Sony Open – Some bets

It was a very frustrating start to the year last week as both Munoz and Thompson played brilliantly from Friday onwards but neither could do enough to land their bets. Only Niemann shot a lower score than Munoz for the final three rounds but his Thursday 75 meant he could still only finish T17th. Thompson made me think it was still 2020 as he finished in the dreaded 21st place. Reed was never really involved over the weekend as the scoring was a bit too low and the course was too soft for his liking.

Enthusiasm was lacking after that and my time was limited this week so I was going to have a week off but I’m backing five players so thought I should really post something.

Sony Open

Firstly I’m sticking with both Sebastian Munoz and Michael Thompson as they both showed more than enough last weekend and this is a fairly big drop in class. Munoz wasn’t as obvious a pick for this as we would have preferred last week’s course but he was 10th on his Sony debut in 2019 before missing the cut last year. I backed Thompson here last year at a far bigger price but he played well last week and has since become a two-time PGA Tour winner. He was 6th at Waialae back in 2012 and is worth another chance at 150/1.

I have also backed Abraham Ancer here again as it really should be an ideal course for him. He could never get properly involved last year and finished 38th which followed a 29th and a MC. But the course can often take a bit of learning as there is a decent amount of strategy needed to navigate through the trees. He too played nicely over the weekend and should have shaken off the rust for a more suitable course.

Kevin Kisner finished 3rd here last year and moved through the field last weekend with rounds of 69 and 68 to set him up nicely for an event in which he has posted three top 5s in the last five years. He finished 2020 with the best result of his year too, a 2nd at the RSM Classic where his short game was on fire. A bit skinny perhaps at 30/1 but we shouldn’t forget how capable Kisner is on the right course.

Finally I’ll take CT Pan to pick up where he left off at the Masters when he finished 7th (via an understandable MC the week after at the RSM). Pan is a winner of the RBC Heritage which ties in nicely with the Sony Open and if he has kept his game ticking over the confidence of that Augusta performance should see him take to the course on his 2nd look.

Summary of bets

Abraham Ancer – 1.25pts ew @ 28/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

Kevin Kisner – 1.25pts ew @ 30/1 (1/5 odds 8 places William Hill)

Sebastian Munoz – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Michael Thompson – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

CT Pan – 0.5pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfred) and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2

Weekly points advised = 10pts

2021 Tournament of Champions – Some bets

Looking to put a miserable 2020 behind me on the blog front as the disruption made it very difficult to get a handle on things. After a poor summer I got in to some profitable form for a while through September but a disappointing finish made for a losing year. I was a bit downbeat about that but I think given how the 2020 golf year has gone I’m going to just forget about it and keep going through 2021 to see if I can find another profitable year for readers. It’s not like there is much else to do at the moment apart from research, watch and write about golf!

2021 final results as follows;

454 pts advised

330.46 pts returned

-27.21% ROI

Tournament of Champions

I think I’ve backed Patrick Reed every time he has played here and after a 2nd place finish last year and a 3rd at the DP World Tour Championship last time out, I’m not going to stop now. With a stacked head of the market we even get a very solid price about a man who this course looks almost purpose built for. The only weakness to Reed’s game is the fact that he can be rather wild off the tee. These fairways are massive and that makes it a second shot and short game course. Reed was 7th for approaches in Dubai 3 weeks ago and 1st around the green as he showed off his sublime short game skills.

As well as the course suitability I always think that an event in the first week in January is perfectly suited to such a driven and focused individual. It’s unlikely that he will have been partying too hard or socialising with friends and I imagine he will be fully wound up to kick off another Ryder Cup year knowing that he might need to qualify automatically this time around. I think he looks a fantastic each way bet at 16/1 with 6 places which are on offer with most firms.

I’ve backed Michael Thompson here on price alone rather than thinking he might actually win an event this stacked with quality. The 200/1 just feels a bit too big for a 42 man field where we can still get 6 places. He ranked 1st in the all-round ranking last time he played here in 2014 while he was 15th at the Houston Open last time out. His approach game was in good order and we know he is a very capable wind player should conditions get worse through the week. I’ll add a top 20 too with William Hill’s standout 4/1.

Finally I’ll take the 11/2 about Sebastian Munoz for a top 10 finish. He played ok here on his debut last year and it’s the sort of course that should suit him. He gets better the closer he gets to the green so the lack of a test with the driver should suit him and the relative lack of course length will mean more of his favoured mid to short irons in his hands. I’ve also just backed Munoz to win this evening so I really need to include a small outright on him too.

Summary of bets

Patrick Reed – 2.25pts ew @ 16/1 (1/5 odds 6 places WH)

Michael Thompson – 0.25pts ew @ 200/1 and 1pt top 20 @ 4/1

Sebastian Munoz – 0.5pts ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places WH and Skybet) and 1pt Top 10 @ 11/2

Weekly points advised = 8pts

DP World Championship and Women’s US Open – Some bets

I must admit after a couple of poor weeks I really thought about sacking off the rest of the season but the temptation to end on a high together with two excellent events has pulled me in for at least one more week. The European Tour season finale sees the players stay at the Jumeirah Estates in Dubai for the DP World Championship while the final 2020 major takes place from Champions Golf Club in Houston as the US Womens Open brings down the curtain on a difficult year.

2020 pts advised = 443.50

2020 pts returned = 330.46

DP World Championship

The Tour stays at the Jumeirah Estate but heads to the Earth Course which has hosted this finale since the Race To Dubai rebranding in 2009. Form at the course is crucial year upon year and there are already 3 two-time winners from just 11 events and they are Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson which also tells us there is usually a classy winner. It’s a long course and while shorter hitters can contend powerful players have a huge advantage around the Earth Course.

I backed Dean Burmester here two years ago for a Top 10 and Top 20 but he went even better and finished T4th for the 2nd consecutive year. He missed out last year but he qualifies again thanks to a solid run of golf since the return which culminated in a 4th place finish last week at Sun City. One of the main things I have taken from this weird season is how much fun Dean Burmester looks to have on the course. He was mic’d up for one of the early events in the UK and he seemed to be having a great time. That combined with his almost effortless power means I’ll definitely be following him around next time I go to watch live ET golf as it should make for a lively 4hrs. But his game isn’t too shabby either and if he ever finds a wedge game there’s a good chance he can reach the upper tier of the European Tour at the very least. He can over power most of the long holes here and with the relatively wide fairways it’s no wonder the Earth course is one of his favourites. Arriving in good form I don’t suppose we could have expected a huge price so despite him having been cut from 90s to 66/1 I’m still wading in with Skybet’s 7 places about the likeable South African.

There’s really not much I like at all about a tricky head of the market so instead I’ll just play another big each way price about a player proven in top class fields in the desert, albeit a long time ago. Robert Rock famously took down both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy to win the 2012 Abu Dhabi Championship and there aren’t too many players in the world that can legitimately claim to have won an event where both of them were in the mix. That was by far the peak of his career but he’s been enjoying a bit of a swansong this season buoyed on by the success of his coaching as he now has several big European names on his books. He has had two top 5 finishes since the return of golf and has made his last 4 cuts. His last start was his first in a few weeks but having remained in Dubai he will have managed to shake off his rust as well as helping to fine tune Wallace and Westwood. He was 8th on his last start at the Earth course and just looks like a big price returning here at 150/1.

US Women’s Open

The final major of the year takes place from Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas and due to the position in the calendar they are being forced to use two courses over the first two rounds due to limited daylight. While both will be set up as typically long US Open layouts I think the nature of two different courses could make for a more quirky major than we are used to and therefore I’ve looked beyond the more obvious household names at the top of the leaderboard. I don’t want to be backing anything sub 20/1 in an event like this with such a strong field and two courses that will be fairly new to the majority of the field.

