This week the Florida swing gets underway at the challenging Champions Course at PGA National and as usual, a stellar field has assembled to participate in this event.
Measuring 7,140 yards, this par 70 layout is arguably one of the most difficult played on the Tour and over the past few years even the best have struggled to go low here. The most difficult section of the course, running from the 15th to 17th, is known as the “bear trap” and over the years this stretch has broken even the most experienced of players. The unpredictability of this one is what makes it so unique though and no one can be ignored here.
So what will the winner need to have in the bag? Well first off has to be consistency and a cool head under pressure because when entering the bear trap the slightest error could mean the difference between winning and losing. A high GIR% will also be vital though because mishit approaches will be punished and saving par is often difficult.
Overall this looks like it will be one to keep a close eye on, let’s see if we can find a winner.
To Win Outright
Rory McIlroy: 11/2
Rickie Fowler: 12/1
Adam Scott: 18/1
Hideki Matsuyama: 20/1
Phil Mickelson: 20/1
Patrick Reed (22/1 a win & 48/10 a place)
Last time Reed teed off was in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am and he looked to be in fine form on his way to a 6th place finish against some stiff competition. Over the years, he’s also posted some decent finishes here and a Top 25 in 2014 was followed by a 7th last year. Considering that Reed has one of the best iron games in golf I’m sure he’ll go close again this week. Each way is the bet for me.
Webb Simpson (66/1 a win & 14/1 a place)
It’s always worth keeping an eye on the bigger prices in this event and if Simpson can get his putter working this week, the course should suit his game to a tee. He currently ranks highly in GIR% so should avoid those pesky bogeys and his ability to scramble will stand him in good stead when things do go wrong. After a slow start to the season, things seem to be coming right for Simpson, let’s hope that he goes all the way this week.
Brooks Koepka (28/1 a win & 62/10 a place)
Brooks Koepka has been on fire this season and it comes as no surprise that he finds himself near the top of the betting this week, against a field that is filled with quality players. He finished 3rd in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and went on to finish inside the Top 10 in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Both of those competitions saw him square up against fields of similar quality to this one and I have the feeling he’ll be a serious competitor this week. Each way on Koepka is the bet for me.
Jason Kokrak (80/1 a win & 17/1 a place)
Jason Kokrak looked to be in great form last week on his way to finishing 2nd, and in a tournament that more often than not provides winners priced up close to the 100/1 mark, he is definitely worth an each way bet. He is one of the bigger hitters on Tour and although that won’t be the only stat worth considering this week, it could be an important one. There are concerns around his short game but at this price, you can’t have it all. I’ll be backing him each way and hoping this gamble pays off.