It must be a rare occurrence or even unique that the first three players in the betting for a PGA Tour event are British or Irish. Bookmakers believe that the players with the best credentials for the Wells Fargo Championship are Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood. The field is weakened somewhat by the tournaments date in the schedule, a week ahead of the Players Championship.
There is a low grade event Europe this week called The Championship at Laguna National and despite a decent prize fund there is a pretty moderate field. The tournament is co-sanctioned with the Asian Tour but still gives a player the chance to earn a full two year exemption to the European Tour. Both events are featured in this week’s tips from the OnParProfits service that can be accessed through this link:
The Players Championship is known as the fifth major due to the quality of the field. Often the top 50 players in the world rankings compete but this year one notable absentee is Tiger Woods, the world number one. The two times winner is now taking an enforced break from the game due to injury and his return to the sport is not imminent.
Ever since the start of his career Woods’ aim has been to win 19 major championships to surpass Jack Nicklaus’s haul. He won the last of his 14 majors in 2008 but this was supposed to be the year that provided him with great opportunities to add to his tally. Three of this year’s majors are played on courses where Woods has won in the past. If he is still on 14 at the end of the year he will then be unlikely to beat Nicklaus’s total.
The Wells Fargo Championship was founded in 2003 and despite a number of sponsors has always been played at Quail Hollow Golf and Country Club in North Carolina. Quail Hollow is a superb examination of golf. It’s no surprise that three of the first four champions have been major winners because this course could stage one with relatively few changes to the current set up.
For players who miss the fairways there is plenty of trouble to be found, with difficult rough and several water hazards. That means that, despite its length, there is a greater premium on accuracy than distance, especially as the ball can be chased on to the greens on many of the longest holes. The large bent grass greens are undulating and difficult to read and it’s not unusual to see players three putt from the centre of the green.
Despite its reputation for being a tough track the roll of honour has been less impressive in recent years. This is due to the fact that many of the better players are preparing for the Players Championship away from competitive golf. In McIlroy, Rose and Phil Mickelson three of the four shortest priced players have won majors. Former major winners Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk are also prominent in the betting.
Furyk in particular fits the identikit of former winners and he is included in the staking plan for OnParProfits. He won the US Open in 2003 on a course that put extreme demands on accuracy, scores well for finding greens in the correct number of shots and combines solid current form with excellent course form. Jimmy Walker is another player of the calibre to win at this level.
From tee to green Lee Westwood is still one of the best players in the world so is suited to this week’s challenge. He is the only player to finish in the top three of all four majors without winning one. It must have been galling to have played his best golf of the season in the week after the US Masters. Luke Donald is another English player who recorded his best finish in 2014 to date in his next tournament after the first major of the year.
Justin Rose has won his first major and in taking the US Open last year showed he can maintain his form and technique when the pressure is at its most intense. In theory Rose should relish Quail Hollow but his lack of any significant course form is a handicap that he may not be able to overcome especially with so many course specialists in the field.
Bernd Wiesberger is the favourite to win The Championship at Laguna National and the highest world ranked player in the field. The Laguna National course in Singapore hosted the Singapore Masters between 2002 and 2007. The course provides a really tough test with water in play on 12 holes, tight tree-lined fairways, tough rough and well positioned bunkers. The grainy greens and hot, humid and sticky atmosphere favour local Asian players and those with course experience.
Laguna is a demanding course and during the first five year spell hosting the Singapore Masters only twenty three players in total finished better than 8 under. Although the absence of performance stats for non-European players makes definite conclusions difficult it seems reasonable to say that quality iron play really is the key here. Driving accuracy, greens in regulation and GIR putting are the most pertinent statistical categories.
Shiv Kapur may not be a name on many lists of potential winners but he is the only player in the field in the top 50 in Europe for these three key areas. His prospects are enhanced by his background and nationality so there’s a great deal in Kapur’s favour this week and he must be backed each way at 100/1.
On Par Profits