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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Down Under to the Top

Michael Green down under at Aussie Golfer must be dancing right now! After noting how little chance the bookies were giving the Aussies of winning, who but Robert Allenby should pop up the leaderboard after Lee Westwood slowed down on Saturday at THE PLAYERS. Only one stroke behind, he's in position to steal this thing.

Robert's usually branded as a struggling putter, but that wasn't the case today. He took a mere 25 putts in the round -- probably because he hit more greens than usual. His Putts per GIR stat was 1.429; on the 14 greens he hit, he used only 20 putts. He only missed 4 greens, and he used a mere 5 putts on those greens, so he also got up-and-down well. The irony here is that, based on his PpGIR number, he would have actually taken 26 putts if he had hit all his greens! I guess it's not always bad to miss, huh?

But the one thing that all of the Top 10 on the leaderboard (and Mickelson) have in common is that they are well over 70% in GIR. Their total number of putts is roughly the same -- right around 28 putts apiece. Francesco Molinari and Lee Westwood (my two "watch these guys" picks from yesterday) were hurt by their putting. In fact, of the Top 5, only Allenby has improved his putting each day.

Mickelson suddenly started scoring Saturday; he also has improved his putting each day.

So who am I thinking will win?

Unless Mickelson goes crazy low -- we're talking 8- or 9-under -- I think he's too far back to win; the leaders may stumble, but there are too many people ahead of him. I think the winner will come from these four -- Westwood, Allenby, Molinari, or Slocum. Westwood and Allenby have something to prove Sunday. Molinari's only won once on the Euro Tour, but he and his brother won the 2009 World Cup and he's played well in his last three majors. Slocum won the Barclays last year with a great final round, so he's been in this situation before.

Yes, I think the winner will probably come from those four... but I'm picking Tim Clark to win, because I feel he's way overdue and this is a good course for him. Absolutely nothing stands out in his stats to tell me that he's ready to break out; in fact, his stats have been pretty steady all week except for his GIR on Friday. That was his worst scoring day. If Tim can have another great GIR day and stay out of the bunkers -- and the others falter -- I think he can finally get the monkey off his back in a big way.

I just hope I haven't jinxed him...

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