There’s a cactus somewhere with Bubba’s name on it
The WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship
This is the last year of Accenture’s sponsorship in an event that has been dogged by poor weather in recent years. For betting purposes, this event can be a bit of a lottery with top seeds regularly disappearing early, it can take just one bad round of golf to ruin a week for any player going well.
The venue, unloved by many, produces plenty of birdie-bogey style golf which itself is great for match play, if only there was anyone there to see it. Dove Mountain, renamed The Golf Club at Dove Mountain has always produced worthy winners, being able to spot them beforehand hasn’t always been as obvious. Its a start-again-every-day-from-scratch sort of a place. It only takes one player to have a better day than you. Players can win with a 74 or they can shoot the lights out the course with a 65 and still lose.
The course itself measures as long as they come at 7,791 yards but the fairways are wide and the rough is short. The greens are the key to Dove Mountain. They are big, have plenty of slope on them and can either be wholly accessible or frustratingly inaccessible. Watch out for big snaking putts finding the cup and plenty of chip-ins as pin positions will be there to entice bold plays. The greens are not its only defence, there is plenty of desert and a big cactus or two.
In fact there are cacti everywhere awaiting a poor shot. But despite plenty of desert scrub, and as many cactus as you can swing a 6 iron at, the penalty is usually no more severe than the loss of one hole, which will ensure the big boys keep reloading their big guns.
In previous editions the top ranked player has gone out at the first stage four times in the last fourteen years and nearly half of all the lower ranked players won their first round matches in 2013 and 2012. Being statistically the better ranked player counts for little in this competition where form, luck and being on the right end of a birdie or two works wonders.
For the LetsTalkGolfPicks this week we take a look at the best bet from each of the four brackets:
Sam Snead Bracket
I hate picking back-to-back winners, which is why we wisely stayed clear of Jimmy Walker last week at the Northern Trust Open. But, going against trend, this is a course made for the unpredictable birdie-making abilities that Bubba Watson is loved for.
Watson, in any other week, might be feeling a bit emotional after his win at Riviera on Sunday. But this isn’t any other week and its why Bubba seems like such a good pick. He’ll not be greatly bothered if he wins or loses after getting the two-year winless monkey off his back. He’ll do what he always does; he’ll go big, he’ll make birdies. He’s one dangerous opponent no one will want to meet.
Bobby Jones Bracket
This section includes Henrik Stenson, Steve Striker, Jason Day and Brandt Snedeker, but of those the best putter looks like Webb Simpson. Normally, you’d expect the (part-time) Stricker to be considered the best, but after taking a lot of time off golf and the distractions of his brother’s illness, we can’t see him being in the right mind to go far here. Stenson is a previous winner (next door at the Gallery Golf Club) and one of the straightest out there. But hitting fairways and greens isn’t the key here, holing lots of putts and the odd chip too is what this course rewards. Which is why the in-form Simpson gets the nod.
Gary Player Bracket
Jordan Spieth has looked great so far this season and has been a regular contender in every event he plays in. The are no weaknesses in his game and no set back that his youthful optimism cannot overcome. More experienced players might fear Spieth who doesn’t look like being bowled over by any occasion. He also has the tendency to put in the odd poor round which has denied him further victories, but that might not hurt him here as he goes up against the likes of Justin Rose, Luke Donald, Matt Kuchar and Ernie Els.
Ben Hogan Bracket
Similar to Bubba, Sergio Garcia is the kind of guy to hit or hit out. Perfect for desert match play golf. With two wins under his belt already this season and a happy personal life, Sergio will be free to compete without worrying about any potential Tiger-related gaffes or temper tantrums. Its time he stepped up a level and he could do it here this week. He finds himself in the most competitive bracket of the four alongside Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel, Bill Hass, Jim Furyk and the in-form Jimmy Walker.
Here’s our staking plan for the outright tournament win, one from each bracket:
Bobby Jones Bracket – Webb Simpson 33/1 – 2.5 points To Win (Ladbrokes)
Gary Player Bracket – Jordan Spieth 25/1 – 2.5 points To Win (Bet Victor)
Ben Hogan Bracket – Sergio Garcia 25/1 – 2.5 points To Win (SkyBet)
Sam Snead Bracket – Bubba Watson 33/1 – 2.5 points To Win (Ladbrokes)
A near miss from Dustin Johnson at The Northern Trust Open denied us a three-in-a-row after wins for Jimmy Walker and Stephen Gallacher. LetsTalkGolfPicks are +77.5 points up for the year.