Emily Pedersen was always getting backed here for me after following her closely through the summer and beyond. She has won her last 3 events and 4 of her last 7 as she has taken her game to a new level. Pedersen always had a great reputation when she burst onto the scene but after a real struggle for form in 2017 as she tried to her luck on the LPGA, it was by no means a given that she would fulfill her potential. But that’s exactly what she is doing now and every department of her game is in great order. At the Open earlier this year she was bang in contention before a wobble on the back 9 and she didn’t putt well at all over that 2 week period in the UK. She has sorted that out and was 8th and 4th on her last two wins for total putting. Pedersen hits the ball a mile and has been finding lots of fairways and greens on her current run so with these courses set to play like long difficult US Open courses I think she should enjoy the test given where her game is at. She is yet to do much in the US but she looks primed to sort that out this week and I’m actually a little surprised we can still get 70/1. Despite the jump up in class I didn’t think the bookies would be taking any chances but I’m more than happy with the 66/1 and 7 places still available with Skybet. There is still plenty of 70/1 out there too but just the 6 places.

Sometimes on the LPGA I’m guilty of backing my favourite players too often so I immediately looked at Sung Hyun Park and her perfect swing this week. I knew her form hadn’t been great and she had missed a chunk of the season through not wanting to travel in the pandemic, but I was pleased to see that her long game numbers improved greatly last week at the Volunteers of America Classic. Park ranked 2nd in total driving, 5th for total accuracy and 1st in ball-striking having ranked 56-67-67 in those respectively the week before. Park is a classy operator but it is perfectly fair that it took a while to get back into her groove. She withdrew from the Tour Championship last November with a shoulder injury and that coupled with Covid meant she wasn’t seen again on the LPGA until September. Now with 6 starts under her belt I think she looks massively overpriced given she is a former winner of the US Open and her powerful long game is perfect for Championship courses. To further highlight that her best start since she returned was 17th at the PGA. It’s obviously a little bit risky but I think Skybet’s 66/1 with 7 places more than factors that in and is a seriously big price for the world number 10 and two time major winner.

Finally I’ll take one from nearer the top and go with Spaniard Carlotta Ciganda to land her major breakthrough. Ciganda has been in excellent form since the return of golf making all her cuts but in particular on her last two starts she has looked ready to win again. She was 3rd on her last major start at the PGA while her only start since was a 4th at the LPGA Drive On Championship. During these last few events different aspects of her game have just not quite been sharp enough to get the win but if she can put everything together on a long championship course like this then she should be extremely competitive. Ciganda is a big hitter who generally finds a high number of GIR but can be let down by poor putting in a very similar fashion to her compatriot Sergio Garcia in the men’s game. She was 7th in total putting last time out though and even with an average putting week I’d expect to see her on the leaderboard. The 28/1 isn’t fancy but it’s more than fair.

Summary of bets

DP World Championship

Dean Burmester – 1pt ew @ 66/1

Robert Rock – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (both 1/5 odds 7 places Skybet)

Women’s US Open

Emily Pedersen – 1pt ew @ 66/1

Sung Hyun Park – 0.75pts ew @ 66/1 (both 1/5 odds 7 places Skybet)

Carlota Ciganda – 1pt ew @ 28/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Betfair)

2pts Top 20 double Burmester (2/1) + Pedersen (3/1) @ 11/1 with Betvictor

Weekly points advised = 10.5pts

Mayakoba, Golf in Dubai Championship and SA Open – Some bets

Oliver Farr saved the week a little as he comfortably returned the top 30 money but he looked like getting involved early on during Saturday until a triple bogey 6 halted his progress. That was one of two triple bogeys on the week so he wasn’t really too far away from contending as he made just 2 birdies less than the winner.

We have 3 events this week as the PGA Tour is back and the European Tour has two events with the co-sanctioned South African Open and the new Golf in Dubai Championship. Just the bets as I’m short for time.

2020 pts advised = 433

2020 pts returned = 330.46

Mayakoba Championship

I wanted to back Abraham Ancer this week but despite him looking to have a great chance I think I’d have wanted 20/1 so the 16/1 looks a bit miserable for a player yet to win on the PGA Tour. Instead I’m just backing Harold Varner III yet again as I think he is maybe a tad over priced. He has played some decent golf since the return and he was 6th here in 2018. The skill set is one that suits his game as he generally finds a lot of fairways and can score well with his short to mid irons from the fairways. He looks a nice each way bet at 70/1 with Betfair’s 8 places. The market looks to have very few routes in as the bookies have an abundance of recent form for most of the players in the field. I’ll leave it at Varner but will likely throw Ancer in some doubles and silly trebles for a bit of fun.

Golf In Dubai Championship

The market in Dubai looks similarly tight and I really don’t like much at all at the head of the market. Instead I’ve taken four each way prices down the market who have gone well at Jumeirah before albeit on the other course.

Tom Lewis has a fine record on the Earth course as he has finished 6th and 7th the last two years. He had been playing some good golf in the summer but he has stalled a little bit on the PGA Tour missing 6 of his last 8 cuts. I’m hoping a return to a lower grade and a place where he has played well can bring about an improvement. The Fire course is apparently more linksy than the Earth and that should favour the likes of Lewis here who is a strong wind player and can shape his ball nicely.

Marcus Kinhult is another with solid form in the desert as well as links courses. He has been 16th and 22nd on the Earth course and he has two top 10s in Qatar which looks like it should be a solid guide. He has missed his last two cuts, both in Cyprus, but prior to that he went 10th-6th in two classy fields at Wentworth and the Scottish Open. Should enjoy the course and looks a shade of value if we give him a pass for just not liking the Cyprus course.

Paul Waring has played OK next door twice as well finishing 14th and 31st at his two DP World Championships. The 14th came last year when nobody played the weekend better as he shot 68-66 to match Rahm’s 66-68 which saw him lift the title. It’s a different course obviously but he also has a 3rd place at the Dubai Desert Classic which suggests he is comfortable playing over there. He missed the cut in the novelty Cyprus Showdown but there were consecutive top 25s prior to that. Waring is another solid links player who should take to this course and hopefully give us a run at 70/1.

Kalle Samooja very nearly got his maiden win a few weeks ago before losing out to Shinkwin and I was quite relieved not to have missed out. Samooja loves playing in the desert and prior to that near miss his best ET finish was 3rd at the Qatar Masters. He has just played in Dubai twice but he played well both times finishing 16th and 27th at the Dubai Desert Classic. He has had a couple of weeks off since Cyprus so will hopefully have forgotten about the cruel play-off loss and be back ready to grab the win. The bookies seem to have forgotten about it too as 66/1 feels a little bit big. I would happily still play at anything down to 50/1 here myself.

South African Open

I think Oliver Farr played well enough to include him again this week at a similar price in a far weaker field. He was 15th for approaches where he put up his best figure ever of 5.717 and he was also 4th for GIR and 12th tee to green. That was good enough for T20th but he could have been even better but for a couple of bad holes. He has only played in 21 events but that is the first time he has gained strokes on the field in every one of the main areas which backs up what I said last week about him appearing to have found some real improvement. There is every chance that this course plays a bit long for him but the altitude negates plenty of the 7900 yard plus length at the Gary Player CC. Worth a go where we are only reinvesting the returns he gave us last week. I’ll also be having a top 20 bet at 9/2 with Betfair Sportsbook.

