See my Race to Dubai Betting Guide

See my HSBC Champions Trophy Betting Guide

CHILDREN’S MIRACLE NETWORK CLASSIC

3pts ew JUSTIN LEONARD @ 16/1 (SKYBET, SPORTINGBET, TOTE)

1pt ew SCOTT VERPLANK @ 50/1 (GENERAL)

1pt ew KEVIN STREELMAN @ 70/1 (BET365, 80/1 SPORTINGBET)

1pt ew JOHN HUSTON @ 80/1 (GENERAL)

0.5pts ew SCOTT MCCARRON @ 175/1 (SKYBET, 200/1 STAN JAMES)

CHILDREN’S MIRACLE NETWORK CLASSIC

This annual birdie-fest at the Walt Disney resort courses of Palm and Magnolia brings the 2008 PGA Tour season to a close. This fact may be lamented by bookmakers, who must have cleaned up on the Fall Series so far. All six events have been won by players starting the week no higher than 125th place on the money list, and all but one started at 100/1 or more.

The long history of events at this venue suggests more of the same with seven of the last 10 winners at Magnolia starting at odds of at least 80/1. The profiles of those winners do vary, but a slight bias towards the more experienced player can be identified. In terms of the stats, the greatest emphasis has been on greens in regulation, putting and birdie average. Driving distance has usually proved irrelevant.

While my general inclination is to keep stakes low and concentrate on outsiders, a very solid case can be made for the clear favourite, JUSTIN LEONARD. Quite simply his recent form, in both strokeplay and the Ryder Cup, stands out as head and shoulders above the rest of this moderate field. He’s only missed the top-20 three times since winning at Southwind in June, and showed a liking for the course set-up when finishing 6th last year.

All of that could count for little if another unconsidered outsider shoots the lights out on these easy courses, but it equates to less than a 16/1 chance. Especially compared to the claims of his closest rivals amongst the market leaders. Second favourite Robert Allenby has never bettered 36th in five tries at the Disney resorts. Leonard’s Ryder Cup team-mate Stewart Cink hasn’t played for six weeks, and in any case hasn’t done anything much this summer.

Its easier to make a case for the likes of Tim Clark, Davis Love and Stephen Ames. The only drawback with the last-named is that its always tougher as defending champion, though otherwise Ames has solid claims again. Clark is something of a course specialist, finishing runner-up last year and making the top-10 four times out of five. Last week’s missed cut doesn’t inspire much confidence though, and nor does his terrible record in contention in the States. Love has a fine record at Disney, but is a very short price given last week’s missed cut and the suspicion remains that his interest has waned having already saved his card.

After missing out on the places by a single shot last week, I was tempted to back Troy Matteson but his price has collapsed to half of last week’s 80/1. Last week’s runner-up George McNeill could also be worth a look at the same 40/1 odds. Based purely on stats and recent form, Brian Gay would have certainly made the staking plan. That confidence in Gay, however, drained away upon the realisation that he’d never made the top-10 at Disney in eight attempts.

At 50/1, I prefer the chances of experienced course specialist SCOTT VERPLANK. He’s made the top-4 at this venue three times already this century, and would appear to fit the ideal tournament profile of an experienced player who hits lots of greens in regulation and putts well. His summer has been full of mid-division finishes, with only one missed cut since May. That’s fairly typical of Verplank, but generally he throws in a win or a few places so perhaps with ideal conditions now, he’s due a payout week.

KEVIN STREELMAN has made a very reasonable impression in his first year on the PGA Tour. His record over the summer is not dissimilar to Verplank, also missing only one cut since May and accumulating a string of mid-division placings. A good run in the Fedex Cup seems to have elevated his career to a slightly higher plane, and I could see a first victory coming soon. 9 of Streelman’s last 12 rounds have been sub-70, so he should make plenty of birdies around these layouts.

Naturally given recent results, we must consider the group of players outside the top-125 now making a last-ditch bids to earn full playing rights for next year. The best remaining bet among this bunch could be former Disney winner JOHN HUSTON, who won here ten years ago. Sunday’s 7th place was Huston’s best effort of the season, and evidence that he’s capable of making the push required to improve on his current dismal money list position of 149th. And as Huston ranks an impressive third in birdie average over the past six months, this week’s test looks ideal.

Finally, I’m having an extremely speculative punt on SCOTT MCCARRON at up to 200/1. While McCarron is clearly not the player he was when reaching the World Matchplay final in 2002, he has shown twice recently that he remains well capable of having a good run at a run of the mill event. McCarron finished 2nd in the Wyndham Championship in August, and also 5th a couple of weeks earlier. His strength always was, and remains, an ability to run up plenty of birdies, so at these massive odds he’s worth a small interest.

Good Luck!

ADVISED BETS

RACE TO DUBAI

2.5pts ew ROSS FISHER @ 20/1 (BETFRED, PAGEBET)

2.5pts ew PAUL CASEY @ 20/1 (GENERALLY AVAILABLE)

HSBC CHAMPIONS TROPHY

4pts win ANTONY KIM @ 12/1 (GENERAL)

3pts ew ROSS FISHER @ 16/1 (GENERAL)

3pts ew ROBERT KARLSSON @ 16/1 (GENERAL, 18/1 VCBET)

2.5pts ew PAUL CASEY @ 20/1 (GENERAL)

1.5pts ew GRAEME MCDOWELL @ 35/1 (STAN JAMES, BETDIRECT, HILLS, PADDY POWER)

CHILDREN’S MIRACLE NETWORK CLASSIC

3pts ew JUSTIN LEONARD @ 16/1 (SKYBET, SPORTINGBET, TOTE)

1pt ew SCOTT VERPLANK @ 50/1 (GENERAL)

1pt ew KEVIN STREELMAN @ 70/1 (BET365, 80/1 SPORTINGBET)

1pt ew JOHN HUSTON @ 80/1 (GENERAL)

0.5pts ew SCOTT MCCARRON @ 175/1 (SKYBET, 200/1 STAN JAMES)

2008/2009 STATS START FROM THIS WEEK

2007/2008 STATS: +618pts