We move onto the Transitions Championship this week for another great Florida event. Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club will be the venue for this week’s PGA Tour stop. Located in Palm Harbor, Florida, Innisbrook is one of the more difficult tests of the year. Let’s take a closer look at the course.
Innisbrook is a Par 71 7340 yard course that forces the players to be accurate. Known as Copperhead, the course challenges players to take risks on the par 5’s, and to play positional golf on the Par3’s and 4’s. The course record is shared by Mark Calcavecchia (2007) and Jeff Sluman (2004), who both fired sizzling 62’s. A score like this will most likely come from the champion this week, as the winning score will be in the -14 area.
Copperhead features a total of 75 bunkers and 9 water hazards. The greens are extremely difficult and the tree-lined fairways pose a problem for any player who hits an errant shot. When the original architect Larry Packard designed this course in 1971, he had a terrific vision in mind. He wanted this to be a player’s golf course. He wanted a track that will challenge everyone who steps foot on it and yet reward excellent golf. I can tell you, Larry succeeded.
The most difficult hole on the course is the Par 4 16th. At 460 yards it forces the players to hit a deep and solid 1st shot. Water lines the entire right side of the hole forcing many players to miss the fairway left. The green is wide but it uses its undulation and tricky breaks to protect it. Look for players who leave the 16th with a par to very happy with their score, as over the past 12 years it has played to a 4.29 stroke average.
We have seven past champions of the Transitions Championship competing this week. KJ Choi (2002, 2006) Retief Goosen (2003, 2009) Vijay Singh (2004) Carl Pettersson (2005) Sean O’Hair (2008) Jim Furyk (2010) and Gary Woodland. The field also features five players who currently reside in the Top 10 of the World Golf Rankings (Luke Donald 2nd, Charl Schwartzel 6th, Justin Rose 7th, Webb Simpson 8th, and Jason Day 9th).
This tournament for some reason has favoured the experienced golfers over the years. All you have to do is look at the past winners who will be returning this week. Some young guns will attempt to change that trend but it will be difficult. Be sure to tune into the young sensations such as Japans Ryo Ishikawa, England’s Tom Lewis, and a slew of talent from the United States (Harris English, Bud Cauley and John Huh).
STEVE’S TRANSITIONS CHAMPIONSHIP PICKS
Here are this week’s six-pack of golfers I like to win the tournament outright. **Odds are based on 5dimes.com**. I will be (and recommend) placing 1% of my golf bankroll on each golfer to win the tournament outright.
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Retief Goosen (-115) over Gary Woodland
Woodland is the defending champion here but has started his 2012 season horribly. Gary has only broke 70 once this season in his 19 rounds of tournament stroke play. Goosen has a great history here and is one of the best Scramblers on Tour (70%). A surprisingly short price for Goosen in this battle of past champions.
Brian Gay (-120) over Boo Weekley
Boo is only at this price because of his 3rd place finish last week. The players played on an easy course and Boo took advantage of a relatively easy field. Previously to this 3rd place finish his best result was a Tie for 71st. His main issue is how poor of a putter he is. Boo currently ranks 172nd on Tour in Strokes gained from putting and 182nd in Total Putting. A solid week by a very steady player in Gay should win us this match up.
Jonathan Byrd (+140) over Peter Hanson
This is an interesting matchup. Hanson has been playing terrific golf as of late and most likely will play well once again this week. I can’t overlook though how much Byrd enjoys playing Copperhead. Byrd ranks 8th on Tour in Scrambling (67.68%) this season and we are getting him at a terrific price.
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