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The Irish Open is in mourning today at the news that Rory McIlroy is to skip the 2019 Irish Open.  In an interview with the BBC's Winker Watson, McIlroy outlined the reasons for his decision.

Strangely enough in the current climate it has nothing to do with the Brexit Backstop but more of a European Tour backstop that Rory cannot get over.  After carrying the event for several years, he's now going to look after number one.

Here are some of the quotes from the interview on the BBC.

"If there is ever a year when I feel I can miss this Irish Open, it's this year."

"If I was to play the Irish Open, The Open Championship would be my third event in a row."

"For me, that's not the best way to prepare for what could be the biggest event of my life."

"I'm just going to sort of play as little as I can [on the European Tour] to save myself for the golf that I'm playing everywhere else also."

"The people of Ireland are still going to see me playing golf because I'm going to play The Open Championship and I'm sure a lot of people will travel from down south to see me play."

"My main focus is the major championships, the WGCs....the biggest events in the world wherever they may be.

"They don't know the ins and outs of your life. It's easy to criticise from far away because you don't know the details.

"I'm sure people are going to be upset but at the same time, if it means that it gives me a better chance to win The Open, and prepare well for Portrush, I'm going to do it.

"I'm going to make decisions that are the best thing for me. If that upsets anyone, then I'm sorry - that's not my problem, that's their problem."

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The PGA Tour have issued a warning to fans attending this week's WGC Championship in Mexico City, not to fuck with the marshals if they plan on staying alive to watch the golf.

Over two hundred pickup trucks full of topless gun wielding Mexicans arrived at the venue this morning for official marshal training before the event starts tomorrow.

"My men are going to do a terrific job of marshalling the fans this week," said head of security Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo. "Anyone who shouts "Bababooey" during a drive on my watch can look forward to eating his own testicles, while fully conscious, and tethered to a chair. But hey if fans behave and don't make eye contact with my men you should be ok to continue living."

More as it emerges.

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2019 WGC Mexico Betting Preview And Tips
February 21st – 24th, 2019
Club de Golf Chapultepec, Mexico City, Mexico
Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,345
Purse: $10.25 million with $1,745,000 to the winner
Defending Champion: Phil Mickelson

Favourite Watch

2019 WGC Mexico Betting Preview and Tips.

The bookies are taking absolutely no chances with Justin Thomas as 10/1 even following his capitulation at the Genesis last week.  They'll point to the fact that he DID come 2nd and was 3rd in Phoenix the week before and has been solo 2nd and T5 on his previous visits to Mexico.  Rory McIlroy is the one who is really trending up in the stats; his T4 at the Genesis included an exhibition in iron play and that's three consecutive top-5 finishes for him. He was T7 in Mexico in 2017 and didn't play last year.

Doc Top-5 Best Each Way Bets

Jon Rahm 16/1

Simmering with intent.  Surely Jon Rahm has to break through this week?  A T9 at Riviera make it five top-10 finishes in a row for the Spaniard, where week in week out all aspects of his numbers seem to be in perfect working order. T3 here in 2017 and T20 in 2018, he has played a lot of good golf recently and can surely oblige with a place or better.

Marc Leishman 33/1

One of my favourite players on Tour and he always goes under the radar.  Since winning the CIMB last October Leishman's been 2nd at the Aussie PGA, T4 at the Tournament of Champions, T3 at the Sony the following week and was T4 again last week at Riviera.  Couldn't really get to grips with Chapultepec on his debut last year but comes in this time around in super form.

Paul Casey 35/1

Ever hear a player say "I played really well but I just didn't score"??  That's Paul Casey's game in a nutshell. Tee to green he pretty much always plays well and on weeks where he likes the greens and gets some confidence with the putter he really contends. The last two weeks are case in point.  Loved the Monterrey Peninsula, putted great, came 2nd.  Didn't love the greens at Riviera, was T2 in Greens in Regulation, putted rubbish, was T25. Casey was T12 at WGC Mexico in 2018 and won the Valspar next time out so you've to figure out if he's worth the gamble!! I think he is!!

