The Pete Dye-designed TPC Louisiana is the venue for this week’s PGA Tour event, the Zurich Classic. Although traditionally viewed in the past as one of the secondary events on the Tour, this year has seen a strong field enter – perhaps down to the increased prize fund of $6.4million.
Jason Bohn will be defending his title, but there are challengers aplenty and notable names include last week’s winner and runner up, Brandt Snedeker and Luke Donald; as well as US Open champion Graeme Mc Dowell, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson and Steve Stricker amongst others.
Past winners of this event have usually come from players who haven’t performed at the top of their game as all of the event’s previous winners at TPC Louisiana have rarely featured in the top-10 in tournaments prior to this one.
Last season I expected some big things from Jeff Overton, and although he failed to deliver a win his consistency was rewarded with a place in the United States’ Ryder Cup team. Overton hasn’t performed to the level he did in 2010, but has made 8 of 9 cuts so far in 2011 although his best finish is a T6 in the Honda Classic. But this track certainly suits the Indiana native, and his past two appearances in this event have yielded T13 and T2 finishes. 50/1 could be a fair price about Overton if the return to this course kick-starts his season.
The Zurich Classic often throws up a first-time winner and if Overton can’t get the job done, then Jason Dufner could be the name on the trophy. Dufner’s profile is a good match for this event and he comes here in good form following a top-15 finish last week at The Heritage. Dufner has gone close a couple of times previously on Tour to breaking his duck, including a runner-up finish earlier in the season at the Phoenix Open. Combine this with his excellent course form here, where he has recorded two top-10 finishes in the last two years, and he could be a value bet at 50/1.
Another player ranked at 50/1 in the betting Webb Simpson is putting together an impressive season, and the North Carolina player went close to capturing the recent Transitions Championship. This is only his second year on the tour and last week finished T14th – his fourth top-20 in six starts.
Of the big guns, Luke Donald should go well again this week but his chances will depend on his frame of mind after losing out to Brandt Snedeker last week. Donald’s consistency has seen him inside the top-10 in all events played since February and despite that loss last week, I don’t see any reason why that run of form can’t continue. I expect Donald will feature again towards the top of the leaderboard, but 10/1 is perhaps a little slim for a player who should be winning more than he does. He does however look to be the player they all have to beat.
Donald’s conquerer, Brandt Snedeker also lines up this week and while it’s always difficult to go back-to-back, Snedeker’s form has been impressive of late, making the cut six times from 11 starts. Of those six cuts, Snedeker hasn’t finished worse than 15th, and has posted four top-10s. In that sort of form, he should feature prominently again at 33/1.
The Bermuda grass of TPC Louisiana is sure to bring out the best in old warhorse David Toms, who thrives on this surface. A home player, he’s sure to come under the spotlight and is a past winner of this event when it was held at English Turn. He went close again in 2009 here, finishing in 5th place and he could be one to have onside at 33/1, having already posted two top-10 finishes this season.
Bubba Watson hasn’t achieved much since his win earlier in the season at Torrey Pines in the Farmers Insurance Open, but has been ripping it up in practice. If he can transfer his practice form into tournament golf, he could literally blow this field apart. Bubba always plays this event and finished T5 in 2007. While his overall results are a shade disappointing, his driving prowess is a potent weapon around here. Bubba is ranked 2nd in driving distance and 75th in driving accuracy – not bad considering his length – as well as being ranked 2nd in Greens in Regulation. All he needs is for a few more putts to drop, and if the flat stick clicks this week then the 25/1 looks generous.
Selection: Jeff Overton
Savers: Jason Dufner, David Toms