The last event of the PGA Tour season, the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic, takes place this week at Disney World’s Magnolia Golf Club.
Luke Donald staged a brilliant final-round comeback last season to win the tournament and become the first player to top both the PGA and European Tour money lists in the same season.
The event, as ever, is played over two courses: the host Magnolia course, and the Palm Course, which generally yields the lower scores.
Donald’s 17-under-par winning total was relatively high for this tournament, widely regarded as one of the easiest events on the PGA Tour.
As such, I’d expect to see a barrage of birdies and eagles, and a series of strong performances from those outside the top 125 on the PGA Tour money list as they attempt to secure their 2013 playing privileges.
Robert Garrigus, at 14/1 with Ladbrokes, may be the favourite, but he simply can’t be ignored this week. His recent form has been exceptional and he ticks all he right boxes. He finished second two weeks ago at the CIMB Classic and has four top-five finishes in his last ten events. He is 11th on the PGA Tour in Birdie Average, third in Driving Distance, first in Par 3 Birdie or Better Leaders and eighth in Total Eagles and Par 5 Birdie or Better Leaders.
Chris Kirk, at 25/1 with Ladbrokes, could well add to his maiden PGA Tour title this week. The young American often performs well in low-scoring events. Indeed, he finished tied fourth two weeks ago in Malaysia with a 19-under-par total, and shot 22-under-par to win last year’s Viking Classic. He currently ranks 24th on tour in Birdie Average and fourth in Par 4 Birdie or Better Leaders.
JB Holmes, at 50/1 with Ladbrokes, is someone I expect to do well this week. He has recovered admirably from brain surgery and it wouldn’t surprise me if he finished the season with aplomb. The two-time PGA Tour winner has the ability to overpower these golf courses, and has a decent record at the event. He is also 16th on the PGA Tour in Par 4 Birdie or Better Leaders and 20th in Birdie Conversion Percentage.
D.J. Trahan, at 80/1 with Ladbrokes, looks well priced this week. He put in a strong performance at the McGladrey Classic to finish tied fourth and move up to 130th on the money list. He needs another good week to rise five more places and retain his card, and should be inspired by his memorable finish last year, when he birdied the 500-yard par-4 9th hole to finish the season on the number at 125th on the money list.
James Driscoll, at 100/1 with Ladbrokes, has extremely positive memories from this tournament. Last year, he came from outside the top 125 on the money list to finish inside the top 12 and secure his card for 2012. This year, he has recorded two top tens and four top 25s but finds himself in 120th position, and comes into the tournament knowing his 2013 playing privileges are far from guaranteed. Good memories and desire to keep his card should translate to a good showing this week.
Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic advised bets:
3pts outright on Robert Garrigus at 14/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Chris Kirk at 25/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on J.B. Holmes at 50/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on D.J. Trahan at 80/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on James Driscoll at 100/1 with Ladbrokes