Bubba Watson 40/1

The bookies have really given up on Bubba Watson hanging him out there to dry at 40/1 after a T15 in a wet and windy Riviera.  I still think he's a super bet this week.  That T15 included a final round of 73, before which he was right in contention.  Watson also drove the ball on average 309 yards last week in the sodden conditions and was T13 in greens.  And he was T4 before that in Phoenix.  I'm convinced Bubba is an excellent each way shout this week in Mexico where nobody hit more greens than him last year.

Hideki Matsuyama 25/1

Agonised between Phil Mickelson (28/1) and Hideki over the last pick but I'm going with the Japanese because I think Phil (defending champ this week) should have rested after winning Pebble and worry about his energy levels after a last minute decision to play what turned out to be a tough Riviera trip.
Meanwhile Hideki continued his progression from a T3 at the Farmers to a T15 in Phoenix and T9 at Riviera where he went 4 under cumulatively for just the par-3's and was T12 in the Greens in Regulation stats. I think he's now primed and ready to really contend and even win over the next few weeks.  Lets hope its this one! T25 in 2017.

Long Odds Glory Shots

Tyrrell Hatton 70/1: T3 and 10th in 2018 and 2017, showed signs of a return to form in Phoenix but missed the cut last week (which might not have been a bad thing).
Ian Poulter 66/1: Three top-6 finishes out in the gulf to start the season, comes in rested.
Alex Noren 100/1: Struggling of late but found a huge percentage of greens on his way to T14 here last year.

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If you managed to stick out the Genesis Open to the bitter end on Sunday night and see JB Holmes come home victorious, all we can do is to say we admire your fortitude!

The manner of Holmes victory was hugely frustrating for vast swathes of fans who took to social media to highlight his extremely slow pace of play.

For his part the 37 year old was resolute.

"Well, you play in 25 mile an hour gusty winds and see how fast you play when you're playing for the kind of money and the points and everything that we're playing for," he said after.
"There's times when I'm probably too slow, but it is what it is.  I was never on the clock.  Nobody  never even got a warning.  TV wants everything to be real fast all the time."

In Holmes defence, Riviera is a tough golf course and very windy conditions made it an even more stern test as third round leader Justin Thomas can attest to after slumping to a Sunday 75 to lose by a single shot.

Holmes' final round 70 was good enough for this fifth Tour win in 301 starts and first since the 2015 Shell Houston Open. With the win the Kentuckian jumps a massive 58 places in the World Golf Rankings from 100th to 42nd.

Highlights on YouTube are here:

What's In The Bag

Driver: Callaway Epic Flash Sub Zero (10.5 degrees) with Fujikura Pro Tour Spec 83X shaft.
3-wood: TaylorMade M2 HL (16.5 degrees) with Fujikura Pro Tour Spec 93X shaft.
Irons: Srixon Z U85 (3), Srixon Z-785 (4-PW) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts
Wedges: Cleveland RTX 4 (50, 54, 60 degrees) with True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 shafts.
Putter: Scotty Cameron 009M
Ball: Srixon Z-Star XV

How Did He Do It?

Holmes hit 29 fairways for the week (T59 in the driving accuracy stats) averaging 281.1 yards with his Callaway Epic Flash driver.
His outfield play however was key to his win.  Using a TaylorMade M2 fairway wood and Srixon Z-785 irons Holmes hit 51 greens in regulation, including 13 in a windy final round, to be T2 in the field  and gain 0.940 strokes tee-to-green.
Using a Scotty Cameron 009M putter the now Florida resident ended the week with 111 putts total, T11 in the field with 0.756 Strokes Gained: Putting, ending the week with one eagle and 19 birdies versus seven bogeys.
The win made it a clean sweep for Srixon staffers after Ryan Fox won in Perth and Miguel Angel Jimenez was victorious on the Champions Tour in Florida.

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JB Holmes won the Genesis Open and fair play to him. But......

The manner in which he did was infuriating to watch.  Poor old Robert Lee on Sky Sports nearly had a hernia stressing over how long JB was taking over his putts.

