Zurich Classic of New Orleans Preview and Picks to Win
Date: April 22nd through 25th, 2010
Where: TPC Louisiana Avondale, Louisiana
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by Evergreen of Predictem.com
The early part of the PGA schedule has the players in California or Florida for multiple weeks, but the spring portion has the Tour bouncing from state to state and they make the jump from South Carolina to Louisiana this week for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. The week after the Masters saw many top players taking some time off and while they wont all be back this week, there is a strong field in Avondale, highlighted by Steve Stricker and Ian Poulter. Jerry Kelly is back to defend his 2009 title and this event has been very kind to the lesser known players on Tour with the likes of Tim Petrovic, Chris Couch and Andres Romero all notching victories here in recent years.
The TPC at Avondale is a fairly new course in the Tour rotation and will be hosting its fifth PGA event. The course will play at par-71 and measure 7,341 yards for the championship and the track ranked right in the middle of pack in terms of difficulty with the field scoring average at 71.91 in last years play. The fairways and greens are big and the field typically hits both at a 60%+ clip, but the difficulty comes in when trying to navigate the tough greens and three putt avoidance will be a key to winning. The par-5s present the best scoring opportunities as they usually do but TPC Louisiana adds a bit of spice to that equation by featuring a par-5 as the finishing hole. The course record stands at 64 after four years so there likely wont be a classic shootout, but four rounds in the 60s will be had by at least a handful of players.
Each week, we take a look at the online golf sportsbooks and highlight a few players that we like to contend for the win. Well give you a short, middle and long odds pick and breakdown a few head to head matches that youll typically find at the online sportsbooks. Even with a winless week at Hilton Head, the pick set is still +45 units after four correct picks from previous events. Here are our picks for the 2010 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
Short Favorite: Ian Poulter (14 to 1 odds to win)
The Accenture Match Play winner is not only one of the shortest looks at every book, but is arguably the most talented player in the field. Poulter finished the Masters with a T10 in his last action and will look to build on the T13 he posted here in 2009. Ian has the distance to handle the relatively long course and his 24th putts per round rank matches well with the length off the tee. Hitting it close is more important than just hitting the greens and Poulter ranks in the top -10 in several distance from hole after approach categories. His raw performance numbers on the par-5s arent that great due to a limited number of rounds, but Poulter averages 4.58 strokes on all par-5s in 2010 which will play well at Avondale.
Middle of the Road: Steve Marino (28 to 1 odds to win)
Marino is having a very nice start the 2010 season with only one missed cut in nine starts and two top-5 finishes. His last three weeks have produced a T11 and two T14 finishes and his T5 here in 2009 is also good news. If youre looking for top-20 or better stats in your picks, youll have to look elsewhere but Marino ranks between 33rd and 63rd in total driving, GIR%, putting and birdie average as well as the scoring stats like scrambling and bounce back. It may look pretty average when you pick out just one stat but the aggregate is one of the most solid overall games on Tour and thats easy to like, especially when the big guns are still on the sidelines.
Longshot: Bryce Molder (40 to 1 odds to win)
Molder is one of many young pros that have gotten out to strong starts in the early season but Bryce has been able to put four rounds together where others have faded and that has led to four top-10 finishes in ten starts. There arent any real weaknesses in Molders game but he is best with the putter, ranking 45th in average and 22nd in putts per round. Molder adds a 17th ranked scrambling stat to come into the week with the 20th best scoring average which plays a little bigger at TPC Louisiana where it counts to simply know how to score. Bryce is looking for his first PGA victory and an event like Zurich may be tailor made to reach that goal.
Head to Head Matches (our pick) *all matches are for entire event. Check with your favorite online bookie for single round matches and prop bets.
Sergio Garcia (-115) v. Justin Rose (-115) (Rose)
If you havent been paying attention, you may want to pull the trigger on Garcia on name alone, but the Spaniard has been scuffling all year and is way behind on the stat sheet this week. Rose edges Garcia in total driving, greens hit and birdie average and is way ahead in putting, scoring and all around. The greens and fairways could be ignored to some extent this week, but the putting cannot and Rose is the pick here.
Rory Sabbatini (-115) v. David Toms (-115) (Toms)
There is a little bit of tortoise v. hare in this one with Sabbatini owning a big advantage in birdies per round but Toms comes in ahead at the end of the day when it comes to scoring. Sabbs is longer which will help this week but is outside the top-100 in both fairways and greens which has led to way too many bogeys so far. Toms is boringly solid across the board and slow and steady will win this race.