RSM Classic and DP World Championship – Betting Preview

Having been on holiday for a couple of weeks in October I missed quite a bit of golf so I was keen to try to get a handle on what was happening again before advising any more bets. I think I’m back up to speed and we have good events on both Tours this week so it feels like a good time to jump back in. There are also a few other decent events as we hit that stretch of the year where it’s fun to play small stake trebles, four-folds and even five folds for the hopeful.

2018 pts advised = 461.50

2018 pts returned = 415.18

ROI = -10%


RSM Classic

The RSM Classic has long been a standing dish for the accurate plodders on the PGA Tour as it is one of the few remaining stops that isn’t over-powered. Both courses at Sea Island are fairly narrow and tree-lined with small, well protected bermuda greens. That combined with the excellent resort facilities make it a must stop for some of the older family orientated pros as they look to take advantage of an event that the young powerhouses normally stay away from. The last two events however have gone the way of young Tour maidens so you shouldn’t be put off if you fancy one of the new crop of Web.com graduates. Every year they come flying out of the blocks in the Fall Series and that has been no different this year with Cameron Champ already notching up his first win. But for my money this event will probably revert back to the norm and I definitely want to be with the more strategic, accurate sorts who have seen the course before in some capacity.

Jim Furyk received quite a hard time in the aftermath of the Ryder Cup, most of which was a little harsh. While it will have been a great privilege for the 2003 US Open winner to lead his country, there is no doubt that it will have been a long year with all the commitments involved. Coming off a decent rest it was interesting to see him play so well last week as he shot four rounds in the 60s to finish T6th. I think he will be looking to take advantage of another short, suitable course this week in Georgia. I’m surprised he never won here at his peak as Sea Island very much falls into Furyk’s wheelhouse, along with Harbour Town, East Lake and Copperhead where he has won. His course form is predictably solid though having finished 11th, 3rd and 6th on his only 3 appearances. He averaged 81% of fairways hit and 83% of greens in regulation on those 3 starts so the courses are clearly ones that fit his eye. Those same areas of his game were as strong as ever last week in Mexico where he ranked 1st in driving accuracy and 2nd in GIR. I’m expecting a strong performance and anything around 40/1 looks like a great bet to me.

Roberto Castro will be well worth following on these shorter courses this year. He confirmed that on just his 2nd start of the season where he overcame a poor start to post a 5th place finish at the Sanderson Farms. Castro gained his 2019 Tour card with a solid if unspectacular campaign but it was back in 2013 that he really announced himself with an opening 63 at Sawgrass to lead the Players Championship after day 1. He would finish down the field but it flagged him up as a player to watch on short courses where you have to keep the ball in play. In August of that year he also posted his best major finish of 12th at the US PGA around the ultimate plotters course at Oak Hill. (Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and David Toms were 3 of those ahead of him!) I know there are plenty of people watching him closely this season and I’m expecting his price to be cut here so I tweeted this bet on Monday in the hope of people getting the best price possible. Castro’s event form isn’t great but his last start in Georgia was a 2nd place finish on the Web.com in April. He should be comfortable in the area given he studied at Georgia Tech and their former students have a good record in the state.

Chesson Hadley completes the PGA line-up this week as he remains a player that is hard to get away from when applying a stats based approach. It is surely just a matter of time before he wins again and last year he played the fall series brilliantly, doing everything but win. He has started similarly well again over the last month with a 2nd place in Kuala Lumpur and a 7th place at the Shriners. While his event form also isn’t fantastic he is another Georgia Tech alumni so should feel at home and his current stats match up perfectly for this test providing he is in control of his stock draw off the tee. He is 7th in ball striking and 1st in proximity to the hole and both should help him to another contending performance.