Here's one example.

Ready golf? My arse!

But after the celebrations and photos the winner was asked, in as polite a way as possible (of course because its the USA), about the pace of play.

Q.  The conditions made things really tough, but there was a lot of discussion on the broadcast and social media about the pace of play today.  What were your thoughts about the pace and is that something you were thinking about or working on?

J.B. HOLMES:  Well, you play in 25 mile an hour gusty winds and see how fast you play when you're playing for the kind of money and the points and everything that we're playing for.  The greens are fast, the ball  Adam had a putt, he kept setting the ball down and it was rolling.  

You can't just get up there and whack it when it's blowing that hard.  You've got to read wind and there's a lot of slope on these greens.  It's not an easy golf course and you throw in winds like that.  On 13 or 14, the par 3, I hit a 5iron and it stays pretty good.  He hits a 5iron really good and a gust of wind comes up and he comes up like 15 yards short, and I think he hit it better than I hit mine.  It's very tough.  Then when you get putting like that, it's just not going to be fast anywhere. 

Oooooo JB was taking no shit!
But what about Adam Scott who said he'd love to take a slow play penalty to teach all the other snails on Tour?

Q.  Adam Scott said just before that we know J.B.'s a slow player and there was some discussion on the broadcast.  Do you think that's a fair assessment?

J.B. HOLMES:  I've been slow in the past.  I don't think as slow as  I mean, I'm not the fastest player, but I mean, like I said, it was really windy today and we waited a lot early.  At the end, I took a little bit longer at the end, but you're talking about getting down to the tournament, you're talking about the last nine holes of the tournament.  I mean, I think  correct me if I'm wrong, but I think a lot of times the last group of the tournament gets a little bit behind.

So I was never even close to being on the clock all week.  I mean, yeah, when I first got out here I was really slow, but I've sped up quite a bit.  Like I said, the conditions made it tougher, too.  Sometimes you're waiting for the wind to stop blowing 30 miles an hour.  Like I said, I've gotten better.  There's times when I'm probably too slow, but it is what it is.  I was never on the clock.  Nobody  never even got a warning.  TV wants everything to be real fast all the time.

That folks is what you call being in denial.

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Well well well this is a turn up for the books!

We dont know what caused Matt Kuchar to suddenly turn around from his cheeky comments about not paying stand in caddie David Ortiz properly to this full gushing apology.

Kuchar went from this  three days ago....

“I kind of feel like unfortunately some other people have got it in his head that he’s deserving something different than what we agreed upon,” Kuchar said.

“I ended up paying him $5,000 and I thought that was more than what we agreed upon,” Kuchar said. “I kind of think, if he had the chance to do it over again, same exact deal, that he’d say yes again.”

To this

I have to say I hadn't much time for Kuchar lately but no matter how his came about, this apology took guts!!

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This all goes back to the 2018 Mayakoba Golf Classic when Matt Kuchar's caddie John Wood couldn't make it and instead a local caddie, David Giral "El Tucan" Ortiz took the bag and........wouldn't you know it they won.

“He was definitely my lucky charm,” Kuchar said patting "El Tucan" on the head like a little puppy. “He brought me good luck and certainly some extra crowd support and did a great job as well.”

Kuch won $1.26 million,  but only gave Ortiz $5,000 in cash. If John Wood had been on the bag he would have earned $126,000.

Anyway shit hit the fan shortly after on social media and the "Kuch is a miserly bastard" line grew legs.

It then turns out that Kuchar's manager Mark Steinberg tries to offer the stand in an extra $15,000 to shut him up from complaining and kill the story.  But El Tucan refuses the payment!

The caddie says he emailed Steinberg to say

“I am a humble man, who takes care of his family, and works hard. I am reaching out to you to see if you can facilitate me receiving a fair amount for my help with Matt winning $1,296,000. I am not looking to disparage Matt or give him a bad name. Fair is fair, and I feel like I was taken advantage of by placing my trust in Matt.”

Steinberg's reply was short and to the point.

“I am out of the country. What Matt has offered is fair.”

