GOLF GURU Louis Ross concludes his coverage of 2016 with big views on The Barclays this week.
The Barclays | Thursday – Sunday | Sky Sports
Brandt Snedeker bagged us a place at 25/1 with a tied-third finish last week. Wahey.
We’re now into the closing weeks of the regular season and although the FedEx Cup has its faults – I won’t bore you with them – it’s a wonderful way to end what has been a brilliant season.
For those unfamiliar with the format, this is the way it works. The top-125 in the standings will start this Thursday. The top-100 this week will progress to the Deutsche Bank in Boston, 70 then go forward to the BMW Championship in Indiana, finally the top-30 in the standings will fight out the Tour Championship in Atlanta where the winner will collect a cool $10m.
So, this week then – Bethpage Black. Few golf courses around the world are as difficult or as brutal as the Black Course in Bethpage State Park. It has hosted two US Opens, which in itself tells you what kind of tournament we may see this week.
If you don’t remember it from 2002 or 2009, this public golf course (yes really) is a technical par-71 of just over 7,400 yards.
The Barclays was last played here in 2012 when Nick Watney won with Brandt Snedeker second , Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia tied for third.
The FedEx Cup play-offs and The Barclays in particular have normally produced high quality winners. Jason Day won last year’s renewal just a couple of weeks after claiming his first Major win. Adam Scott in 2013 and DJ in 2011 were other notables.
However, there are also plenty of examples of unexpected victors. Watney went off at 70/1 in 2012 whilst Hunter Mahan was a 50/1 chance in 2014.
There are a number of ways to look at this tournament. A general view of the course is that it will favour long hitters, but the stats from the three tournaments played here in 2002, 2009 and 2012 do not actually support that view.
I prefer current form myself. Jason Day was winning for the third time in four starts when taking this title last time out.
You can make a case for a number of the market leaders. Day himself may have dipped slightly in the last couple of months but he still gave himself a great chance to take the USPGA last month.
Dustin Johnson seems incredibly suited to this type of track but as I know to my cost, he let us down hugely at the last Major of the season.
I maintain my view of Rory. Incredible natural talent but I cannot consider him until he finds a putting stroke whilst Jordan Spieth has simply not performed to anywhere near the standard he set in 2015.
Hideki Matsuyama is a long standing favourite of mine. He starts at a very tempting price but once again last week, his putter let him down after some top class driving and approach play.
Justin Rose is very tempting after his Olympic gold medal. Rose can be streaky and I have said several times this year that his tee-to-green game was near perfect, just needing his putting to come back to really contend.
I will be backing Phil Mickleson but I am not going to include him here.
This is not a tournament where one name jumps off the page and grabs you. One or two of the favourites are very short and not generally in the very best of form. I just have to go with Dustin Johnson as my last outright tip of the year.
I know some of you simply never look at 10/1 (Ladbrokes) shots and others will be fed up with his dip in form after the US Open. But DJ does it for me. That second-place in 2012 was admittedly in a weather affected tournament but his ability to reach Ggeens from the penal rough should serve him well here.
There are two standout long odds shots in the field. I can’t avoid backing PGA champion Jimmy Walker at 80/1 (William Hill). It may not be a course that should suit but as someone who shouts current form so much, it’s a bet that I am happy to make.
Walker backed up wins in 2014 and 2015 with big performances next time out and its an easy decision to make at what I think is a huge price.
If I am including DJ in the last piece of the year, then I simply have to add Branden Grace (45/1 Bet365). I really thought he was going to deliver his third win of 2016 at last months USPGA.
I backed Grace four times during the tournament and still think he threw it away with one bad shot at his 70th hole on Sunday. No, I’m not over it yet. Clearly.
It’s been a year of near misses for me and Mr Grace. I think the course suits and believe Grace has more wins left in him this term.
My last selection of 2016 goes to Billy Horschel (90/1 888). The 2014 FedEx champ comes good at this time of year and like my other selections is a streaky kind of player.
His first PGA Tour win in 2013 came off the back of plenty of top-10 finishes. Fifth-place at the Wyndham caught the eye and Billy is just the type of player to take advantage of the new rules for US Ryder Cup selection. They are designed to catch guys playing well at the right time and this has Horschel written all over it.
Thanks for reading my stuff for the last few months. The NFL now takes over, although I shall be back to preview this year’s Ryder Cup. Good luck all.
The Barclays – Dustin Johnson to win (10/1 Ladbrokes)
The Barclays – Jimmy Walker to win (80/1 each-way William Hill)
The Barclays – Branden Grace to win (45/1 each-way Bet365)
The Barclays – Billy Horschel (90/1 each-way 888)