2009 Bob Hope Classic Preview and Pick

2009 Bob Hope Classic
Wednesday, Jan. 21 Sunday, Jan. 25
Palm Springs, California multiple course
The Golf Channel

by Matt of Predictem.com

The PGA jumps from Hawaii to California as the West Coast swing kicks off with the 50th Bob Hope Classic, hosted by Arnold Palmer. The Hope is a truly unique event, pairing actors, athletes and other celebrity amateurs with the pros in a 90-hole event. The sheer number of participants requires that the event be held on four courses simultaneously and you never know what you are going to see in terms of golf shots or antics through the 5 day event.

The Hope welcomes a new venue this year in the form of a Jack Nicklaus design at PGA West. The 6,957 yard, par-72 track will join event regulars, Bermuda Dunes, Silver Rock and the Palmer at PGA West as host courses for 2009. Bermuda, Silver Rock and the Palmer all rank in the top-10 easiest courses for the past years on Tour, so look for plenty of birdies and an exciting finish with three of the layouts finishing with a par-5. The Palmer course is home to David Duvals 59 in 1999 to win this event.

D.J. Trahan took top honors in 2008 with a 26-under par total and is back to defend his crown against a strong field overall, but one that is missing Tiger, Vijay, Phil and many top Euros as the Qatar Masters is a big draw this weekend as well. All five days of coverage can be seen on The Golf Channel.

Each week we take a look at the golf sportsbooks and make a pick to win from a short, middle and long odds grouping. We’ll highlight and breakdown some contenders and make some head to head match picks as well.

Justin Leonard – 11 to 1 to win

Justin Leonard has a week off since his 5th place finish to start the year at the Mercedes, and has a good track record at the Hope. Leonard was a runner-up to Trahan last year, and also has a win in 05 and a T8 in 03 on his Hope resume. Justin has the short game that plays no matter what the course and his 90.28% greens hit at the season opener is too good to ignore, and he is our short odds pick to win.

David Toms – 14 to 1 odds

Toms came up just short of Zach Johnson last week, tying for 2nd at the Sony after a very strong week overall. Like Leonard, Toms has a well rounded game that will help him make the day to day transitions here and his 36th ranked putting average should keep him in contention when the scores start south. Toms has not had the best run at the Hope with a lot of 30th to 50th finishes, otherwise he may have been our pick this week.

Mike Weir – 16 to 1 odds

Mike Weir is making his 09 debut at the Hope, hoping to better his T48 and T56 finishes of the last two years. The Canadian has a slick short game that will pay dividends and his attitude is suited for this type of atmosphere. Weir was 26th in putting average in 08 and compiled the 23rd best scoring average on Tour.

Tim Clark – 18 to 1

Tim Clark is outside most casual golf fans radar, but he is a sound player with the game to win nearly every week. Clark was a T12 at the Sony and hit nearly 70% of his fairways and greens. One weakness is off the tee where Clark ranked 165th in total driving in 08, but a 22nd ranked putting average saves a lot of pars.

Steve Stricker – 20 to 1 odds

Stricker is back at the Hope after a four-year gap, possibly due the missed cuts in 03 and 04. Stricker is a premier control player and anyone who watched the Presidents Cup knows his clutch putting ability. Steve posted a T23 last week, hitting 75% of the greens, despite finding less than half of the fairways. Stricker just know how to score, averaging a 13th best scoring average in 08 while ranking outside the top-50 in most major stat categories.

Our Picks to Win:

Short Favorite: Justin Leonard (11-1) Justin is a fan favorite and seems to enjoy the craziness of this event. If he can come anywhere near the ballstriking he showed at the Mercedes, he should be a major factor.

Middle of the Road: Chad Campbell (22 to 1) Campbell is making his 09 debut on accident after forgetting to sign up for last weeks event. That bit of embarrassment should spark the 06 Hope champ who was 6th last year in All Around Rank.

Longshot: Ben Crane (40 to 1) We are looking for two longshots in a row after Zach Johnson came through last week, and Ben Crane is our pick to do it. Crane was T12 here in 08 and has a top-5 in 04 as his best Hope finishes. A solid player overall, Crane ranked 16th in total driving last year, along with 18th putting average and 14th in birdies per round.

Head to Head Matches (our pick) *all matches are for entire tournament.

D.J. Trahan (-115) vs. Brian Gay (-115) (Gay)
Its hard to bet against a defending champ, but Brian gay is off to a hot start with two top-20s, including a 5th last week. Gay is leading the Tour in driving accuracy in 09 and his 7th ranked putter trumps Trahan.

Tim Clark (-115) v. Steve Stricker (Clark)
Clark has the better Hope track record of late and his ball striking has been better than Strickers at the end of 08 and early this year. Clark would have won heads up a week ago at the Sony.