Just when I thought I couldn’t have more of a horrible weekend of golf betting somehow yet again an even worse one transpired from a strong half way position. I went from having two 50/1 leaders and a 30/1 place at around 7pm on Saturday night to just a tiny portion of Percy’s place money in Puerto Rico by end of play on Sunday. Cameron Smith found the water 6 times over the weekend and still managed to finish T11th. That confirmed how suited he was to the course even if that was little comfort on Sunday night. If someone had told me at the start of the week that Patrick Reed was going to finish 6th in approaches then I’d have had a silly bet on him given how good his short game has been this year. Somehow though he managed to 3-putt from 35 feet on his penultimate hole to fall short of the places. Detry and Scrivener also came close to their respective top 20 and top 30 bets as they enjoyed the layout but just couldn’t quite put 4 rounds together in that company. A hugely frustrating week but at least the hard work is paying off in terms of finding players that are contending, even if Sundays have been rather brutal lately.
Still no European Tour action until next week so it’s just the Arnold Palmer Invitational from Bay Hill this week.
2021 pts advised = 84.50
2021 pts returned = 53.73
Arnold Palmer Invitational
It was quite an effort to pick myself up again and start another week’s research but that’s the nature of the game so on we go. This week’s action stays in Florida as the Tour heads to Bay Hill which shouldn’t produce too different a test from last week. It is one of the tougher regular stops on Tour with small, hard greens being the main defence along with the potential for a stiff breeze. It’s a tree-lined layout and generally the numbers of fairways and greens found would be fairly low but last year’s field averages of 54% and 50% respectively were particularly low as Hatton won with a winning score of just -4. With that said Hatton only ranked 33rd in driving accuracy so recovery approaches are very much possible here which is perhaps why Tiger Woods is an 8-time Bay Hill winner. Anyone who honed their short game last week at The Concession should be in a good position to tackle these greens however with less slopes and run-offs these will be set up faster which will make those approaches from the rough very difficult.
A lot has been said this year about how so few American players have won this recently and while it’s relevant it perhaps isn’t all that useful. There is nothing preventing any US player from playing well here it is more a reflection of how they tend to be most experienced in target golf PGA Tour style courses whereas those coming from a European Tour pedigree are more accustomed to firm, fiddly greens like these. Don’t be put off picking an American but do make sure they aren’t one dimensional bomb and gauge types as it takes more than that to win around Bay Hill.
Talor Gooch was my first bet on Monday as he has been on the radar since the Genesis two weeks ago. He played very well there to land the top 30 bet with room to spare (T12th) and he has shown on his two visits here (13th-26th) that he enjoys the challenge. Last year nobody scored lower than him over the weekend and if you ignore Friday when he shot 80 then he would have beaten the field by 3 shots. He ranked 6th on the greens last year when his strokes gained figure was the 2nd best he has posted in his career. In 2018 he ranked 6th tee to green putting up his 5th best figure ever. This shows how he is comfortable with every aspect of the course and he gained strokes in every department on that last Genesis start. He also sits 22nd in bogey avoidance which is always important at Bay Hill. If he holds his form he should go well here again this week at a decent 80/1.
To be honest the head of the market looks very strong indeed and I’ve been close to backing McIlroy, Bryson, Im, Hatton, Reed and Fitz but they all look to be about the right price having showed their hand last week on a similar course. I’m really struggling to separate them and it feels like a lot of guesswork would be involved in deciding where to land with my money. If pushed I would probably play McIlroy win only but I just don’t trust his short game enough on fast greens to be backing him at single figures. Instead I’ll have another two bigger each way prices starting with Tom Hoge who has form figures here of 15-26 and played nicely two starts ago at Pebble Beach. He was down the field at the Genesis but he also seems to really like Bay Hill. He posted his best ever strokes gained: approach number here in 2018 and then his 5th best last year. It looks like he enjoys this sort of test with his irons rather the more common target golf. He’s a massive price at 200/1 so there isn’t much to lose but I’ll also have a safer looking top 30 at 4/1.
Finally I’ll stick with Cameron Percy who played very well in Puerto Rico last week. He has never played at Bill Hill so it’s risky but he is 250/1 with Skybet and I don’t think that fairly reflects how well he is playing or how well his GIR heavy game should set up for this difficult test of golf. He was 7th in DA and 1st in GIR last week and he even putted fairly well it was just his scrambling that let him down. That could well be the case again this week but he is 12th on Tour in bogey avoidance and the final push I needed was seeing that he sits 2nd in par 3 scoring so far this season. The last 5 winners here have ranked 1st, 3rd, 3rd, 4th and 4th on the short holes so it’s clearly a crucial area around Bay Hill. I’ll also have a top 30 on him at 4/1.
Sam Burns has drifted to 55.0 on Betfair tonight and that was enough for me to pull the trigger. He might not have won at the Genesis two weeks ago but we can’t overlook the fact that after 36 holes he was 5 shots clear of the strongest regular PGA Tour field of the season on a very demanding course. Even on Sunday when he was ultimately beaten as his scrambling skills deserted him, he still rallied for 3rd. I think he will take the postives into the rest of the season and while 40/1 felt borderline I’m happy with the separate 55.0 outright bet and 6.0 for a top 10 on the exchange.
Summary of bets
Talor Gooch – 1pt ew @ 80/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 7/2
Tom Hoge – 0.5pts ew @ 200/1 (both 1/5 odds 8 places Betfair) and 1pt Top 30 @ 4/1 Betfair
Cameron Percy – 0.5pts ew @ 250/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet) and 1pt Top 30 @ 4/1 Betfair
Sam Burns – 1pt win @ 55.0 and 1pt Top 10 @ 6.0 (both Betfair Exchange)
Weekly points advised = 9pts