It’s week 3 here at Long Shot to Love, and if you’re just catching up, this is where we boldly and bravely identify one player with odds longer than 75-1 who’s set up to not only make the cut at this week’s PGA Tour event, but also quite possibly win the thing outright. We also want to track our progress throughout the season, and to keep it clean and simple, we thought scoring a made cut as a “win” and missed cut as a “loss” would work perfectly.
That theory lasted all of two weeks. LS2L values customer feedback, and the feedback was clear.
As a fellow Detroit Tigers fan, Jim’s note went straight to the top of my feed. And he was right. There was no cut last week in Mexico. I knew this, but failed to announce in advance that Long Shot to Love scoring would be modified to reflect it. So, know this: there are no cheap victories here. Last week our pick, Branden Grace, tied for 33rd in a 72-man field. That’s fine, but our standards are higher. Add that to the fact that we forgot to announce any no-cut modifications, and the WGC-Mexico goes down as a big, ugly L, our first of the year.
This week we’ll lick our wounds and add two new sections to give you more names to consider. And in the meantime, keep the feedback coming – be it reams of adoration, or dark, searing hatred. If you’re a Tigers fan, you might even appear in the column!
Now, on to Florida. This week’s venue, PGA National, is a tough track that’s known for its feared and revered three-hole “Bear Trap” on the back nine. Generally, a final score of 7 or 8 under par is enough to win, and it’s the kind of course that will test a player’s full bag along with his nerves. Justin Thomas is the odds-on favorite (5-1), but he just globe-trotted to back-to-back top-10 finishes and I wonder if he might be gassed. Plus, he looks a little too obvious, and obvious is not how we roll. On to the long shot.
The Pick: Talor Gooch
World Rank: 158
Current Odds: 100-1
Why We Like Him: Let’s start with the bad: Gooch has missed his last two cuts. But look closer and there are signs he’s undervalued. In his last event, the Pebble Pro-Am, he actually flashed on the leaderboard after opening 68-69 before suddenly and violently trunk-slamming after a third-round 78 in the wind and rain. This week’s Florida forecast looks better. Also, before his recent two-event skid, Gooch placed fourth at the Desert Classic and T3 at Torrey Pines. And before that? Two more missed cuts. This guy is all or nothing. I’m in.
One More Thing: His first name feels like it’s missing a letter somewhere, which could throw bettors off his trail. (Or in this case, “tral?”)
The Long Shot We Almost Picked Instead of Gooch: Lucas Bjerregaard might be the only name on the board that’s easier to misspell than Talor Gooch, but the Dane is quietly on the fringe of the top 50 in the world ranking and hasn’t missed a Euro Tour cut since July. Watch out.
Pick to Win Who Isn’t a Long Shot: This year Adam Scott is putting with the flagstick in and it’s working, as he’s currently 18th in strokes gained. He still has one of the sweetest swings on Tour and every other part of his game has always been solid. He’s going to win again soon – possibly Sunday. But as always, we recommend you bet the long shot first.
Season LS2L Standings: 1 win, 1 loss