And the last word to a 'perplexed at all the nonsense' Kuch.

“For a guy who makes $200 a day, a $5,000 week is a really big week,” he said.
As of now El Tucan got his $5000 and Kuch well......isn't the most popular.

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Ah poor ould Sergio.  He's had to take time out from practicing for the Genesis Open to go into what looks like the Oval Office for a full on two minute grovelling session with some bloke from the Golf Channel over what went down in Saudi Arabia .

Sergio says he “received some very emotional, personal news earlier that week" and that's why he tried told everyone to shove it up their arses (watch the video) in a bunker then hack up the greens the following day in Saudi.

Now in the golf world, a full on two minute apology on the Golf Channel is the equivalent of giving a spectator you've whacked on the head with the ball a signed glove so it's all good.

“It was a mix of some emotional and personal things going on and a little frustration with the greens,” said Garcia ensuring the lines he learned off by heart were delivered correctly.

Here's the interview

And here's another chance to relive that wonderful bunker tantrum with Spanish to English subtitles!

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2019 Genesis Open Betting Preview And Tips

February 14th – 17th, 2019
Riviera C.C., Pacific Palisades, California
Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,322
Purse: $7.4 million with $1,332,000 to the winner
Defending Champion: Bubba Watson


Favourite Watch

Dustin Johnson is an unbackable 8/1 across the board with the majority of bookies followed by Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy, both of whom have been paired with Tiger Woods again this year for the first two rounds.
For me defending champion Bubba Watson at 22/1 still looks an attractive bet for those who like the win only market.  The three time winner may be having trouble on the greens but he was T4 in greens in regulation last week at Pebble and shouldn't be written off on a tough course where 12 to 15 under will get the job done.

Doc's Top Five Best Each Way Bets

Xander Schauffele 25/1

Somewhat back down to Earth after his wins at the WGC HSBC and Tournament Of Champions with a T25 at The Farmers and T10 in Phoenix but I like Xander's game at Riviera.  The same game that yielded only two bogeys all week in Phoenix should see him right in the mix at Riviera.  An old head on young shoulders for this extremely tough test. T9 on his debut last year.

Adam Hadwin 50/1

In order to stay alive at Riviera your driving and irons need to be on point and Hadwin fits  that bill.  Top-10 in driving accuracy at Pebble, Phoenix and the Desert Classic where he finished T2 with Phil behind surprise winner Adam Long.  Its Hadwin's fifth visit to Riviera, he's never been worse than T34 and was T6 last year.

Patrick Cantlay 33/1

I still feel there's something about Cantlay that suggests he's destined for big things.  Solo 2nd at the Shriners and T9 at the Desert Classic, he missed the cut at Torrey Pines then withdrew from Pebble due to illness.  Assuming he is better and rested the UCLA grad who now lives 30 minutes from Riviera could go better than his T4 last year where he led the field with 52 greens in regulation.

Cameron Smith 35/1

Another man with a "safe" game that just seems to be in contention every time he tees it up.  Winner of the Aussie PGA, Smith has opened his 2019 PGA Tour accounts with 3 top-25's with all aspects of his stats trending up.  Great course management at Riviera led to a T6 and that yardage book will be removed from its glass case for another outing this week! Took last week off which might also be an advantage given the conditions.

Sung Kang 100/1

A bright start to the season at The Sony (T10) and Farmers (T20) for Sung Kang was followed by a blip in Phoenix but he bounced back to an impressive T14 at Pebble Beach last week.  Even more eye catching for me was hitting 61 of 72 greens for the tournament, over the three different courses.  That suggests a man in ballstriking form and with Hogan's Alley ahead this week he'll need it.  A Riviera formline of T8, T22, T16 suggests he can contend again this year. 

Long Odds Glory Shots

(Last week: Scott Stallings 3rd at 200/1)

Scott Stallings 90/1: Came into a brilliant place for us last week from 200/1. T4 at Riviera last year and in form.
Martin Laird 90/1: Cannot believe a West Coast Swing will go by without Martin Laird earning a big cheque.  T11, T8, T9 on his last three Riviera visits.
Ryan Moore 150/1: Coming in off three MC's but has the game for Hogan's Alley.

