PGA Tour Picks: The McGladrey Classic Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 10/21/2014
I'll just be honest here in that I had barely heard of golfer Ben Martin -- he probably never heard of me, either -- before he was the surprise winner of the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas last week.
The week before, Martin had shot 78-79 at the Frys.com Open to miss the cut and finish with the second-worst score in the field. So of course he then shot a 20-under 264, highlighted by a third-round 62, for his first Tour win in career start No. 56. Martin, the 54-hole leader, beat out Kevin Streelman by two shots. Streelman actually caught Martin late in his round Sunday, but Martin played the final four holes at 4-under with a huge eagle at No. 16 to regain the lead and hang on. Twice last year Martin did hold a 36-hole lead only to fall back on the weekend. He finished with three third-place results last season. Martin is the first first-time winner in Vegas since 2011.
Martin, who led the field with 26 birdies in the tournament, was probably best known previously as the runner-up at the U.S. Amateur in 2009. The year 2010 was the last time he played the Masters, but now he will this spring. The 27-year-old now doesn't have to worry about his Tour card through the 2016-17 season.
The two guys I really liked last week were Charley Hoffman and Martin Laird, the latter being my winning pick. Hoffman, a Vegas guy who almost always plays well there, missed the cut. Laird finished T18. On the Top-10 props I did hit on Webb Simpson at +167 with his T4 and Brooks Koepka at +185 as he also finished T4. That's about all that went right last week.
So let's move on to this week's event, the McGladrey Classic back on the East Coast at the Seaside Course in Sea Island, Ga. A handful of PGA pros live in that beautiful area. One of them is Davis Love III, who has been this tournament's host since it began in 2010. Last year, Chris Kirk became the first Sea Island member (he had moved to Atlanta) to win the McGladrey Classic. Kirk and Briny Baird were tied on the 72nd hole when Baird essentially choked by topping his shot out of a fairway bunker into a hazard. Kirk parred the hole for a one-shot win.
Kirk is here to defend off his second-place finish in the FedEx Cup. Love is playing as are U.S. Ryder Cup players Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson, who also live in the area. A whopping 10 players with state-of-Georgia ties combined for 13 tournament wins last season. Eight of those 10 players are competing this week. Only Bubba Watson and Patrick Reed aren't.
This is the last full points PGA Tour event in the United States this year. There is the Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi in two weeks, but that's opposite the WGC-HSBC Champions and not a full points event. The Hero World Challenge is held in Windermere, Fla., starting Dec. 4, and Tiger Woods is expected to return there as it's his event, but it's not an official tournament.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: The McGladrey Classic Favorites
Kuchar and Simpson are the 12/1 favorites at Bovada. In 12 rounds played at the McGladrey Classic in his career, Kuchar has been under par in 10 of them (scoring average of 68.00). He was T7 last year. Simpson had that strong finish last week. He has played here three times with a worst finish of T12. He lost in a playoff to Ben Crane three years ago. Simpson's scoring average on this par 70 is 67.17.
Kirk is 14/1 to defend. He won the Deutsche Bank Championship in the FedEx Cup playoffs to claim the points lead until Billy Horschel then won the final two events. Bill Haas (16/1) and Johnson (18/1) round out the favorites. Haas hasn't played here since the first event in 2010 when he was runner-up. He finished no worse than T16 in his final five events of last season. Johnson's best result here was T16 last year. Johnson didn't play all that well after mid-July this past season.
PGA Tour Picks: The McGladrey Classic Predictions
On the Top-10 props, I like Haas at +135, Kuchar at +120 and Simpson at +110. There aren't a ton of options this week. Don't like Kirk or Johnson. Head-to-head go Haas (-115) over Kirk (-115), Nick Watney (even) over Johnson (-130), Laird (-120) over Harris English (-110), Simpson (-120) over Kirk (-110) and Charles Howell III (-115) over Brendon De Jonge (-115). I like Laird at +225 as the top European and Stuart Appleby at +300 as the top Australian. Take one shot as the winning margin at +250. All four tournaments have been decided by no more than one shot, with only 2011 going to a playoff.
I do believe that one of Simpson, Kuchar or Haas will win here. Kuchar has the home-course advantage, but he didn't play great last week (T21). I like that Simpson also has a tournament under his belt already and did play well. In addition, among players in this week's field who have played at least two times previously, only Michael Thompson has a lower scoring average at Sea Island (67.00). Simpson is the guy. You can also get him at +275 to finish in the Top 5.
Doc's Sports is offering $60 worth of member's picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - you don't even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please for any handicapper and any sport on Doc's Sports Advisory Board list of expert sports handicappers. Click here for more details and take advantage of this free $60 picks credit today .
Read more articles by Alan Matthews