TPC Champions Classic Tips: Par-4s can set Mason free

TPC Scottsdale
TPC Scottsdale, the Champions Course being home to this week's Champions Classic

The Outlaw Tour continues this week with the TPC Champions Classic, staged at a familiar PGA Tour venue. Matt Cooper previews the event and provides a pair of recommended bets...

"This season he's found a level on the Outlaw Tour, playing it four times and finishing top seven every time. He also played last week's Scottsdale AZ Open and went sub-70 in every lap."

Back Nick Mason each-way @ 14/1

If you wanted to package in microcosm the peculiar experience of this year's unexpected focus on American minor tour golf, this week's host club on the Outlaw Tour is just about perfect.

Because the fields these last few weeks have always felt somewhat familiar to us and yet also a little puzzling (the sons of PGA Tour winners, for example, and golfers whose once-promising careers started landing on snakes rather than ladders).

So it is with TPC Scottsdale, home to the TPC Champions Classic. We know the venue well and yet the tournament takes place not on the Stadium Course, which welcomes the PGA Tour's Phoenix Open every year, but on the Champions Course.

Designed by the spectacularly-named Randy Heckenkemper, the course features five par-3s which might lead some to look for specialists on the short holes and yet when this tournament was last played in September the winner Brett Drewitt actually separated himself from the field on the par-4s.

It's often, of course, a simple case of Q.E.D. that strong par-4 scoring helps drive the winner to triumph because there are typically 10 or 12 of them, but even with just the nine it continued to be the case and it was possibly crucial.

Drewitt was 7-under on the par-4s for the week, one of only two men who were 3-under or better. He also took full toll of the par-5s in shooting a 16-under 197 total which left him three clear of second and seven ahead of third.

First Bet: Nick Mason each-way @ 14/1

In his late 30s and still chasing the dream of a PGA Tour card, Mason's CV has plenty of moments that have been cruel rather than kind.

A Hawaiian native, back in 2013 he won a second Hawaii State Open, defeating PGA Tour veteran Dean Wilson on the third extra hole. Mason won $10,000 that week, but has never come close to earning what Wilson did week in, week out.

In 2016 he found himself T16 deep into the back nine at the Sony Open, comfortably his best show on the main stage, but despite carding 66 he finished T42.

This season he's found a level on the Outlaw Tour, playing it four times and finishing top seven every time. He also played last week's Scottsdale AZ Open and went sub-70 in every lap.

The form hasn't deserted him, he ranks first in the field on the par-4s and therefore he earns first spot in the staking plan.

Mason is joined at the top end of the market by plenty of players who boast quality and quantity this spring.

KK Limbhasut has four top three finishes, including a win, in his last seven starts, but this is his eighth tournament week on the trot and T33rd-T27th in the last fortnight hints at fatigue.

Jeremy and Yannik Paul (unrelated) have also been racking up the appearances and top tens. Jeremy has four of the latter in seven weeks, Yannik three, but both recorded their worst result in that spell last time out.

Nicolo Galletti appeals - the Californian has a first, second and third in his last three Outlaw Tour starts and played at Arizona State University, a hotbed of talent that has produced Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey and Jon Rahm among others.

But final spot instead goes to ...

Second Bet: Dylan Wu win @ 6/1

The 23-year-old from Oregon made a bold start to the Korn Ferry Tour earlier this year, collecting six top 30s finishes (three of them top seven).

Previous winner of this week's tournament Drewitt made the top ten in two of those events.

In the Panama Championship Wu and Drewitt were both tied seventh and in the Country Club de Bogota Championship Drewitt was sixth while Wu set the pace with a first round 63 before collecting T27th.

Currently fifth in the second tier rankings, Wu is also second for par-4 scoring.

He's added four top tens on the minor tours to that excellent early season form, making it eight finishes of T11th or better in ten 2020 starts.

That's compelling form, worthy of favouritism and also deserving of second pick.

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