Golf: Tour Championship And KLM Open Previews
After such a fruitful previous week, the golfing gods had a little laugh at our expense last week as three of our outright selections for the Omega Masters led over the weekend before only managing 1½ places between them. Still, that gave us a small profit on the week and there are two more big tournaments to get our teeth into this week.
Just 29 players compete for the Fed-ex Cup bonus of $11 million plus this week, and the big question is who wants it the most – and can hold their nerve to win it!
Of the 7 previous winners of the Tour Championship, since it became the final leg of the Fed-ex Cup series, only Jim Furyk and Bill Haas are in the field. However neither holds one of the top-5 spots that guarantees the bonus if they win this week.
The top-5 in the standings are Chris Kirk, Billy Horschel, Bubba Watson, Rory McIlroy and Hunter Mahan, and each will have different motivations. For Kirk and Horschel, this would be a significant milestone in their careers; one that may act as a springboard to greater things as well as boosting their bank balances. Meanwhile, multiple winner Mahan probably doesn’t need the money but victory may kick start a career that hasn’t quite delivered as much as his tee-to-green prowess has always promised.
For sponsors’ dreams McIlroy and Watson $11 million is a drop in the ocean, and it remains to be seen whether either are in the frame of mind to create another piece of history for themselves – though both are certainly in the form to do it if they are.
Of the top-5, I just prefer Watson who finished 5th here last year and looks in the mood to show McIlroy that the impending Ryder Cup is no certainty for Europe. 20/1 looks a solid each-way investment.
One of the other 24 players could easily lift the trophy though, with or without the bonus, and a complicated series of algorithms is needed to work out where the millions will end up according to where players finish this week in regard to other players.
Web Simpson led the standings coming into the finale in 2011 but could only manage to finish 22nd, allowing Bill Haas to leave considerably richer. However he’s been 5th and 4th the last two years and will be keen to show some form to prove that Tom Watson was right to pick him for the Ryder Cup in front of the likes of Kirk. 40/1 looks a great each-way price.
Bubba Watson 20/1 each-way four places
Webb Simpson 40/1 each-way four places
The KLM Open
This week’s European Tour event may not carry the prestige or winning purse of the Tour Championship, but it does present players needing a good finish to keep their card or get into the Race to Dubai with a great opportunity.
The Kennemere track has a links feel to it and therefore it’s hardly surprising that the likes of Simon Dyson and Darren Clark have enjoyed success here in the past.
Ross Fisher is another to have enjoyed success in the event and this is a golden opportunity to notch-up another victory. Last week’s missed-cut was a little unexpected after a good 7th in the Italian Open and the extra rest, combined with putting lessons from Dave Stockton, may just be enough for him to get competitive at 40/1.
One player who looks massively overpriced on his course form is Pablo Larrazabal who has finished 2nd and 8th the last two years. That can be attributed to his poor recent form since blowing a three-shot lead earlier in the season, however he’s also a winner on tour this year and has a habit of popping up on the leaderboard when least expected. 80/1 is a great price.
One player who catches the eye for the top-10 and top-20 markets is Eduardo De La Riva. The short but straight-hitting Spaniard was 16th on his debut last year and could at least match that form if not surpass it by squeezing inside the top-10.
Ross Fisher 40/1 each-way
Pablo Larrazabal 80/1 each-way
Eduardo De La Riva top-10 finish 25/1 and top-20 finish 17/2