootout Picks
by Alan Matthews - 12/11/2013
It was a very exciting finish to the unofficial Northwestern Mutual World Challenge last week in its final incarnation in California before moving to the Orlando area for 2014. Tiger Woods looked in great position to win his own tournament and get a great springboard for next year.
Tiger and Zach Johnson were in the final pairing Sunday of the 18-man event, and Woods led Johnson by four with eight holes to play. Pre-scandal Tiger never coughs something like that up. This isn't that Tiger even though he's No. 1 in the world. The two Americans were tied on the 18th, but Tiger had the huge advantage on the green while Johnson was in a hazard. He holed out, however, from 58 yards for par to take it to an extra hole, where Johnson won when Tiger missed a 5-foot par putt. Putting is reason No. 1 Woods has struggled in the majors, so it was curious to see him miss that gimme.
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Woods was a huge 3/4 favorite, and while I thought he might win this event for a sixth time, I didn't like him at those short odds. And I never will. I did hit on Woods at -250 for a Top-4 finish in the small field. Ditto on Tiger head-to-head at -185 over Rory McIlroy (11th), Johnson (even) over Steve Stricker (15th) and Keegan Bradley (-115) over Jordan Spieth (T16). I liked Bradley to win at sweet 25/1 odds, but he only broke 70 on Friday and finished T13.
So that brings me to my final preview of 2013, the Franklin Templeton Shootout -- the tournament coming in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, which used to kick off the new season. Now it just follows the holiday break. There are 12 two-man teams for this "silly season" event at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort's Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla. The top two ranked players are No. 6 Kuchar and No. 7 Stricker. This event, in its 25th year (the longest-running postseason event on Tour), was created by Greg Norman, who also designed the course -- it's quite swank; I've been there. Norman has played every year (it was called the Shark Shootout a few years). The winning team gets to split $750K.
It's a three-day event with Friday's first round featuring a modified alternate-shot format, followed by better-ball Saturday and a scramble Sunday. Floridian Boo Weekley was scheduled to compete but pulled out early this week because his grandfather and uncle each died recently. He was replaced by Freddie Jacobson, who plays with Retief Goosen. Brandt Snedeker withdrew a few weeks ago. He teamed with Davis Love III to tie for fourth in the Shootout last year. Snedeker was replaced by Harris English.
Last year, Sean O'Hair and Kenny Perry finished with a score of 185 to beat out Charles Howell III and Rory Sabbatini by a shot. O'Hair/Perry birdied five of the final six holes on Sunday, with Perry (then 52) becoming the oldest winner. It was his third win in the event, also in 2005 (with John Huston) and 2008 (Scott Hoch). No player has won it four times. Sabbatini/Howell didn't win despite shooting a 15-under 57 in the final round thanks to the scramble format. O'Hair/Perry shot rounds of 64, 61 and 60. So if you are looking for U.S. Open-type scoring, you are following the wrong tournament.
Golf Odds: Franklin Templeton Shootout Favorites
Because of the small field, I will list every team's Bovada odds here: English/Kuchar 7/2; Ian Poulter/Lee Westwood 7/2; Jason Dufner/Dustin Johnson 7/2; Jerry Kelly/ Stricker 9/1; Howell III/Justin Leonard 10/1; O'Hair/ Perry 11/1; Goosen/Jacobson 14/1; Graham DeLaet/Mike Weir 18/1; Chris DiMarco/Billy Horschel 20/1; Rory Sabbatini/Scott Verplank 28/1; Mark Calcavecchia/Chad Campbell 40/1; Jonas Blixt/Norman 50/1.
Golf Odds: Franklin Templeton Shootout Picks
Whichever team is leading after Saturday should be in good shape considering Perry and O'Hair were the seventh second-round leaders to win the tournament in the last 12 years.
I happen to think this season the karma has been with Jason Dufner. He won his first major at the PGA, and his Auburn Tigers -- his hot wife Amanda is an Alabama grad -- won the Iron Bowl and backed into the BCS title game. The final round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions is Jan. 6, the same day as the title game. Wonder if Dufner will play or attend the game. Anyway, he and Johnson comprise the highest-ranked team, and Johnson won this in 2010 with Poulter. I like the Americans -- despite Johnson struggling last week in California -- slightly over the first all-English pairing of Poulter and Westwood even though that duo usually plays well in Ryder Cup competitions, which this is somewhat like this (minus any pressure).
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