DP World Championship

For several years this was a benefit for the Tour’s best two players, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson. From 2012 to 2015 nobody else got their hands on the trophy as McIlroy’s two wins sandwiched the Swede’s back to back triumphs. While that made it a difficult betting heat with strong single figure favourites, at least it helped to build a profile of what it takes to win around the Earth Course. Elite ball strikers who hit lots of greens and often miss plenty of putts. Despite neither being consistently great putters, they usually putted well here which tells me that perhaps the greens aren’t overly challenging. Matt Fitzpatrick was the next winner in 2016 and while he is normally a decent putter he is another brilliant tee-to-green player. Jon Rahm continued this mould again last year as another world-class iron player who isn’t always assured with the flat stick.

The Earth Course is one of the longer on Tour measuring nearly 7700 yards. It’s a Greg Norman design so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by that as he was consistently one of the longest and straightest drivers on Tour before technology changed the landscape.

Eight of the last nine winners had already won that season heading in but with only the top 60 players qualifying that perhaps shouldn’t be a big surprise.

Two of the last seven winners were doing the Dubai double having won the Desert Classic earlier in the year.

Rory McIlroy heads the market here at what would have been an unthinkable price (9/1) two years ago. That is gathering quite a bit of interest and there is no question it looks appealing on first look. However I can’t quite get his recent performances on suitable courses out of my mind. Yes he loves it here but he doesn’t appeal to me as a single bet. Those wishing to cover him could do worse than fire him in to some accumulators as the golfing world reaches silly season with multiple events.

A case could be made for the other 5 market principals but Rahm has only been seen once since an average Ryder Cup and he could only finish 22nd in the HSBC. Garcia is in brilliant form but at 10/1 I’d want to know that he wasn’t dwelling on last week’s loss. Fleetwood will probably play well but he just doesn’t win enough to side with at 11/1 at a course where he has never bettered 9th in 5 attempts. This all takes me down the market a little and to one of the most in form players in the European game.

Hao Tong Li will probably be quite popular this week despite not being the greatest of prices. Such is his level of current form and talent it would be no surprise to see him win a title this big. He has been knocking on the door heavily over the last month (5-2-11-9-5) and he has already shown his fondness of playing in Dubai when beating McIlroy head to head to win the Dubai Desert Classic. His event form is improving having finished 30th on his debut and then 13th last year. The Earth course should suit him perfectly with a bit of room off the tee for the sometimes erratic but powerful driver. His iron play has been excellent recently and that is usually what separates the field here. Li is so good that when he is putting well he should contend every week at this level and that explains the short odds as the bookmakers know what he is all about. His touch on and around the greens has been superb lately as he has been seen holing out lots of chips in recent weeks. On his last two starts he has ranked 2nd in the all-round ranking confirming just how well every part of his game is operating. With question marks about several around him in the market I see no reason why he can’t lift this title to cap off a career year for one of the most promising youngsters in the game.

Henrik Stenson hasn’t been seen since the Ryder Cup so there are both health and rust issues regarding his game. But they are more than factored into his price and to be frank that’s what has drawn me to the Swede this week. The fact that we can back him here at 25/1 is too good an opportunity to pass up for me. It’s not like he has played poorly this year either he has just suffered heavily from his elbow injury. He still ranked 1st on the PGA Tour in GIR, 4th in strokes gained: approaches and 8th in strokes gained: tee to green so his tee-to-green game has been as superb as ever when he has played. He laughed off those injury concerns at the Ryder Cup winning all 3 of his matches and he has had minor surgery since then which will hopefully have sorted the problem out. Lack of competitive golf is certainly a worry especially as he has to find his swing again after the surgery but this is one of his favourite courses and he will surely have been preparing to give it his best shot this week. I’d be annoyed at myself to miss out at this price so I must have a small bet on him.

Dean Burmester looks over priced in all the markets here this week given his course and current form. He was 11th last week where his whole game was in great shape bar his normally reliable putter. The powerful South African came 4th here last year on his debut and while I’d be surprised to see him come out on top this week I think he has a good chance of landing some place bets so I’ll play him in both the top 10 and top 20 markets.

