Zurich Classic Picks – Golfer vs. Golfer Matchup Predictions and Analysis

The Zurich Classic of New Orleans
Dates: April 28th through May 1st, 2011
Course: TPC Louisiana Avondale, LA
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by Evergreen, Pro Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com

The calendar is about to turn to month five of the PGA Tour season and the players will see out April on the bayou when they tee it up for the 2011 Zurich Classic of New Orleans. TPC Louisiana at Avondale will host the Tour for the fifth time with Luke Donald and Steve Stricker highlighting a strong field. There is an event in Korea this week that has snagged some of the Tour elite, but plenty of quality challengers remain, including many of the young stars that are aiming for their first victory. The Golf Channel has the early round coverage with CBS picking up the weekend finish.

If you are familiar with the TPC Louisiana, you know that the course saw heavy damage during Hurricane Katrina but recovery efforts allowed the course to be changed while still keeping it at a championship level. The course will play 7,300+ yards at par-72 for the championship and ranked as the 25th hardest course out of the 51 in the 2010 rotation. The fairways are wide and the greens large by most Tour standards, but birdies are still hard to come by and no player was able to card four rounds in the 60s during the 2010 event. Putting always plays a factor when the greens are this large and three putt avoidance becomes just as important as making a high percentage of birdie chances. The single round record stands at 64 but 70 is a solid number here so dont look for the winning total to be too much better than 10-under. The hardest holes are scattered throughout the course and the par-5, 18th gives an opportunity to score on the way in, so this one should be up in the air until the very end.

Each week, we take a look at the online golf sportsbooks and highlight a few players that we think can win it all. We give you a short, middle and long odds pick to win and breakdown a couple of head to head matches like youd find at any offshore betting site. Here are our picks for the 2011 Zurich Classic of New Orleans with odds and matches courtesy of Bovada Sportsbook.

Short Favorite: Nick Watney (12 to 1 odds to win)

Nick has cooled off a bit since starting the season with five straight top-10s including a win at the WGC-Cadillac but he is still among the hottest players on Tour and comes into the week as the top ranked player in the all around category. Watney got his first PGA victory here in 2007 so there will be those nice memories floating around and his game is very well suited for TPC-LA. Nick is currently in the top-20 in driving distance and total driving while his putting average, putts per round, birdie and scoring average are all in the top-10. A so-so week should have him in contention and a good week will should find him in one of the final groups on Sunday.

Middle of the Road: Bubba Watson (25 to 1 odds to win)

Bubba has had some success in 2011 with only one missed cut in nine starts and a win at the Farmers, but the consistency hasnt been there to this point. Watson contended into Sunday in his last two events (Palmer, Masters) only to see a free fall down the board in both with final round totals of 78. He obviously has the length to dominate any course, but keeping his mistakes to a minimum has been an issue. The friendly nature of the TPC might be a tonic for that this week and Bubba hits a very high percentage of greens already, ranking 2nd on Tour entering the week. Watson is also 2nd in par-5 birdies or better % and has done well here in the past with a T5 in 2007.

Longshot: Charley Hoffman (33 to 1 odds to win)

The Zurich Classic has been kind to the journeyman in recent years with Jerry Kelly and Jason Bohn winning the last two events and that seems like the perfect kind of place for Hoffman. Charley has been cashing plenty of checks this year but hadnt had a really strong run until his T2 at the Valero a few weeks back. Hoffman is 7th in total driving, 19th in ballstriking and 23rd in putting average on the way to the 11th best birdie average on Tour. He led the field in birdies at the Valero and is 2nd in total birdies in 2011, so we know he can mix it up with the best of them on any track. A good week in avoiding multiple bogeys and Charley could bring a nice return.

Head to Head Matches (our pick to win) *matches are for entire event. Check with your favorite online bookie for single round matches and prop bets.

Rickie Fowler (-115) v. Brandt Snedeker (-115) (Fowler)

If this match were at a ballstrikers course, the edge would be with Snedeker, but Fowler and his length advantage should win out here with both players being nearly identical in greens hit and putting average. Snedeker was impressive in staring down Luke Donald in the playoff, but maybe that makes him take a breath and gives the hungry Fowler a W in this head to head.

Graeme McDowell (-120) v. Ben Crane (-110) (Crane)

Both players are very similar statistically but Crane gets the nod with advantages in greens hit and birdie average. Crane also is a bit better in ballstriking and putting average which should play out over four rounds.

Good Luck!