Zurich Classic Preview and Predictions to Win
When: April 28th through May 1st, 2016
Course: TPC Louisiana Avondale, LA
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by Evergreen, Golf Betting Analyst, Predictem.com
Given the year-long nature of the PGA Tour schedule, there are bound to be several ebbs and flows during each season. We certainly hit a high note with the Masters just a couple weeks back and we are only two weeks away from the PLAYERS Championship so while these late April weeks feel like a lull, dont sleep on the in-between events like The Zurich Classic. Sure, there is nothing like watching a Major Champion being crowned but these rank-and-file tournaments set up the fields for those bigger events and often produce big surprises come Sunday. The Zurich has seen seven different players win their first PGA Tour event in just the last eleven years and those not qualified for the PLAYERS and events beyond view weeks like this as prime opportunities to cash in. Justin Rose will defend his 2015 crown against a strong field that includes Worlds #1 Jason Day as well as Rickie Fowler. All players will take on TPC Louisiana and this event has all the makings of a fun-to-watch shootout.
The TPC at Avondale sits just off the Mississippi River and very close to New Orleans. Golf during the day and Bourbon Street at night has to be one of the best recipes for spectators in my opinion. The 7,425 yard, par-72 layout has been part of the PGA Tour rotation since 2004 so it is relatively new and also missed a year as host after Hurricane Katrina. Avondale ranks as one of the easiest courses in the rotation and that has produced winning scores of at least 15-under par since 2010 with Justin Rose winning at 22-under last year. The Pete Dye design has a lot of Florida look to it but there are plenty of Bayou influences throughout as the course winds its way through stands of cypress. Dye utilizes sand to great affect here and there are both traditional sand traps and waste areas waiting for errant shots. Players that miss the greens will find tricky up and down chances from those bunkers flanked by clever mounding and natural ponds come into play on several holes as well. The trouble is apparent however and players that are on top of their game will easily avoid those spots and get plenty of birdie chances.
Each week, we take a look at all of the PGA wagering opportunities and highlight the players that we think are the best bets. We make some picks to win and breakdown a couple of head-to-head matches that can be found at Bovada Sportsbook. Here are our picks to win the 2016 Zurich Classic!
Rickie Fowler (10 to 1 odds to win)
Fowler has moved himself all the way up to 5th in the OWGR but his 2016 season is still without a win. He has five top-10s in just ten starts but just hasnt been able to put it all together and is coming off a disappointing missed cut at Augusta. Even with his winless start, Fowler enters the week as the #1 all-around player on Tour and should absolutely be in contention this week. He is 15th in total driving, 5th in greens hit and a top-30 putter in strokes gained on the field. His birdie and scoring averages are both in the top-5 so it really is puzzling that he hasnt had that four-day run to net a win. Rickie is fresh off his spring break so there should be no Masters hangover and a relaxed Rickie is primed to go on a run here as the spring turns to summer.
Smylie Kaufman (30 to 1)
Owner of one of the best names on Tour, Smylie has been all smiles during his first full year as a pro, especially after winning the Shriners back in October. He played in the final group at the Masters before a rough final round of 81 derailed his Augusta dream but all signs point to Kaufman being on the right track to PGA stardom. He has moved himself into the top-50 in the World Rank so he is in line for all kinds of exemptions as long as he stays there and Avondale should be a place he can improve on that ranking even further. Entering the week, Smylie is 13th in birdies per round and one of the longest players on Tour when you factor in all drives. He has only missed two cuts in fifteen starts and his overall stat sheet is good enough for 12th best in the all-around. He is 11th in sand save percentage and has the easy-going vibe that allows him to bounce back from mistakes quickly. As an LSU grad, Kaufman should have plenty of crowd support and this kid can certainly go low enough to win this week.
Charles Howell III (50 to 1)
Howells solid but unspectacular season continues as he has an impressive eleven finishes inside the top-25 but no standout runs at a win. He has just one missed cut on the season and checks in at 25th in the all-around so he has the look of a winner on paper if not on the course. I think that can be flipped this week as CHIII is long off the tee and hits a lot of greens as a result. His putter isnt elite but all those attempts have netted the 9th best scoring average. When he does miss the putting surface, he is a top-20 scrambler so shootouts should be his strong suit as he can both score and save par when needed. Howell has seen it all as a veteran player and while I dont think he can likely win a big event against a top-notch field, the Zurich is right in the wheelhouse for Chucky Three Sticks.
Picks to win based on projected score after all four rounds. Check with your 5Dimes (best betting site on the web) for single round matches and a variety of Zurich Classic prop bets.
Charley Hoffman v. Billy Horschel (pick to win: Horschel)
I was one of the happiest guys to see Hoffman get a long overdue win this week as he is one of my favorite guys to watch on Tour. That said, I think he is going to be hard-pressed to duplicate that effort and may have just a bit of a winners hangover that is well deserved. Horschel is a former champ here at Avondale and I like his ability to navigate this course. Billy has advantages in both fairways and greens hit and has outscored Hoffman on the season. Charleys recent run of good play shouldnt be discounted but I think Horschel is the pick based on his consistent ballstriking and better birdie average.
Jason Day v. Justin Rose (pick to win: Rose)
It is hard to get value while betting the defending champ sometimes but not in this case as I routinely found Rose listed at even money or the underdog in this match. Day is the OWGR #1 but Rose is no slouch and has statistically played better than Day for most of 2016. Rose has better marks in fairways and greens and has a slightly better scoring average despite fewer birdies per round than his opponent. A lot of people focus on raw scoring ability when a shootout looms but dont forget that par saves are just as important when shooting low as no one gets around any course without making a few mistakes. Day isnt super sharp right now and I think he is as easy to pick against as he has been over the last few years. The value is here with Rose and so is statistical backing.
Good luck with your Zurich Classic predictions and bets!