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by Matt Fargo - 08/21/2012
The PGA regular season is in the books and now we concentrate on the FedEx Cup playoffs. The first stop is The Barclays which is being hosted by the Black Course at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, NY. 123 of the top 125 players in the FedEx Cup standings are in play this week with the top 100 advancing to the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston over Labor Day weekend. That will then be decreased to the top 70 and then eventually to the top 30 for the Tour Championship.
The last time we saw Bethpage Black was at the U.S. Open in 2009 and it is safe to say we will see a different course this time around. It will not be set up at tough as it was back then but more importantly, the weather will be much better. Heavy rain was the story then, which forced a Monday finish which was eventually won by Lucas Glover. This week, the forecast looks exceptional but even with that, it will be no easy task and this is still a tough track to tame.
The Black Course measures 7,468 yards and is being played as a par 71 this week. As opposed to the two previous U.S. Open's played there, the fairways will be a little wider and the rough won't be as penal so it is possible we will see a couple low rounds. However it is still imperative to hit the short grass because of the length as long irons out of the rough is not the way to score. The greens are small and will be running pretty quick so hitting them in the right spots will be vital.
There is not much history to go off since only two events have been played here and many of the players this week have seen the Black Course only once and as mentioned, it will be far from the same. Therefore we need to look at the top ball strikers as well as players who come in playing well. With only the top 100 players advancing into next week, players currently outside that spot in the standings could be seen fighting harder but pressing is not the way to win.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy are the co-favorites at +700 and at that number, there is no value in either one. Woods has been hot and cold this year and while this is not a major, he has not played well in events with strong fields. McIlroy is fresh off his runaway win at the PGA Championship and he is the one to beat again. However, we will be looking elsewhere.
Sergio Garcia (+2,500) is coming off a win last week at the rain-delayed Wyndham Championship and while winning in consecutive week on tour is tough to accomplish, Garcia can pull it off here. He is still one of the best ball strikers in the world which sets him up well here and he proved it in the past with a solo fourth and a T10 in the two U.S. Open's played at Bethpage Black.
Dustin Johnson (+2,500) tends to pick up his game this time of year as he has won one of the first three playoff events in each of the past two years. One of those was a rain-shortened 54-hole event at the Barclay's last year at Plainfield Country Club but he looked to be well on his way anyhow. He has missed only one cut this year so he has been consistent and his five top tens include a win at the St. Jude Classic.
One player that is playing great is Keegan Bradley (+3,000) and these odds do not reflect that. He finally broke through with a win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and then followed that up with a T-3 at the PGA Championship. While he has not played the Black Course in a tour event, he competed every year in The McLaughlin, the annual St. John’s-hosted tournament held here.
Graeme McDowell (+4,000) is also in very good form right now as he has posted six straight top 25 finishes worldwide. He is coming off a T11 at the PGA Championship as a Friday 76 hurt his chances for a second major. He did play in the 2009 U.S. Open here and he finished T18 so while it will be set up different, he knows the track and knows he can play it well.
Carl Pettersson (+6,000) is arguably playing better than anyone right now yet continues to get dogged with the odds. That is just fine. He has coming off a T4 at the Wyndham Championship which followed up a T3 at the PGA Championship. Overall he has finished in the top three four times including a win at the RBC Heritage. At these longshot odds, he is definitely worth a play.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Barclays – All for 1 Unit
Sergio Garcia (+2,500)
Dustin Johnson (+2,500)
Keegan Bradley (+3,000)
Graeme McDowell (+4,000)
Carl Pettersson (+6,000)
Record to date after 32 events: +47.1 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
Transitions Championship +6 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -4 Units
Shell Houston Open +16 Units
The Masters -6 Units
RBC Heritage -5 Units
Valero Texas Open -4 Units
Zurich Classic of New Orleans +21 Units
Wells Fargo Championship +36 Units
THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units
HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units
Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial +11 Units
The Memorial -5 Units
FedEx St. Jude Classic -5 Units
U.S. Open -5 Units
Travelers Championship -5 Units
AT&T National -5 Units
Greenbrier Classic -5 Units
John Deere Classic +8 Units
The Open Championship +36 Units
RBC Canadian Open -5 Units
Bridgestone Invitational -5 Units
PGA Championship -6 Units
Wyndham Championship -5 Units