AT&T National Betting Preview

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2013 Masters champion Adam Scott is the marquee attraction this week, as the PGA Tour heads to the mammoth Congressional for the playing of the AT&T National.
 
2013 AT&T National Fact Sheet

  • Course: Congressional CC – Blue Course
  • Location: Bethesda, Maryland
  • Yardage: 7,569 yards, par 71
  • Defending Champion: Tiger Woods *not in field*
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Adam Scott, Jason Day, Hunter Mahan, Brandt Snedeker and Billy Horschel

TV Schedule:

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

Key Storyline This Week
 
With Tiger Woods opting to sit out this week to rest his wonky elbow ahead of the Open Championship, the tournament from a betting perspective just got a lot more open. Throw in the fact that U.S. Open champion Justin Rose pulled out earlier in the week, and a tournament that was looking pretty high in star power a few weeks ago just took a massive hit. In the six years that the tournament has been around, there hasn’t been a poor champion crowned to date, with Woods taking the title twice, along with Rose, Nick Watney, Anthony Kim and K.J. Choi.
 
Congressional
 
As mentioned above, the Blue Course at Congressional is an absolute beast at nearly 7,600 yards and only a par-71. The course played as the most difficult track on the PGA Tour in relation to par last year of any of the non-major championships, averaging more than two strokes over par. What makes it so tough? Just about everything really, as both the fairways and greens rank among the most difficult to hit on the PGA Tour. Even getting onto the greens means little, as they are expected to run as high as 14 on the stimpmeter, which means incredibly fast speeds.
 
Most of the length comes from the par-5’s, most notably the ninth, which comes in at 636 yards, but the par-3’s are all deep, ranging from 173 to 233 yards. The most difficult hole on the course will likely be the 489 yard par-4 11th, as the tee shot plays into a narrow fairway with bunkers guarding the right side and water protecting the green on a tough approach that will likely be sitting on an uneven lie based on fairway slope. Unfortunately, bad weather looks to be in the forecast again, as thunderstorms and humid weather are expected throughout the week.
 
Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Adam Scott: Scott appears to be suffering a little bit from that major hangover, as he hasn’t had a top-10 finish in the three starts since winning the Masters in April, but he could be coming to a place of comfort here at Congressional. Even though he has missed two cuts here in the past, one came at the U.S. Open, he does have a runner-up and a T3 on the resume.
  • Jason Day: Finished as the runner-up to Rose at Merion a few weeks ago, and even though he was eight strokes behind Rory McIlroy, he was the runner-up here in the 2011 U.S. Open. Throw in a T8 here last year, plus his distance off the tee, and you have a guy who should be primed to win this tournament.
  • Hunter Mahan: Mahan always plays well here, but the one thing that’s giving me pause here is his complete lack of consistency. It’s not something that’s completely surprising, but look at his result last week at the Travelers. After an opening round 62, he couldn’t finish higher than a tie for 24th. I think he’ll be near the lead again this week, but I don’t think I can trust him with my money.
  • Brandt Snedeker: Two top-10’s and a missed cut in this event previously to go along with a T-11 in the U.S. Open here in 2011 leads me to believe that he can contend. His decent week at Merion could be a sign that his rib injury is finally healed, and his putter should keep him in any event that he enters.
  • Billy Horschel: I thought Horschel would fade away, but he seems to just keep on playing well. After winning in New Orleans, he’s picked up a pair of top-10 finishes in his last four events, including his T-4 at Merion where he played solid for all four rounds. He rarely puts himself in trouble, but the putter runs very hot and cold. Missed the cut in his lone appearance at Congressional back in the 2009 AT&T.

Suggested Plays
 
Jason Day (Best Odds 14-1 at bet365)
This seems like a no-brainer for all of the reasons listed above. When Day is playing well, which he is right now, there’s pretty much nobody in the game better than him and I think he gets it done this week.
 
Graham DeLaet (Best Odds 36-1 at BETDAQ)
At this point, you might as well mark DeLaet in this space every week until he wins. Playing in the final group last week at the Travelers, DeLaet was in position to win again and ended up with a solo third, giving him his fourth consecutive top-25 finish. He’s right up there with the best ball strikers on the PGA Tour and with the run he’s on right now, get in on him while you can at this price.
 
Freddie Jacobson (Best Odds 61-1 at Betfair)
The Junkman has cooled off significantly since the start of the year, but his solid week at the Travelers is making me think that he could be on another run shortly. Previously at Congressional, he was the runner-up in 2008 and finished tied for 14th at the U.S. Open. With a field that’s short on high quality talent, the 61-1 number seems severely inflated.
 
John Senden (Best Odds 90-1 at Stan James)
If we’re talking about ball strikers, there are few better in the world than Senden, who has had an uncharacteristically poor 2013 to date, with no top-10 finishes. However, he did finish tied for 15th in his last start a few weeks ago at Merion, so I’m banking on a bit of a turnaround here, especially at a place like Congressional, which will require long irons into greens, an area where he might be the best on the PGA Tour. His previous best finish at Congressional was a T-18 at the 2008 AT&T.
 
Pat Perez (Best Odds 102-1 at BETDAQ)
Perez is one of the more electric players in the game when he gets going, and his T-8 at the Memorial a few weeks ago is making him a pretty popular pick online this week, and I completely agree, especially at this price. His previous history here includes a T-3, T-12 and a T-29, so he does seem to like it on the layout.
 
David Hearn (Best Odds 125-1 at Stan James)
Hearn is my dartboard pick of the week, and it’s based entirely on current form, where he’s finished inside the top-21 in three consecutive weeks. He’s never played Congressional before, so that does scare me a little bit, but his accuracy and putting should keep him in it for the week.

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