Preview: The Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals Classic
As Justin Rose stated earlier on in the week, via Twitter: “Disney event is pretty interesting. Intense at top and bottom end of money list, and super chilled for everyone in between!” How James Driscoll, the man occupying the treacherous yet coveted 125th position on the money list, wishes he was one of those settling for stress free mediocrity. Many twists and turns lie ahead, but we are oh so close to finding out who will be crowned money leader, and who will be displaced from the top 125 in what is set to be an intense, nerve-jangling end to the season.
Money list winner:
We all know what a gritty, talented performed Luke Donald is, but I just can’t see him finishing high enough this week. He must be exhausted after a physically and emotionally taxing season, not to mention the fact that he wasn’t even scheduled to compete in this event. Donald is questionable under immense pressure, something that he has piled upon himself by continually stressing his desire to win both the PGA and European Tour money lists. I dearly hope that I am proved wrong, and that Donald takes the tournament and the money list title, but I think we will see him run out of steam and scrape a top-25 finish, without ever really being in contention. Donald has to finish in no worse than a two way tie for third, and that is before we take into account any money that Simpson might make. With so many guys under next to no pressure, expect to see some low scoring, and expect to see Donald left in their wake.
For me, Justin Rose looks a great shout for the title. He has a month off to reflect on another solid season. He has been driving the ball well all year and is 10th in greens in regulation. If he finds some form on the greens, and makes as many putts from inside ten feet as he did at Cog Hill, then maybe he will go one better than the 60 he shot at Palm in 2006! Put this together with his tremendous record at Disney (two fourth and one third place finish) and we have ourselves a winner! I’ll be having a tenner on Rose, for sure.
To Enter Top 125:
I fancy Cabrera, Casey, Mayfair and Horschel to sneak in to the top 125. Mayfair, although winning last season’s Q-School, will be desperate to avoid the trip to PGA West in November. Cabrera found some form last week, and with his Masters exemption, expect him to be in contention and to move comfortably into the top 125. Casey is far too good a player to lose his card, and I expect him to rally, especially after finding some form at the frys.com. Finally, Horschel, who has had a decent run of events, was in good form last week, and I expect him to put his final round blip behind him and put in a strong performance.
To Drop out of Top 125:
Obviously trying to predict this category is nigh on impossible, as no one can predict how certain players will respond to enormous pressure. Those that normally struggle under pressure may find that extra grit, and those that consider themselves as calm and level headed may find that things have changed. If I had to chose four players to drop out, they would be: Trahan, Gates, Driscoll and Thatcher.
No one want to see anyone lose their playing privileges, but those players that end up in the unenviable position between 125th and 150th only need to look at Bud Cauley and Chez Reavie to find some inspiration. To those that finish outside the top 150: find something at Q-School.
In an event that has so many sub-plots, it will be fascinating to see how they all play out. Best of luck to those involved, and I hope everyone at home enjoys the coverage as much as I am going to.