Roebuck’s McGladrey Classic preview: Rest reward for Kuchar

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Matt Kuchar skipped the cash-rich HSBC Champions event in China to make sure he was fresh to play in the McGladrey Classic at Sea Island Golf Club on the PGA Tour this week, and punters are advised to follow the US Ryder Cup star as he looks to kick off his 2013/14 campaign with a victory.

Kuchar moved his family to St Simons Island in 2010 and while his form is nothing special at this centre of golf, which is home to many touring professionals, the fact that FedEx Cup points are now up for grabs in all of these autumn tournaments has sharpened the minds of many of the stateside performers, who might not naturally be playing at this time of year.

Kuchar (12/1) is towards the top of the betting with fellow local resident Zach Johnson (12/1) and recent Shriners Hospitals for Children Open winner Webb Simpson (10/1) in what is a hot contest in Georgia.

Both of his market rivals have played already this season, but don’t worry about any ring rustiness in Kuchar’s game. He won the 2012 Players Championship after taking almost a month off, while his form figures for his first start of the term since 2010 read 3-6-22-9.

The blurb on the PGA Tour website suggests the layout ‘places a premium on shot selection and sound course management’, and while that might be true, a scan of the three tournaments held at the 7,005-yard Seaside course points towards those with a good touch on the greens as likely winners.

Five of the six players who rewarded each-way backers last year ranked inside the top 10 for putting average on the week, as have all three champions since this event’s inaugural running in 2010.

That puts Johnson in with a big chance, especially given his form through late summer into September when he posted seven top-eight finishes in nine starts, including victory in the BMW Championship. And although it pains me to tip two of the top three in the betting, a saver, at least, on Johnson has to be advised.

To balance out the staking plan, the last pick is a bigger price. New father Chesson Hadley (50/1) went close to winning in Las Vegas last time out when fifth – ranking second in putting average – and while he hasn’t played Sea Island competitively, he has family connections there and could spring a surprise.

My three to follow, Kuchar, Johnson and Hadley.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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