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Transitions Championship Preview and Picks
by Matt Fargo - 03/15/2011
One of the strongest fields of the season last week saw Nick Watney take the WGC-Cadillac Championship by two shots over Dustin Johnson who once again faltered on a Sunday. The tour now heads to the Westin Innisbrook-Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Florida for the Transitions Championship. At the Cadillac Championship, every top 50 player in the world was playing while this week, just two top ten players will be teeing it up, number one Martin Kaymer and number seven Paul Casey.
In addition, only five of the top ten in the FedEx Cup standings are here this week as well as just four of the top ten money leaders. Every winner since 2005 is back including two time champions K.J. Choi (2002 and 2006) and Retief Goosen (2003 and 2009). It is interesting to note that four of the last five winners were 36 years of age or older which shows experience plays a big role. There are 18 Majors winners in the field including five from the previous three years.
Copperhead ranked at the second hardest par 71 on tour last year (out of 11) and it can be tamed as long as mistakes are kept at a minimum. This is where the veteran experience comes into play. Last year, Jim Furyk won the event with a score of -13, which was lower than the previous two winners combined (Goosen -8 in 2009 and Sean O'Hair -4 in 2008). Keeping the ball in the fairway is a must as the layout is tight so players that are wayward off the tee will be penalized.
Arguably the most memorable moment from last year was Jim Furyk (+3000) nearly blowing the tournament with a shank on his second shot on the final hole. He recovered with a bogey and held off Choi and will look to become the first back-to-back champion of the Transitions. He is coming off a T49 at the Cadillac and has not placed better than 33rd in his last five events.
Nick Watney (+1000) comes in as one of the favorites this week following his win at Doral last week. It is difficult to win consecutive weeks on tour and with his victory at the Cadillac, there is little to no value. For those who want to take a shot with him again, he placed fourth here last year and T12 in 2009 so his experience and success here is a definite asset.
Bubba Watson (+3000) had to miss the Cadillac Championship because of the flu so he comes in following his fourth place finish at the Match Play Championships. He already owns a win on tour this year at the Farmers and after missing the cut here in 2008 and 2009, he finished third last year as a second round 65 kept him in the hunt. His distance off the tee is a big advantage.
It is hard to look past K.J. Choi (+3000) and what he has accomplished here. He is a two-time winner at Copperhead as well as his solo second last year and T6 in 2007 so he obviously has great success here. After missing the cut at the Sony Open to begin the season, Choi has not missed a cut and has two top 20 finishes including a T7 at the Northern Trust Open. Great value here.
Bill Haas (+3000) opened with a 74 at Doral last week and he could not recover from that and finished T31. He has not missed a cut this year and has three top tens in six stroke play events. After missing the cut at the Transitions in 2009, he had a T16 finish last year. He is ranked second in all around and fourth in both greens hit and bogey avoidance, all big factors this week.
After a missed cut at the Farmers, Martin Laird (+4000) has two top tens in three stroke play events including a T10 at Doral last week. He also finished T3 in Phoenix and the other result was a respectable T25 at the Northern Trust. His first time teeing it up at Copperhead resulted in a T28 last year and that knowledge will benefit him as well as his length off the tee.
As mentioned, experienced players have succeeded here of late and David Toms (+6000) has plenty of it. He has not played in three weeks with his latest finish being a T5 in Mexico. He finished T20 here last year while posting a 63 on Friday to the potential is there to go low. He was in contention two years ago but a Sunday 76 pushed him back to a T33. Good longshot value.
Transitions Championship Win Bets
Bubba Watson (+3000)
K.J. Choi (+3000)
Bill Haas (+3000)
Martin Laird (+4000)
David Toms (+6000)
Transitions Championship Matchup Bets (All from sportsbook.com) – All for 2 Units
K.J. Choi Even over Retief Goosen
Bill Haas -105 over Vijay Singh
Jonathan Byrd -115 over Charles Howell III