2009 Buick Invitational Preview and Picks

The Buick Invitational
Thursday February 5 Sunday February 8, 2009
Torrey Pines South San Diego , CA
The Golf Channel/CBS

by Matt of Predictem.com

The PGA spent just one week in the desert and now is back in California to continue the West Coast swing with the Buick Invitational from San Diego . This event has belonged to Tiger in recent years, with Woods winning last year to make it four in a row. Tiger is still in rehab mode off his knee surgery, leaving the trophy up for grabs to a very strong field. The Golf Channel has all the action on Thursday and Friday with CBS picking up the weekend telecasts.

Torrey Pines is the host course for the Buick Invitational and is one of the more demanding tracks on the Tour schedule. Torrey Pines South will play at par-72 for the week and measure 7,569 yards. The South Course ranked as the 10th hardest in Tour competition last year, playing nearly two strokes over par at 73.8 strokes on average. Each player will complete one round on the Torrey North as well, a much less demanding layout and much shorter at 6,874 yards.

Length is usually a factor here, with the longest players gaining an advantage on the South especially. Neither course requires the players to hit a lot of fairways to make birdies, but the shorter players will have to stay in the short stuff to offset the yardage factor. A smooth putter is almost always a must anywhere on Tour, and the South is no exception, registering the 5th highest putts per hole average in 08.


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Each week we take a look at the golf sportsbooks and breakdown some of players expected to contend. We will make one pick to win from a short, middle and long odds group and pick a few players to win head to head matches as well. Here is the rundown for the 2009 Buick Invitational.

Phil Mickelson - 10 to 1 to win
It was a rough start to the year for Lefty as he doubled the first hole at last weeks FBR and never recovered, missing the cut. Look for a bounce back this week as Phil has fared well here in recent years with consecutive top-10s in his last two Buick starts. Mickelsons game is right for the course as well, with a 300+ yard driver and a 22nd ranked putter in the 08 season. Phil missed one cut last year and won the following event, so we are sticking with him for a second week as our short odds pick to win.

Padraig Harrington - 11 to 1
Harrington is making his ’09debut in the states after teeing it up across the pond to this point. This will be the first Buick Invitational for Paddy in quite sometime, but finished T36 last summer at the U.S. Open here at Torrey Pines. Harrington was superb late last year, winning the player of the year award on Tour after logging the 8th best birdie average and 3rd ranked overall birdie conversion percentage. Most importantly, Paddy was the 5th ranked putter in ’08, making him a threat to win every week.

Camilo Villegas - 16 to 1
Villegas is coming off an unlikely missed cut at the FBR on a coursethat seemed tailor made for his game. Torrey Pines is another track that should suit Camilo, but the putter will need to awake from its slumber to make a real run at any event. Villegas has been streaky at the Buick, missing the cut in ’06 and ’07 before a 13th last year. Camilo has been very good this year hitting greens, ranking 8th at 77%.

Luke Donald - 18 to 1
Luke has had a solid but quiet startto the ’09 season, finishing 23rd and 25th at the Sony and FBR. Donald also has consecutive top-25’s at the Buick, including a T2 in ’05. Luke owns the 12th best scoring average in ’09 at 69.2 and the 16th best putting average so far. Donald is not one of the longer players on Tour, but is good at cashing in birdies, especially on par-5’s where his conversion % is good for 14th.

Rory Sabbatini - 18 to 1
Sabbatini has been under the radar for the last year or so, but looks back in form afterconsecutive T12 finishes at the Sony and FBR. Rory has been good at Torrey Pines, finishing 3rd last year and 16th in ’06. Sabbs is averaging a 9th best putts per round and 3rd best scoring average in ’09 along with a top-15 rank in par-4 performance. Sabbatini is our middle odds pick this week.

Our Picks to Win

Short Favorite: Phil Mickelson (10 to 1) - We’ll give Lefty another shot after a misfire last week. Value-wise, 10 to 1 is a great potential return on Mickelson, he is typically found in the 6 to 8 to 1 range.

Middle of the Road: Rory Sabbatini (18 to 1) - Torrey Pines is kind to his game and the putter has been good so far. A few more finding the bottom will bring a late Sunday pairing.

Longshot: Charley Hoffman (40 to 1) - These odds seem a little high for a guy who just lost ina playoff and has 8 of 9 rounds in the 60’s this year. Hoffman is scary long and hitting 78% of greens in ’09 while leading all players in ballstriking to this point.

Head to Head Matchup (our pick) (* all matches for entire tournament)

Aaron Oberholser (-115) v. Brandt Snedeker (-115) (Snedeker) - Both of these players are coming off a short week after missing the FBR cut and have very similar stat lines. Snedeker has the advantage with the putter and has the better Buick finish with a 3rd in ’07.

Camilo Villegas (-120) v. Luke Donald (-110) (Donald) - Villegas seems the easy choice with his length advantage but the putter hasn’t gotten on track yet and Donald has been so steady and unlikely to beat himself.

Good Luck!