This week, we are at the AT&T National, one week after another tournament, where you just couldn’t predict the winner. Last week’s winner? Step forward 44-year-old Ken Duke, who picked up his first win on Tour, defeating another maiden victory chaser, Chris Stroud on the 2nd play off hole. Ken Duke was a popular winner, as he has suffered years of injuries, combated by a rod in his back, and many saw this as a long time coming. Chris Stroud is a superb young talent, who should have plenty more opportunities to win in the future, hence the emphasis placed on Duke getting his first win. No one begrudges Duke getting his win, and its another winner to chuck in the book of “surprise winners” on this years PGA Tour.
Results like this make finding a winner, that much more difficult, but also gives hope that outside value can be found. For example, last week although there were no successful tips, with Bubba Watson throwing away the win and Charley Hoffman missing it out on a place, positives can be taken. Chris Williams, my outside, top-20 tip for the week did miss out on that spot by two shots, coming T30, but it proves if you do your research and follow your instinct you won’t be too far off. Another blow out on the PGA Tour this week, and I will be looking as ever to immediately rectify that!
Looking ahead to this week, and as previously mentioned we are at the AT&T National, hosted by regular venue and home of the 2011 U.S Open, Congressional Country Club, Bethesda, Maryland. The event began in 2007 and between then and 2009, the event was held annually at Congressional, until moving to Aronimink Golf Club for the 2010 and 2011 instalments of this popular event. In 2011, Rory Mcilroy won the U.S Open, with an irregular U.S Open score of -16, eight shots clear of runner-up Jason Day. This is not normal scoring for a U.S Open and was even 3 shots better than the lowest score posted at the AT&T National by none other than Tiger Woods in 2009. Low scores can be found here, but the course cannot be taken for granted, which will be explained below. Tiger Woods has won 2 of 4 AT&T Nationals held at Congressional, and players will no doubt he relieved he’s not in the field this week, as he’s withdrawn with an elbow injury. For those of you who haven’t heard, you may be interested to hear that Tiger Woods will now not play until the British Open next month. Lets take a look at the challenges this course poses, and who won the event in 2012.
The Course: Congressional Country Club (Blue Course), Par 71, 7,569 yards. Congressional will be remembered in recent times, as the course that Rory Mcilroy blitzed a U.S Open field, posting -16. This was no what the USGA would of had in mind, but with the rainy, damp conditions it is the way it went. The course shouldn’t play anything like that this week, as before the 2012 instalment of the AT&T Classic 319 yards were added to the course, with the 6th hole changing from a par-4 to a par-5. This course will test every aspect of a players game, and this is not somewhere a player will come to find his form. All 6 players that have won this event, even at the other venue had won an event earlier in the season, and this may be something to look at. I’m not suggesting only back players that have won this year, but players should be in good form before coming here, in order to consider them, we have many surprises this season, but Congressional may change that.
Current Champion: For only the second time this season, I cannot call this section (Defending Champion) and that is because the winner of this event in 2012, was none other than Tiger Woods. As mentioned earlier Tiger is not in the field this week, citing an elbow strain injury, so he will not have the chance to play in an event he has previously won twice. Tiger won here with a score of -8 last season, shooting -2 on the final day to pull away from nearest challenger Bo Van Pelt, who was tied with both Tiger and Seung-yul Noh at the end of round 3. It seems to be an event where, the cream really rises to the top. What I mean by this, is as mentioned earlier, players in form do seem to be the players to go well here, and Tiger, Adam Scott and Nick Watney for example all have a strong winning mentality, so players like that should be on your radar.
With both Tiger Woods and now U.S Open champ, Justin Rose pulling out of the event, prices may not be as attractive as punters would of thought two/three weeks ago. That being said, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Hunter Mahan and Brandt Snedeker lead the market respectively and this players being in the field should keep prices attractive. I am happy to oppose he market leaders to some extent, due to their value, but it’s hard to rule any players of that quality out this week, at an event where form and top class players tend to prevail. There are still some players that fill that bill towards the middle of the market and beyond, and hopefully I can help you find that. Here are my picks for the 2013 AT&T National.