I was going to just play Farr but was pleasantly surprised to see Zander Lombard at 50/1 here. It’s a little bit bigger than last week’s price in a poorer field on a far more suitable course. Indeed a course where he was the 54 hole leader at last year’s Nedbank before throwing in a poor final round in tough conditions to finish 8th. It’s always risky with him but I think he’s a nice enough each way price where you can see him going off around 33/1 which would be nearer the 35-40/1 I expected.

Summary of bets


Harold Varner III1pt ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)


Tom Lewis – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Skybet)

Marcus Kinhult – 1pt ew @ 55/1

Paul Waring – 0.75pts ew @ 66/1

Kalle Samooja – 0.75pts ew @ 66/1 (all 1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)

SA Open

Oliver Farr – 0.5pts ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair) and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2 Betfair

Zander Lombard – 0.75pts ew @ 50/1(1/5 odds 7 places)

Weekly points advised = 12.5pts

Alfred Dunhill Championship – Some bets

A rotten week was compounded by the only player (Lemke) who did anything finishing 1 shot out of the places in South Africa. It means the results aren’t looking too great after very nearly getting back in to profit for the year just a few weeks ago. Hopefully we can finish the year strongly!

2020 pts advised = 425

2020 pts returned = 325.96

Alfred Dunhill Championship

Leopard Creek is a truly spectacular golf course set beside the Kruger National Park on the border of South Africa and Mozambique. I’m always a little bit surprised more of the top players don’t take this trip each year but I suppose they can be forgiven in these difficult times. There is an abundance of wild life on show in and around the course and there is usually the dulcet tones of Tony Johnstone on comms to tell us what’s what from a nature point of view. From a golfing point of view Leopard Creek can be tricky as there isn’t really any one sort of player that goes well here. Being a winding tree-lined course, plodders have had success here but so have bigger hitters, tidy short games and hot putters. It’s a course that anyone can win on providing they have most of their game in good order as it’s a fairly difficult test of golf. The greens are usually firm so approach play is probably the most important attribute this week but as more greens are missed over the weekend then the short game around these slick green complexes isn’t far behind. Course experience is often crucial with several repeat winners and lots who play well here every year.

Which takes me to last week’s missed cut and David Drysdale. I’m not too worried about him missing the weekend as it would have given him more time to prepare for this event at what must arguably be the Scotsman’s favourite course and if he is to ever win on Tour this is surely the place. The price of 125/1 might not be for everyone but I love it for him around here. His course form figures took a slight knock last year with a lowly 36th but they still read an impressive 36-2-11-18-6-11-25-MC-8 going back the last ten years. He played brilliantly just three starts ago so getting back on track at Leopard Creek hopefully shouldn’t be too difficult for the veteran. I think the last two missed cuts can be forgiven and I’m hoping he can follow a recent trend of maiden winners and players winning again after a huge wait.

I don’t see too much to like at the head of the market with several players not really deserving of their sub-16/1 quotes so I’m taking another journeyman at a big price and that’s Justin Walters. He can also play some very good golf and despite an average record here at Leopard Creek his tee to green game was good enough last week to make 125/1 look rather big here. Walters was 3rd for total accuracy courtesy of 8th in driving accuracy and 10th in GIR. His short game was poor but that doesn’t always matter too much here if everything else is working, particularly if the course plays tricky. His form has been patchy since the restart but when he has made the cut he has generally gone on to a good finish posting 30-16-2-29 the four times he has made the weekend. That’s exactly the type of player I want here at a big price where a missed cut isn’t the end of the world but if he plays the weekend he can hopefully contend.

Oliver Farr is younger than these two but yet another who I would consider a bit of a journeyman even if that’s perhaps a little harsh. For years he was a name you might see pop up on a European Tour leaderboard here and there before finishing T32nd and that is perhaps why he has bobbed about between the main Tour and the Challenge Tour. But I looked at him closely this week after seeing how good his long game was at Randpark where he ranked 6th in fairways and 14th for greens. This has been the case for the whole season as he ranks 7th in driving accuracy and 24th in GIR. Farr has always been a neat and tidy enough player but he has struggled to get both these parts of his game at a high enough level consistently. He only has four European Tour top 10s in his 86 events but two of those have come since the restart in July. He hasn’t done much on two visits to Leopard Creek so far but I get the impression that we might be seeing an improved player this year and he could be worth siding with at a big price.

Bryce Easton was the last man off my shortlist last week and of course he went on to place. So it’s probably a case of the horse already having bolted but his long game numbers were great as he led the field in total accuracy and he remains a fair enough each way price at 66/1. Easton was 10th here in 2016 and I think he looks a decent bet to hold his form.

I was very tempted to back George Coetzee as usual but of all the SA courses on the rotation this one has probably been least kind to him and the requirement to stay out of trouble off the tee is probably reason enough to leave him out. Even if his odds look a shade too high for a 5 time ET winner with the most recent title coming just 2 months ago.

Summary of bets

David Drysdale – 0.75pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places general) and 1.5pts Top 20 @ 11/2 (Betfred)

Justin Walters – 0.75pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places general)

Oliver Farr – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 8 places general) and 1pt Top 30 @ 7/2 Betfair

Bryce Easton – 0.75pts ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet, WH)

Weekly points = 8pts

RSM Classic and Joburg Open – Some bets

At the start of the 3rd round of the Masters things were looking hugely promising with Rahm, Cantlay and Munoz all in contention. Even by the time DJ pulled 4 clear ahead of Sunday all 3 were still in the top 14 and a profitable Masters looked more likely than not. But sadly Cantlay played poorly and Munoz threw in a bad couple of holes to leave Rahm needing to hole a 16ft birdie putt on 18 just for one full place! Thankfully he did and Munoz held on for share of the top 20 money but even seeing the hugely popular Dustin Johnson slip on the green jacket barely managed to lift my spirits after a frustrating day.

Rahm and Cantlay looked like two completely different players in the 3rd and 4th rounds, perhaps struggling with the early start to finish their 2nd rounds. At least Rahm managed a place which means he can continue to be backed in majors at shortish odds but his topped 3 wood pull was one of the more bizarre shots you will ever see at a major. I’m sure its bothering him more than his backers though! On to another week with the RSM Classic on the PGA Tour and the European Tour heads out of Europe for the first time since March for the Joburg Open.

2020 pts advised = 415.5pts

2020 pts returned = 325.96pts

RSM Classic

The PGA Tour stays in Georgia but heads over to the coast and Sea Island for an event and courses that punters know well. The RSM Classic takes part on two courses at Sea Island but what’s required is very similar year after year. Hit the narrow fairways and give yourself plenty of birdie putts with accurate short-mid irons and then hope the putter gets hot for a couple of rounds on the bermuda greens. That’s pretty much it and therefore it’s often a wide open event as it can’t be overpowered and the field isn’t too strong with most of the elite players not teeing it up.

CT Pan is a bit of an obvious pick here after his brilliant 7th at the Masters but despite being obvious we can still get a perfectly fair 66/1 about him. Pan has some strong form at Sea Island having finished 6th and 13th on his first two appearances in 2016 and 2017 before missing the cut last year. Pan’s only PGA Tour win came at Harbour Town which is a very similar test and he has plenty of high finishes at other correlating courses. The Masters performance was a little out of the blue so it’s not guaranteed that he holds his form but its fair to assume he was putting the work in ahead of his Masters debut so he maybe he found something he liked and he is worth supporting here at a decent each way price with 8 places.

