FBR Open 08
Successful golf punter Tom Allen previews the latest action.
An event in which Phil Mickelson heads the market and six more of the world’s top twenty golfers are action sounds like pretty decent fare. I’m struggling to find a leading contender with absolute standout credentials however and there’s no doubt in my mind that the real action this Sunday in Arizona will be in Glendale, home of Super Bowl XLII, and not at TPC Scottsdale.
That said, I do think there is value to be had and top of the list is a player that is a previous winner here. Jesper Parnevik loves this place so much that he named his son Phoenix and the volcano dust swallowing Swede is super value at prices well into three figures.
Parnevik, a five time winner on the PGA Tour, has had a number of quiet seasons stateside but he is still consistent enough and certainly showed glimpses of his brilliant best towards the end of last season. He opened with a 61 in Texas before succumbing to Justin Leonard in a playoff and that effort sandwiched two other top twenty finishes. 2008 has started well enough, he played OK in Hawaii at the Sony and then bagged a top 30 at the Bob Hope, and I am not concerned with the fact that he had the weekend off at the Buick.
Parnevik’s victory was back in 1998 and ten years on I am sure he’d love to follow up. He was second the season before that triumph and has five top twenty efforts to his name from his past eleven visits. He remains an above average putter and Jesper can always be relied upon to make plenty of birdies. That is crucial here and, if he can keep out of trouble, he can go well at a massive price.
Having stated above that none of those towards the head of the market made much appeal, I think it would be foolish to leave out Rory Sabbatini, given his recent form, and he is the exception. The raucous atmosphere that is synonymous with this event is likely to inspire the South African and we know he has the game to win.
Sabbatini has no course form to speak of but he has deservedly climbed into the world’s top ten and, although not everybody’s cup of tea, there is no doubt that he’s talented. Second and third on his last two starts, Rory indicated just how well he is swinging the club with a magnificent 67 at the Buick on Sunday in difficult conditions. Like Jesper, Rory always goes on the attack and if conditions, as expected, are made for scoring then he’s certainly one you want to keep on your side.
Another youngster, and also one rapidly climbing the golfing tree, that I want to be with is Aaron Baddeley. He is defending champion and over the past twelve months has really impressed.
In addition to his victory here last season, Baddeley recorded sixth other top tens on the PGA Tour and confirmed his wellbeing over the winter with victory in Australia. He has always played well in his homeland but the signs are that he is becoming just as effective around the globe and we must not forget that he lead the US Open Championship going into Sunday before an 80 let in Angel Cabrera.
Baddeley has improved since then however and were he to lead a major this season, I wouldn’t rule that out, I’d expect him to deal with the situation significantly better. A ranking of number 17 in the world doesn’t flatter him and he should be pushing for a place in the top ten this time next year.
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