PGA Tour Golf Picks: Tampa Bay Championship Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 3/13/2013
If you weren't already very excited for next month's Masters, then I'm guessing last week's WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral's Blue Monster did the trick. The tournament itself was never in doubt as Tiger Woods went wire-to-wire for his second dominating victory already this season. When Tiger's putting well, forget about it. He had only 100 in his 72 holes at Doral, the fewest Woods has ever had when playing a full tournament.
In Tiger's last 18 stroke-play starts on the PGA Tour, he has won five times. That's pretty good -- still, I don't think you can say he's back to pre-2009 form until he wins a major. However, Tiger's dominance certainly altered some Bovada futures odds: He is now the huge 11/10 favorite to win the US money list title and down to 4/1 to add his fifth green jacket at Augusta.
What made last week so exciting, other than Tiger, was stellar final leader board: Steve Stricker (who gave his pal Tiger a putting tip that clearly worked), Sergio Garcia, Graeme McDowell (my pick to win), Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Keegan Bradley, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose all had Top-10 finishes. McIlroy perhaps figured things out finally with a final-round 65, easily his best round of the year. Perhaps the biggest disappointment was Luke Donald not breaking 70 and finishing T43 in the non-cut tournament.
On the head-to-head, I didn't have great week, hitting only on Tiger at -175 over McIlroy (+135). Mickelson (-115) and Scott (-115) tied. My only “yes” on the Top 10 was Tiger (-110). As noted, I chose McDowell to win at 33/1 and he had a shot before a final-round 72.
This week the Florida Swing moves north and to the Gulf Coast for the Tampa Bay Championship, a tournament that could be in some jeopardy as it couldn't find a title sponsor for this week -- just a presenting sponsor in EverBank. This event has been in its current form since 2000, and players rave about the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort just north of St. Petersburg, Fla. This tournament usually has a solid field but has lost out on the biggest names as it falls after the big-money WGC event at Doral and the week before Arnold Palmer's tournament at Bay Hill in Orlando, where several dozen PGA Tour players live.
Thus, the field this week as usual is missing the biggest names like Tiger, Lefty and Rory. Ernie Els was a late addition but then had to pull out because of a hip problem. The defending champion Donald leads six players ranked in the Top 20. Three 2013 winners are here: Matt Kuchar, Brian Gay and Michael Thompson. Last year, Donald shot a final-round 66 to get into a four-man playoff with Jim Furyk, Robert Garrigus and Sang-Moon Bae. Donald won with a birdie on the first extra hole to regain the No. 1 spot in the world from McIlroy. Els bogeyed the final two holes to blow the lead and missed the playoff.
Look for low scores this week as the past three champions on the par-71 Copperhead Course have each shot at least 12 under. Last year's scoring average of 70.732 was a record low for the event. Also expect a hole-in-one this week as there are five par 3s (Bovada currently is offering yes-only odds on certain players).
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Tampa Bay Championship Favorites
The Aussie Scott is the 14/1 favorite at Bovada, which is clearly based on recent form and not his past in this tournament. Scott played better in each round last week on his way to a T3 and led the field in total driving. Scott had a T10 in his only other stroke-play event this year on the PGA Tour. But he has yet to finish better than T28 in four trips here. Scott hasn't played the tournament since 2010.
Donald, Kuchar and Sergio Garcia are all at 16/1. Something is off with Donald, as he hasn't broken 70 in his past six stroke-play rounds. Supposedly he was going to meet with his swing coach before this tournament. Donald also has a T6 here (2010) in addition to last year's win.
Kuchar hasn't broken 70 in his past seven stroke-play rounds but of course won the Match Play. He was T10 here last year, his best finish since 2002. Garcia plays here for the fourth year in a row, with a best finish of T15. His T3 last week was his 12th straight T25 dating to last season.
Webb Simpson rounds out the Top-5 favorites at 18/1. He was T20 last week, his fourth Top-20 in stroke-play tournaments this year. Simpson hasn't finished worse than T13 here the past three years, with a best of second in 2011.
PGA Tour Picks: Tampa Bay Championship Predictions
On the head-to-head, I like Sergio (-115) over Scott (-115), Donald (-125) over Simpson (-105), Kuchar (-120) over Jason Dufner (-110) and Martin Kaymer (-115) over Thompson (-115). On the yes-only Top-10 props, take Garcia, Donald (both +150) and Furyk (+300).
Retief Goosen is great value to win at 80/1. He hasn't played well since a T9 at Pebble Beach, but this course could be the perfect tonic: he has two wins and T5 at Copperhead. I'm also intrigued by Scott Piercy (35/1). His T25 last week was his fourth this year on the Tour, and he was T5 at this tournament in 2012.
The top choice is Furyk at 25/1. He hasn't really contended this year, with a T35 last week and a best of T13 at the Northern Trust Open, but Furyk lost in the playoff last year, won this event in 2010 and was T13 in 2011. Furyk's accurate driving is a must on this tree-lined course, which suits him perfectly. He is fifth on the Tour this year in fairways hit.
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