The PGA Tour returns to mainland USA for the fourth edition of the McGladrey Classic at the Sea Island Golf Club in Georgia. We cast our eye over the field to find a few names you should keep an eye out for this week at the Seaside Course.
VENUE: Seaside Course, Sea Island Golf Club, Georgia
DATE: November 07 – November 10
COURSE STATS: 7,005 yards, par 70
PURSE: $US5,500,000 WINNER: $990,000
FEDEXCUP POINTS: 500
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Tommy Gainey (-16)
LAST YEAR: Gainey carded a stunning final-day 60 to earn his first PGA Tour title in style. Gainey was seemingly out of contention as he began his final round tied for 29th place on six-under-par, seven shots adrift of joint leaders Davis Love and Jim Furyk. However, the 37-year-old American charged up the leaderboard with brilliant blemish-free round that included eight birdies and an eagle to finish the day on 10-under and 16-under for the tournament. It was enough to claim a one-shot victory over David Toms, with Furyk another stroke back in third.
THE LOWDOWN: The PGA Tour makes its final stop in the United States for the year at Sea Island Golf Club on Georgia’s St Simmons Island. It’s the fourth edition of The McGladrey Classic, but only the first time that FedExCup points will be up for grabs. A true ocean track nestled at the southern tip of the island, the Seaside Course features many of the characteristics you’d expect from a links course – including majestic ocean vistas, tidal creeks, dunes and salt marshes.
The key to success at Seaside is accuracy. The course played as the easiest par 70 on Tour in 2012 at 69.281. Players will need to find fairways and particularly greens with regularity, plus they’ll need the putter to be running hot. Wind can have a big impact at Seaside but the forecast suggests it shouldn’t hinder scoring this week.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Few golfers in the world play links courses better than Your Golf Travel ambassador Darren Clarke. The 2011 Open winner kickstarts his PGA Tour campaign this week at Seaside and despite the fact he’s never played here before, we’re quietly confident The Dazzler is in for a good showing. He’s worth a couple of quid each-way at the 200-1 on offer with Paddy Power.
DID YOU KNOW: If recent history is anything to go by, then it’s likely the man who lifts the trophy on Sunday won’t have even earned a mention on Saturday night. Each of the past two editions of the McGladrey Classic have featured Sunday charges, with Ben Crane shooting a final-round 63 to grab the 2011 title in a playoff, then Gainey’s late heroics here last year.
THE TIP: Webb Simpson (10-1 with Ladbrokes) heads the McGladrey market this week and for good reason. He’s coming off an incredible six-shot victory at the Shriners a fortnight ago and skipped the trip to Asia to be fresh for this. Simpson knows the Seaside track well, having only been nabbed in the dying strides by Crane in 2011 and finishing T12 here in 2010. His early stats this year make for great reading (86.11 percent GIR, 2.456 strokes gained – putting) and while it’s always difficult to go back-to-back on Tour, the American looks awfully hard to go past.
THE ROUGHIE: There was plenty to like about Luke Guthrie’s (40-1 with Stan James) performance last weekend at the BMW Masters. The young American led for three rounds after his opening day 65, before wilting late to finish in fourth. He should take plenty of experience away from that outing, and coupled with his T5 the week before at the Shriners, he shapes as one of the form players in the field.
Who do you think will win the McGladrey Classic? Join the debate by posting a comment below.
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