Elsewhere I’ll be playing some fun small stakes accumulators across the 5 big events this week. The Dunlop Phoenix will surely be a shoot-out between Koepka and Matsuyama while Matt Kuchar looks the man to beat in the Australian Open. He said himself how well he was swinging it during last week’s win and there are few players in the world more suited to the hard and fast sandbelt courses in Australia. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t contend despite the jet-lag and emotions from last week.


Summary of Bets

RSM Classic

Jim Furyk – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Roberto Castro – 0.75pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair Sportsbook)

Chesson Hadley – 1pt ew @ 35/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair Sportsbook)
DP World Championship

Hao Tong Li – 2pts ew @ 20/1 (1/5 odds 5 places Betfair Sportsbook)

Henrik Stenson – 1pt ew @ 25/1 (1/4 odds 5 places)

Dean Burmester – 1pt Top 10 @ 9/1 and 1.5pts Top 20 @ 7/2

Weekly points advised = 14pts

2018 pts advised = 475.50pts

@theGreek82

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Alfred Dunhill Championship – Betting Preview

Last week was a losing week but it could have been better as both Garcia and Hatton actually played very well. Garcia scored 3 out of 4 points but that was only good enough for a share of 3rd and 2pts of returns thanks to “Moliwood’s” exploits. Hatton and Casey played their 35 holes of 4balls in -17 but that was only good enough for 1pt before he ran into an angry Patrick Reed in the singles. The requestabet gave us a run until Sunday but Hatton and Rose both losing scuppered it at the death.

The Ryder Cup was as brilliant as usual and I’m a big fan of Le Golf National as a course and venue with its natural amphitheatres framing so many holes. But I must admit that I felt a little cheated with the lack of drama over the weekend. I’m sure I’m in the minority and it’s maybe just a case of comparing it to Medinah, which is unfair, but there just wasn’t a lot of tension. That was maybe compounded by the fact LGN isn’t really a course that you can chase on so we saw very few matches turned around across the 3 days. There was an inevitability about every match when someone got 2 or 3 up and that isn’t normally the case at the Ryder Cup. All that combined with the US team’s post event meltdown in the press makes me look forward to Whistling Straits even more in 2020 and that course could be truly spectacular as it suits both bombers yet has enough nuances that you have to think about what you’re doing at the same time. We’re getting ahead of ourselves though and it’s back to the regular Tours again this week as the 2019 PGA Tour season gets underway and the 2018 European Tour season picks up pace with a big purse in Scotland. I’ve not had a chance to write-up a proper preview for the Safeway Open but have included the one bet that I’ve had.

2018 pts advised =453

2018 pts returned = 415.18

ROI = – 8.4%


Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

The returning Ryder Cup players will lead the narrative this week as they make the short journey over from Paris. Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Tony Fina head the market but with just 3 days to recover they all look vulnerable in the East Coast of Scotland. Koepka has the horrible spectator incident looming over him as well as the reported DJ fall-out and he will surely struggle to focus on the week’s golf. Fleetwood will do well to compose himself after the biggest weekend of his life while Hatton’s brain will surely be frazzled by Thursday as he arrives chasing a hat-trick of Dunhill titles. With his comfort levels in the format and his suitability to links courses he is undoubtedly the man to beat here but at 14/1 you would want everything to be in his favour and instead I’m looking further down the market. Finau has shown his links pedigree on both Open starts to date but without a win since 2016 he isn’t someone who finds it easy to get over the line. He too can be left out at the odds even if he does look nailed on to enjoy the test.