Billy Horschel 22/1 (General) 2pts e/w: Horschel has made a big impression on the Tour in the last couple of months, and not just because of his choice in trousers! When mentioning above some of the things to look for in a Congressional winner, Horschel popped up in my mind every single time. Winner this year? Check. Winning attitude? Check. Good form? Check. He meets the criteria in just about everything I could of hoped for. Before getting his win at the Zurich Class, Billy finished, T2, T3 and T9, proving not only his form, but his mentality, as he came close on numerous occasions. Many players who played like that three weeks in a row may be forgiven if they struggled to get the win in good time, but not Billy Horschel, he kept plugging away until he fulfilled his ambition and promise by getting the job done in New Orleans. Horschel has actually played here before, back in 09′ when he missed the cut, but a further three years have passed since then, and it’s fair to say that he looks a different customer on Tour nowadays. This is now his 3rd year on Tour, and he will be looking to add to his recent success, and gain as much respect as he can on his way to the very top. I believe that’s where he’s going, right to the very top. I thought after his missed cut at the Players’ and his less than exciting T41 at the Memorial, he may just of peaked too soon, how very wrong I was. He went on to finish T10 the week before the U.S Open, before finishing 4th at Merion. In his 2nd round of the U.S Open he shots all 18 Greens in Regulation and this just highlights his obvious ability. He’s become a major threat on Tour now, as his Amateur career suggest it would, and he certainly is a player to watch, as in my opinion he is a major winner of the future. He is fairly short this week at 22/1 but he’s arguably in as good a form as any in the market and that’s reflected in his price.
Ryan Palmer 45/1 (StanJames) 1pt e/w: Ryan Palmer is playing some excellent golf at the minute, and should have some fond memories of this course. He has finished in the top-25 on three occasions at this course, twice in this event, and hopefully he can keep up his good run of form this week. Palmer finished T21 in the U.S Open in 2011 so he can get his way around this track and I’m hoping his recent 4th at the FedEx St.Jude and T5 at the Players’ will spur him on to get a win this year. He looks like he could get his first Tour win since 2010, and his fourth overall and he will look at this course as a decent opportunity to do just that. I’m happy to ignore his U.S Open result as many players just could not cope with Merion and his recent run had to hit a bump at some point. I think he’s good value in this field and I expect him to go well.
Russell Henley 66/1 (General) 1pt e/w: Henley, as you may know if you’re a regular reader of my tips, is definitely a player I like to keep an eye on, and he looks like the right price to include this week. Apart from his missed cut at the U.S Open, he has recent form figures of T6, T43, CUT, T6 and T27, his cut coming at the Players’ Championship. Two of Russell’ five missed cuts have come at the two majors so really, week in, week out he is extremely consistent and I find myself questioning why he’s 66/1. He fits the bill for winners early in the season, and thus fits the second category of winning attitude, and in my eyes he can make an even bigger impression, just like Billy Horschel has started to do. It’s sometimes difficult to remember that Henley is still just a Tour Rookie, and I’m hoping his all round good game will give him a good chance of success again this week, as well as us a run for our money. At 66/1 he may be the player I’ve looked at this week as the “value” bet. I’d like to think he’s the type of player to be involved at this event over the weekend, and it will be interesting how he plays at this event.
David Lingmerth 110/1 (StanJames) 1pt e/w, 2pts Top European 11/1 (StanJames): Lingmerth is player I’ve kept in mind after he came 2nd at the Players’ and since then I’ve been waiting for the right place, and situation to tempt me into betting, this week it came. This guy can really “golf his ball” and after missing 5 straight cuts, it was no wonder he went into the week of the Players’ as a huge outsider. Since his 2nd at Sawgrass, he has also posted a T18 at the Crowne Plaza and more impressively a T17 at the U.S Open two weeks ago. The Swede certainly looks a talent and at 110/1 he certainly looked a reasonable bet this week. There’s no concerns about him in the strength of the field, as he’s proved he can well and truly mix it with the big guns, and hopefully he can do just that this week. He won a Web.com event not so far from here, in Maryland and that too was won at -8, so that could be a good omen for the youngster. To go from missing 5 cuts on the bounce, to finishing top 20 on three occasions, including a major, is certainly impressive and that’s the main reason behind backing him this week.
Total points staked on PGA Tour this week: 12pts
Total points staked (inc. European Tour tips): TBC
Profit/Loss for 2013: +130.6
These conclude my tips for this week, like last week I have gone for a new angle, this time in the shape of the “Top European” market. It is certainly worth trying to find some value in different avenues, and as Chris Williams’ so nearly proved last week, profit can be had from these types of markets. I hope you enjoy the read, and I hope it helps in your decision making for this weeks AT&T National. After coming close again last week, with Bjorn in 2nd and Bubba Watson looking good it’s time to get some profit under our belts and I hope it comes this week here at Congressional. Follow me on Twitter @TomJacobs8