Zurich Classic Betting Preview

Jason Dufner

Jason Dufner (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Jason Dufner will attempt to defend his title and his sterling record at TPC Louisiana when he heads up a solid field at the 2013 Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
 
2013 Zurich Classic of New Orleans Fact Sheet

  • Course: TPC Louisiana
  • Location: Avondale, Louisiana
  • Yardage: 7,425 yards, par 72
  • Defending Champion: Jason Dufner
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Justin Rose, Jason Dufner, Bubba Watson, Keegan Bradley and Rickie Fowler

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
  • Sunday –  1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)

TPC Louisiana
 
In addition to the length of the course, designer Pete Dye littered the course with bunkers, as there are over 100 on the layout. Players will have to navigate tons of sand and water, but it actually wasn’t much of an issue last year. The tournament played to an even 71 last year, playing a full stroke under par. In fact, Kevin Streelman was the only player to play all four rounds and not be under par, and he ended up at even. Scores should be low again this year, with the only defense really being the wind, and that should only be a factor for the first two days of the event.
 
Key Storyline This Week
 
There really isn’t much here in terms of a storyline for the big players, but 14-year old Tianlang Guan will be in the field again after making the cut at the Masters. Guan was given a sponsor’s exemption to the event, and he’s not looking to contend this week, saying that his only goal is to make another cut. I’m a little surprised that they didn’t pair him up with a more marquee group for the first two rounds, as he’s drawn Henrik Norlander and Justin Bolli to start the event, but there will still be a ton of focus on him.
 
Favourite Thoughts

  • Justin Rose: Rose has 14 consecutive top-25 finishes worldwide, and there’s an argument to be made that he’s the best player in the world right now, or at the very least, the most consistent. His lone top-10 finish at TPC Louisiana came last year in his fifth time on the course.
  • Jason Dufner: Dufner is last year’s champion and the all-time money leader in the event, but there was also a solid lead-up to him winning in 2012. He improved every year at TPC Louisiana until winning, and he has four top-10 finishes here since starting in 2007. He hasn’t had the kind of year expected of him, with only two top 10 finishes, both in the Middle East way back in January.
  • Bubba Watson: Watson won this event in 2011, but much like Dufner, he hasn’t exactly had the best start to his 2013 campaign outside of his T-4 at the Hyundai. The common thread seems to be one terrible round in every event which sinks him, but he wasn’t playing great coming into his 2011 win either, so you can’t be surprised if he’s at the top of the board this week.
  • Keegan Bradley: Had four consecutive top-10’s before his T54 at the Masters, which really only happened because he blew up with an 82 in Saturday’s third round. He does everything well, so it’s hard to ever count him out of an event, but his track record here in two events isn’t the best, with a T-26 in 2011 followed by a missed cut last year.
  • Rickie Fowler: Follows the Dufner trend a little bit here with consistent improvement in recent years, finishing inside the top-10 in 2012. His putting is improved and the rest of his game looks solid right now. His game is very similar to those of past champions of this event too.

Suggested Plays
 
Rickie Fowler (Best Odds 22-1 at Sporting Bet)
Just seems like one of those weeks where everything points to a Fowler victory. His game is in order and the course should play to his strengths. If he can avoid the big number in one round, he’s had sixteen consecutive stroke play events with a double bogey, he’ll be just fine. I like him this week to get his second PGA Tour win.
3 pts outright
 
Nick Watney (Best Odds 25-1 at bet365)
Won here back in 2007 and even though he’s had a rough start to his year, he’s on a decent run of form with his T-13 at the Masters being his last start. He’s too good of a player to have only one top-10 finish in April, and while I don’t think he wins, a top-5 finish seems likely.
1 pt each-way
 
Thorbjorn Olesen (Best Odds 33-1 at Coral)
It seems like I talk about Olesen every week, but the impressive finishes keep piling up. After a dreadful 78 in his first ever round at Augusta, Olesen bounced back to fire three consecutive under par rounds and finished tied for sixth. Playing a course for the first time is usually a problem for players, but it hasn’t been so far for Olesen who also finished inside the top-10 at Bay Hill.
1 pt each-way
 
Jeff Overton (Best Odds 50-1 at Ladbrokes)
Overton’s had a bit of a rough ride since playing for the Americans in the 2010 Ryder Cup, but he seems like a solid each-way play this week. He finished as the runner-up in 2010 to Jason Bohn, and he’s coming off of his first top-10 of the year in Texas a few weeks ago. He usually plays well when he’s taken a few weeks off too, with his stroke average being about half a stroke lower when playing after taking two plus weeks off.
0.5 pts each-way
 
David Toms (Best Odds 80-1 at Coral)
Toms won this event in 2001 when it was played at English Turn Golf & Country Club, and while he hasn’t won at TPC Louisiana, he’s put together a decent record with three top-30 finishes. Toms was born and raised in the area, still lives in Louisiana and went to LSU, so there’s a comfort level here that other players won’t have. Plus, he probably had the most unnoticed finish at the Masters two weeks ago, ending up tied for 13th.
0.5 pts each-way
 
Ken Duke (Best Odds 150-1 at bwin)
Duke is my dartboard special this week based solely on his prior record at TPC Louisiana. In five starts, he’s got three top-25 finishes, including a runner-up in 2007 and a T-7 last year. He’s only got one top-10 this year, but at this price, he’s worth it on an each-way bet.
0.5 pts each-way

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