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Golf is a strange game and anything can happen like it has for Scott Stallings at the Pebble Beach Pro Am.  Which is why I always do that Long Odds Glory section at the tail end of my weekly betting tips post.

Regardless of what happens on the Monday finish Scott Stallings from 200/1 pays out for a top-3 finish at one quarter of the odds or 50/1 with most bookies.

Missed cuts in Phoenix, the Desert Classic and down the field at The Farmers but a horse for the three courses in California with a 14th and solo 7th in 2017 and 2018.

That's a handy 500 quid for your tenner each way stake!

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What a great win for rookie David Law at the Vic Open. I don't know the man but I am connected with him through his affiliation with Irish clothing brand Druids Golf and my fondness for the guys at Wilson golf which is having somewhat of a resurgence of late.

The win was also great news for '99 Open Champion Paul Lawrie from whose foundation Law emerged.

Law's win was all the more special given that following two weeks of rules controversies, the Scot actually called a penalty on himself on the 9th of his final round.  To do that then regroup to finish 3-3-3 with a stunning eagle on the last took bottle.

Stats And Equipment Report

In winning Law hit 62.5 of the fairways and averaged 288 yards with his Callaway Epic Flash driver. Using a blend of Wilson Staff C300 Forged and FG Tour V6 irons the Scot hit 55 greens in regulation (22nd in the field) then capitalised most with 27.3 putts per round using an Odyssey Red Versa two-ball putter.  Shot of the round was the Scots Wilson C300 fairway to 8 feet on the final hole to set up the winning eagle.In total Law circled 21 birdies and an eagle on the 72nd hole versus just five bogeys all week.

Whats In The Bag David Law

Driver: Callaway Epic Flash
Fairways: Wilson Staff C300 (3 wood, 5 wood)
Hybrid: Wilson Staff C300
Irons: Wilson Staff C300 Forged (4-7),Wilson Staff FG Tour V6 (8-PW)
Wedges: Wilson Staff PMP Raw, Titleist Vokey
Putter: Odyssey Red Versa two-ball putter

Phil Mickelson Back With Rogue

Phil Mickelson has his 2018 Callaway Rogue driver in the bag at Pebble Beach and has to come back Monday to dot the i's and cross the t's on a brilliant win.

So how has he gone from not being able to hit a barn door with a banjo off the tee, to being longer and straighter combined than the entire field at Pebble Beach?

The answer is a new found rededication to his body and game over the Winter break.

He is back in the gym working on strength and explosiveness. He's back out on the practice ground working on putting and irons.

He's off sugar completely and working with a nutritionist on a better diet.

As a result of all this and the Rogue driver Phil has found 6 miles an hour extra ball speed with the driver; not bad for a 48 year old!

And he can see in the dark!

This was a great Phil moment too. Hat tip fail!

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After unsettling scenes in a Saudi Arabia last week, the European Tour's worst fears were confirmed today when Sergio Garcia provided yet further evidence that he might just be gone completely psycho.

After four hours practicing in the sand at his home course in Orlando the broody Spaniard walked into the clubhouse and over to table where group of elderly lady members were having tea, then farted loudly and laughed hysterically before shouting in Spanish "Catch that and paint it brown."

"Is wasn't a small fart like a little air one or a discreet pheep," said Phyllis Boorman one of the ladies at the table. "This was a big long wet ripper that echoed off the side off his arse cheeks as it shot out. It lasted about five seconds. I was lucky, I was over the over side of the table.  Peggy who was sitting closest to him took the full force of the fart and fainted. She said she could still taste it a half an hour after."

Asked whether it was possible that this could have been an accident, the ladies all confirmed that Sergio had clearly lifted his leg up and smiled brazenly at them all before and during expelling the anal salute.

“We tried wafting it with napkins but it did no good and Sergio just stood there smiling at us like a psycho and shouting in Spanish,” Mrs Boorman added.

