2009 Transitions Championship Preview and Picks

Transitions Championship
Thursday March 19th Sunday March 22nd, 2009
Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club Tampa , FL
Golf Channel/NBC

by Matt of Predictem.com

About the same time that the college hoops tourney starts; the PGA pros will fire their first tee shots at the Transitions Championship. The Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club has hosted a PGA event since 1999, but this will be the first with Transitions Eye Care as the title sponsor. The event has gone under the name of the Tampa Classic in the past and most recently was known as the PODS championship.

Sean OHair is the defending champion here and he will try to make it two in a row against a field that is lacking some of the star power from last weeks WGC event. There are still plenty of players to watch this week, but Tiger, Phil, Vijay and Sergio have all opted out of this event. The Golf Channel will carry all the early round action with NBC picking up the weekend broadcasts.

Innisbrook is among the Tour players favorite venues in the rotation and is a course that rewards accuracy and precision over the power game. The par-71 track measures 7,340 yards for the championship and the course was rated in the top-10 in overall difficulty from last year. Fairways and greens will be at a premium this week, especially on the several holes that require proper tee shot placement to open up greens for birdie opportunities. Look for the traditionally accurate iron players to fare well this week and a hot putter will be necessary to separate from the field.

Each week, we take a look at the golf sportsbooks and break down a few players that are expected to contend. We will pick a winner from a short, middle and long shot odds perspective and pick some head to head matches as well. Weve hit one winner so far this year (Zach Johnson 30 to 1 at the Sony) and we currently have a 54% winning percentage on our head to heads for the year. Here are some players to watch at the 2009 Transitions Championship.


Jim Furyk - Paying 10 to 1 for an outright win
Furyk is the clear favorite this week after posting T9 and solo 3rd place finishes in the last two WGC events. Those strong field results have him the favorite by a large margin over the next player on the board and his game is suited to Innisbrook as well. Furyk is 25th in fairways hit and 2nd in putts per round while ranking 12th in scoring. The GIR% is down a bit from Jim’s typical rank, but he is still hitting over 65% and that was good enough to card four rounds in the 60’s at the CA Championship. Furyk is looking for his first win since ’07 and this may be the week to end that streak.

K.J. Choi - 20 to 1
Choi hasstruggled a bit since some early season success, finishing 59th last week and going out in round one of the Accenture, but he isa two time winner at Innisbrook. K.J. was the champ in ’02 and ’06 and finished 6th in his last start here. Choi has the stat sheet to play well here, ranking 28th in driving accuracy, 4th in greens hit and 24th in ballstriking. The putter has beena bit spotty of late, but K.J. obviously knows how to read these greens and he is our short odds pick to win this week.

Sean O’Hair - 20 to 1
The defending champ is having a good year so far, finishing inside the top-25 in all six of his starts, including three top-10’s. Sean has struggled to find the fairway this year, ranking 119th, but rebounds to hit the 11th most greens. A 28th ranked putter leads to the 6th most birdies and a 15th best scoring average. A title defense is not out of the question this week.

Kenny Perry - 22 to 1
Perry has continued hisstrong play from ’08 by recording a win at the FBR and notching five top-25’s in seven starts. Kenny’s game is tailor made for Innisbrook, ranking 8th in greens hit and 4th in overall ballstriking. Perry adds the 24th ranked birdie average and 13th best scoring average to rank 5th in the all around stat in ’09 play.

Zach Johnson - 25 to 1
Zach got off to a great start in ’09 with 6th, 1st and12th place finishes in his first three starts. The last three have seen a missed cut, 17th and 53rd, but this week could see a turnaround for our favorite player so far in ’09. Johnson is 16th in fairways hit and 4th in GIR% to rank 7th in ballstrikingand hasthe look of a contender at Innisbrook. Zach is 24th in scoring in ’09 and tied for 14th in last year’s event.

Our picks to win:

Short Favorite: K.J. Choi (20 to 1 odds) - Furyk is a great pick on paper but there is a reason he hasn’t cashed inwin in more than a year. He’ll eventually snag another, but K.J. has the course resume and should be spurred by the winfrom fellow KoreanY.E. Yang a few weeks back.

Middle of the Road: Steve Stricker (25 to 1) - Stricker has had a few near misses with 2nd and 3rd place finishes this year.Steve sportsthe 22nd GIR% and ranks 15th in putts per round.

Longshot: Tim Clark (30 to 1) - Clark is top-27 in all six starts with the 2nd best GIR stat and ranks 8th in ballstriking.

Head to Head Matches (our pick to win) *all matches are for entire tournament - check your favorite book for daily matchups

Chad Campbell (-115) v. D.J. Trahan (-115) (Trahan)
Campbell is a capable player, ranking 24th in ballstriking, but Trahan hasn’t missed a cut in 7 starts while ranking 1st in total driving and 1st in greens hit.

Mark Calcavecchia (-115) v. Reteif Goosen (-115) (Calcavecchia)
Calc is the ’07 champ coming off three straight top-22 finishes while Goose hasn’t been inside the top-25 in his last four and ranks outside the top-150 in greens and fairways hit.

Good Luck!!