With last week being a huge disappointment for my tips, with Graeme McDowell finishing just one shot off of a place and Romain Wattel in Europe also within two of a top 5 finish we can certainly feel hard done by. Perhaps the most disappointing result of the week was Rickie Fowler’s up and down play and eventually very average result after what looked like such a promising start. Overall all 14pts staked last week were lost and this is something we hope won’t happen too regularly. Michael Thompson (Honda Classic) and Dawie Van Der Walt (Tshwane Open) both run out worthy winners this week after getting themselves into great positions for the final round on Sunday, both being in a tie for the lead at the end of RD3. Both kept their composure well in the final round, Thompson withstanding pressure from the likes of Geoff Ogilvy and Dawie Van Der Walt having to fend off the in-form Darren Fichardt which meant two unlikely winners last week, especially with Michael Thompson who has only made one cut so far this season finishing in a tie for 78th.
Looking ahead to this week and we look ahead to our second WGC event of the year at Doral Golf Resort in Florida. WGC events attract the world’s best players, the prestige of winning is second only to majors with 550 FedExCup points on offer to the winner, just 50pts less than the 4 majors. With Brandt Snedeker again out whilst fully recovering from a rib injury sustained during his Pebble Beach win, Matt Kuchar has the chance to leapfrog him in to 1st with a win here, whilst the likes of Hunter Mahan and Dustin Johnson will be looking to close the gap early on. Again the worlds top 2 are in the field this week, both struggling with form as of late. Rory Mcilroy has come under serious criticism after pulling out of The Honda Classic with severe wisdom tooth pain. The main thing to look at when considering betting either two this week is that Tiger Woods loves returning to previous stomping grounds and seems to perform well every time, well since the tournament began in 1999 Woods has won 6 times winning in ’99 , 02′, 03′, 05′, 06′ and 07′ so it is no surprise he is the market leader this week at a top price of 12/1 (Bet365). The Puerto Rico Open is the tournament run alongside the WGC-Cadillac on the calender each year and for this reason doesn’t attract too much attention. However there is some value to be had in the field with many players looking to get their seasons started without the pressure of the worlds top players around them. This year the field includes current champion George McNeill, Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and last weeks 3rd placed player Luke Guthrie who will all fancy their chances in Puerto Rico.
The Courses: TPC Blue Monster at Doral host of the WGC-Cadillac since 2007 certainly has one of the more eye-catching names on tour and certainly catches the attention of tour players each year. A course that sets up for good scoring, with the last three winning scores being -16,-16 and -18 consistent low scoring will certainly be a factor here. Justin Rose won here last year with a final round -2 70 which was his worst score on the week so its shows what is needed to win here in Florida. It is a par-72 spanning over 7,334 yds and although low scores are shot here the 18th hole ranked as the second-toughest hole on tour in 2012. Stephen Ames shot the course record 61 in 2000 but Tiger Woods holds the current 72 hole record with a score of 264 in 2005. Trump International GC hosts the Puerto Rico Open and has been since it began in 2008. The course was designed by the great Tom Kite and is similar in numbers to Doral being a par 72 which stretches 7,569 yds. The last three winning scores have also been almost identical to the WGC-Cadillac, with -16,-16 and -19 winning it on the last three occasions. Derek Lamely shot the course record in 2010 when he won with -19.
Defending Champions: Justin Rose won at Doral in 2012 beating Bubba Watson by 1 shot, Watson shooting +2 on the final day. Rory Mcilroy finished 3rd just two behind Rose after shooting an impressive -5 round on the last day bettered only by John Senden and Francesco Molinari who both shot -7 in RD4 and came T6 and T13 respectively. George McNeill won in Puerto Rico last season closing with three straight birdies on the last three holes to beat Ryo Ishikawa by two shots. Both tournaments have been won with -16 in the last two years, so that will be the target score many players will have in mind.
