And that's three winners on my picks for 2016!
At last week's Valero Texas Open against a pretty weak field, my choice to win the tournament was Charley Hoffman at a nice Bovada price +3000. My logic was that Hoffman had played every Texas Open since the tournament moved to TPC San Antonio and hadn't finished worse than T13. He was third there in 2013 and second in 2011.
On Sunday, Hoffman finally broke through with a win, draining a 9-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole and shooting a final-round 69 to finish at 12-under 276 and one shot ahead of Patrick Reed. Entering the week, Hoffman ranked just 200th in final-round scoring average this season and had not posted a final-round score better than 73 in his last six. It was Hoffman's fourth career PGA Tour win and the 19th tournament of the season to be decided by a shot or in a playoff.
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Reed, a San Antonio native, also birdied No. 18 but missed very makeable ones on the previous two holes. He leads the PGA Tour with eight Top 10s this season, two more than anyone else, but has yet to win. Third-round leader Ricky Barnes, looking for his first Tour win in his 222nd start, shot a final-round 74 to finish T4.
In addition on Hoffman at +3000 to win, I also hit on him at +250 for a Top 10. Jimmy Walker was the defending champion and also a San Antonio native whom I thought would have a Top 10, but he missed the cut. So did Phil Mickelson, another guy I thought would contend. Frankly, I didn't get much right other than Hoffman last week, but I'll take that every time.
Before I get to this week's preview of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, I want to talk about Tiger Woods for a minute. First off, I highly recommend an ESPN.com story on him recently posted by Wright Thompson. Truly remarkable information in there. Second, Woods was finally spotted playing some casual holes in public this week and said he felt pretty good after. He also officially registered for the U.S. Open next month, although that still doesn't mean he will play. But you are hearing rumblings that Tiger could debut at the Wells Fargo event in Charlotte next week. Golf is still more interesting with Woods around, so I hope that's true.
This week the Tour makes its lone stop in Louisiana for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana. It's a so-so field with six of the world's Top 35 entered, led by No. 1 Jason Day and Hoffman looking to go back-to-back.
The defending champion is Justin Rose. Last year, the Englishman birdied the final two holes on Sunday to shoot 66 and finish at 22-under 266, a record total on the course. He beat out Cameron Tringale, who birdied his 72nd hole, by a shot. Rose played his final 66 holes without a bogey. Expect plenty of scoring again, as last year the field averaged 69.951 strokes, easiest among all stand-alone par 72s in 2014-15.
Golf Odds: Zurich Classic Of New Orleans Favorites
Day is the +500 favorite at Bovada. He led through 54 holes here last year after rounds of 67-65-68 but shot a final-round 69 and finished T4 at 19 under. Prior to that, he hadn't played the tournament since 2009. Day was last seen with a T23 at the RBC Heritage.
Rose is +800 to repeat. The last to do that was Carlos Franco in 1999-2000 when this was played at a different course. Rose, who hasn't played since a T10 at the Masters, was eighth here in 2014.
Rickie Fowler (+1100), Billy Horschel (+1800) and Hoffman (+2000) round out the favorites. Fowler has missed the cut here the past two years and missed the cut at the Masters in his last Tour start. Horschel won here in 2013 but has struggled the past two years. He was T4 last week, though. Hoffman was fifth in 2014 in his last trip to New Orleans.
PGA Tour Picks: Zurich Classic Of New Orleans Expert Betting Predictions
For a Top 10, I like Day (-200), Rose (-140) and Daniel Berger (+225). Why Berger? He was sixth here last year and seven of the last 11 winners here have been first-timers. Berger has yet to win but is playing well this year.
Head-to-head, go with Horschel (+120) over Fowler (-165), Berger (+105) over Hoffman (-135), Chris Kirk (-115) over Smylie Kaufman (-115), Marc Leishman (-130) over Tringale (even), and Charles Howell III (-115) over Danny Lee (-115).
If I was given the chance at a Day/Rose vs. the field prop in this tournament, I'd take it. Let's go with Rose to repeat. It' has happened six times overall at this tournament. Plus Rose usually plays well at Pete Dye-designed courses.
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