Now despite what I have always thought about scoring with the short irons at Sea Island I was having a look through the tournament stats for the last 3 runnings and noticed something interesting. The last two winners ranked 1st for the week in scoring relative to par from 175-200 yards and the 2017 winner Austin Cook ranked 2nd. It’s perfectly fair to think that everyone in the field is making their opportunities count with the shorter irons but once the approaches become a little harder that is when we see a bigger range and an opportunity to pull away from the field. Will Gordon ranked 3rd in this department on his rookie season, wedged in between the likes of Bryson, DJ and Rahm, and sits 23rd again this season. That’s very impressive and despite him being a big hitter who will likely just be a 6 iron from 200 yards it was telling enough for me to have a further look at Gordon. It was worthwhile as he was 10th in last year’s RSM Classic, just his 4th event on the PGA Tour. His two best finishes since then were a 3rd at the Travelers and a 27th at the Wyndham, both events where form ties over with the RSM. It seems that despite being a big hitter he enjoys a more tactical affair off the tee and he was 38th on his last start where he ranked 4th in strokes gained approaches, which involved his highest figure since this event last year. Arriving for a 2nd look at the course I think he rates a great each way bet at 110/1.

Joburg Open

Limited time for a write up but the Joburg Open is back after a couple of years and it has moved to Randpark which we have seen hosting a few South African Opens recently as well as this event back in 2017/18. Previous events have seen both the courses there in play but it looks like they will only be using the tougher Firethorn course this time around, although to be honest the European Tour website is so poor you could hardly be confident.

Despite being the tougher layout there are still normally some good scores and there isn’t too much trouble there off the tee. In January Min Woo Lee led the field in GIR on 79.2% but he did this from hitting just 43% of the fairways. As long as it’s not one of the holes with water in play or they get unlucky stymied behind a tree, the risk of attacking the course with driver looks minimal. The greens are perfect and while average in size and fairly flat, I expect the subtle undulations and grain to cause plenty of problems..

David Drysdale was the first name that jumped out at me on my first look over the market yesterday as he opened at 200/1. To me this seemed a mad price given how well he played two starts ago and his love for South Africa, the Joburg area in particular. The fact he is yet to win in some 500 + starts is well documented but he can still prove a profitable player to follow when conditions are right and even if you don’t think he can win, halving the place odds of 40/1 still gives you 20/1 about a top 7 finish and even that seemed too big to me. He is in to 150/1 with the bookies paying 7 places but hopefully some twitter followers grabbed the early 200s. Drysdale views South Africa as a bit of a 2nd home and despite being Scottish the climate suits him for golfing and the faster grainy greens are not unlike summer links greens back home. I would have him at 100/1 here so he rates a solid each way bet still at 150s. For those happy with just 6 places there is still some 200s but I’ve taken the 7 with Betfair.

Marcus Armitage isn’t a great price this week but I’m prepared to take a chance on him anyway given how poor the field is and to be honest I’m not sure we should really be expecting anything better than 25/1. Armitage has played here twice and finished 3rd and 5th doing everything well in January when only Oosthuizen and Grace finished above him. He now comes back to South Africa on a run of 4 top 15s and on the whole most of his game has been fairly solid, only falling down the leaderboard on Sundays as he continues to attack the courses looking for his first win. There is no question I’d rather see a maiden doing that than leaving all their 20ft birdie putts 3ft short on a Sunday and a win is surely not too far away. He ranks 17th for birdies over the last 3 months and 10th in par 4 scoring, the last three winners here all led the field in par 4 scoring while in January the first 5 home were the first 5 in par 4 scoring. One of his favourite courses looks like it couldn’t come at a better time for him and I think he is worth an interest here where the favourite is returning from Augusta, the likes of Stone and Otaegui could hardly be considered consistent and Luiten is in relatively poor form. There isn’t a whole to beat here and that could help him over the weekend after a few disappointing Sundays where he will have been able to go to school on his experiences. Not much of a price but everything points to a strong showing.

Finally I’ll take a punt on Niklas Lemke who looks a little over price here given he has two ET top 10s since the return of golf and he also posted 3rd at the Qatar Masters before the break. 2018 Randpark winner Branden Grace is a 2-time winner in Qatar and both feature grainy greens with limited punishment for missing the fairways. Which is something a player of Lemke’s distance tends to do fair bit of! But he still hit 75% of his GIR last time out in Cyprus despite hitting less than half his fairways. That should help him here and although he has missed both Randpark cuts he was still under par here in January but the cut was -3 after everyone went nuts on the easier Bushwillow course. It was a +5 on the Bushwillow that did for him in 2018 as he played well on the Firethorn. At 100-125/1 he just looks a bit too big arriving here off the back of a 9th place finish in Cyprus.

Summary of bets

RSM Classic

CT Pan – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Will Gordon – 1pt ew @ 110/1 (Skybet)

Joburg Open

David Drysdale – 1pt ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Marcus Armitage – 1.25pts ew @ 28/1 (1/5 odds 6 places 888 Sport and Unibet)

Niklas Lemke – 0.5pts ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Boylesports)

Weekly points advised = 9.5pts

The 2020 Masters – Betting Preview

A week where Sunday morning carried a potential double across the two Tours ended fairly poorly as Jordan and Valimaki both left their best golf behind them earlier in the week. Then Jason Day seemed to forget how to drive the ball after performing brilliantly for the first 3 rounds. He rallied to nab a tiny share of the place money but he missed an 8ft putt on 18 for a full place and Day missing a straight-forward 8ft putt with no pressure on just about summed up the day. It really looked like there was going to be some sort of healthy returns for a Masters war chest but it wasn’t to be. No time to sulk though with the golfing highlight of the year just three days away!

2020 pts advised = 388.50

2020 pts returned = 314.21

The Masters

It’s been a long time coming for the 2020 Masters with Covid-19 doing for the Augusta spectacle back in its April slot. But here we are 7 months later and while anticipation has only built, the schedule change will bring with it a few more questions than normal given the November timing. For years the Masters has, on paper anyway, been the easiest major to bet on. Firstly you have the slightly reduced field but it’s also the only major held on the same course every year and that rewards those with experience of the course which in turn should reward those with experience of betting on it. Things haven’t quite worked out that way for me in recent years and there’s no question that the switch muddies the waters further so lets stick to what we know.

Augusta can and will be overpowered however it plays, if there is fairway run-out the bombers will take advantage as it’s not a penal driving course, particularly if you are comfortable moving the ball right to left to take advantage of some of the huge landing areas and dog-legs, especially on the par 5s. If it’s soft then the course will play very long for anyone not comfortably carrying the ball 275+ in the air. Approach shots will be difficult but I think they might be the one main difference if the forecast rain and November slot does have an effect. The sub air system will be able to keep the green speeds fast but I’m still expecting them to be a little more receptive to approaches, even if they run at 14 on the stimp meter. This might not make a huge difference as it will remain a 2nd shot golf course where a high ball flight will be hugely advantageous for finding the right areas of the greens, but I think we will see a higher GIR clip than normal for the field.

Scrambling is notoriously hard around Augusta with a good mix of tightly mown run-offs and thick lush grass forcing the players to use every pitch and chip they have in their locker. Even if the greens are a little softer getting up and down when short sided will be no picnic. As I repeat every year, you are unlikely to see someone wearing a green jacket who isn’t capable of magic around the greens. The winner has usually won that year already with 8 of the previous 10 winners having won somewhere within the last 12 months. Most of those even more recently than that so those having won since the return should really be favoured as potential green jacket wearers. They have also usually shown something at Augusta previously be it a top 10 finish or a round in the mid 60s although Reed and Willett have ruined that trend a little in recent times. Ultimately though we should be looking for a powerful player with towering irons who has magic hands around the greens but can also hold their own with the putter when it matters, particularly with their lag putting and holing out. If they are already proven at Augusta with a top 10 then all the better.