A test which really isn’t for everyone given the pro-am format and the slow, easy conditions that are in play which allow the celebrities and money men to enjoy their week of links golf. With the spot in the calendar being in October in Scotland we don’t see any of the hard and fast conditions that are prevalent at The Open. The pro-am nature means that 3 different links courses are in rotation and they play one round at each before a 3rd round cut and a final round at St. Andrews. The greens and fairways will be soft so trouble is even harder to find than usual at St Andrews and Kingsbarns with minimal run-out off the tee. Carnoustie is usually a little more difficult but even still it will need the wind to properly blow to prevent rounds in the 60s being the norm. It should be noted that there is a decent breeze forecast for most of the week though with gusts in the 30s on Thursday. The flags are very favourable too so with all that combined you can see why the winning score is usually in the 20s under par. St Andrews and Kingsbarns both have wide open fairways and plenty of drivable par 4s so power is very much a weapon this week. Ultimately though, it is all about making birdies however you can so aggressive iron play and a hot putter will be the order of the week in Fife and Angus. Proven ability in the wind and scrambling will also be of the utmost importance with the wind causing plenty of greens to be missed.

20171005_144657

Paul Dunne pitching over the valley of sin on 18 at St. Andrews in 2017

I’ve gone with a couple of my favourites again this week as I’m adamant I don’t want to miss out on their win and they should both relish the challenge. Given the record of home players however I’ve also added an Englishman.

I backed Ryan Fox here last year and followed him through a few holes at St. Andrews. He looked relaxed and his approaches off the links turf were effortless. He drove pin high on the 18th and pitched it up close for a birdie an opening 68. I was pleased with his effort and expected him to push on. That didn’t happen as he struggled at Carnoustie and then shot what must have been nearly the worst round of the week at straight-forward Kingsbarns (75) to miss the cut. I’m going to give him a pass though as I don’t see Kingsbarns as anything but a perfect course for Fox. He has shown us his links pedigree the last two summers with top 10s at Gullane, Ballyliffin, Port Stewart and Dundonald Links. Dundonald in particular suggests his suitability to Kingsbarns as they are both Kyle Phillips designs and have some of the widest fairways you will see. St Andrews also sets up well for Fox’s power game and with the slower conditions he should be able to over power both the Old Course and Kingsbarns. He played four rounds at Carnoustie this summer and settled into it nicely shooting 74-71-71-70. While fairway conditions were very different that experience can only help for his second shot at the Dunhill. The forecast wind will be no problem for the New Zealander as he was brought up in such conditions and has shown his ball-striking capabilities. Indeed he actually sits 6th in strokes gained: tee to green this season with the only men above him being McIlroy, Molinari, Fleetwood, Rahm and Westwood. The slower greens should help someone who isn’t always the best of putters. He is an excellent scrambler though and the softer greens mean he can be aggressive with his chipping and hopefully leave himself more 4ft par saves than the 8ft that we have seen him with on summer links.

He is a massive 70/1 this week and for someone who keeps the company he does tee-to-green I think he has to be backed again. I expect him to win sooner or later and there is a good chance that when he does it will be on a links course.

My other regular pick this year has been Erik Van Rooyen and he has again slipped to a backable price as the bookies seem to have forgotten the links pedigree he showed in the summer. EVR finished 4th at Ballyliffin in July before a 64 around Gullane couldn’t quite help him make the -4 cut. He then contended for 3 rounds in his debut major at Carnoustie the following week. He is another excellent ball-striker who often appears to control his golf ball as well as anyone on the European Tour and he has shown that his swing stands up in the wind. EVR was brought up in Cape Town where the bulk of his formative golf will have been played in blustery conditions. Van Rooyen often lets himself down with the putter from inside 10ft but the slower greens that we see in the Dunhill should help him massively in that respect. He is a decent lag-putter and his scrambling has improved a lot as the year has gone on. It is hard to believe that this is his rookie season and I’m sure he will be looking to finish it strongly and consolidate his position inside the top 60. He is 34th at the moment and I honestly feel once he does get his win we won’t see prices like 60/1 around even in rather strong fields like this.

