TURNING STONE RESORT CHAMPIONSHIP
This event is the second of the season-closing Fall Series, a series of mid-ranking events primarily concerning those players fighting to finish in the top-125 of the money list and therefore retain full playing privileges for next season. The effect on these lesser players currently close to the line is unclear. Will they rise to the challenge, or will the pressure be too much?
If this weeks European tournament is renowned for producing top-class leaderboards and fairly predictable results, then this couldnt be more different. PGA Tour events have twice been held at Atunyote GC, New York, and though neither winner could be described as a rank outsider, only one of the fourteen players to make the top-5 rated anywhere near the favourites. For obvious reasons then, Im keeping stakes low here.
In those two previous events, the key stats to follow were driving distance, greens in regulation and putting average. Im expect an even greater emphasis on these areas this year, as the course is now longer and expected to play much tougher this year. According to local favourite Joey Sindelar, the cold weather and damp conditions will turn Atunyote into a beast.
There are a few classy characters in the field, most notably Robert Allenby, Carl Pettersson and Sean OHair. The tougher conditions could benefit their slightly superior long games, but given the course history Id rather look for outsiders. By picking nobody shorter than 50/1, we can get five players onside for a very cheap layout of nine points, meaning we need just one place to turn a profit.
First up, Im going for MATTHEW GOGGIN, a player who generally thrives when a strong emphasis is placed on tee to green accuracy. Ive been backing this Aussie at enormous odds intermittently for a few years and theres been much this year to suggest that first win is around the corner. Most recently, he lost by one shot in 4th place at the prestigious Barclays Classic, and earlier finished runner-up at the Memorial. Having made the frame here last year in 5th, the tougher conditions represent a golden opportunity to break through.
Another first-time winner waiting to happen holding a solid chance at this level is STEVE MARINO. Generally consistent if unspectacular, hes already gone close twice this year in Canada and Hawaii. He played very respectably against better company on his last two starts in the play-offs, and looks worth taking a chance on at a decent price.
JASON GORE has shown he knows how to win tournaments, and the greater emphasis on driving distance would appear to favour him. Gore won four tournaments in 2005, three on the Nationwide Tour plus one on the PGA Tour. Notably that win at the top level was in the 84 Lumber Classic, played on another course which was all about power. Recent form, three top-11s from six starts, suggests hes knocking on the door once again, and he scores better than anyone across all the key stats.
Though not the most consistent player on the tour, NICHOLAS THOMPSON has shown plenty of promise in his first full PGA Tour season. Hes made the top-7 in higher class company than this on three occasions, and we know from last years win in New Zealand that he is capable of holding his nerve. Back at a course where he finished 6th last year, 80/1 looks a very fair price.
Finally in three figures, Im having a small each-way bet on GEORGE MCNEILL. Primarily, the reason for my support is simply that he scores very well in the driving distance and greens in regulation departments and the fact he’s putted well on recent starts. It was about this time last year that McNeill won his first PGA Tour title, an effort that he proved was no fluke when finishing runner-up in Marchs PODS Championship.
TURNING STONE RESORT CHAMPIONSHIP
1pt ew JASON GORE @ 50/1 (GENERAL)
1pt ew MATTHEW GOGGIN @ 50/1 (GENERAL)
1pt ew STEVE MARINO @ 50/1 (CORAL, LADBROKES, TOTE)
1pt ew NICHOLAS THOMPSON @ 80/1 (GENERAL, 100/1 CANBET)
0.5pts ew GEORGE MCNEILL @ 125/1 (GENERAL, 150/1 SPORTINGBET)