All this points me firmly to Jon Rahm. I was very keen on him for this earlier this year and while my enthusiasm waned a little earlier in the summer, I make him firmly the man to beat again after a very solid couple of months. I would say that I’ve only really been properly confident about 3 major winners and they were Bubba’s first Masters, Spieth’s Masters and Day’s US PGA. It would be quite foolish to suggest I was as confident ahead of such a competitive event but I do have an inkling that this is Rahm’s time and I’ll be shocked if we see him out of the places. Despite only having played at Augusta three times to date his form has been impressive. On his debut he was 27th before contending in 2018 and finishing 4th while there was another top 10 last year. Rahm’s game is almost perfect for Augusta with his powerful driving reducing many of these par 5s to an 8 iron while his lag putting and scrambling skills are exactly what is needed around the slick Augusta bentgrass greens. Rahm’s tournament could well be decided by how dialled in his irons are. It sounds silly to say it but his approach play with his mid irons is the only part of his game that can let him down compared to the rest of the top 5 or 6 in the world. When his iron game is on he takes a lot of beating and there aren’t too many that can live with him on a course like Augusta if that is the case, arguably only a peak DJ, McIlroy, Bryson, Koepka or Thomas but each of them bring slight weaknesses that can be accentuated at Augusta. DJ’s short game for all that it has improved still isn’t as consistent as it could be across 72 holes while McIlroy’s wedges and short game can always cause him bother when things firm up here. JT’s erratic driving can find problems even at Augusta across 4 rounds while despite Bryson probably over powering the course I can’t see his short game holding up to Augusta over the weekend provided that they get the greens reasonably quick. Koepka showed signs of his best over the weekend but I wouldn’t want to be a backer given his form and fitness throughout 2020.

With Rahm’s ever improving major mindset I’m putting my faith in him bringing that ZOZO approach play which was somewhere close to his best. If he does then I think he comes out on top and a further reason for this is the November unknown factor. Rahm is as adaptable as any player in the game and he can play as well on a hard and fast layout as he can when it’s rain softened target golf. If it does play long and soft then it will suit McIlroy down to the ground but Rahm will also be very comfortable. Rahm is the best driver of the ball in the world for me despite Bryson now being the most effective driver and prior to that most people claiming McIlroy to be the best driver. It’s interesting looking at Rahm and McIlroy’s numbers over the last 3 Masters. McIlroy has hit 97/168 of his fairways while Rahm has hit 117/168. That’s nearly two more approaches from the short stuff per round and while we know the rough isn’t overly penal at Augusta that’s still quite a telling stat for me. Rahm sits 3rd behind Bryson and McIlroy in strokes gained off the tee this year but he was 2nd in 2020 for total driving while Bryson was only 32nd and McIlroy 52nd. We know finding fairways isn’t imperative but it feels like a big difference between two of the best players in the world and one Rahm can put to good use.

Not only does Rahm have the all important recent win but he has actually won twice since the return of golf with his last MC coming on his first start back where rust can be blamed. On his last start he was just pipped to 2nd at the ZOZO where he ranked 6th for approaches and 2nd tee to green along the way. I’m really struggling to see him out of the places so I’m advising a chunky outright bet at 12.0s on the exchange but also an each way bet at 10/1 which will see all the stakes returned for him if he is anywhere in the top 10.

Rory McIlroy will surely never have a better chance of completing the grand slam than he will playing in a November Masters. I still think his short game will do for him but he is bound to contend and will love the more receptive greens that he will probably find. That’s not to say they won’t play as fast but there will surely be less bite when landing approaches on them. Therefore I’m having a small saver bet on him just for peace of mind if nothing else to soften the blow should he become just the 6th golfer to win all 4 modern majors.

There are a host of players in the 20/1-50/1 category that I could make a case for but most of them just look a little short for me. The bookmakers have a lot more top class recent form to go on this year with the late event and for me it looks like they have got an extremely tight market.

I will have one more proper bet because I can see him contending and I think he is a future green jacket winner even if his odds are towards skinny here. Patrick Cantlay wobbled a little as golf returned but he emphatically threw his hat back in the Masters ring when holding off an elite chasing pack to win the ZOZO Championship 2 weeks ago. Every part of his game was in fine working order as he was 3rd tee to green and 10th on the greens. Cantlay should perhaps have won this last year getting briefly in to the lead before bogeying 16 and 17. What was amazing about that performance was that it was largely all about his normally poor putter as he he somehow only ranked 54th for GIR and 39th for total driving. If he had performed tee to green then it could have been an entirely different story. If his whole game remains close to that which we saw 2 weeks ago then he surely has to contend given the layout is perfect for his long game. Not only is he superb on long championship courses but he is also one of the best scramblers on the PGA Tour. This might still be a little early on just his 3rd Augusta start but he possesses a far more mature game than others in his age bracket and I expect him to be a top 10 staple here over the next 15 years. I’ll take the poorer 8 places with Betfred in order to get the juicier 25/1 as 20/1 feels borderline.

Looking further down the market the likes of Bubba Watson and Tyrrell Hatton’s chances are obvious but not ones that the bookmakers have missed. I’d love to give Jason Day another go but he’s been frustrating to follow over the last few months and his price looks a little restrictive now at 33/1. I was so close to including Jordan Spieth at 50/1 as it’s almost a mad price for Augusta given the small flashes he has shown recently and that most of his troubles are with the driver. I’ll definitely be watching him closely in play. So beyond the two main bets I’ve just gone for 4 outsiders all making their debut (I know!) who I’m not sure I can see winning this but the extra place terms give us a nice each way bet where if they play their best they could do enough to finish inside the top 11. I’ll also have top 20 bets on the 4 of them.

Erik Van Rooyen makes his Masters debut but his assured and powerful tee to green game is made for a test like this. His short game might be found wanting but his lag putting is strong despite being iffy from inside 10ft and a relatively poor chipper. Van Rooyen finished 8th at the 2019 US PGA on his US major debut and he has 3 top 20s from 6 majors, making the cut in all six. He was also 3rd at the top class WGC Mexico in February which is usually a good pointer for an April Masters. It might be a stretch for him to get inside the top 11 but for me his top 20 chance is a little better than the 18% that his 9/2 quotes imply.

Matt Wallace is one of my least favourite golfers given his horribly arrogant attitude on the course but I can’t let that stop me backing him at what seems a huge 125/1. For a while on the European Tour he was going off silly prices for someone that hasn’t won since 2018 but he seems to have gone the opposite way here as he is 150/1 in places. The extra room off the tee combined with his putting touch could see him take to Augusta so I’ll have an interest just in case. It’s likely he isn’t playing well enough but you never know.

Sebastian Munoz is in brilliant form having made his last 9 cuts with 7 of those being top 30s and that includes a play off run of 18-8-7 to finish his 2020 season. His last two starts have been 9th and 14th while he was a winner on Tour at the Sanderson Farms in 2019. Its risky given he has missed 3 of his 4 major cuts and he makes his Masters debut but his main weakness is often spraying it off the tee so that shouldn’t be too big an issue with the massive landing areas and limited rough. From there though his game is a lot stronger in particular on his last start where he was 2nd for approaches and 8th for GIR in the trickier 175-200 yard range while we know how tidy a short game he has on faster greens. A lot of potential to outplay his odds if he takes to Augusta as his game suggests he should.

