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Transitions Championship Preview and Picks
by Matt Fargo - 03/14/2012
One of the strongest fields of the season last week saw Justin Rose take the WGC-Cadillac Championship by one shot over Bubba Watson who squandered a big lead. 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, it is not as strong of a field but still has star power with five of the OWGR top ten taking part.
In addition, only three of the top ten in the FedEx Cup standings are here this week as well as the same three which are in the top ten on the money list. All but one winner since 2004 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 six winners were 36 years of age or older which shows experience plays a big role. There are 17 Majors winners in the field including six from the previous four years.
Copperhead ranked at the fourth 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. 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. Driving distance is not essential as last year the driving average was the fourth lowest on tour. That means scrambling and putting are two essential necessities.
The defending champion is Gary Woodland (+4,000) as he won by one shot over Webb Simpson. His Sunday was quite eventful as his back nine consisted of five birdies and three bogeys while his only par coming in was a save at 18. He has been very quiet since then with only two top tens, none of which have taken place this year. His best finish is a solo 24th at the opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
This week's favorite is Luke Donald (+1,000) and with a win here, he once again takes over number one in the world. He is coming off a T6 last week at Doral which was his best finish in his abbreviated start in 2012. He has played at the Transitions only once, finishing T6 in 2010, finishing six shots behind Jin Furyk. With a rather light field, he should again be in the mix on the weekend.
Webb Simpson (+2,000) is coming off a T35 at the Cadillac Championship last week after an ugly 77 on Sunday. He has two top tens this year with a T3 at the Hyundai being his best finish. He got off to a slow start last year as well but a solo second at the Transitions jumpstarted a very strong year that included two wins and two other runner-ups. Don't be surprised if Copperhead gets him going again.
It is hard to look past K.J. Choi (+4,000) and what he has accomplished here. Even though he missed the cut last year, he is a two-time winner at Copperhead as well as his solo second in 2010 and T6 in 2007 so he obviously has great success here. He opened the year with a T5 at the Hyundai and while he has yet to crack the top 20 since then, this is the place to reverse that.
Bo Van Pelt (+3,000) could be flying under the radar this week. He is coming off a T8 last week at Doral which happened to be his third straight T8 in medal play events this season. He has not won since the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee in 2009 which happened to be the same year of his best finish at the Transitions, which was a T8 but just four shots off the lead.
Mark Wilson (+5,000) continues to get undervalued despite sitting third on the money list and fourth in the FedEx Cup standings. He has a win already this year as well as a third place finish at the Accenture Match Play. He has not been in the hunt the last two weeks and while his track record at the Transitions is choppy, he finished T12 in 2009. Great value in this field.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Transitions Championship (all for One Unit)
Luke Donald (+1,000)
Webb Simpson (+2,000)
K.J. Choi (+4,000)
Bo Van Pelt (+3,000)
Mark Wilson (+5,000)
Record to date after nine events: -6.9 Units
Sony Open -5 Units
Humana Challenge -6 Units
Farmers Insurance Open +22 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
Accenture Match Play +7.1 Units
Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units