Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Jan. 16-20, Palm Desert , California (multiple courses), The Golf Channel
by Matt of Predictem.com
Admit it, you often watch the PGA Tour and wonder if Cheech Marin could hole that putt Tiger just knocked in, or if Alice Cooper could pull of that Mickelson flop shot. You can see it with your own eyes this week as the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic get underway Wednesday from Palm Desert , California . Charley Hoffman is back to defend his 07 title against 127 other pros with $5.1 million up for grabs along with 25,000 FedExCup points.
This event is truly unique and a truly fun watch for casual PGA fans and diehards alike. First off, the event is lengthened to 90 holes over 5 days from a standard 72, and while the host course is The Classic Club, three other courses are used for the tournament. PGA West (Palmer Course), La Quinta CC and Silver Rock round out the venues for the event, all competitors will log rounds on each. Oh yeah, the Celebrity Pro-Am portion of the Hope is contested right along with the regular Tour competition, so the pros get to sweat out 3-footers for par while one of the Smothers Brothers is yo-yoing to the crowd. To succeed this weekend, a golfer needs to have versatility along with a truckload of patience. Some players choose to not even try.
There are very few highly ranked players competing this week. Tiger and Phil still havent gotten the season out of neutral yet, and wont this week either. World number 3 Steve Stricker is not scheduled to compete, nor are Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk. This event can be a circus, with painfully long rounds and a high distraction level; so many players choose to skip in favor of rest, especially if they have played in the Hawaii openers the past two weeks. With all the no-shows, and quirky format, many players have a shot to contend and win.
First among them could be Mike Weir. Coming off good play and a 4th place finish at the Mercedes to open the season, Weir is a former champion here (2003) and he possesses the demeanor to succeed in a format like this. Weir is the going favorite at many golf sportsbooks, where he is getting 14-1 odds. After not teeing it up at last weeks Sony, fatigue should not be a factor for Mike. If the wind blows, and it usually does, look for him to use his premier shotmaking to battle the elements and turn the odds further in his favor.
Next up are a two golfers with previous event success and solid all-around games that fare well in the desert. Chad Campbell and Scott Verplank are listed at 18-1 and both pose a solid threat to take the trophy this week. Campbell has two top-15 finishes so far in 08 and leads the tour thus far in par-4 birdie percentage (25%). Chad was a winner here in 06 and looks to return to contention after missing the cut last year. He is one of the seven golfers that are making their third start of 08, so if fatigue doesnt catch up, Campbell could easily kiss the trophy again.
Verplank is coming off a stellar 07 in general and he was a t-8 at the Hope last time out. He also has a solo second in 06 and rarely finishes out of the top-20. The celebrities have failed to derail Scott in previous years, and his all-around game is perfect for the 90 hole grind.
Deeper in the field holds some good long odd looks. Daniel Chopra is getting 33-1, he already has a win at the Mercedes, and was swinging well at the Sony as well. Defending Champion, Charley Hoffman, will get you 50-1 if he can repeat. Local product Anthony Kim is maybe the trendiest pick this week; his superior length will help him score on the par-5s, he is off at 50-1 as well. Runner-up from 07, John Rollins is deeper yet at 66-1, he lost in a playoff to Hoffman last year.
Ill stick with the above mentioned for the matches this week. Weir is up against Verplank in a favorites battle. I like Mike Weir at -130 to handle all the issues this week and come out on top. He has played better most recently and seems dialed in. Heck, he even beat Tiger in the Presidents Cup.
I am also taking Chad Campbell -115 against Justin Leonard. Campbell is seasoned in the desert and has the previous Hope success to spur him. Leonard has been fighting it some lately as well.
For the Win:
Short: Mike Weir 14-1
Middle: Stewart Cink 28-1
Long: J.J. Henry 80-1