Christian Bezuidenhout enjoys a difficult short game test and for that reason alone I think he could be a big price on his Masters debut. The young South African has spent most of the last few months in the US as he teed it up 10 times on the PGA Tour. He turned 5 of those in to top 30 finishes including both the elite field WGC events. He returned to Europe with a MC in Scotland before a 40th at Wentworth ahead of a few weeks off to get ready for this. Bez’s maiden European Tour win came at Valderrama which was hugely impressive. It’s very speculative but of the 26 events held at Valderrama 10 of those have been won by Masters winners and plenty of the other winners had strong Augusta records too. Worth a go at 200/1.

1st round leader bets added

Brandt Snedeker shot 65 to be the first round leader last week in Houston and I got a little excited as he was an outright selection at 90/1. But he went backwards from there and finished well down the field. I think that fast start together with an opening 67 in his previous start make him interesting here at Augusta where he has an excellent record. The forecast rain will not be ideal for Snedeker at all but from an early tee-time (7:11) he might manage to post something before the course starts getting properly wet and we might even see delays if it rains all day.

I’ll make up the first round trio with two big hitters that will thrive on the soft conditions and that’s Tony Finau and Scottie Scheffler. Finau has an excellent record from his two Masters appearances finishing 5th last year and 10th on his debut. He has also proven he can go low at Augusta with a 64 last year and a 66 in 2018. He will enjoy putting on the softer greens and if he can hole a few putts from another early tee time (7:22) he should manage a solid opening round. Scheffler is making his debut but his powerful tee to green game has been extremely impressive in his short time on Tour and that has helped him to six top 5 finishes since September last year. His putter has probably been the only thing holding back from winning so far but he gained 3.238 strokes on the greens last week and he too will enjoy the slower surfaces. His last two opening rounds have been 67s whereas 18 of his last 30 events have started with a round in the 60s. He also opened with a 66 at the recent US PGA. Again from an early tee time (7:22), if he takes to Augusta as his game should then he could well put a low one together.

Summary of bets

Jon Rahm – 3pts win @ 11.5 on Betfair Exchange and 3pts ew @ 10/1 (1/5 odds 10 places)

Rory McIlroy – 1pt win @ 15.0 on Betfair Exchange

Patrick Cantlay 2.5pts ew @ 25/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfred)

Erik Van Rooyen – 0.5pts ew @ 125/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2 general

Matt Wallace – 0.5pts ew @ 125/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1 general

Sebastian Munoz – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2 general

Christian Bezuidenhout – 0.5pts ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 13/2 general (all 1/5 odds 11 places Skybet)

1st round leader bets

Tony Finau – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Boylesports)

Brandt Snedeker – 0.5pts ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

Scottie Scheffler – 0.5pts ew @ 45/1 (Betfair)

Weekly points advised = 27pts

Houston Open and Cyprus Showdown – Betting Preview

It was a profitable week as Cink and Valimaki both placed but there was certainly a feeling that things could have been better in Cyprus as Valimaki had a 2 shot lead around the turn and looked more assured than anyone up to the final 6 holes. He began making bogeys but there was nothing overly worrying as they didnt seem like nervy mistakes, just perhaps being a little too aggressive at the wrong time. But it’s worth remembering that it was that same attacking golf that got him into the position he was in, while he is still young and is learning that side of the game all the time.

2020 pts advised = 374.50

2020 pts returned = 309.21

Houston Open

Yet another 2020 switch of golf course on the schedule and that together with its place the week before the Masters makes the Houston Open look like a fairly difficult event to analyse. The Memorial Park course is a municipal layout in the heart of Houston and its been there a while with the original 9 holes being redesigned to an 18 hole layout in 1936 by John Bredemus. Ahead of hosting this event Tom Doak carried out a substantial renovation with the course now playing anything up to 7432 yards. Tom Doak learned his design trade working with Pete and Alice Dye but his hero is said to have be Alistair Mackenzie. With those two angles and this being a parkland course I’ve decided to use that potentially correlating form as there isn’t much else to go on. The last time a PGA Tour event was held at a Tom Doak design looks to have been the 2010 Canadian Open (St George’s) which was won by Carl Petterson who was huge performer on Pete Dye courses. So maybe it’s not a terrible angle to take albeit Memorial Park was designed with excitement in mind so I’m not expecting as difficult a driving course as say Dye’s Sawgrass or Harbour Town, I’m thinking more Whistling Straits or Kiawah Island.

Sergio Garcia looked over priced even before I got properly stuck in to some research so I had to back him at 35/1. Garcia has won at Sawgrass, Sedgefield (ties in with Dye courses and Pettersen is also a winner there) and of course Mackenzie’s Augusta while he won the Sanderson Farms just 3 starts ago so is back in form. How on earth the likes of Russell Henley and Scottie Scheffler are shorter than him I have no idea. He looks a fantastic bet heading to a new course where his sublime tee to green game should be a huge positive.

Jason Day is fast becoming the most annoying player to back on Tour but I’d say the 35/1 more than factors in his chances of not completing 4 rounds so I’ll have a small play. Day was last seen down the field at the Zozo Championship but prior to that start he was bang in contention at the CJ Cup before double bogeying the 1st hole of the final round and then withdrawing due to a neck injury. While he has been inconsistent since the restart of golf he has played some brilliant golf in spells and his proven ability on Dye courses means we should see the best of him this week providing he is fit. Day has won around Sawgrass and Whistling Straits while he has an excellent Augusta record and I’m hoping he wouldn’t tee it up the week before a major unless he was feeling 100% fit.

Denny McCarthy is generally known to be one of the best putters on the PGA Tour so it’s interesting that he ranked 2nd in fairways and 4th in greens last week when finishing fast with a 63 for a share of 4th place. If these slick greens help return the putter to the norm and he brings that long game with him to Houston he should give us a run for our money at a sporting 66/1.

I’ll just have one more speculative bet on Brandt Snedeker who has a strong record at lots of the courses I mentioned and despite differing results lately he has been putting brilliantly. If this happens to play as a straight-forward municipal course might then flat-stick prowess will go a long way and he will also enjoy the leniency off the tee. It’s hard to know how long the course will play but any improvement with the irons should hopefully see him get competitive on just the sort of parkland course he enjoys.

Cyprus Showdown

The European Tour remains at Aphrodite Hills Resort to the south of Paphos again this week for a novelty sort of event. It’s ultimately still 72 holes of stroke-play but they have two cuts and only the top 32 players and ties will make it to the weekend. Following that cut those players will have their scores reset and then the top 16 and ties after Saturday’s round will tee it up on Sunday in a one round shoot out. If last week’s event was all about attacking golf and birdies then this looks to be more of the same and some more again. There will be no way of backing in to the weekend or trying to tread water once you reach a score, this will be pedal to the metal for the full 72 holes. Therefore I’m looking at exactly the same sort of players as last week with putting perhaps being even more crucial after seeing the big greens last week but also with the additional pressure this format could bring.

Sami Valimaki has to make the team again having looked like the best player for 66 holes on the course last week. His blend of power, attacking golf and wonderful touch on and around the greens looked just perfect for this course and the only negative will be how he reacts to his back nine on Sunday. I’m expecting him to use it to spur him on rather than knock the stuffing out of him and knowing what he can do to the golf course he will be very confident this week. He was also extremely consistent across the 4 rounds last week as he was one of only five who shot 68 or better in all 4 rounds. That consistency will be a bonus this week as one bad round and you’ll be a goner in this format. His aggressive golf saw him rank 3rd for birdies and I expect more of the same here.

Garrick Higgo should also go well again having improved as the week went on last week. Higgo is every bit as attacking as Valimaki and on his rookie season he ranks 3rd for birdies and 5th in par 5 scoring. He was also one of the five not to shot higher than 68 last week and that bodes well for the young South African. Last week he was 6th for approaches and 9th in putting so with a few days to relax and a 2nd look at the course he surely has a great chance of making the last 16 on Sunday.

