The 2011 Bob Hope Classic Six-Pack
Okay, let’s send out a cheery congrats to Mark Wilson for capturing his third PGA Tour victory. Had you been keen on him and laid down a $5 wager, that five spot would have turned into $1,250! That’s right, in some European books, Mr. Wilson was an astonishing 250:1 odds of winning.
I think it’s safe to say, he was probably not on many people’s radar last week.
Let’s turn the page to this week and examine the Bob Hope Classic being played in La Quinta, California. These four courses represent some of the shortest and least challenging venues on the entire PGA circuit. Translation: These guys are going to go L-O-W this week. Couple that with the fact that we have a five-day event, and you are looking at “minus 30 something” to take the cake come Sunday.
What does it take to win this event?
In my opinion, it takes one very important thing to get it done here. You need to have a personality that is conducive to playing in a pro-am. It is not easy to keep a “loosey-goosey” attitude when you are competing for almost a million smackaroonies. But some guys actually excel in this type of environment, and you will meet some of them very soon in the six-pack.
Some courses favor the accurate driver. Some courses reward the terrific ball striker. Yet other courses occasionally don’t favor any of these and could reward any of the above. This event is up for grabs by anyone in the field.
My research shows that historically this event is typically a breakout victory for someone and rarely has it been one by the same person more than once. The typical victor will have a handful of good finishes here, yet nothing astonishing. He will be under the radar, and he will have played some pretty decent golf in his last few events.
I took a nice jump up on the leaderboard after the Sony Open. I now have a total of 314 points on the season. I am in the 81st percentile overall, and in my group, “The Fans of Hunter Mahan,” I am in the 78th percentile. I am now leading all of the Yahoo experts, except for Greg Vara, who I trail by 30 very make-up-able points. I lead Matt “The Master” Romig by two points, Mike “The Amateur” Arkush by 25 points and Eric “WTF Happened” Planer by 96 points.
I love the value on the board this week, but let’s look at my Yahoo fantasy lineup first:
Start Matt Kuchar Sit Steve Marino
Start Bubba Watson Sit DJ Trahan
John Senden Kevin Na
Start Mike Weir Sit Kevin Stadler
Let’s go make some money, my friends…
No. 1 Bubba Watson
I really like what Bubba Watson brings to the table this week.
He can absolutely smash the ball off the tee. You know he must be from Baghdad with the way that he murders the ball off the tee. This helps him shorten those par fives and drive his negative numbers.
Watson was the runner up here last year and he has a personality that totally suits this pro-am format. Pair that up with the fact that his worst finish in five tries was last week’s tie for 25th and that my friends, means you’ve got yourself a contender.
Like many others, I feel that Bubba came into his own on the tour last year and could really shine this year. Let’s look at some of his numbers from last year that helped make him who he was a year ago:
—Second in Driving Distance at almost 310 yards off the tee
—17th in Scoring Average at 70.2 strokes per round
—Eighth in All-Around Ranking
—Fifth in Par Breakers at 22.8 percent
Bubba Watson is my favorite guy to win this week at 20:1 odds of victory.
No. 2 Steve Marino
Talk about a guy who is in an ideal position to get his first PGA Tour victory, and Steve Marino has to be one of the first pro’s to pop in your head. This guy has some unreal talent, and he has discovered the gym and adopted the belief in fitness this offseason.
Marino has a handful of ties for twenty-something at the Bob Hope Classic. His last four finishes on tour have been in the top 15 or better (except for that unlikely missed cut at Justin Timberlake’s Shriner’s Classic).
Look at some of Marino’s paltry numbers from 2010:
—Fourth in Bounce Back at 26.8 percent
—34th in Par Breakers at 21.3 percent
Look for great improvement this year in all of his stats. You can also look for great improvement in your sports book account when you put a wager on Marino this week as he is 28:1 to take it all.
No. 3 John Senden
John Senden definitely represents great value this week. He has never missed the cut at this event and has three top 10 finishes in nine attempts. He obviously likes playing here and it shows. Like Marino, his track record is decent here, and he has played well recently.
His last five events have seen him finish ninth, 11th, 29th, 12th and 20th.
Look at some of Senden’s surprising stats form last year:
—First in GIR at 72.5 percent (That’s a HUGE stat people…)
—14th in Total Driving
—10th in Total Birdies with 366 on the year
—He was the third best Ball Striker on tour
People, trust me here, John Senden is great value this week at 40:1 odds. You need to strongly consider him in all aspects of gambling and fantasy pools this week.
No. 4 Mike Weir
Probably the most shocking collapse of any golfer in the past five years was that of Mike Weir trying to play through injury last year. His annual earnings last year totaled just over $550,000. That’s almost a 425 percent pay cut from the previous year.
Mike Weir has always been known for his consistency. Last year was anything but consistent. You have to keep in mind that injury was a major factor. That being said, also keep in mind that Mike Weir may be one of the most celebrated and greatest pro-am players of all time.
Weir won this event in 2003. He also has three other top six finishes in the Bob Hope Classic. His most recent play is a bit of a concern, but his finish for fifth in Greg Norman’s Shark Shootout shows me some signs of encouragement.
Last year’s stats are not indicative of Weir, so let’s look back to his totals from 2009:
—20th in Putts Per Round at 28.4 strokes per round
—24th in Sand Saves at 57 percent
—14th in Scrambling at 63.2 percent
Mike Weir is not being given any credit by the sports books this week. You need to strongly consider him at 50:1 odds of winning it all.
No. 5 Kenny Perry
You may think that he has his eyes set on the senior tour, but this could be just the place where Kenny Perry can begin his embarkation into the sunset with another fabulous win.
Perry has won here before and has five more top five finishes at the Bob Hope Classic. He has not played here in two years. The last time he was here, he placed third.
Perry is one of the nicest guys to ever walk the fairways as a professional golfer. This goes hand in hand with being in a five round pro-am.
Perry’s stats were lackluster at best in 2010, but what really sold me on picking him here were three things:
—He is one of the most personable people to ever play the game, suiting him for a pro-am format
—His history here is fantastic
—His odds are ridiculous!
Kenny Perry is 80:1 this week, so definitely throw a few bucks on him, and keep in mind he’s not even my official long shot pick!
No. 6 Kevin Stadler
I don’t know if the son of the walrus has a nickname yet, so let’s just call him “Seal Pup” for now.
Stadler started 2010 like he was on a mission. I hope he does the same thing this year. His finishes at the Bob Hope Classic indicate that he likes the event, and that he is trending very similarly to past winners such as Bill Haas, Pat Perez and DJ Trahan.
Look at some of Stadler’s stats form last year:
—26th in par Breakers at 21.6 percent
—16th in Par five Performance at -109 on the year
—14th in total eagles with 10
He’s definitely my flyer this week, but I love Kevin Stadler at 100:1 odds.
Good luck this week!