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Tampa Bay Championship Preview and Picks
by Matt Fargo - 03/12/2013
One of the strongest fields of the season last week saw Tiger Woods build a big lead and never look back to take the WGC-Cadillac Championship. The tour now heads to the Westin Innisbrook-Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Florida for the Tampa Bay Championship, formerly know as the Transitions Championship. The field strength goes down this week coming off a WGC event but there are plenty of big names with four of the OWGR top ten players teeing it up
Only two of the top ten in the FedEx Cup standings are here, Matt Kuchar and Brian Gay and just two from the top ten money list as well, Kuchar and Michael Thompson. 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 five of the last seven winners were 35 years of age or older, including Luke Donald last year, which shows experience plays a big role.
After ranking the fourth hardest par 71 on tour two years ago (out of 11), Copperhead ranked as the fifth easiest on tour last year which shows 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 11th lowest on tour after being the fourth lowest two years ago.
Luke Donald (+1,500) was the favorite last year and won in a playoff on the first extra hole over Sang-Moon Bae, Jim Furyk and Robert Garrigus. He did not play here in 2011 but finished T6 in 2010 in his only other start. He is not the favorite this year so we are getting some value which can be attributed to his uneven start this season. He finished fifth on tour in scrambling last year which is a huge asset here.
Webb Simpson (+2,000) is coming off a T20 last week at Doral which was his fifth top 20 in seven starts including each of the last three where he has a T5 and a T6. He was the runner up here in 2011, finishing one shot behind Gary Woodland and followed that up with a T10 last year. The best news for Simpson is that his regular caddie Paul Tesori is back on the bag after missing time due to shoulder surgery.
Robert Garrigus (+3,000) hasn't won since 2010 at Disney but he has been painfully close. His T2 here last year is one of six runner-up finishes since his win with five coming last year alone. He is coming off a poor finish last week at the Cadillac Championship but in five events prior to that, he had four top 20's with his worst finish being a T22.
Jason Day (+3,000) is coming off his most inconsistent effort of the season last week as he tied for 33rd at the Cadillac Championship, going 74-66-75-71. He had three top tens in four starts prior to that and his injury plagued season from last year is a thing of the past and he says his mental game is at its best ever. Even with his issues, he finished T20 at Copperhead last year which included three rounds in the 60's.
Gary Woodland (+6,000) won this event in 2011 and even though he has not done much this season, he is getting exceptional value. He closed the 2011 season with eight more top 20's after that victory but last season was a forgettable one as he managed only one top 20 in 22 events. Injuries have played a big part in his inconsistent play and now healthy, he can make a run once again.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Tampa Bay Championship (all for One Unit)
Luke Donald (+1,500)
Webb Simpson (+2,000)
Robert Garrigus (+3,000)
Jason Day (+3,000)
Gary Woodland (+6,000)
2012 Record to date after 36 events: +51.6 Units
2013 Record to date after 10 events: +13.16 Units
Hyundai Tournament of Champions -5 Units
Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units
Humana Challenge - 5 Units
Farmer Insurance Open +3.5 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open +19 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship +25.66 units
The Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units