I didn’t want to get overly involved in an event that could essentially turn out to be a crap shoot but the way Matthew Jordan finished caught my attention so I was interested to see he led the field on the par 3s. They were an interesting set of par 3s with a combination of gimme birdies and longer difficult par 3s. Most of them featured big elevation changes and two tiered greens so throw in the wind as well and clubbing and distance control looked difficult. Making birdies on the easy par 3 flags and avoiding trouble on the tougher ones could well prove pivotal this week as there was a far bigger likelihood of scoring discrepancies on the shorter holes than some of the easier par 5s which were straight forward birdies. That’s not to say par 5 scoring wasn’t key with Shinkwin and Samooja ranking 3rd and 4th in that department but they can all make hay on the 5s, it’s an enitrely different story on the shorter holes. He’s probably short enough now at 33/1 given the format but I really think last week’s form will be key to making it through to Sunday and after all that’s all we can really hope for here.

Summary of bets

Houston Open

Sergio Garcia – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Boylesports)

Jason Day – 1pt ew @ 45/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred)

Denny McCarthy – 0.75pts ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 8 places WH)

Brandt Snedeker – 0.5pts ew @ 90/1 (1/5 odds 8 places WH, Betfair, PP)

Cyprus Showdown

Sami Valimaki – 1.5pts ew @ 28/1

Garrick Higgo – 1.25pts ew @ 28/1

Matthew Jordan – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (all 1/5 odds 7 places Boylesports)

Weekly points advised = 14pts

Bermuda Championship and Cyprus Open – Some bets

After sitting T2nd through 36 holes I was getting a bit excited about 250/1 Frittelli but after a slower weekend he could only finish T11th. It felt like more of the same for the year with 1 or 2 shots proving costly and keeping the blog in the red for the year. The picks were poor in Europe and it leaves confidence a little low this week so I won;t be getting carried away. Not too much of a write up either as I’m low on time.

2020 pts advised = 361.50

2020 pts returned = 292.71

Bermuda Championship

The 2nd running of this takes place at the same Port Royal course as last year and that was a return to the site of the PGA Tour Grand Slam of Golf event which saw the 4 major winners compete together at the end of the year. While only 4 players would tee it up the winners were all good links players suggesting a stiff island breeze. The course is also a Robert Trent Jones design so I’ve considered some of his other layouts together with a look at last year’s leaderboard.

Stewart Cink has played here before in what can only be considered the most bizarre PGA Grand Slam of Golf there ever was. He teed it up with Lucas Glover, Angel Cabrera and YE Yang as the wide open nature of majors in the immediate outfall after Tiger’s initial 2008 knee injury really became apparent. Cink was a winner around Trent Jones’ Firestone layout way back in 2004 while he also lost a play-off there in 2006 to Tiger. So it’s quite interesting that he got back in the winner’s enclosure in September at the Safeway Open. He was poor again last time out at the Shriners but the hope is he returns to the form of his 2 starts prior to that on a course that will suit. He ranks 3rd for GIR and 9th in total driving over the last 3 months. The 2009 Open winner is far classier than most of those above him in the betting, many of whom have never even won on Tour so you could make a case for Cink being rather over priced at 40/1.

Scott Piercy is another great wind player but makes the team for two other reasons as well. Last time out he led the field for iron play as he posted his 5th highest strokes gained: approaches figure ever of 7.079. That was a huge improvement for the man who nearly won the WGC Bridgestone at Firestone in 2016 when he pushed DJ all the way. It’s easy to forget Piercy is a 4-time PGA Tour winner and one of those wins came at another Robert Trent Jones course when he won the Barbasol Championship. Two of his wins have come in alternate events so this sort of event where most of the Tour’s best players are missing is exactly Piercy’s sort of hunting ground and he rates a solid each way bet at 50/1.

Finally I’ll go with Padraig Harrington who is perhaps one of the best wind players around. He has also won around this course before when he stepped in as alternate for the 2012 Grand Slam of Golf. Harrington has been playing quite well of late in Europe as all his lockdown practice is paying off. His form reads 14th-40th-9th with him ranking 5th tee to green last time out, 1st in GIR and 1st in driving which is hugely encouraging for a player who has struggled off the tee in recent times. His short game was unusually poor but we can expect that to revert to his brilliant norm this week and if the long game also travels with him he’s very interesting in a lower grade PGA Tour event.

Cyprus Open

This week Cyprus hosts its first ever European Tour event and therefore yet another new course to the 2020 schedule. Its the Aphrodite Hill Resort just south of Paphos and from the limited information available it appears to be a fairly regular resort course although a perfectly maintained resort course. The fairways look wide, the rough minimal and the greens look quite big and green suggesting they won’t be overly fast. The main defence will be the coastal breeze and the deep bunkers. Measuring under 7000 yards and without too much trouble barring a huge ravine running through the middle this should be straight forward. Therefore I started my search with aggressive birdie makers who will enjoy the freedom off the tee and fire at every flag looking to go as low as possible.

Sami Valimaki won on his 6th start on the ET announcing himself very much as one to watch. He’s contended a few time since but appears to generally go better on layouts where driving doesn’t matter too much as that department of his game would probably be his main weakness in this early part of his career. Indeed his win was on an exposed Oman course with little trouble off the tee while his 4 Pro Golf Tour wins all saw him get well in to double figures under par for just the 54 holes. The young Finn is as attacking a player as you will see on the European Tour and he has full confidence in his game. On his last start he was a very admirable 13th on his Wentworth debut and he led the field in GIR. That has to make him very interesting on an altogether more suitable layout here as is 5th for the season with the putter. Sadly I don’t seem to be the only one who likes him this week though as his price has been absolutely hammered since Monday when I backed him and tweeted about him. That always makes it more difficult for the “tipsters” who can only publish on a Tuesday night. But having backed him I want to include him so we’ll just have to go with the rather borderline 30/1 but we can feel better about the fact that we are at least backing a youngster with untapped potential rather than an under priced journey man who struggles to get over the line.

Nicolas Colsaerts came very close to winning last week as he came up just one shot shy of a play-off. Colsaerts’ game improved massively from where it had been and that was mainly down to him finding his A game with the irons. He ranked 4th for approaches and 1st in par 4 scoring and while Colsaerts used to make hay on the par 5s in his pomp, it was often his ability to over power a set of par 4s that helped him to his wins. Colsaerts is another hugely attacking player who even at 38 years old doesn’t aim away from too many flags. Only 2 players made more birdies than him last week and he should hold his form at a very fair 40/1.

Alexander Levy has always been one of the more attacking players since he arrived on the European Tour and that fearlessness of youth saw him rack up 5 ET wins very early in his career. Things have slowed a bit lately though as he only has 1 top 10 in the last 18 months but he was 16th on his last start and that looks a good sign ahead of a test that is sure to suit the Frenchman who can be liable to one or two wides off the tee. Playing from the fairways and in to receptive greens Levy can be expected to go well again.

Pablo Larrazabal is quite similar to Levy in the flag hunting way and despite some average form over the summer he has been making cuts and the 27th at Wentworth last time out is enough for me to have small play. Larrazabal is another excellent wind player and has often said he prefers to play with a decent breeze as it effects him less than his opponents. Pablo has always been outspoken against easy birdie fests and that’s partly because he usually doesn’t putt well enough to make the most of his aggressive game but I’m hoping the slower greens might help here. Even if he can put 2 or 3 good putting rounds together that could be enough to get the talented 5 time winner competitive here.

