Dates: March 15-18, 2012
Course: Innisbrook Resort (Copperhead Course) Palm Harbor, FL
TV: The Golf Channel/NBC
By Evergreen, Predictem Golf Handicapper
The PGA Tour is heating up along with the springtime temps and the players make the short trip from Doral to Palm Harbor this week for the Transitions Championship.Winning is always the ultimate goal but getting ready for the Masters is also on the minds of the playersand those that are still looking to get in the field for Augusta are running very short on opportunities.The Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort has hosted this event since 2000 and a very strong field is in attendance, highlighted by Euro stars Luke Donald and Justin Rose.Gary Woodland is the defending champion and is part of the talented American group here along with Nick Watney and Matt Kuchar.This event has been kind to Tour veterans in the past so look out for past Transitions Champions like Jim Furyk or Retief Goosen to make some noise.
Innisbrook is massive golf complex with 72 holes in all but Copperhead stands as the jewel of the resort and the 7,340 yard, par-71 layout will provide a tough test.Copperhead ranked right in the middle of the pack in terms of difficulty last year but demands accuracy off the tee and into the hole locations to set up birdies.Unlike Doral last week, it is tough to bomb and gouge your way around this course, especially with well-placed bunkers and greens that require proper approach angles.The putting surface is Bermuda like last week, so players that are making both stops should feel comfortable rolling the ball.The front nine has two of the three par-5s and is the easier side overall and players will have to tackle four par-3s that measure 200+ yards.
Each week we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight a few players that we think can win it all.We make a short, middle and long odds pick to win and breakdown a couple of head to head matches that you can find at any quality golf sportsbook.Here are our picks to win the 2012 Transitions Championship.
Short Favorite: Webb Simpson (20 to 1 odds to win)
Simpson has had a solid start to 2012 with five made cuts in five starts but he has not been able to get it together enough to seriously contend.His performance last week was a good example as he went 66, 66 on Friday and Saturday but faltered at the end with a final round 77.Copperhead might be the place to change that based on his T13 from 2010 and his runner-up last year.Despite struggles with his driver, Webb is hitting the 6thmost greens in regulation and has the 4thbest birdie average.The putter has been working for Simpson when hes right and he has an edge on the field in par-4 performance, ranking 4thentering the week.
Middle of the Road: Bo Van Pelt (30 to 1 odds to win)
Van Pelt is off and running in 2012 with three T8 finishes in just six starts.That ties him for most top-10s this year and his best finish at the Transitions came in 2009 where he finished, you guessed it, tied for 8th.Bos success has started off the tee where he ranks 9thin total driving and hes hit enough greens to enter the week 12thin total ballstriking.Van Pelt is in the top-15 in strokes gained with the putter and thats been good for the 6thbest birdie average on Tour.
Longshot: Brandt Snedeker (40 to 1 odds to win)
Sneds hasnt missed a cut in any of his six starts this year, running his current streak to eleven and already has a Farmers win under his belt.Brandt was fourth here last here and has a good enough mix on the stat sheet to do well again.There isnt one area of strength for Snedeker but he has no glaring weaknesses either and comes into the week in the top-20 in birdie and scoring averages along with scrambling. With four tough par-4s, Brandts 2ndbest par-3 performance should come in handy.
Head to Head Matches *pick to win based on total score after all four rounds.Check with your favorite online bookie for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.
Jason Day (-115) v. Sergio Garcia (-115) (our pick to win: Garcia)
Neither player has teed it up a ton in 2012 but it seems that Sergio has solved some of the putting woes that have held him back the last few years.Both have struggled to hit fairways so far but that improved putter has Garcia with a decided edge in birdie average over Day.Jason will regain his form eventually but I think it will be tough to do this week and Sergio is the pick in this match.
Martin Laird (-115) v. John Senden (-115) (our pick to win: Senden)
This is the match between two of the most underrated players on Tour.They may not be household names but their games are going well in 2012. Senden and Laird are 1-2 in birdie average this year and both are in the top-10 in both greens hit and overall ballstriking.Look for Senden to have the advantage this week as the better putter and the more accurate driver but both should fare well overall and would be good picks in matches against bigger names.