Ross Fisher has finished runner-up to Tyrrell Hatton the last two years in relatively benign conditions by Scotland’s standards. But Fisher has always been a great wind player so with the life-changing week Hatton has had I simply have to back Fisher here at 45/1 incase he is too good for the rest of the field again. He hasn’t been in great form but that was also the case last year. I followed him for the bulk of his round as he was paired with my man George Coetzee. Fisher was very poor and could only shoot a 71 but this was largely down to some terrible lag putting. He returned to St Andrews on Sunday and knowing the pace of the greens he went on to shoot a course record 61. Fisher loves this set-up where the slower greens allow him to contend as he can come unstuck on the slick summer surfaces at The Open. His ability in the wind could help him pull away from the pack even more this year and he has to be backed at a similar price to last year.

Marcus Kinhult hasn’t done much yet on a British links course on the European Tour but his best 3 finishes in his rookie year tell me that it is just a matter of time. He was 3rd at the Qatar Masters, 5th at Le Golf National and 4th last time out at the Portugal Masters. All 3 events have long been a good indicator of links form in particular Qatar and Portugal where there are a host of winners who have doubled up in Scotland. Both courses have plenty room off the tee and are exposed so that suggests Kinhult is a decent wind player. Hailing from Sweden that makes a lot of sense and he does have a little form in Scotland where he finished 5th on the Challenge Tour at the exposed inland links at Aviemore.

Arriving off the back of his 4th place finish in Portugal he will be relishing the chance to play again in conditions that should suit. A nice each way price at 100/1 with Betfair’s 7 places.


Safeway Open

I’ve not had a chance to look at this in any great detail but given that it is usually a tee to green test here I thought Kevin Streelman stood out at 80/1. Last year Brendan Steele ranked 64th out of 75 on the greens but he was practically faultless tee-to-green. Streelman ranked 23rd in strokes gained: tee to green last year on Tour with only Cantlay, Moore and List ahead of him in this field and they are all considerably shorter in price. Twelve of those 22 men won on Tour last year and the other 10 are mainly major winners. If he continues with that level of long game he will surely win again soon and this low quality field could be a great chance to kick off his season. He was 13th here last year putting modestly and with a bit of an improvement on the greens he can surely contend.


Summary of bets

Alfred Dunhill

Ryan Fox – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Erik Van Rooyen – 1pt ew 60/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)

Ross Fisher – 0.75pt ew @ 50/1

Marcus Kinhult – 0.75pt @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Safeway Open

Kevin Streelman – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

 

Weekly points advised = 8.5pts

 

@theGreek82

Ryder Cup Preview

Brooks Koepka started his first round well before having an absolute shocker from then on. I’m not sure what was up with him but the price was still wrong for me. His form looks a little worrying for the US team though as he was spraying it everywhere and he won’t get away with that at Le Golf National this week. Schauffele played well but came up 1 shot shy of the places.

In Europe all 4 picks took it in turn to get into contention on different days but all 4 also managed to finish at least one round with a double bogey. It was particularly annoying as they showed their suitability to the course the rest of the time but perhaps just got too greedy and aggressive at the wrong time.

On to Ryder Cup week though which isn’t always a fantastic betting event but you can normally find some fun bets to help add to the excitement of the best sporting event on the planet. Not a week for getting heavily involved stake wise.

