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Verizon Heritage Preview
by Matt Fargo - 04/14/2010
It doesn’t get much better than what we saw last week at the Masters and while this week is a definite letdown, there is still some solid golf on tap. The PGA Tour moves three hours southeast to Hilton Head for the 42nd edition of the Verizon Heritage which has followed the Masters every year for the past 27 years. Even though the Verizon is a mainstay on tour, it has been considered a letdown for the green jacket champion as eight of the last nine years has seen the winner not play in Hilton Head. That will be the case with Phil Mickelson this week.
The field obviously is not the best especially with the late WD’s of Vijay Singh and Ian Poulter but two top ten players are in the field, Jim Furyk and Paul Casey, both of whom missed the cut at Augusta, while three from the top ten and nine from the top 20 on the money list are here. Other notable names include Stewart Cink, Mike Weir, Davis Love III, Sergio Garcia, Camilo Villegas, Luke Donald, Lucas Glover, Robert Allenby, K.J. Choi and defending champion Brian Gay.
Precision is as important as almost anywhere as Harbour Town Golf Links is ranked second over the last eight years on tour in hardest to hit greens in regulation. The only event that ranks higher is the U.S. Open so that is saying something. The main reason is the size of the greens as they are small and well protected. Being able to hit the green is important but being able to putt on them is just as big because that is where the par saves come from. Scrambling success is enormous.
Furyk (+1500) is the odds on favorite in Hilton Head and after last week’s debacle, he could use some good fortune. He has either done really well or really bad here as his recent history beginning with last year is MC, 4th, MC, 2nd, T2 going back to 2005. This could be a good year then although he has only won more than once in a season just two times in his career and that could be a concern.
Gay (+3000) ran away with this event last year as he shot a 72-hole record 264 en route to a 10-stroke win. He has made seven of 10 cuts this season but missed the last two at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and at the Masters. His best finish this season in stroke play is a T15 at the Hope but this could be the place to turn his season around. He missed the cut in 2008 but finished T16 and T9 in 2007 and 2006 respectively.
Besides Furyk, the other big surprise last week had to be Casey (+2000). He missed the cut at Augusta after posting a top ten finish in all four of his other U.S. tournaments. He played the Verizon for the first time last year and finished T11 so his inexperience here will not be an issue. He is battling some nagging injuries however and whether that played a role last week remains to be seen.
Choi (+1500) deserved better than his T4 last week since he had to deal with Tiger Woods in all four rounds. That may have inspired him but there were definite distractions. He is currently 17th on the money list and people talking slump are crazy as he has not missed a cut and has been in the top 25 in six of eight events. This is his first start at Harbour Town since 2001.
Matt Kuchar (+2000) also had to deal with Woods for two rounds before fading on moving day at the Masters. He still managed a T24 and this course sets up great for his game. He finished T48 here last year but that was after three weeks off and not nearly the same success he is having this year. Despite not winning, he is eighth on the money list thanks to three top three finishes. If his putter is hot, he wins.
If you are looking for a longshot, look no further than Bryce Molder (+6000). It seems like that he is always on the leaderboard and while that isn’t the case, he has had his fair share of solid events. He has missed only one cut in his last seven stars and of those seven finishes, four were in the top ten. This will be his first start in Hilton Head and while not a long hitter, it will not hurt here.
Verizon Heritage Matchup Bets (All from sportsbook.com) – All for 2 Units
K.J. Choi -125 over Robert Allenby
Sergio Garcia +115 over Camilo Villegas
Bryce Molder -115 over Bill Hass
Brandt Snedeker -110 over J.B. Holmes
Tournament Win Bets (all for ¼ Unit)
K.J. Choi +1500
Matt Kuchar +2000
Boo Weekley +3000
Bryce Molder +6000