PGA National is a tough par 70 with two par 5’s, four tricky par 3’s and will be a difficult test for the players here this week. This course was ranked second last year among the PGA Tour’s most difficult courses. The fairways are quite narrow and tight so driving accuracy will be of particular importance. There is also water present on this course and quite a lot of bunkers so be on the lookout for good bunker players.
Looking at the way this course sets up, it might be worth noting par 3 performance as this course has four very tricky par 3’s with GIR and strokes gained putting the also key stats here. The “Bear Trap” is a key feature on this course with holes 15, 16 and 17 being particularly difficult and could potentially offer a thrilling finish come Sunday night. The 18th is a straight forward par 5 and reachable with two good shots.
Graeme McDowell 25/1
Gmac played superb last week in Arizona with his never say die attitude and pulled off a miracle to beat Gary Woodland in the first round being three down after 15 holes to eventually win on the 19th one up. He provided huge entertainment all week sinking putts from every direction until he was sadly knocked out on Saturday by the eventual runner up Victor Dubuisson.
After a good start to the season, Gmac recorded a top 10 in his first event back after a lengthy break with a T7th finish in Pebble Beach. He had a couple of solid performances before Christmas finishing 3rd in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai in November and followed that with a T6th finish at The Northwestern Mutual in December.
He also has quite a good record in this event with three top 10’s in the last three years finishing ninth last year, ninth in 2012 and sixth in 2011. He is clearly playing well at the moment and has a great previous record on this course. Expect his good from to continue here this week.
Charl Schwartzel 22/1
Charl had a good start to the season with a T5th finish at The Northern Trust Open the week before last shooting three 68’s and a 69 to finish on 11 under. He was knocked out in the matchplay last week by Jim Furyk but I reckon he will be back to his best here this week.
He had a great finish to 2013 with a win at The Alfred Dunhill at the beginning of December and had a super finish to the South African Open at the end of November finishing T4th. Charl is another player with a super record in this event with three top 15’s in his last three appearances. He finished ninth last year, fifth in 2012 and 14th in 2011. He is another player that has a great previous record and current form to go extremely well here.
Rickie Fowler 33/1
Rickie played solid last week in Arizona beating big names like Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter on his way to beating Ernie Els in the consolation match to eventually finish in third place. Fowler also has a good record on this course finishing in 13th place last year and seventh in 2012.
Despite struggling initially with the transition to his new swing from coach Butch Harmon, Rickie has said that his game is close to being right, which was evident, based on last week’s performance.
Statswise he ranks second in proximity to the hole, 28th in driving distance, sixth in GIR from 150-175 yards and sixth in approaches from 100-125. Fowler seems to have found his game in this new swing and I have no doubt his good form will continue here this week.
Sergio Garcia 18/1
Sergio is on a great run of form at the moment and played well last week at the matchplay, only to be beaten by Rickie Fowler. He lost because he was a little too generous and gave Fowler a putt because he felt he delayed him too long on the previous hole which then cost him the match.
Despite that, he has been playing well on both the PGA and European Tour so far this season. He had a great win which came at The Qatar Masters at the end of January, shooting a final round 65 finishing on 16 under par to seal victory. He also had a great week at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai in November finishing in 4th. Statswise he ranks fifth in stroke average and 12th in putts per round so far on the European Tour this season.
Will McKenzie 80/1
Overall Will McKenzie has had a pretty good season so far with six top 15’s in nine starts. He had a top 10 at the start of the season at The Frys.com Open finishing in T9th which included a third round 64 to finish on 12 under for the tournament. He also had a great week at The Farmers in Torrey Pines at the end of January finishing in T7th which was followed by a T13th finish at The AT&T in Pebble Beach.
McKenzie is another player with a good record in this tournament finishing fifth in 2009 and 12th in 2010 and 22nd in 2007. Statswise he ranks 49th in driving distance, 53rd in driving accuracy, 35th in GIR and 23rd in strokes gained putting. He also ranks sixth in par 3 performance and second in par 5 performance. Stats combined with good form and good previous performances make McKenzie a good bet this week.
Graeme McDowell 2pts ew/4 pts total
Charl Schwartzel 2pts ew/4 pts total
Rickie Fowler 1.5pts ew/3 pts total
Sergio Garcia 1.5pts ew/3 pts total
Will McKenzie 1pt ew/2 pts total
Total staked = 15 pts
Good luck and enjoy the golf,
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