2018 pts advised = 441

2018 pts returned = 413.18

ROI = – 6.3%


Ryder Cup

It’s always tricky to find an exciting or different betting angle for a Ryder Cup as there are only so many bets that can be had and lots of them are so obvious that nobody needs them pointed out! For starters Patrick Reed has played 2 Ryder Cups and he has top scored for the US team (3.5pts) on both occasions while coming 2nd in the overall points scoring. Ian Poulter has played 5 Ryder Cups and finished 1st (or 1st equal) in both the Europe and Overall markets on 3 of those. That’s quite a remarkable return even for a player who everyone knows to be a proper Ryder Cup legend. If we look at both their Ryder Cup win records then Poulter is 72.22% whereas Reed is on an even better mark of 77.78%. If we compare these with figures for other experienced Ryder Cuppers we can see how much they stand out. Excluding Koepka who has just played 1 event, the 13 players to have played in 2 or more events all post records between 16% and 63%. Even legends of the game like Woods (43.94%), Mickelson (47.78%) and McIlroy (57.89%) all teeter either side of the 50% mark. This can be taken lots of ways but to me it tells us what fine margins are involved in so many matches in this format and over time they can turn out to basically be a toss of a coin. But to put up numbers like Reed and Poulter it takes something a bit special and they are clearly at their best when lining up in this format. There is just something in their mentality that gives them that little bit extra when playing in match play. So despite Reed’s loss of form and Poulter’s advancing years we can still expect them to have good weeks, the only downside to perhaps betting on them is that they might not play enough matches. US have such an embarrassment of riches that should Reed not play well on Friday he might find himself only playing 3 matches whereas Poulter at 42 yrs old is unlikely to play more than 3 and certainly not 5. This means backing them in either the team market or overall market puts us potentially on the back foot from the word go.

Normally it would make sense to try to decide which players you think might feature in all 5 games. Looking back at the last 8 events, the top European points scorer has played 5 matches on 6 occasions with the other 2 having played 4 matches (one of those years was Celtic Manor where 4 was the maximum due to weather). The US top scorer has played in 5 matches on 4 occasions with the other 4 having played in just 4. Together that gives us 10/16 having played 5 matches but this improves to 12/16 having played the maximum number when we factor in Celtic Manor.

The top overall points scorer market is interesting as it has gone to a European in 7 of the last 8 events while the other one was a tie. You could look at that one of two ways; assume a US player is due the win or decide to stick with what looks to be a fairly solid trend.

With the overall quality improving almost every year and the 2018 event looking like the strongest ever on paper, it doesn’t look as necessary this year for the captains to have to play any of the big guns in 5 matches. However that is offset somewhat by the number of rookies playing; 5 in Team Europe and 3 in Team US. The picture is no less muddy!

This is basically all just a long-winded way of me saying that we want to be picking proven match play exponents who are highly likely to play a minimum of 4 matches. Again, this is quite obvious so a lot of the process in finding who that might be depends on who we think the captains will play together and who is suited to the fiddly Le Golf National course.

With Reed and Poulter looking up against it I’ve tried to think of a player who most fits their sort of determined mentality, has a good all-round game and can produce clutch short game magic when required. Tyrrell Hatton has a match play record of 71% and while all the team matches have been in low-grade events he has played in 2 WGC Match Play events and boasts a 57% record there. Thomas Pieters landed the spoils as a rookie at Hazeltine with 4 points from 5 and while Hatton isn’t as visually impressive as the Belgian you would be hard pushed to suggest he wasn’t as good a player. Hatton is a brutally good putter and if he can find the pace of the slower greens on Friday he might just hit the ground running like Reed did at Gleneagles on his debut. He has won the Alfred Dunhill Links the last two years and they always feature softer, slower links greens in October so despite him preferring slick, perfect greens I expect him to handle these without much fuss.

With him being a rookie there is a strong chance he will only play 3 or 4 matches but you would have said the same about Pieters until he forged his partnership with McIlroy. It looks like Hatton will probably be paired with Poulter and they could be a formidable pairing, thriving off each other’s energy. The other possibility for me is Tommy Fleetwood but it would be quite bold to stick 2 rookies together. Either way I think he looks over priced in both the Top European and Overall markets so I’m going to have a small interest on both. This could all come crumbling down early on Friday if he misses the morning session but I think his odds more than reflect that so I’m happy to take a chance that he is given enough matches to allow the bets to at least have a run.

