Verizon Heritage Presents Challenge For PGA Tour Players

April 15th, 2010-  By Bryan Cross

Phil Mickelson captured the first major championship of the year last week at the 2010 Masters tournament, which produced some of the most exciting golf in history at Augusta.  With that chapter now closed, the players shift their focus this week to Harbour Town links for the Verizon Heritage in Hilton Head.

At the opposite end of the spectrum compared to Augusta National, Harbour Town will present players with very different challenges this week.  At the forefront of difficulties that the players in the field will face are the greens.  Harbour Town possesses the smallest greens on the PGA Tour, with the average size being 3,700 square feet.  The small green size places a premium on ball striking and accuracy, as they are the toughest greens to hit in regulation from the fairway on the PGA Tour.

In addition to the small greens, players will have to deal with narrow fairways.  The course is set up this way due to the length.  At only 7,000, course architects had to install defenses other than length, which has gone against the new wave of thought, that longer is more difficult.  Harbour Town completely refutes this theory, implementing challenges that cause players to think their way around the course, and strategically place shots.  While a driver is not required for every tee shot, it will be important for players to choose their correct club and shot-shape from the tee box if they are to have a chance at making birdies.

Last year saw Brian Gay capture the tournament title.  Gay represents the type of player that is usually successful at Harbour Town.  He is very accurate off the tee, not a very long hitter, and stays away from the trouble.

This year, Gay is among those in the field, but not a betting favorite.

Despite missing the cut last week at Augusta, USA Online Sportsbooks have established Jim Furyk as the betting favorite to to win the Verizon Heritage, at 16/1.  Furyk ended a two-year win-less drought earlier this season at the Transitions Championship, played at Copperhead in Palm Harbor, Fl.  Both Copperhead and Harbour Town are similar in nature, and Furyk is the type of player that is typically successful on golf courses such as those.  Furyk is known as one of the most consistent players on tour, and it came as a surprise to many to see him make an early exit at the 2010 Masters.  Expect him to rebound this week however and put together a nice tournament.

After flirting with the green jacket last week, K.J Choi comes into this week riding high from his fourth place finish at the 2010 Masters.  Oddsmakers are playing off of his recent success, and have installed him along with Furyk with odds at 16/1 to capture to title at Harbour Town.  Choi made headlines from the beginning of the week, as he was paired in the group with Tiger Woods on Thursday and Friday.  Continuing the theme, Choi matched Woods the rest of the way, and played with him all four days at Augusta.  Choi finished runner-up to Furyk at the Transitions Championship, and also possesses the ideal skill-set to be successful at the Verizon Heritage.  He is very long and consistent off the tee, and his short-game has improved since 2009.  That is a primary reason that he has two top-five finished and five top-20 finishes on the 2010 PGA Tour.  If Choi can duplicate the game he brought to Augusta, expect to see him on the first page of the leader board come Sunday.

Seventh-ranked player in the world Paul Casey is coming off of a disappointing showing at the 2010 Masters, in which he failed to make the cut.  His performance at Augusta was quite surprising, as he had four consecutive top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, that included a runner-up at the Accenture Match Play Tournament.  Casey had not finished outside the top-10 until Augusta and will look to rebound at Harbour Town.  He has been set wit 22/1 odds to capture his first win on the 2010 PGA Tour after winning once last season.

Coverage of the Verizon Heritage can be seen Thursday and Friday on The Golf Channel, beginning at 3pm Est.  Weekend coverage will be picked up by CBS, also beginning at 3pm Est on both Saturday and Sunday.

Top-10 Player Odds To Win the Verizon Heritage Courtesy of Bodog-

Jim Furyk-  16/1
K.J Choi-  16/1
Paul Casey-  20/1
Matt Kuchar- 20/1
Camilo Villegas-  25/1
Robert Allenby- 25/1
Luke Donald-  25/1
Stephen Ames-  33/1
Tim Clark-  33/1
Zach Johnson-  33/1

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