The Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Tournament Dates: April 26-29, 2012
Course: TPC Louisiana Avondale, LA
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by Evergreen, PGA Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
There hasnt been a lot of good news coming out of New Orleans lately regarding the Saints, but maybe the PGA Tour will bring some positive vibes this week as the players hit Bourbon Street for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans.The TPC Louisiana in Avondale welcomes a strong field that includes Luke Donald, Steve Stricker and Masters and defending Zurich Champion Bubba Watson.The Tour is moving into the meat of the season now and players need to start solidifying their positions for Major exemptions as well as the FedExCup Playoffs so look for the best on Tour to start rising up and grabbing wins as the summer nears.
The TPC of Louisiana has been a part of the Tour rotation since 2005 but the host venue only got one event in before receiving damage from Hurricane Katrina.After a year away, the course re-opened in 2007 with several holes re-shaped and the track was in the top half in terms of difficulty of all courses used in 2011.Much of the difficulty resides in a tough finishing stretch where the final five holes all play over par, including the 585 yard, par-5 eighteenth.The hardest hole comes at 17 with the par-3 playing at 215 yards so nothing will be settled until the leaders come home Sunday.Longer players have some advantage with a relatively open design but the more accurate players can score as well with the cut in 2011 coming at even and nearly everyone managing red figures through the weekend.
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 golf sportsbook.Here are our picks to win the 2012 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Short Favorite: Keegan Bradley (18 to 1 odds to win)
It is a little hard to believe that Keegan hasnt notched a win in 2012 as the second year pro has played well enough to not miss a cut in ten starts and finish in the top-25 in all but one.Bradley brings the best all-around stat sheet into the week with top-25 ranks in total driving, greens hit, ballstriking and putting.With no weaknesses, it is just a matter of time before the 7thbest scoring average finds a way to the winners circle.
Middle of the Road: Graeme McDowell (28 to 1 odds to win)
Like a lot of his Euro Tour counterparts, McDowell is playing more in the U.S. this year than in previous seasons and the results have been good so far with no missed cuts in six starts and four top-25 finishes.Graeme is solid off the tee with the second best fairways hit percentage and ranks in the top-25 in greens hit and overall ballstriking.That accuracy will pay off at Avondale and his above average putting game helps produce the 11thbest scoring average.McDowell hits a ton of greens when he is on, so look for him to take dead aim and get some gimme birdies this week.
Longshot: Ben Crane (50 to 1 odds to win)
Crane is a good bet this week based on his no-nonsense approach to the game and his solid putter.Ben hits greens at a high rate and ranks in the top-30 in putting average and total putting, producing the 10thbest birdie average.Crane is strong enough across the board to produce the 11thbest all-around stat sheet and should be able to handle grind out four good days at the TPC.He might not show up on the front page until the weekend but look for him to stay out of trouble an work himself into contention by Sunday.
Head to Head Matches *picks to win based on final score after all four days.Check with your favorite online bookie for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.
Steve Stricker (-115) v. Jason Dufner (-115) (our pick to win: Stricker)
Stricker has been scuffling a little since the early parts of the season and Dufner is looking as good as ever but it is too tough to pick against Strickers putter in an otherwise even match.Both players will hit fairways and greens this week but Stricker is one of the best putters on Tour and has a better birdie average than Dufner entering the week.Jason is the longer player but he isnt exactly long by Tour standards so he cant simply make the course easy by overpowering it.
Carl Pettersson (-115) v. Charles Howell III (-115) (our pick to win: Pettersson)
Pettersson broke through with a win a few weeks back and is a good bet to take this match.Both players will utilize their length here but Carl has the better putter and has been the better overall ballstriker to this point.Howell is typically the more consistent player of the two but Pettersson is obviously going well right now and is the better bet until he proves otherwise.