As has become the norm, the Disney Resort hosts the final event of the PGA Tour season, for which there are two interesting sub-plots besides the main event. Most importantly, this is the final counting event towards the money list, after which the top 125 will earn full playing rights. There is also the small matter of a $1 million prize for the winner of the Kodak Challenge – a season-long contest involving scores on one hole specified in each event. Rookie Troy Merritt currently leads by one from Rickie Fowler and Aaron Baddeley. The hole in question here is the 17th at Magnolia.
Of the ten Disney champions this century, five begun the week at 100/1 or more. However, the last three have been pretty straightforward, with Stephen Ames winning twice and course specialist Davis Love in between. All bar two of them were at least aged 30.
Course and stats
Two courses are used; Magnolia and Palm, with the former measuring 500 yards longer. Both are pure resort target golf, vulnerable to very low scores. Historically, the key stats have been greens in regulation, putting and birdie average.
A further point to consider is that this field will be divided between those who have just been playing on the opposite side of the world, and those who’ve had a fortnight off. Given the urgency of their situation, one would expect those money list strugglers around or below 125th place to have spent that time putting in serious preparation.
Ace putter Leonard is perfectly suited to this birdie-fest, as illustrated by sixth place on his penultimate visit and runner-up last year. Despite a largely ordinary season, he’s shown promise several times over the past couple of months, making his last nine cuts and putting well again.
1pt ew JOHN ROLLINS @ 50/1 (GENERAL, 55/1 BET365)
It is easy to forgive Rollins’ latest failure, as he’s never done anything at Summerlin. His Disney record is much better, with five top 25s from his last seven visits. Recent form is pretty good, finishing 12th on his penultimate start at Sea Island and third in the Wyndham Championship.
1pt ew GEORGE MCNEILL @ 50/1 (GENERAL)
Not for the first time, McNeill’s autumn has involved a stressful scramble to retain playing rights, and in 133rd place he needs a very big week. He’s risen to the challenge before, and consecutive top 20s in the last two low scoring events suggest he’s switched on again. As last year’s runner-up, there are no questions on the course form front.
1pt ew RICHARD S JOHNSON @ 80/1 (GENERAL, 90/1 BET365)
Two places higher in 131st, Johnson also needs a very high finish, though most of his golf since mid summer suggests he’s capable of it. His US form has improved since winning the Scandinavian Masters, making seven of his last eight cuts, including four top 25s. Johnson has now won three events on the two main tours, all at big odds, showing an excellent temperament each time.
A poor run has left this serial money-list struggler right on the cut line in 125th place. Fortunately, he tends to reserve his best for Florida, in particular this course, where he’s finished second and sixth on his two visits. Both of Matteson’s victories, and most of his best golf, has come when under money list pressure during the Fall Series.
0.5pt ew WILL MACKENZIE @ 100/1 (GENERAL)
Mackenzie was seriously disappointing when carrying our cash last time, after taking the first round lead. Nevertheless, he remains ideally suited to target golf and a proven winner at a big price. He’s exactly the type of money list struggler I’m hoping has found something in practice during the last fortnight. He was 15th at Disney last year.