Summary of bets

Bermuda Championship

Stewart Cink – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Scott Piercy – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (both 1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

Padraig Harrington – 0.75pts ew @ 60/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Cyprus Open

Sami Valimaki – 1.25pts ew @ 30/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Nicolas Colsaerts – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Boylesports)

Alex Levy – 0.75pts ew @ 95/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)

Pablo Larrazabal – 0.75pts ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 7 Betfair)

Weekly points advised = 13pts

ZOZO Championship and Italian Open – Betting Preview

An OK week where Bubba’s place returns nearly broke even for the week but with Baldwin finishing 1 shot shy at 200/1 and Jason Day being right in contention before a withdrawal in the final round, it felt like it should have been a lot better.

It leaves things as follows for the year to date;

2020 pts advised = 346.50

2020 pts returned = 292.71

ZOZO Championship

In a similar move to last week the ZOZO Championship has had to find a new home away from Asia back in the US and it moves to Sherwood Country Club, former host of Tiger’s Hero World Challenge event from 2000-2013. The course produced all sorts of winners but at around 7100 yards it was always a course that the shorter hitters could still compete on despite Tiger winning 5 of the 14 runnings there. We haven’t seen it since 2013 and the game has changed a fair bit however at least the less powerful players can be competitive here despite the bombers still having an advantage.

Tiger won a number of the events himself there but there were also a lot of shorter hitting, neat and tidy sorts who flourished there with GMac, Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk all obliging. Any fiddly, tree-lined course measuring sub 7200 yards where those 3 have gone well screams Webb Simpson to me and despite an ever shortening price this week, he looks to be the stand-out bet for me on a course that looks ideal. Simpson’s US Open win came at Olympic Club and it resembles Sherwood visually but also featured lots of players who have gone well here. Webb is having a superb season and his ultra consistent game landed him another US Open Top 10 last month as he delivered each way returns for his followers. He continued his form at the Shriners two weeks ago where he posted a 13th place finish and having last week off, being fresher than everyone around him in the market might just give him an edge at 18/1.

If we’re looking for Webb sort of players then there are probably a few other outsiders that might be worth getting on the team but firstly I’ll side with a different type of player who has showed he can go well on fiddlier courses too and that’s Viktor Hovland. He finished 13th at Winged Foot last month and prior to Dechambeau’s antics, that looked like a classic fiddly US Open course. Either side of that there was a 14th on his Tour Championship debut and a 12th last week at the CJ Cup where he was always chasing after an opening 75. He was 4th at Sedgefield last year which presents a similar challenge while a 21st place finish on his debut at Harbour Town was respectable. He hasn’t missed a cut since March and with his form simmering nicely a relatively new course for most of the market principals might be exactly what he needs for his 2nd PGA Tour win.

Dylan Frittelli looks to have a chance of going well here given his form at some similar courses. Frittelli is a winner of the John Deere Classic which has always essentially been a benefit for the fairways and short iron types. He was also 8th at the RBC Heritage earlier in the year. He was down the field last week and didn’t play very well but at odds of 200/1 he looks worth a small interest.

One final speculative dart and that’s Michael Thompson who followed Webb home at that 2012 US Open. Three of the top 8 on that leaderboard have won at Sherwood while even an injury plagued Woods managed 21st and two-time Sherwood winner Davis Love III still broke the top 30 at 48 years old. Thompson hasn’t played all that well lately but he won 7 starts ago and that pretty much came from nowhere so he could be over priced on a course he can compete on. Thompson’s first PGA Tour win came at another Jack Nicklaus re-design at PGA National and even if his long game isn’t firing then his short game will help here around the fiddly green complexes. Worth a small play at fairly disrespectful oddds of 350/1.

Italian Open

The European Tour heads for the continent this week with the Italian Open being the first stop. We have a new course though as Chervo GC hosts from just south of Lake Garda on the outskirts of Brescia. It doesn’t look to have hosted anything in the way of professional golf but the designer Kurt Rossknecht is responsible for a couple of ET layouts in Germany, namely Bad Griesbach and Eichenried which have hosted the Porsche European Open and BMW International Open respectively. All three are parkland courses with some water in play and the visuals appear fairly similar for all three. With little else to go on I have focused on a mix of current form, form at these two courses and also form in Italy.

First pick is Rikard Karlberg who I actually looked for a couple of weeks ago but he wasn’t in the field at Renaissance Club. He is in decent form as he arrives with a pair of 14th place finishes but it’s his form around Kurt Rossknecht courses that threw him up to begin with. In 2017 he was 5th at Eichenried in Munich when Andres Romero won the BMW International Open while back in 2015 he was also 5th at Bad Griesbach when Thongchai Jaidee lifted the Porsche European Open trophy. Having established that all 3 courses look similar I would expect Karlberg to feel reasonably comfortable here. For the season his game has been rather steady ranking 60th off the tee, 40th for approaches and 3rd in scrambling. He has also won the Italian Open before back in 2015 when it was played just an hour or so to the west at Milano GC. With us having no real idea how scoring will go I think picking someone in decent form with a liking for these sort of courses might prove a better option than trying to guess any particular skill set this week. At 80/1 he’s not too shabby an each way price either so I’d advise a decent bet with Betfred’s 7 places.

Secondly I’m going back in on Matthew Baldwin as he played some great stuff in Scotland last week, particularly over the weekend as he shot 68-65 to finish in 9th place. Only the winner Otaegui had more par breakers as Baldwin made 24 birdies and 2 eagles ultimately suffering for his Friday snowman at the difficult 10th hole. One of the factors involved in backing him last week was the huge upturn in form that he found the week prior in Italy on the Challenge Tour. A return to the same area of Italy should see a continuation of that form where he did everything well last week and ranked 8th in the all-round ranking. The Sunday 65 was his lowest ET round since 2017 and a confident Baldwin looks a decent each way investment at 125/1.

Backing golfers who have an extensive knowledge of a course doesn’t always pay-off but those who knew Kokrak had lots of experience of playing Shadow Creek may well have been in clover if they took him at a big price. So I’m taking a chance on Nino Bertasio here who lives in the Brescia area and must surely have played here a few times as Ambassador for the Chevro brand’s golf and sportswear. He has struggled a little bit since the return missing 3 cuts, withdrawing and finishing 50th but he was in fine form before the break finishing 7th at the Qatar Masters. Bertasio was historically a great putter prior to this year and that can often be handy on a new course whether it be a birdie fest or a difficult layout where the 5 ft par saves are crucial. Hopefully a return home can bring about his pre-lockdown game and he can out play his odds of 250/1 with Betfair’s 7 places.

Finally I’ll take another huge leap of faith and back Marcel Schneider at 250/1. Schneider has won around a Rossknecht course on the Challenge Tour last year and he also lost out in a play-off at the same Italian Challenge two weeks ago where Baldwin just missed out. Schneider also has top 30s at Eichenried and Bad Griesbach and when you consider that he only has 5 career top 30s in 37 events on the European Tour then there could be something to it and he must be worth a go at the odds. Of course it also probably means that he is hugely out of his depth but plenty players have improved out of sight after their first win and several a lot older than Schneider’s 30 years of age.

Summary of bets

ZOZO Championship

Webb Simpson – 2.5pts ew @ 18/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair/PP)

Viktor Hovland – 1.25pts ew @ 30/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair/Skybet)

Dylan Frittelli – 0.5pts ew @ 250/1 (Skybet)

Michael Thompson – 0.5pts ew @ 350/1 (Skybet)

Italian Open

Rikard Karlberg – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Matthew Baldwin – 0.75pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred)

Nino Bertasio – 0.5pts ew @ 250/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)

Marcel Schneider – 0.5pts ew @ 250/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred/Betway)

Weekly points advised = 15pts