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PODS Championship

PODS Championship

PODS Championship   
by: Brian Gabrielle

As I watched the final round of The Honda Classic, I reflected a little on Mark Calcavecchia’s career. He won the British Open in 1989. He’s 47 and will likely put in another three years on Tour before heading to the senior circuit. His rookie year was in 1981, so we’re talking about a 30-year career.

Let’s say you’re a sports kid. You love sports, all sports, even golf. Awareness tends to happen around age ten. That is, you really start to understand the sports themselves around this age and you know most ofthe games’ stars and why they’re so great. This is your rookie year as a fan. (Of course it’s variable; I just mean to say that when we’re younger we follow and root not so much because we understand what’s going on but because our parents are fans, our grandparents,it´s the law, etc.)

So you’re 10 years old and you latch on to a golfer.Say you were ten in 1996 when Tiger Woods turned pro and he captured your fandom. If Tiger has a 30-year career, and there’s no reason to think he won’t,you’ll be 40 by the time he finally retires (from the Tour, unless he plays on Tour until he´s sixty, which doesn´t seem impossible at this point). You will have gone through adolescence, puberty, high school, maybe college, your 20s, 30s and will just be making the turn into middle age. And you will have been watching him all those years. He´ll be like a beloved pet who hangs on.

I wasn’t a huge golf fan by age 10 and Calcavecchia certainly wasn’t on my radar. But I do remember the Open win, which was around the time I started to become more aware of golf. So Calc feels to me like he’s part of “my generation.” He’s not, but it feels a little like that. Here we are 20 years after that major win and he’s still playing competitive golf, was close to winning another tournament, as he did last year. Still with that charming temper, throwing his ball into the water. A little gray around the muzzle,but the same old dog.

A friend from college used to say if he has a boy he’s going to train him to be a long snapper because the NFL is always looking for long snappers. The skill required of a long snapper does not match the skill required to be a professional golfer (though if you aim to be a long snapper, it would help if you weigh a lot). If any talent is displayed in golf at a young age, though, better to steer that way because 30 years is a long time to make a lot of money walking in the sun.

Nice try, Calc. You’ll get ‘em next time. And I’ll be watching.

At this week’s PODS Championship, the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook is a ball striker’s course. Accuracy is rewarded. And if a putter from a sportinggoods store takes fire, as it did for Calc last yearat the PODS, that’s helpful, too.

Take Brian Gay (66-1), 1/6 unit:
Gay won the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico when the top-64 were competing in the Match Play. Winning a tournament is winning a tournament, even if it was under the radar. Gay is an excellent putter. Last year he finished T4 at the PODS.

Take Robert Allenby (25-1), 1/6 unit: What´s stopping this guy? He had eight top-10s last year and already has two this year, including last week´s T4. He hits greens as good as anyone. The problem is putting. He´s not the only guy with that problem (see: Sergio Garcia). Like Garcia, he´s too good for the putts not to fall his way some time.

Take Chad Campbell (33-1), 1/6 unit: Also a renowned ball striker. Before the season started, Campbell talked about really focusing on winning, particularly in the majors. He’s got the game to do it. He’s been playing well, his best finish a T10 at the Sony.Campbell is 11th in GIR. He really just needs to finish his tournaments.

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Re: PODS Championship

PODS Championship Preview

By David Harrison

Ernie Els reasserted himself as a tournament contender last weekend by winning the Honda Classic. Els will try to make it two in a row in the PODS Championship starting Thursday at the Westin Innisbrook-Copper Head course in Palm Harbour, Florida.

At last week’s Honda Classic, Els dueled Luke Donald through 72 holes and came away with a one-stroke victory after shooting 6-under par. That was Els' first PGA Tour win of the season and made up for an awful showing in the WGC Match Play event a week earlier. After his win last week the Las Vegas oddsmakers have tabbed Els as the favorite in the PODS at 6/1.

The defending champion of this event is tour veteran Mark Calcavecchia. Last season Calcavecchia finished one shot up on John Senden and Heath Slocum after shooting 10-under par. In last week’s Honda Classic, Calcavecchia played some of his best golf of the season and tied for fourth place, but the oddsmakers don’t expect a whole lot out of him this weekend after listing him as a 35/1 underdog.

Aside from Calcavecchia only three other former winners of this tournament will be among the field at Innisbrook this weekend. Those three include 2005 winner Carl Petterson, 2003 winner Retief Goosen and 2000 champ John Huston. K.J. Choi, who won twice at Innisbrook in 2006 and 2002, and 2004 winner Vijay Singh will both be taking a pass on the course this weekend.

With Choi and Singh both sitting out of the PODS only five of the Top 20 golfers in the world will be among this weekend’s field. Those five include No. 3 Els, No. 4 Steve Stricker, No. 7 Justin Rose, No. 16 Stewart Cink and No. 17 Geoff Ogilvy.

Odds to win PODS Championship

Ernie Els 6/1
Steve Stricker 15/1
Stewart Cink 20/1
Stuart Appleby 20/1
Paul Casey 20/1
Justin Rose 20/1
Geoff Ogilvy 25/1
Boo Weekley 25/1
Retief Goosen 25/1
Robert Allenby 25/1
Trevor Immelman 25/1
Stephen Ames 30/1
Bubba Watson 30/1
Charles Howell III 30/1
Daniel Chopra 30/1
David Toms 30/1
J.B. Holmes 30/1
Mark Calcavecchia 35/1
Davis Love III 35/1
Chris DiMarco 35/1
Brian Gay 35/1
Ryuji Imada 35/1
Scott Verplank 35/1
Tim Clark 35/1
Chad Cambell 40/1
Kenny Perry 40/1
Jerry Kelly 40/1
John Mallinger 45/1
Kevin Na 45/1
Steve Marino 45/1
Field (any other golfer) 6/5

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