Miceli: Putting makes Stricker favorite this week

Steve Stricker

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Deutsche Bank Championship

Memphis, TN - TPC Boston

6:53:29 AM ET. 08/27/2014




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Lucas Glover's status is questionable as the 2012 PGA Tour season begins Friday in Hawaii.

If Glover, who injured his right knee in a freakish weekend paddleboard accident in the Pacific Ocean, can't start on the hilly Plantation Course at Kapalua, the Hyundai Tournament of Champions would have only 27 players in its winners-only field.

So, discounting the hobbled Glover's chances, the list of favorites can be culled via a leading indicator: putting. Specifically, from the Tour's "strokes gained putting" statistics.

Starting in 2004, when Stuart Appleby won his first of three consecutive Tournament of Champions, the Australian ranked first, second and eighth, respectively, in strokes gained putting. His eighth-place ranking in 2006 was the only time any winner from 2004 to 2011 fell out of the top two in strokes gained and seems to be a perfect baseline measurement for picking a winner this week.

With an average green size of 9,500 square feet, the Plantation Course will require exceptional putting to win.

Thus, Steve Stricker is a strong pick. The Wisconsin native was ranked second in 2011 in strokes gained putting and has had considerable success at the Plantation Course.

Stricker lost in a playoff to Daniel Chopra in 2008, placed 10th in 2010 and fourth in 2011.

Webb Simpson is a co-favorite with Stricker at 8-1, according to Golfodds.com. The biggest question for Stricker is his neck, which has been an issue in 2011.

“I've been doing some physical therapy at home, mainly some massage treatments," Stricker said Thursday. "“I did about six of those in a two‑week period leading up to Christmas, and then continued that over here, and it's been feeling good. I got another cortisone shot right before Christmas, and I think that, too, has helped a lot. So it feels pretty good.”

The others in the field who are highly ranked in strokes gained putting are Bryce Molder (3), Kevin Na (8), Nick Watney (12), Hunter Mahan (13) and David Toms (18).

Golfodds.com odds for Hyundai Tournament of Champions:

STEVE STRICKER, 8/1

WEBB SIMPSON, 8/1

NICK WATNEY, 10/1

K.J. CHOI, 15/1

BUBBA WATSON, 15/1

GARY WOODLAND, 15/1

BILL HAAS, 15/1

KEEGAN BRADLEYY, 15/1

AARON BADDELEY, 20/1

DAVID TOMS, 20/1

MARTIN LAIRD, 20/1

SEAN O'HAIR, 20/1

JONATHAN BYRD, 25/1

RORY SABBATINI, 25/1

KEVIN NA, 25/1

BEN CRANE, 30/1

LUCAS GLOVER, 30/1

BRYCE MOLDER, 30/1

JHONATTAN VEGAS, 30/1

BRENDAN STEELE, 30/1

CHRIS KIRK, 40/1

SCOTT PIERCY, 50/1

MARK WILSON, 50/1

D.A. POINTS, 50/1

HARRISON FRAZAR, 60/1

SCOTT STALLINGS, 60/1

JOHNSON WAGNER, 80/1

MICHAEL BRADLEY, 100/1

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