Golf Preview: Tour Championship & Portuguese Masters - The Gambling Times
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CASEY JONES

Golf Preview: Tour Championship & Portuguese Masters

Jordan Spieth - RealTime Images

It is the PGA Tour finale this week with the Tour Championship taking place with the 30 top players from the FedEx money list battling it out in Georgia, whilst in Europe it is the Portuguese Masters.

So in America, the Tour Championship – one of the most prestigious prizes in golf outside the four Majors – takes place at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.

The last few weeks have been building up to this clash – which features the top-30 players on the FedEx Cup standings.

The defending Tour Championship and FedEx Cup holder won’t be present as Rory McIlroy failed to earn a top-30 spot. McIlroy along with Sweden’s Henrik Stenson are the only players in the world’s top-ten who failed to qualify.

There is only one winner of the Tour Championship who has never gone on to claim the overall FedEx Cup and it’s $10million purse, and that is 2008 winner Camilo Villegas, who lost out to Vijay Singh overall.

Coming into the Tour Championship and all 30 players have a chance of claiming that and the FedEx Cup, including Jason Dufner who is number 30 in the rankings.

The clear favourite to win both is world number two Jordan Spieth, who is currently top of the rankings – although he has not won one of the three qualifying events prior.

The three winners have been Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas and Australian Marc Leishman leading up to the Tour Championship – but Spieth is top of the money list and favourite to claim the FedEx.

“There’s a lot on the line. It’s essentially a major after coming off a pretty hectic schedule in the last six or seven weeks,” said Spieth – who is looking to become only the second multiple winner of the FedEx, following on from Tiger Woods.

World number one Johnson is third in the money list, but he is looking for his first ever FedEx crown.

“I’m in the position that I want to be in,” Johnson said. “Feeling good. Feel like the golf game is in good form. I’m looking forward to this week and contending.”

Most people feel that the FedEx is a three-man shoot-out with Spieth, Johnson and Thomas – who is desperate to take the title.

“In terms of this week, it’s definitely not about the money. It’s definitely not about being better than anyone else. I just like to win,” Thomas said.

“Any time you can win a year-long race and be known as a champion of an entire year, it’s a big deal.”

Whilst almost all the golfing world have their eyes on the Tour Championship, there are some big European names in Portugal for the Masters, looking for the win.

Padraig Harrington is not amongst the favourites but he is the defending champion at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course, and the 46-year-old is hopeful he can put up a good defence of his title.

“It’s always nice to be back in Portugal. The weather is beautiful, I enjoy playing here and it’s an added bonus being defending champion. It doesn’t happen as often as you would like it to happen. It puts a bit more pressure on you, a bit more stress during the week, but I enjoy it down here so I’ll have a good week regardless,” he said.

“It’s pretty much set up as it was last year. There’s not a huge amount of rough and if the weather stays nice you’ll see very good scoring.”

The favourite for the tournament is Belgian ace Thomas Pieters with the likes of fellow Ryder Cup star Andy Sullivan, 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett and a former winner in Portugal Shane Lowry also highly fancied.

The pro’s point of view…

Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.

Really interesting weekend, the Tour Championship is an excellent event and one I will certainly be checking out.

It is a great field with all 30 players capable of winning and clearly the top-three Spieth, Johnson and Thomas will be hard to beat. I like Spieth and how he is coming in but I think Jon Rahm is really one to keep an eye on here for me.

Over in Portugal and I think Andy Sullivan has a very good chance having been runner-up there last year, but I would also look at maybe last year’s champion Padraig Harrington doing well again.

The Bookie says…

We caught up with BetVictor’s Jack Milner – an expert in the golfing markets

Last week’s pick in America Justin Rose made Marc Leishman battle to the BMW Championship and he must go close at the 2017 Tour Championship.. After an interrupted season the 2012 US Open winner looks back to his brilliant best and was ranked Number One for greens-in-regulation last week at Conway Farms. Combine that with a much-improved effort with the flat-stick and you’ve got an in-form golfer that should reward each-way support at 12/1 with BetVictor.

Spieth has a brilliant record at the course and enters as Number One in the Fedex Cup rankings; he boasts obvious claims but looks too skinny as the 9/2 market leader. At bigger prices, I’m inclined to stick with Hideki Matsuyama, who improved on 2015’s T12 with a top-five finish last year and goes under the radar at around the 18/1 mark.

He has been in the thick of it at this season’s majors, and so has Charley Hoffman who looks too big at 66/1. Hoffman disappointed in his sole previous appearances, He failed to break 70 in his first trip to East Lake two seasons back however, is a transformed player thereafter and has posted 7 x Top Ten finishes this season.

Tour Championship Selections:
Justin Rose                        12/1
Hideki Matsuyama           18/1
Charley Hoffman              50/1

Eddie Pepperell has rewarded column readers with place money on his last two starts and after fine efforts at both the Czech Open and last week’s KLM Open must go close at the Portugal Masters. The Englishman finished with a final round 66 to finish T3 last week, and would have challenged those at the top of the leader board were it not for a slow start in poor conditions in the opening two rounds. He will relish the likely warm conditions at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Club and looks a much likelier win at 28/1 than those above him in the betting such as Thomas Pieters, Shane Lowry and Thorbjorn Olesen.

A player that is proven around the course is Padraig Harrington, who looks over-priced at 50/1 to go back-to-back this week. Harrington was likewise tipped up here last week but never got going and narrowly made the cut after an opening round 72 but the Pod rallied thereafter and  finished the tournament -3 and T55. He will be better suited by Portugal’s course and is too big at 50/1 for a defending champion that fired four rounds in the 60s and a record aggregate score (261) at the course.

At bigger prices, I’ve been tempted in with the pair of Austin Connelly and Justin Walters who both played well to post top-ten finishes in Holland. The former could well end up on the PGA Tour with the American/Canadian a product of the college system across the Atlantic and was leading The Open Championship with 36 holes to play. He has already been backed to better last week’s effort, 66/1 from 80s, but remains potentially over-priced for each-way backers.

Likewise Justin Walters, who finished T3 last week to follow-up his recent T14 in Denmark. The Jo’Burg native finished inside the top twenty at the corresponding tournament 12 months ago and looks too big at around the 80/1 mark.

Portuguese Masters Recommendations:
Eddie Pepperell                 28/1
Padraig Harrington          50/1
Austin Connelly                66/1
Justin Walters                   80/1

For all the latest odds head to BetVictor.com and follow @BetVictor on Twitter

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