While Sergio Garcia is undoubtedly a huge presence in the team off the course there is no way he was picked just for that. Garcia is a foursomes dream and especially on a course like Le Golf National where the fairway has to be found. Garcia shot the lowest round since 2010 there when he fired a Saturday 64 just 3 months ago. Garcia has a 70% foursomes record and his 61% in the fourballs isn’t too shabby either. With 5 rookies on the team I wouldn’t be surprised to see Garcia given the chance to play his way into the event on Friday morning in the first session. He will be a perfect partner for any rookie and boasts 3 1/2 points from 5 in RC team matches when playing with a rookie. If we are going on the practice groups then he may well play with Alex Noren and that could be a dream combo around LGN with Noren a former winner and his often deadly putting would compliment Garcia’s long game assurance. Of course he might play terribly on Friday and sit out Saturday completely but you can often throw the form book out the window at the Ryder Cup especially where a relentless ball striker like Garcia is concerned and I think he is a little over priced in the Top European market at 12/1.

I’m keen for a top US play but I’m struggling with anything beyond the obvious and there doesn’t appear to be any clear value to me. Rickie Fowler might just be about the best bet though when we consider all the factors. He keeps the ball in play more than many of his team mates and he has multiple pairing options given his popularity and all-round game. He played well enough at the Tour Championship and I think he will be looking to sign off a disappointing season in style. Fowler doesn’t have the best of records to date in the Ryder Cup (40.9%) but I think that could change this week. He should play 4 of the matches and that gives him a decent chance should he get off to a good start on Friday.

Looking at the Ryder Cup Outright market itself it’s not a market that I would want to get terribly involved in as you are working with very short prices on something that is almost a coin flip. That would definitely have me leaning to Europe at 2.38 on Betfair and I may yet get involved if they go north towards 2.50 but it’s not something to be particularly confident about. I think the course suitability for Europe negates the stronger US team and I’m expecting a very tight event again. While Europe have won 10 of the matches to US’ 8 matches (with 1 tie) they are usually tight affairs. In 10 of the 19 matches neither team has scored more than 15 points and if we total up the points since it became Europe v USA then the competitive nature of the event is only highlighted further as Europe lead by just 269 to 263. I’m definitely getting the draw onside and if last week had been a bit more succesful I’d maybe have had 3 or 4 attempts at the score but I don’t really want to be backing against Europe so I’ll take the 14.5-13.5 score line in Europe’s favour too. I’ll be backing both these on the exchange hoping that a tight affair allows some trading out options.

I’ll finish with a fun requestabet that looks like it could have some legs. Skybet priced the following up at 13/2 for me and there’s a lot to like about that price.

Europe +2.5, Hatton Over 1.5pts, Watson Under 1.5pts, Rose Over 2.5pts.

Europe will just need 13 pts for the handicap part to land while we have covered Hatton already. Everything about the combination Le Golf National and Bubba Watson looks uncomfortable and that was the case when he played there some 5 years ago as he missed the cut in angry fashion. With him arriving in poor form I’d expect him to play no more than 3 matches and with a miserable Ryder Cup singles record of 0 wins from 3 he will up against it to get more than 1 point. Conversely Rose arrives as the hottest player in world golf and will surely play 5 matches. Throw in his 63% RC record and he looks likely to pick up at least 3 points which he has done on 3 of his 4 Ryder Cup appearances to date.

There is definitely a case to be made for betting the top player markets win only to avoid having two bets go wrong on day one.  That is how I’ve done it in the past but this year I’ve swayed on the side of each way given they are all bigger than 10/1.


