Transitions Championship: Punter takes Byrd to fly
Jonathan Byrd – The Punter’s sole selection at the Transitions
“Byrd does seem to fly under the radar quite often. He’s won five times on Tour, has a very solid record here and looked well worth risking at [65.0].”
Steve puts this week's US PGA Tour event under the microscope. What sort of player will prosper at Copperhead?
Now with its fourth name, having formally been called the Tampa Bay Classic, the Chrysler Championship and the PODS Championship, the Transitions Championship is in just its 12th year.
Innisbrook, A Salamander Golf and Spa Resort, Copperhead, Palm Harbour, Florida
Par 71, 7,340 yards, stroke average in 2011 - 70.82
A tough undulating track, it's far from a typical easy Florida resort track and last year was the first time it averaged under par for the week - thanks to benign conditions.
Although big-hitting Gary Woodland won on debut last year (the first to do so) it's a venue that usually suits the accurate type. A neat and tidy game gets it done here as a rule and eight of the last ten winners have been ranked in the top ten for Greens In Regulation.
The last three holes are really tough and known as the Snake Pit. The par four 16th is the toughest on the course - there's no bailout off the tee with water right and trees left. The par three 17th is no cakewalk either and you need to get your drive away safely on the 18th. Last year the three holes averaged nearly half a stroke over par.
Live on Sky all four days, 7.00pm on Thursday and Friday and 5.00pm on Saturday and Sunday
Last Five Winners
2011 - Gary Woodland -15
2010 - Jim Furyk -13
2009 - Retief Goosen -8
2008 - Sean O'Hair -4
2007 - Mark Calcavecchia -10
A quick glance at the roll of champions tells you all you need to know. Winners here are top-class and the list is littered with major winners. Woodland is the only one that isn't a multiple winner but that will surely be rectified in the fullness of time.
Luke Donald looks to be emerging from his early season slump. He has all the right attributes and looks a worthy favourite. Last week's pick, Charl Schwartzel, looks plenty short enough at [17.5] given how hard he finds it to win and given he's playing here for the first time and last week's winner Justin Rose makes no appeal at just a point bigger. He has form here but back-to-back is always tough.
I could have easily backed a handful or more here. I particularly liked duel winner K.J Choi but he isn't quite at the top of his game at present and I closely considered backing Zach Johnson but he keeps finishing weakly. Matt Kuchar, Nick Watney and Brandt Snedeker look fairly priced and the first player I really liked was John Senden. The Aussie has both current and course form but what he doesn't have is a string of wins, or even decent efforts in the mix. I tried to back him at [60.] but I'm more than happy to let him go un-backed at [40.0]. So in the end, I've backed just one, Jonathan Byrd.
Excuse the pun, but Byrd does seem to fly slightly under the radar quite often. He's won five times on Tour, has a very solid record here and looked well worth risking at [65.0]. I backed him at a much shorter price last year but he gave himself very little chance with a tardy start. He fought back well with a pair of 67's on Friday and Saturday before running out of steam on Sunday. Nevertheless, he still managed his sixth top-20 finish from nine starts and if he can get off to a better start this time around he may just be there or thereabouts come Sunday.
Transitions Championship Selection:
Jonathan Byrd @ [60.0]
With my attention very much on the Cheltenham Festival this week, I won't kick off the In-Play Blog until it's all over so I'll be back on Saturday.
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