PGA Tour Picks: Zurich Classic of New Orleans Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 4/24/2013
Almost hit on my second winner of this PGA Tour season last week at the RBC Heritage but instead had to settle for another near-miss in 2013 as Luke Donald finished third behind Graeme McDowell and Webb Simpson. Donald did pay off at +125 on a Top-10 finish, and I also hit on a playoff as the winning margin with McDowell beating fellow former U.S. Open champion Simpson on the first extra hole. McDowell continues a trend this year in that 30-year-olds are dominating. It was the 11th win by someone in their 30s on the PGA Tour in 2013, compared to four winners in their 20s and two in their 40s. Shockingly, it was McDowell's first Tour win since the 2010 U.S. Open.
The Tour takes a quick pit stop off the East Coast this week with a visit to TPC Louisiana and the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. It's a fairly weak field because the next two events, the Wells Fargo in Charlotte and the Players Championship, are big-money events and few top players like competing three weeks in a row. (However, it was announced this week that Tiger will skip Charlotte.) Six of the world's Top 25 are in New Orleans. Perhaps the most intriguing player this week is one who won't win and you can't bet on: 14-year-old Chinese phenom Tianlang Guan will return to the Tour for the first time since a very impressive showing at the Masters, where he was the youngest player to ever make the cut and also the victim of a controversial slow play penalty.
As good a player as Jason Dufner is considered now -- he's No. 20 in the world -- it's hard to believe he only got his first PGA Tour win here a year ago. He beat Ernie Els on the second playoff hole to win for the first time in 164 starts on the Tour (so Dufner beat the Big Easy in the Big Easy). Els had trailed Dufner by three through 54 holes (and leader Charley Hoffman by four), and Els blew very makeable birdie putts to win on his 72nd hole and on the first playoff hole (both No. 18). Dufner would win again a few weeks later at the Byron Nelson but hasn't since despite a handful of Top-5 finishes. He's looking for his first T5 this year. Dufner is looking to become the fifth player to win this event in consecutive years but first since Carlos Franco in 1999-2000.
Expect plenty of scoring this week. Scoring overall at 7,425-yard TPC Louisiana last year was at an all-time low of 71.00, with Dufner and Els setting a tournament-record at 19-under 269. Those two combined for only seven bogeys in regulation play. Also possibly expect the 54-hole leader not to win. This year, 10 of the first 12 stroke-play events were won by the leader heading into the final round, but the past four have not been.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Zurich Classic of New Orleans Favorites
Rose is the 12/1 favorite at Bovada, no surprise since he's easily the highest-ranked player here. He has 14 straight Top-25 finishes around the world and had three straight Top-10s on the PGA Tour before a T25 at the Masters. Rose has two Top-10s in this event, including last year, but has also missed two cuts in the past four years.
Dufner, Bubba Watson and Keegan Bradley are all 16/1. Dufner hasn't contended this year with a best finish of T12 and two missed cuts. Last year's win was no surprise as he preceded it with three straight Top-10s at this event. Watson won here in 2011 and was T18 a year ago, a pretty good result considering he was exhausted following winning the Masters and all that entails. Bradley had four straight Top-10 finishes this year before a T54 at the Masters thanks to a third-round 82. He missed the cut in New Orleans a year ago.
Rickie Fowler rounds out the Top 5 at 20/1. Why isn't Fowler winning this year? His final-round stroke average of 73.0 is No. 159 on Tour. He still has three Top-10s and was T10 here a year ago.
PGA Tour Picks: Zurich Classic of New Orleans Predictions
An American has won this event four straight years and seven of the past eight, but there are eight Top-50 ranked international players in this field, led by No. 4 Rose. This was the first Tour victory for five of the past eight winners.
On the Top-10 yes-only props I like Dufner (+125), Rose (even) and Billy Horschel (+250). Heat-to-head, take Bradley (-115) over Watson (-115), Fowler (-120) over Nick Watney (-110) and Charles Howell III (-115) over Brendon De Jonge (-115).
Horschel is very interesting at 28/1 to win his first tournament. He has three straight Top-10 finishes and has made 22 straight cuts overall. However, he missed the cut here in 2012.
Cameron Tringale (40/1) was playing well before missing the cut at the Texas Open the week before the Masters and will be plenty rested not having played since then. He has finished progressively better in the past three years in New Orleans, topped by a T7 a year ago.
But I think Rose is clearly the best player in this field and wins on Tour for the first time since last March. It will be his best chance for a while considering the field's strength.
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