Another week when it looked like we had the winner and he fizzled coming down the stretch. Instead of dwelling on what could have happened we move onto the Transitions Champion this week. 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 for the players.
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 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 may be attainable this week as the forecast is calling for low winds and sunny skies.
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 11 years it has played to a 4.294 stroke average.
We have six past champions of the transition Championship competing this week. KJ Choi (2002,2006) Retief Goosen (2003,2009) Carl Pettersson(2005) Mark Calcavecchia(2007) Sean O’Hair(2008) and Jim Furyk (2010). The field also features two players who currently reside in the top 10 of the World Golf Rankings (Martin Kaymer 1st, Paul Casey 7th).
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 this week. Be sure to tune into Italian sensation Matteo Manassero and Japans Ryo Ishikawa. These guys aren’t even legal to purchase a celebratory drink in the United States if they win (though they do have a lot of game for such young guys).
STEVES SIX PACK PICKS
This week we are going with players who have been playing and well and have a solid history in this tournament. I absolutely love the pick of Jonathan Byrd this week as a side note.
Bubba Watson 33/1 – Watson had to withdraw from his previous tournament but should be rested up and ready to go this week. Look for the long bomber to shape shots nicely into the greens at Copperhead and feed of his excellent finish here last year.
Justin Rose 40/1 – Can’t say enough good things about Justin Rose. Such a solid golfer. He is 9th in Par 5’s Birdie average at almost 56%, 3rd in Greens in Regulation from less than 125 yards at almost 94% and 3rd at scrambling from the rough at 74%. Look for Rosey to be there on Sunday competing for this championship.
Jonathan Byrd 40/1 – My favourite pick of the week by a mile. We picked Byrd right at the start of the year at 40/1 so let’s do it again. He loves this event. Byrd has amassed 4 top 15 finishes at Copperhead, including a T8 here last year. Ended Doral with a 68, 68 weekend and should continue to play well.
Sean O’Hair 70/1 – O’Hair is a past champion at Copperhead and we have seen that it is possible to win this tournament twice (Goosen and Choi). Has a long and accurate swing and his demeanour reminds me of Nick Watney (doesn’t seem to get phased). Look for O’Hair to begin to build momentum as we work our way towards the Masters.
Bill Haas 40/1 – One of the best all-around golfers on the planet. The guy just doesn’t seem to have any flaws. He has 3 top 10 finishes so far this year and finished T16th last year at Copperhead. Sits 4th on Tour in Greens in Regulation Percentage (hitting just a shade under 74%). Look for his excellent iron play to be the difference this week.
Webb Simpson 100/1 – At 100/1 we will go with Webb Simpson as our long shot this week. Finished with a T13 last year in this tournament and has played well so far this year on tour. He is very accurate with his irons (much like Hass) and I look for him to use this to his advantage this week in Florida.
As always good luck to all of our 6 pack!
Webb Simpson – 2nd
Justin Rose- Tied for 5th
Jonathan Byrd- Tied for 20th
Bubba Watson – Tied for 28th
Sean O’Hair- MC
Bill Haas- MC