European Tour boss Keith Pelley is to meet with Garcia again today to address the fart, and ask the Spaniard if licking his arse would help.

More as it emerges.

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There are no words. Except to say its definitely Lee Westwood in the crowd at the Jeremy Kyle Show!

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I have to say I thought wobbily Hosung Choi was a twentysomething newcomer but was pretty shocked to learn that he is actually 45 years old and won his first event 11 years ago.

So he has been knocking around for years on the Korean and Japan Tours and hadn't won for five years until the Casio Open in November 2018.

Choi has been invited to play on the PGA Tour this week at Pebble Beach and been paired up with actor Chris O’Donnell opposite Jerry Kelly and Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.

Maybe given that Choi is 45 is no new kid on the block, Rory McIlroy has more of a point when he questioned whether he should be getting an invite to play, and thus depriving a PGA Tour card holder a place in the field.

But if the gets the camera of Bill Murray for even a few seconds I'm all for it!

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A couple of days ago I brought you news of the Sergio bunker tantrum video in Saudi Arabia and news of his subsequent DQ for gouging up several greens.

Now thanks to Spanish speaker Brian Keogh of the IrishGolfDesk we know what Sergio was saying!

And its pretty shocking stuff!!

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2019 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Betting Preview And Tips

February 7th – 10th, 2019
Pebble Beach, Spyglass, Monterray, California
Pebble Par: 72 / Yardage: 6,816
Purse: $7.6 million with $1,368,000 to the winner
Defending Champion: Ted Potter, Jr.

Favourite Watch

Dustin Johnson starts at 5/1 following his win after a bizarre week in Saudi. Finished 2,3,4,2 among his last five starts at Pebble. Site also of back to back wins in 2009 and 2010 and that US Open meltdown in 2010. Unbackable at those odds.

My pick of the favourites is Jason Day at 10/1.  Three top five finishes in his last four visits to Pebble Beach and no surprise as Jason Day is the perfect for the Pro-Am format across three courses.  Amassed 45 birdies here in 2017 and 2018 combined and after a T5 last time out at The Farmers we can safely say his putter is humming.  Should be right up there.

Doc's Top 5 Best Each Way Bets

Branden Grace 33/1

Was the victim of some pretty unsavoury crowd taunts at Phoenix last week when battling with Rickie Fowler but held his nerve well to finish solo second.   Grace's greens in regulation stats this season have been excellent and he'll hoping to improve on a T20 finish in his debut here last year. I think he can place.

Chez Reavie 33/1

Solo second when Tedd Potter won here last year and an in-form Chez is back and ready to add to his bank balance.  T3 at the Sony Open, cooled to a T28 at the Desert Classic and pushed again to a T4 in Phoenix.  Primed to come into a place again at 33/1.

Shane Lowry 40/1

No top-10 in four Pebble Pro-Am starts but Shane has never been outside the top-15 in the Greens In Regulation stats and after a win in Abu Dhabi and T12 in Dubai he can have his best tournament yet if his putting stays hot.  Another man of character happy in the Pro-Am format and with Bo on the bag I think they can have a great week.

Sungjae Im 50/1

Im can pass the $1 million earnings mark in 2019 on his Pebble debut this week and has hit the ground running with a T16 at Sony, T12 at the Desert Classic and T7 last week in Phoenix.  A two time winner on the last year, he's the latest in a growing number of South Koreans bred for bread.

Brandt Snedeker 50/1

Hasn't the form but has the Pebble pedigree!  Sneds seems to do well here in the odd numbered years….win in 2013, win in 2015, 4th in 2017, ? In 2019!!  Struggled desperately to find the greens at Torrey Pines and Phoenix but should find some respite this week and is still lethal with the putter. 

Long Odds Glory Shots

Scott Stallings. He Does Miracles.

Jimmy Walker 100/1. T44 last week, winner at Pebble in 2014 and has an excellent record besides in the event.
Kevin Streelman 125/1. Out of form also but has the safe game for this event. 6th and 7th in 2018 and 2016.
Scott Stallings 200/1.  Would be a miracle but we've seen them before!

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