Enough of the past, 2013 has offered up several surprises already and this week will no doubt have some surprises of it’s own in store. The Puerto Rico Open is anyone’s tournament, with no overriding favourite shown by the odds currently available. The WGC-Cadillac also sees some varying results due to ever changing top-50 in the World Golf Rankings and top 10 in the FedEx standings. As previously mentioned there is some value to be had in both events this week and hopefully the poor results from last week can be rectified immediately.
Hunter Mahan 28/1 (General) 2pts e/w: Mahan has yet again found some of his best form in recent weeks, coming 2nd in the 1st WGC of the season in the match play losing in the final to Matt Kuchar. Finishing outside the top-25 just once coming 26th in the first week, Mahan has made all six of his cuts and has improved his game very week. Most importantly last time out in the match-play his short game looked much improved around the greens, a part of his game which is often criticized. Two of Mahan’s 5 wins in his career have come at WGC events first at the Bridgestone Invitational and then at the WGC Matchplay which he also came 2nd in two weeks ago, so it’s fair to say he likes these events. He also finished 8th in The Masters after the Bridgestone in 2010 and a major seems very much in the forefront of his mind this season as well. He is hitting greens regularly and also looks strong off the tee at the moment, put that together with his progressive form of 16th, 8th and 2nd and it’s hard to seem him not being involved come Sunday.
Scott Piercy 66/1 (Ladbrokes) 1pt e/w: A man at the top of his game at the moment, highlighted by his impressive results in the match play two weeks ago, beating Lawrie in the first match before destroying one of the big favourites for the tournament Luke Donald 7&6. Last season Piercy showed what he could do in the WGC events playing twice, finishing 19th at the Bridgestone and 2nd at the HSBC alongside Mickelson, Dufner and Els all who finished two shots behind eventual winner Ian Poulter. Piercy has done no damage to his reputation this season missing only one cut and posting finishes of 13th, 15th and 3rd alongside his 9th at the matchplay. He looks overpriced this week and will be keen to continue his great form.
Thorbjorn Olesen 80/1 (General) 1pt e/w: One of two regular European Tour players on my radar this week and there’s plenty of reasons to give him a chance at his price this week. He sits 7th in the current Race to Dubai rankings and that’s without a win, so to be in that position consistency must be a factor. So far this season his results have been 31st, T2, T22, T3 and also his T17 at the WGC match-play after beating Jamie Donaldson is RD1. 2012 saw him compete in his first two majors, firstly at The Open Championship where he came in a tie for 9th and then followed that by a 22nd place in the PGA Championship. For a young player on tour he shows a great confidence in his game and if he can get hot here this week he should give himself a chance of a good finish at only his 2nd WGC event.
Gonzalo Fdez-Castano 150/1 (General) 1pt e/w: The second of the European Tour regulars and another player who will keen to establish himself over the other side of the Atlantic. In Europe his record is fantastic and that has seen him rise to his current position of 34th in the World Rankings. So far on the European Tour he has finished T20, T9 and T6 before picking up a T9 in the WGC matchplay where he rallied to beat Francesco Molinari in the 1st round before easing past Charles Howell III before finally being beaten by current U.S Open champion Webb Simpson. He has won 6 times on the European Tour and will be keen to prove yet again what he can do on the world stage. Castano has been practising hard since the matchplay and is certainly giving off positive vibes via Twitter. Another decent price for a player who certainly has the skill set to compete and needs that confidence boosting to establish himself amongst the best in the world.
Puerto Rico Open Tips
Kevin Stadler 25/1 (PaddyPower) 1pt e/w
Jeff Overton 28/1 (PaddyPower) 1pt e/w
Sang-Moon Bae 40/1 (General) 1pt e/w
Total Points staked: 16
Profit/Loss for 2013: +31pts
Another difficult week to predict with the worlds best competing against each other in the WGC event and in contrast the Puerto Rico Open is a limited field with many of the players struggling on tour. Many players will be looking to take advantage of Brandt Snedeker’s withdrawal and close the gap in the FedEx Cup standings. One player in particular who can overtake Snedeker is Matt Kuchar who going by past course form and current form in general will definitely be in with a shout however at 20/1 I’ve left him alone. Follow me on Twitter @TomJacobs8