Tampa Bay Championship Picks

Tampa Bay Championship Picks
Date: March 14-17, 2013
Course: Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course) Palm Harbor, FL
TV: The GOLF Channel/NBC
by Evergreen, Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com

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Spring hasnt officially sprung yet but the PGA Tour has put ten tournaments in the books already and the eleventh comes this weekend when the players continue the Florida Swing at the Tampa Bay Championship.Luke Donald emerged from a four man playoff to win the 2011 event and is back to defend his title at the Copperhead course at Innisbrook.Some of the biggest stars are sitting this one out but a strong field is here with solid Euro representation from the likes of Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia and Ernie Els to go along with American favorites in Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Jason Dufner.The Masters is just around the corner for the pros so look for all to be in serious ramp-up mode in the coming weeks and watch for players that are not yet exempt to Augusta to try to punch their ticket with a win down the stretch.

Most of us that watch golf regularly have a picture in our head of what Florida golf looks like but Innisbrook breaks that mold to a large degree and the Copperhead course features some non-traditional Florida golf elements.The 7,340 yard, par-71 layout is much more confined than the open tracks through much of the state and that makes it more of a shotmakers course than anything else.Precise drives and approaches are needed to negotiate both trouble spots and the natural winding of the course along with its many doglegs.A look at recent winners backs up the notion that control beats power here as Retief Goosen, K.J. Choi and Jim Furyk have all raised the trophy in past years.Alongside good accuracy numbers, all of those players were among the best at getting up and down so the scrambling game will come into play here throughout the week as well.The greens arent upper echelon difficult by Tour standards so it really is a toss-up type of event as most of the field will be capable of making a bunch of putts if they can negotiate the tee to green side of it.Padraig Harrington fired course record 61 to open last years tournament and several players carded rounds in the mid-sixties to get in the mix on Sunday so good scores are out there but players will need to be leery of the final three holes.That finishing stretch dubbed the Snake Pit was Ernie Els undoing last year and should make or break the winners chances right down to the wire.

Now that weve got those particulars out the way, lets get on with the business of picking who is going to win this one.Im going to give you a short, middle and long odds pick to win and breakdown a couple of head to head matches that you can find at any golf betting site out there.Here are my picks to win the 2013 Tampa Bay Championship.

Short Favorite: Matt Kuchar (20 to 1 odds to win)
The online betting sites really like Luke Donald and Adam Scott this week and both are getting 12 to 1 odds across nearly all of the golf sportsbooks.They are terrific players obviously but I really havent seen enough from them to throw money their way and I suspect there is some tuning up they would like to do and I think they are overvalued this week.Matt really hasnt got lined up yet but he still hasnt missed a cut in six starts and was able to get the win at the Accenture a few weeks back.Hes been in the top-12 twice here in the last couple of years and his putter is really producing right now.I think a condensed layout with a accuracy premium only sharpens Kuchar this week and I expect to see him improve his fairways and greens hit marks as he doesnt have to overpower this course.

Middle of the Pack: Martin Kaymer (40 to 1 odds to win)
Two years ago, Kaymer was the number one ranked player in the world but today he barely gets a mention behind the likes of McIlroy, Donald and Westwood on the Euro side.Still, Martin is young, clearly talented and has had a few seasons of bouncing around both Tours to get his feet under him and start contending again.Stats are pretty irrelevant at this point for most of the Euro set as they have just a handful of events in on this Tour and one of them was the match play that doesnt count toward the sheet as those rounds arent always 18 holes.Kaymer has hung around the last two weeks, finishing 51stand 49thbut another week minus travel and another start on a course that he can handle should produce a better result.The putter has been doing alright and that should hold him above water until the rest of the game rounds into shape.You dont get to #1 without having all the shots in your bag and I think it is time for that talent to start showing itself again.40 to 1 is a great value this week and I have Martin among the best overall values in relation to the field for the season to date.If you feel like making a bit of a gut pick, here it is.

Longshot: Zach Johnson (60 to 1 odds to win)
Looking down the board, it is really hard to find a better value or a better prototypical fit for this course than Zach.Johnson is perennially one of the best on Tour at finding the fairways and greens and Copperhead is among the shortest par-71s on Tour so there is no need to be a bomber to succeed.I expect a pretty boring week from Johnson with a no-nonsense approach that features a bunch of greens hit from the fairways but his putter will need to perk up a bit as there will be a need to put up a pretty good number at some point to get over the hump.Copperhead should lend plenty of birdies to players like Zach and you have to like the fact that the shorter players will have scoring clubs in their hands without the extreme distances associated with many Florida courses.

Head to Head Matches *Picks to win based on final score after all four rounds.Check out your favorite online betting site for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.

Jason Dufner v. Webb Simpson (our pick to win: Dufner)
Pretty simple here given the host course as Dufner has hit more fairways and greens in 2013 play.Simpson is the better putter so far this year but I think that edge is muted this week and the putts should start dropping for Jason.Simpson has hit a ton greens himself but he really has been skating by and finding them from the rough as his fairways hit mark is outside the top-125.That is trouble this week and I do not like getting behind guys who are wayward off the tee at tracks like this.Dufner is inside the top-10 in fairways hit and gets the nod in this match.

Jim Furyk v. Nick Watney (our pick to win: Furyk)
Id feel better about this if Furyk was hitting greens like he has throughout his career but even a sub-standard ballstriking effort so far is good enough for a pro that obviously likes this layout.Watney is finding more greens right now but his putter is barely inside the top-150 and that is too much ground to give to a veteran that has won this event before.If Furyk has an average week from tee to green, I dont think he can finish outside the top-25 and I see Watney having to do some work to make the weekend, especially if the putts continue to not fall.

Good Luck!