2009 Verizon Heritage Preview and Picks

Verizon Heritage
Thurs. April 16 – Sun. April 19, 2009
Harbour Town Golf Links – Hilton Head Island, SC
Golf Channel/CBS

by Matt of Predictem.com

The spectacle and drama that was the 2009 Masters is behind us and as muchas the players would like a break,there are no off weeks on the PGA Tour in the heart of the season and the Verizon Heritage and Harbour Town is next on tap. Many players do take this event off to recover from the grind of Major Tournament play, but those not in the field at Augusta are ready to get back in action. Harbour Town is also a favorite course among the players and consistently draws a strong field considering it’s place on the schedule. The Golf Channel carries the early round action with the weekend belonging to CBS.

Harbour Town is about as different a course as you could find in comparison to Augusta, both in look and preferred style of play. The Dye/Nicklaus design in Hilton Head has links influences and is a shotmakers course at 6,973 yards compared to the bomber friendly grounds at the Masters that played at over 7,400 yards. The par-71 Harbour Town ranked in the middle of the pack in terms of difficulty for ’08 and will demand accurate approaches and skill around the greens from the eventual winner. Boo Weekley has solved the course in the past two years and enters this week looking for three victories ina row.

A key stretch in every round will come smack in the middle as holes 8 through 13 are all par-4’s and contain four of the top-10 hardest holes on the course. The par-3, 14th hole ends the string of par-4’s and routinely plays as the hardest hole on the course. The three par-5’s provide scoring options and a share of thepar-4’s play to sub-average lengths compared to most on Tour and are among the prime scoring opportunities.

Each week we take a look at the golf sportsbooks and highlight a few players that are expected to make some noise. We’ll make a short, middle and long odds pick to win it all and add some head to head match picks as well. Here are some players to watch at the 2009 Verizon Heritage with odds and line information courtesy of the board at SuperBook.

Jim Furyk – 12 to 1 for an outright win
It continues to seem like justa matter of time before the old pro converts his first win since the ’07 season. Furyk has T9 and solo 3rd place finishes at the two WGC events, and just turned in a T10 at Augusta. Jim was fourth here last year and his accuracy first style is well suited for Harbour Town. Furyk currently ranks 14th in fairways hit, 31st in putting average and 5th in scrambling, a stat that measures a player’s ability to save par after missing the green in regulation.

Camilo Villegas – 15 to 1
Villegas hasn’t produced the winning form from ’08 just yet, but the youngster has turned in a T3 at the Buick, a T5 at the CA Championship and had a nice Masters, finishing 13th. Camilo is 1st on Tour in greens in regulation at over 73% but a streaky putter hasn’t been on all four days yet. Villegas is 18th in birdie average, 14th in overall ballstriking and is our short odds pick for the week.

Zach Johnson – 20 to 1
The Sony winner looked ready to go after a 3rd at the Palmer before a bit of a disappointing missed cut last week. Johnson missed the cut here in ’08 but logged a 6th place finish in ’07. Zach has the goods to win here, currently ranked 10th in fairways and 17th in greens hit. Johnson is having a great all around season so far, ranking 14th in scoring average and 17th in ballstriking.

Paul Casey – 20 to 1
Casey was a favorite going into the Masters after a win at the Shell Houston and although he never really madea move, he did post a solid T20. Paul is making his Heritage debut and while he doesn’t have the typical recipe for success here (149th in fairways hit) his overall stat sheet can’t be ignored. Casey is 11th in driving distance, 9th in putting average and averages a 4th best, 4.5 birdies a round.

Ernie Els – 20 to 1
The Big Easy was rolling along pretty well with four straight top-25’s before a missed cut at Augusta last week. Ernie ran 2nd here in ’07 and has quietly having a solid campaign this year. Els is 7th in GIR%, 9th in total driving and 5th in ballstriking. The one blemish has been with putter as Ernie is outside the top-100 in per round average. A solid week with the flatstick should have Ernie all over the front page come Sunday.

Our Picks to Win

Short Favorite: Camilo Villegas (15 to 1) – A good week with the putter can only improve on the T7 he notched last year.

Middle of the Road: Aaron Baddeley (25 to 1) – Badds has had just about the best streak going here outside of Boo Weekley with a 10th and a 2nd following his win in ’06. Hitting fairways has been a struggle for Baddeley, but the 4th best putting average and 3rd best putts per round average can make up for a lot of errant tee shots.

Longshot: Tim Clark (30 to 1) -Clark seems just on the verge of breaking through nearly every week. 7 of 8 finishes in the top-25 this year and a top-20 rank in fairways, greens and putting average are a great way to go at Harbour Town.

Head to Head Matches (our pick) *all matches are for entire event…check back with your favorite book for daily matches or even front and back nine only action.

Charley Hoffman (+105) v. Kevin Na (-135) (Hoffman)
Both players are having nice seasons, but we like Hoffman and his no missed cuts in eight starts along with a 3rd best GIR%. Na stacks up well everywhere else, but Hoffman has just been so consistent this year, a great thing to have in 4-day matches.

Robert Allenby (-125) v. Luke Donald (-105) (Allenby)
Allenby has a hefty advantage in greens hit, scoring average and ballstriking and teasing the line to give half a stroke pushes Robert to even money in this match.

Good Luck!