Zurich Classic of New Orleans preview: Time for a favourite to win?
This week’s question, is simple: how many times has the favourite won on the PGA Tour this year? Answer twice and no prizes for guessing who it was both times. Other than Tiger Woods it’s been a big flat zero through 14 competitions.
Unfortunately punters and tipsters alike are not head-over-heels in love with David Toms as the man to break the duck in this less than stellar affair.
Did I say stellar? First off, correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought this whole new exciting FedEx Cup concept was meant to make the season more, well, exciting, more top flight? You couldn’t get much lower flight than this if you started tunnelling down from your basement. As a result most punters, like most top golfers, have taken the week off. It’s great this ‘professional’ golfing malarkey isn’t it? Imagine if the New York Yankees or Manchester United said: “Sorry, can’t be arsed this week, or next, and maybe even the one after that. We’ll let you know.”
And so much for all the hand-wringing in the golfing community over the havoc wreaked by hurricane Katrina. After toiling for two years to restore TPC Louisiana, the sponsors get two fingers from golf’s finest.
For those hardy souls still in the game, here’s who’s supposedly hot or not. This week’s word of caution is to ignore last year’s form since it was a different course. The competition has only been played on the TPC course once, two years ago, since when it has been slightly shortened. It still looks as if the winner will need to bring strong driving skills to the tee.
Toms had a hand in the design of this course, but that doesn’t mean much - he missed the cut two years ago. But he is enjoying a fine season including three top tens and two top 20s (last result 9th at the Masters). Looks a slightly better favourite than some seem to think.
Sean O’Hair is attracting most money on the back of a solid revival. After a string of missed cuts he’s been top 20 in his last three outings and was seventh last week. He was also 14th here two years ago.
Lucas Glover is stuttering - two missed cuts in the last three outings, but the third was 20th in the Masters. Much of his popularity stems from coming third here two years ago. I’ll pass.
Bubba Watson is a very much a tipster’s favourite, even though he missed the cut last week. Being the Tour’s longest driver helps, but he does have a strong all-round game. I always worry about his stamina over four days and he threw it away three weeks ago. Also, he’s new to this course.
After that there’s a not a lot that sings out, which is probably why the wise are staying on the sidelines. Chris Couch, the defending champion, is not at all popular: he hasn’t played this course and his season is unimpressive. His stats suggest he shouldn’t be ruled out, though.
Boo Weekley looks a lay, at least on the basis that he admits to being fatigued from his late victory at the Heritage. There’s interest in Tim Petrovic, who was the winner two years ago, but I can’t see it on his present performance. And although Chris DiMarco came third here two years ago, he is having an exceptionally poor season. A bet on him is a pure recovery play and the price of 38 ain’t right for me.
Anthony Kim might be worth revisiting if he can remember his manners long enough not to get his head knocked off (he had to be spoken to last week for stepping across a playing partner’s line). I don’t think Stephen Leaney drives it well enough for this, but you could do worse than put a bit on our regular nearly man Bo van Pelt, fifth two years ago, 10th last week and with a stats profile to suit.
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