The PGA Tour passed through Sin City last week for the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open played at TPC Sumerlin. In 2012, Vegas resident Ryan Moore took down the title in dominating fashion shooting a tournament record 24-under par for the week.
This year’s tournament had a similar feel as Webb Simpson tied Moore’s tournament record on his way to a six shot win. This was Simpson’s fourth PGA Tour win (including the 2012 US Open) in his young yet illustrious career and he has given himself an early leg up on his elite peers in the 2014 FedEx Cup competition.
Simpson nearly had the FedEx Cup locked up in 2011, needing only a 19th place finish or better in the Tour Championship to take down the title, but he unfortunately finished 26th. Either way, Webb is one of the best of the best and has been ranked as high as 5th in the World Golf Rankings; he’ll be around the top of the game for years to come.
Unfortunately for me, none of my picks fared very well this week. Sean O’Hair looked promising after an opening round 66 and a 63 on Saturday, but he ended up finished T15. Vjiay finished just outside of the Top 20, Harris English was way down in the field, and my man Graham Delaet missed the cut! I expect better at one of the easiest golf courses on Tour, tsk tsk. However, it was great to see Jimmy Walker back up his Frys.com win with a T12 finish in Vegas. He remains at the top of the FedEx Cup standings for now.
Bad Year, Bad Blood for McIlroy
After an abysmal year for the two-time Major champion and former World Number One, Rory McIlroy is back in the news, but for the wrong reasons. McIlroy has filed a lawsuit against his former agency Horizon Sports Management over commissions paid to them from his lucrative Nike sponsorship. Apparently Rors doesn’t think it’s fair that he has to pay his former agents such a large chunk of his $20 million yearly deal with Nike, especially since he agreed to the terms under “circumstances of great informality” at the company’s Christmas party.
While, he may have a solid point here, it’s unclear how this will play out and what ramifications it will have on his game. All I know is this added distraction is NOT what Rory needs to get back to the top of the golf world, where he belongs.
PGA Tour, Asian Edition
The PGA Tour makes its way to Kuala Lumpur this week for the CIMB Classic. While this event has always drawn a stacked field because of the smaller field and large prize pool, this will be the first PGA Tour event contested in Asia to carry points for the FedEx Cup. As we saw this week in Vegas with Webb’s win, these early events will prove to be golden opportunities for legitimate FedEx Cup contenders to get a jump on the field during the quieter part of the season.
This week’s headliners include Phil Mickelson (8/1), Keegan Bradley (14/1), Sergio Garcia (14/1), Hideki Matsuyama (16/1), and defending CIMB Classic Champ Nick Watney (20/1) who shot a 61 on Sunday last year to beat Robert Garrigus and Bo Van Pelt by one shot. In the last couple weeks it seemed inevitable that a highly ranked player would win in the relatively weak fields, but this week’s field is super deep which means there will be a lot of players in the 33/1-66/1 range that have a good chance of winning.
Of the players already named, Watney is the best bet. They are playing at a different course than the one he won at last year, but he finished off the 2013 season strong with a second place at the BMW Championship and a Top 10 at The Barclays. He’s a much better at 20/1 than Phil at 8/1 or Keegan at 14/1.
As we get into the middle of the pack, I like Ricky Fowler at 33/1. Ricky has a ton of game and it’s kind of crazy that he only has one PGA Tour win. Once he learns to put together four solid rounds and not let himself completely unravel after a few bad holes, I predict we’ll see him hoisting a lot of trophies.
My favorite bet of the tournament has to be Roberto Castro at 50/1. Castro is totally underrated as a player and I imagine people will start to take more notice of him this year. Like Fowler, he has to work on his consistency over four rounds, but he puts up low numbers quite often. He also finished the playoff season very strong 25th, T9, and 15th respectively to get himself into the Tour Championship where he finished T9.
I will be shocked if he doesn’t win on Tour this year. I also like putting a bet on him as First Round Leader at 40/1. He’s known to come out of the gates hot and falter as the week goes on, no reason we can’t make some money off that!
Something I plan on doing from now on is highlighting one of the lowest ranked players in the tournament and try to catch lightning in a bottle with a small bet. This week’s winner of the worst odds to win is Gaganjeet Bhullar at 250/1.
Bhullar is no scrub and currently sits in third on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and has won four times there. He’s also playing his first two rounds with Sergio and Rickie Fowler, so maybe playing with two of the best in the field will elevate his game and give him a chance to contend.
Hey, at the end of the day, if he wins you might turn $5 into $1250! That’s worth it in my book.