PGA Tour Picks: The McGladrey Classic Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 11/6/2013
As good as Dustin Johnson has been in his PGA Tour career, there's no doubt that winning last week's WGC-HSBC Champions is his best victory so far. It almost turned into one of his worst choke jobs as Johnson led by six shots while teeing off on No. 18 on Saturday, only to drive in the water for a double. By his second hole on Sunday, he was in a three-way tie for the lead with Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell. However, Johnson found a groove on the back nine by playing one five-hole stretch at 5 under to beat out Poulter by three shots. It was Johnson's eighth Tour victory overall, the most of any player under age 30; Rory McIlroy is next with six, and Webb Simpson has four (Simpson and McIlroy have won a major while DJ has blown two good chances at one).
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A European had won the tournament the previous three years, and I went that route again with England's Paul Casey at 28/1. He finished 20th. On the Top-10 props I hit on Sergio Garcia at +185 after he finished solo fourth and just missed on Keegan Bradley at the same price; he finished T11. I did hit on Johnson head-to-head at -115 over Ryan Moore.
I was tempted to preview the third leg of the European Tour's Final Series in the Race to Dubai this week at the Turkish Open. There's very strong field there, led by Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, but I'll stick with the PGA Tour and the final official event of 2013 in the United States: the McGladrey Classic on the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island in Georgia. That area is rife with PGA Tour pros' residences, and Davis Love hosts this event, which has only been around since 2010. Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson, who both skipped last week's trip to China to rest up for this, also live there. The McGladrey used to be part of the Fall Series but is a full-fledged tournament now, and the winner gets a Masters invite among other perks.
Expect a birdiefest at this easy par 70. The worst score of a winner was 266 by Heath Slocum in 2010, and that has been improved by a stroke for the eventual champion each year. Last year it played as the easiest par 70 on Tour with an average round of 69.281. Staying on the fairway off the tee isn't a huge challenge, but the greens are massive here, so putting is key.
Last year, Tommy Gainey nearly joined the 59 club as he shot a final-round and course-record 60 to edge David Toms by a shot. It was only the third final-round 60 in Tour history. Gainey missed about a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th for his 59. He's here to defend but has struggled since the win.
No member of the local contingent has won this tournament, although Love was in the hunt last season, finishing T4 after holding the 54-hole lead with Jim Furyk. That T4 is the best-ever finish for a resident of the island. Only three players are here after playing in China last week: Brian Gay, Boo Weekley and Scott Piercy.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: The McGladrey Classic Favorites
Simpson is the 10/1 favorite at Bovada. He won his first title since the 2012 U.S. Open at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, never shooting worse than 64. He didn't play this tournament last year but lost in a playoff to Ben Crane in 2011 and was T12 the year before that.
Kuchar and Johnson, the two highest-ranked players here, are at 12/1. Kuchar might be rusty as he hasn’t played an official event since the Presidents Cup. Kuchar skipped this event last year but was T20 two years ago and T25 before that. Johnson was T40 a few weeks ago in Vegas. Even with that, he has seven Top-10 finishes in his past nine events, including a win at the BMW in the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Charles Howell III and Harris English, another local, round out the favorites at 25/1. “Chucky Three Sticks” played in the first three events of the new wraparound season and had Top-10 finishes in his last two. He was T7 at Seaside in 2012, his second Top-10 there.
PGA Tour Picks: The McGladrey Classic Betting Predictions
On the Top-10 finishes, I like Johnson (+135) and Brendon de Jonge (+250). Take a playoff as the winning margin at +250. Two of the three previous tournaments have ended by one stroke, and there was that playoff two years ago. Head-to-head, I like Simpson (-130) over Kuchar (even), Howell III (-115) over English (-115), Vijay Singh (-130) over Sean O'Hair (even) and in the washed-up section David Duval (+130) over Mike Weir (-170). A lot of the experts like Kuchar this week, but I think he will need a few rounds to get back in sync after the month off. Go with Brian Davis at 6/1 as top European and Robert Allenby at 5/1 as top Aussie.
Jeff Overton is worth a look at 50/1 to win his first PGA Tour event. He played in three of the first four events this season and hasn't been worse than T16. He was T6 in 2011 at this tournament and hasn't shot over par in eight career rounds at Seaside.
I do think there's a first-time winner this week but that it's Zimbabwe's Brendon de Jonge (28/1). He hasn't played well in two events this season but was T4 here a year ago. De Jonge is way too good to not have won yet.
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