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Zurich Open Golf Preview
by Matt Fargo - 04/24/2013
The PGA Tour heads to the bayou for the Zurich Classic of New Orleans from TPC Louisiana, the seventh straight year it has been the host course and eighth overall. This is the second to final tuneup before THE PLAYERS Championship, the fifth major, that takes place in two weeks. Last year's Zurich was a great finish as Jason Dufner defeated Ernie Els on the second playoff hole, the second consecutive year that the Zurich Classic was decided in a playoff.
TPC Louisiana is a par-72, 7,425-yard track and while long, it does not necessarily reward the big hitters even though Bubba Watson shot that down two years ago after averaging a field best 331 yards off the tee. Three years ago, only four of the top 15 players finished with driving averages surpassing 300 yards so while length is important, it is more about precision here. The greens are massive but are filled will undulations so while hitting the green isn't difficult, what matters most is where they are hit.
The course was 26th out of 52 in difficulty three years ago and two years ago, it was the seventh most difficult out of the 21 par-72 tracks played. Last year though after some modifications were made, scoring was at a record low. We can expect some low scoring again this if Mother Nature doesn't make it too difficult as thunderstorms are not being ruled out any of the four days. That could actually help soften up the course while winds will not be an issue like they were in Hilton Head last week.
Jason Dufner (+1,500) picked up his first ever PGA Tour win here a year ago, the first of two during a magnificent season. Big things were expected this year but Dufner has disappointed as he has missed two cuts in nine starts while finishing no higher than T12. His odds are low because of his success at TPC Louisiana but until he turns it around, I don't see him contending.
Justin Rose (+1,200) is the favorite and he will be making his first start since his T25 at the Masters after taking last week off. That was his worst finish of the season as his previous low in a medal play event was a T8 at the Cadillac Championship. He finished T10 here a year ago after missing the cut in two of the previous three years. He now has an incredible streak of 19 straight top 25 finishes.
Rickie Fowler (+2,000) is not getting much value here but his chances are good to be right in the mix on Sunday. He has missed only one cut this year while posting three top tens including a T3 at the Arnold Palmer two starts back. After a T26 in New Orleans two years ago, he followed that up with a T10 last year which included a Thursday 65 so he has proven he can go low here.
We used Jimmy Walker (+4,000) a lot during the early part of the season and while he has not cashed a first place check for us yet, he continues his strong play. He has not missed a cut yet this season while posting three top tens including a season best T3 at the AT&T. After missing the cut in two of his first three starts here, he is coming off a career best T18 last year.
Charles Howell III (+4,000) continues to have a very solid season despite missing the cut last week in Hilton Head. He has four top tens this year and while he has cooled off after a huge January, he comes to a track where he has had great success. He has never missed a cut in New Orleans and while he has a T39 and a T43, he also has two T2 finishes, one in 2006 and the other in 2009, finishing one back each time.
For a longshot we will go with Graham DeLaet (+6,000) as he fits the mold for current form and history. He missed the cut last week but the wind was an issue for a lot of players and that won't be the case this week. It was his first missed cut since February and he has two T9 finishes as well. After missing the cut here in his first ever start in 2010, he finished T4 in New Orleans last year.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (all for One Unit)
Justin Rose (+1,200)
Rickie Fowler (+2,000)
Jimmy Walker (+4,000)
Charles Howell III (+4,000)
Graham DeLaet (+6,000)
2012 Record to date after 36 events: +51.6 Units
2013 Record to date after 15 events: +20.6 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
Tampa Bay Championship -5 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -1.5 Units
Shell Houston Open -5 Units
The Masters -8 Units
RBC Heritage +27 Units