The Tampa Bay Championship is situated in Palm Harbor, Florida and is the 2nd regular season event in the sunny state on the 2013 schedule. The Tampa Bay Championship, formerly known as the Transitions Championship between 2009-2012. Vijay Singh currently holds the tournament score record at -18 set in 2004 when it was known as The Chrysler Championship. There are currently two multiple winners of the event since it was founded in 2000, K.J Choi and Retief Goosen have both won it two times. Goosen is also currently the leading money winner at this event, winning over $2 million. Last week on tour we saw Tiger Woods pick up his 76th PGA Tour victory and his 2nd already this year. He is coming into fine form before The Masters and the players in the field this week will be delighted to have a week without him in the field. We have seen players find their form recently with one of the market leaders this week Webb Simpson finally showing some of the form that saw him win the U.S Open, and also saw him make his first appearance at the Ryder Cup. He has a fantastic record in past years of this event and even at 18/1 he looks great value to win this week.
Last week at the WGC was another disappointing showing from my tips, with Hunter Mahan flattering to deceive after such a brilliant 1st round. Up until the last two weeks there has been some great results for us and hopefully we can find that form once again here at the Tampa Bay Championship. With The Masters just a month away many players will have to get good finishes under their belts, and iron out any problems they may have with their game. So lets look in detail at the course and the current champion.
The Course: Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club is home to the Copperhead Course which has hosted this event since the beginning in 2000. The course was designed by Larry Packard and is often noted as the favourite course for many players on Tour. Padraig Harrington shot a 61 here in 2012 and that is lowest round recorded here at the Copperhead. Copperhead spans over 7,340 yards and is a par 71. The first hole on the course is a 560 yard par 5 and players will be looking to get a good start to their round on this hole. Last years champion Luke Donald recorded two birdies and an eagle on this hole with a par in the final round being his worse score of the week, and with Luke not being the biggest hitter on tour it proves it’s a hole that can be taken advantage of.
Current Champion: Luke Donald won the event in 2012 with a score of -13. His win here last year saw him regain the N0.1 spot in the world ranking from Rory Mcilroy and was a his only on the PGA tour in 2012. He won here last year by fending off Jim Furyk, Robert Garrigus and Sang-Moon Bae on the first extra hole by making birdie on the par 4 18th. So what were the main factors in Luke Donald’s victory last season and what will a potential winner this week need to do. On his way to winning this event in 2012 he ranked 1st in strokes gained-putting (+2.594), 9th in Driving Accuracy (73.1%) and also 9th in Greens in Regulation . In contrast Donald was ranked 73rd in Driving Distance, so big hitters do not have an automatic advantage on this course.
With four players between 16 & 18/1 this week, the bookie certainly seem to think that Adam Scott, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia and Webb Simpson are the stand out players at the Tampa Bay Championship this week, and I don’t think they are that far wrong. This does however mean that yet again there is some great players at some brilliant prices that will also have a fantastic chance of competing with these players at the top of the leaderboard. The likes of Nick Watney and Jason Dufner need to get their games together before Augusta and with the likes of Tiger, Mcilroy, Snedeker and Dustin Johnson all off this week they will see this as a big opportunity to do just that. So with all this in mind I will try to point out the players with the best chance and players who show the best value for money due to current form and past results here in Palm Harbor, Florida.
Webb Simpson 18/1 (General) 3pts win: Simpson has had a consistent start to the season, missing only one cut all year. Simpson is a player that has huge expectations attached to his name, especially this season after winning his first major at the U.S Open last year beating Graeme McDowell, and this years 2013 Honda Classic champion Michael Thompson. In comparison to Donald’s win last year, Webb is currently 14th in Greens in Regulation hitting 71.97% so far in 2013. Two massive parts of his game that need to improve if he wants to win here this week are his driving accuracy and his putting. When Simpson is hot with the putter he can pose a threat to anyone and returning to a course/event that he has had relative success at, this could be the week where we see him improve when he gets to the greens. In his last three starts at this event he has come T13 (2010) 2nd (2011) and T10 in 2012. In both 2011 and 2012 he shot all of his rounds sub 70 and I don’t see that changing this week. At 18/1 he looks a good price to go well, at an event he obviously enjoys playing.
Nick Watney 35/1 (General) 1pt e/w: Watney is another player who like Webb Simpson, likes this course/event. In his last three finishes he has come T51, T13 and 4th, he also came T12 in 2009. Watney has had a very up & down start to the season with his first two events seeing him finish T13 and T4 before finished 43rd at the Waste Management and getting cut at Pebble Beach. He is without a doubt one of the headline names on tour and he will often remind everyone the skills set he has at his disposal. He has five PGA Tour wins to his name and his last one came late last year in the FedEx Cup play offs, seeing him take the lead in the FedEx cup standings. He is 4th in Greens in Regulation and 1st from 175-200 yards. He has also recovered well being 5th in GIR from other than the fairway, meaning he is playing well when missing the fairway, possibly an important stat this week.
George Coetzee 100/1 (General) 1pt e/w: George Coetzee is making his first start on a regular PGA Tour event and this could be a massive step in his career. Coetzee is no stranger to playing with the worlds best and he can certainly hold his own against them. This season on the European Tour has been a continued success from last year, the only thing missing is a win. Coetzee so far this season has finished T9, T3 and T2 before the WGC Matchplay. The change in competition in terms of players, and style of courses may give Coetzee the boost he needs to press on and get his first win. If he were to go well this week I can’t imagine his 100/1 price will last in PGA events, he is normally at most around the 20s mark for European Tour events and his price should drop heavily this side of the Atlantic as well if he can prove himself. I will be keen to see what he can do over in the U.S and this week should certainly excite him. His putting and Greens in Regulations are a big part of his game and if he can continue to succeed in these areas here this week he can definitely be involved come Sunday.
Erik Compton 175/1 (SportingBet) 150/1 (General) 1pt e/w: Compton has made a great start to 2013 and will be hoping to follow this up with a big performance at his debut in this event. Compton has never been able to hold down a regular spot on the PGA Tour mainly down to his major heart problem, which saw him have two transplants in 2008. He finally managed to secure a card on tour in 2012 where he made 16 of 26 cuts and although he finished T13 at The John Deere Classic he only managed 163rd on the money list, which saw him lose his card straight away. Compton has since come back stronger qualifying for the PGA Tour in 2013 and posting his first top-10 finish coming T4 at The Honda Classic, he followed that up by coming T24 in Puerto Rico last week and his game looks in great shape. Considering his current form and his obvious desire to succeed I think his price is far too big this week to ignore.
PGA Tour points staked: 9
Total points staked this week (inc Avantha Masters tips) 15pts
Profit/Loss for 2013: +15
This week is all about getting back on track, I truly believe Webb Simpson has possibly the best chance to win here this week and that reflects in the 3pts staked on him. I hope some of you join me in my tips this week, and also check out my tips for the Avantha Masters posted here on The Football Family as well. Check out my Twitter @TomJacobs8 for updates and any questions you may have.