FBR Open, Jan. 31-Feb. 3, Scottsdale Arizona, TPC Scottsdale, Golf Channel/CBS
by Matt of Predictem.com
After the cool California weather of last weeks Buick Invitational, the PGA players are looking to forward to playing in the Arizona desert this week at the FBR Open. The TPC of Scottsdale is the host course and is one of the most spectator friendly venues on the Tour. The Golf Channel airs the early action with CBS picking up the weekend broadcast for the event.
Tiger Woods stormed the field to take last weeks event, but gives the other competitors a break by playing in Dubai this week, leaving the winners share of $1.08 million for the taking. Even without Tiger, a strong field is out this week including Phil Mickelson and defending champion, Aaron Baddeley.
Noted as one of the most fun courses on Tour, the TPC has stadium-like views for fans and a history of wild galleries. Be it fun or distraction, the general atmosphere at the course is a much an issue as the 7216 yard, par-71 layout.
With Tiger in Dubai, where he is even money to win by the way, Phil Mickelson assumes the role of favorite for this week. Phil is currently found at 7 to 1 for the outright win at golf sportsbooks, and rightly so. Lefty has two FBR titles under his belt and has been great in Arizona throughout his career. He shook off respiratory problems to finish t-6 at last weeks Buick and should be able to shake off any lingering symptoms with the help of the crowd. Mickelson is a fan favorite as a Sun Devil alum. A missed cut here in 07 was likely an anomaly for Phil.
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Next on the board at 12 to 1 is Rory Sabbatini. Sabbabtini is another Arizona college product and is hot of late posting a 3rd last week at the Buick with a 2nd at the Sony before that. In fact, his worst finish this year is a respectable 17th at the Mercedes. Rory will be looking to improve on recent FBR results; he managed only a 59th place finish in 07.
The next group of contenders has early season success to lean on this week. Steve Stricker returns to Tour play after a few weeks off. Swinging well of late, Steve has two top-5 finishes in Hawaii this year and is at 14 to 1 odds to win. Justin Leonard has three top-10 finishes in three starts so far and is at 20 to 1. Defending champion, Aaron Baddeley has two top-15s on the early season and is getting 18 to 1 odds to lift the trophy for a second consecutive year.
In the mid-range odds, Stewart Cink is a great value at 25 to 1. Cink is coming off a 3rd place finish at the Buick and has posted 11th and 15th place finishes in his last two FBR starts. Deeper in the field, Camilo Villegas is at 40 to 1 and could surprise this week. Camilo had a solid Buick, t-13, and has a t-2 finish in 06 on his FBR Open resume.
As the matchups go, look to lean on Vijay Singh and Stewart Cink this week. Singh is up against K.J. Choi and Cink is matched up with Charles Howell III.
Vijay has had respectable but pedestrian results so far this year including a 23rd at the Buick, so he is close to cashing one in. Choi does have a win earlier at the Sony Open, but missed the cut last week. Choi also was a MC in the 07 FBR while Vijay contended last year, finishing 7th.
Both Cink and Howell are off to good starts this year, but Cink has the edge in the past years at the TPC of Scottsdale. While Howell has finishes of 40th (twice) and 23rd in his last three tries here, Cink has two finishes in the top-15.
For the win:
Short Phil Mickelson 7 to 1
Middle Stewart Cink 25 to 1
Long Camilo Villegas 40 to 1