Jordan Gives His Mates a Chance
Jordan Spieth is taking a week off so some of his contemporaries have an opportunity to make a name for themselves in the Zurich Classic on the US PGA Tour. There is a theory of inspiration by comparison which basically states that golfers play well after somebody in their age group or circle of friends has achieved something. Justin Thomas is a pal of Spieth’s and will be wanting to keep up with this mate as his career progresses. Read how Spieth set records at the US Masters.
The new Masters champion finished tied 11th in the RBC Heritage last week. Mental letdown may have been a factor in his first round score of 74 but he played his way back into contention by completing his second round in 12 shots fewer. There was a dip over the weekend but a 4 under par return for his last 36 holes was impressive in the context of the events of the previous week but fresher players outscored him. Click here for the final scores at the US Masters.
There is now the prospect of many Sunday afternoon showdowns in majors involving Spieth and Rory McIlroy. The world number one believes Spieth is a better player than he was aged 21 but four majors is a great tally for a man of his age. Spieth’s first major is the one that McIlroy requires to become just the sixth player to complete the career Grand Slam. The US player is capable of winning each major and St Andrews would be a great venue for a head-to-head in this year’s British Open.
TPC Louisiana at Avondale
This week’s host course is TPC Louisiana at Avondale, a venue built to host the Zurich Classic. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 initially spoilt that plan but the venue has staged this tournament for the last eight years. The course puts a premium on accuracy over distance and that brings several straight hitters into the mix. Dustin Johnson is the favourite but other players with a better skills profile are preferred.
You can see the latest odds for the Zurich Classic at 888Sport
In theory Justin Rose should be a leading contender at Avondale. He won the US Open in 2013, the major that requires accurate iron play more than any other. TPC Louisiana is a second shot course and Rose played the best approach of his life on the 72nd hole of the US Open to set up the par that clinched his first major. He played in the last group at Augusta on the Sunday but was too far off the pace to put any pressure on Spieth.
The English player has now reached a level at which he focuses on the majors. He was confident at the Masters that he could compete and did nothing wrong but was beaten by a better player. Rose made his name as a 17 year old amateur in the British Open in 1998 and immediately turned professional. He had a nightmare start in the paid ranks and gradually rebuilt his career that reached a pinnacle two years ago in the US Open.
Dustin Rebuilds Career
Dustin Johnson is another player in the process of rebuilding his reputation but his downfall was personal while Rose was subject to unrealistic expectations as a teenager. Johnson returned from a six month sabbatical earlier this year and the reasons for his absence are still not totally clear. He seems to have addressed some issues away from the course and proved his game was in good order by winning the WGC Cadillac Championship in March.
The world number seven has a solid game with few weaknesses but excels on courses that require long hitting more than accuracy. Johnson is currently first in the rankings for driving distance but 132nd for hitting the greens in regulation. That type of profile is not ideal for the playing conditions of the Zurich Classic and Johnson is the favourite more by reputation than his suitability to this week’s host course.
Thomas is 76th for GIR so could also struggle to hit enough greens to contend this week. TPC Louisiana was one of the easiest par 72s of last season and favourable weather conditions have led to pure greens. Decent putting surfaces allied to four reachable par 5s means the six year average winning score of 17 under should be matched at least and probably bettered.
Bohn and Knox Suited to Course
Jason Bohn and Russell Knox are the only players in the field in the top 40 for the two main accuracy disciplines. Bohn has won two PGA events, the latest at the Zurich Classic of 2010. His previous win was five years earlier so he is due and the third win if it arrives will be on a course like at this week’s venue. Knox is yet to win a title on the main tour but often prospers when the long hitters don’t have a comparative advantage. Rickie Fowler and Keegan Bradley will have their backers but neither player is in the top 50 for driving accuracy, greens in regulation and stokes gained putting.
Jeff Overton provides something of a contradiction as he has the best six year form at the course of the entire filed but is no better than average for these three key skills. Charles Howell combines solid course and current form but does not win often enough to warrant support. Billy Horschel is enigmatic and has maybe lost some hunger after winning the FedEx Cup 10 million dollar bonus last season but at his best would be a leading contender.
The Zurich Classic has been a good event for outsiders, maybe due to its position in the calendar, post the US Masters but before the build up to the US Open. Bohn is 158th in the world and as a veteran journey man would gain significantly by winning this week with a two year exemption and substantial move up the rankings. The tournament in Louisiana provides him with a window of opportunity that will not be open when Spieth returns to the tour in preparation for the US Open and the next leg of the calendar year Grand Slam.
Jason Bohn at +9100.
Russell Knox at +5100.
Jeff Overton at +9100.
All odds supplied by bovada
Jason Bohn at 100/1.
Russell Knox at 50/1.
Jeff Overton at 80/1.
All odds supplied by William Hill