Summary of bets

Tyrrell Hatton – Top European – 1.25pt ew @ 28/1 (1/4 odds 3 places Skybet)

Tyrrell Hatton – Top Overall – 0.75pt ew @ 50/1 (1/4 odds 4 places)

Sergio Garcia – Top European – 1pt ew @ 12/1 (1/4 odds 3 places)

Rickie Fowler – Top US – 1.25pt ew @ 11/1 (1/4 odds 3 places)

Europe 14-14 US – 1pt @ 13.0 (Betfair Exchange)

Europe 14.5-13.5 – 1pt @ 12.5 (Betfair Exchange)

Above Requestabet – 1.5pt @ 13/2

 

Weekly points advised = 12pts

 

@theGreek82

2018 Tour Championship and Portugal Masters – Betting Preview

I should be feeling refreshed after a week off the previews but I must admit I’m struggling to care too much about this week with the Ryder Cup looming and that might be the same for anyone finding themselves lagging behind off the pace at East lake this week. Despite my initial ambivalence though I’ve managed to get quite heavily involved!

Two weeks ago Nach Elvira grabbed us a place and that kept the blog creeping ever closer to being back in profit. One good week will turn it all around again…….

2018 pts advised = 424

2018 pts returned = 413.2

ROI = -2.55%


Tour Championship

I must admit despite my love of East Lake I really found it hard to get any excitement for this with Ryder Cup looming next week. To be honest I’m not sure why they have these back to back with the majority of players involved in both events. For some this will be a bit of a nuisance as those languishing down in 25th-30th can’t really have any significant impact on proceedings and would surely rather be in France preparing. For others towards the top of the Fed Ex rankings they will be dreaming of a $12m pay-day on Sunday but to be honest most of the guys wouldn’t even really notice it in their bank accounts. I’m struggling to find any sort of angle in from a motivational point of view and therefore this has all the makings of a damp squib of a tournament where the likes of Bryson, Rose and DJ could find themselves playing their own tournament over the weekend.

But we may as well look at the design as East Lake is a bit of a gem and one of designer Donald Ross’ finest efforts. It is a long and strategic par 70 with dog-legged fairways that wind their way through the trees and around the East Lake itself. The challenge is an all-round one as no aspect of the course is easy. The correct side of the fairways are required in order to again find the right area of the green and all this demands accuracy over power which is so often the case on Ross courses that stand the test of time better than most classical layouts. Rees Jones carried out a redesign in the late 90s to help bring it back to Ross’ original design while also allowing some future proofing. The result has been a course that has the held the Tour ending event ever since 2004 and it still presents a very fair challenge.

Greens in regulation is usually the name of the game at East Lake but as important is leaving the ball below the hole. Most of Ross’ courses have greens that slope back to front meaning that long is no use and distance control is paramount to ensure that you don’t short side yourself. Ball-strikers come to the fore which we can see not only from East Lake leaderboards but at most Donald Ross designs in general. The only other regular stop of his on the PGA Tour is Sedgefield and the form stacks up between the two, even more so now that they both have bermuda greens. Indeed the last two Wyndham winners have both won at East Lake. Other courses used recently include last week’s Aronimink GC, 2014 US Open venue Pinehurst No. 2 and 2013 US PGA host Oak Hill. Before Schauffele last year, the previous 8 Tour Championship winners were all inside the top 35 at Pinehurst while 4 of the top 10 at Oak Hill are now East Lake winners. As Justin Rose proved when he nearly doubled up at Aronimink, Donald Ross form nearly always repeats itself. Indeed that leaderboard wouldn’t be the worst starting place for research ahead of this week where 4 of the top 8 have won here before.

Brooks Koepka certainly has a point when he suggests he doesn’t get the credit he deserves and that looks to stand true with the bookmakers this week if nobody else. Koepka is 5th in the betting this week at 14/1 and behind Rose, McIlroy, DJ and JT. In the last two seasons those 4 men have 1 major between them while Brooks has 3. “But Koepka isn’t suited to East Lake!” I hear you shout. Well I’d maybe tend to agree with that but for someone who didn’t like it last year he did rather well by finishing 6th. The only one of those ahead of him here in the betting was JT who finished 2nd to lift the Fed Ex Cup. “But he’s in poor form!” Not really. Koepka signed off his first look at Aronimink with 65-66 over the weekend which followed a 12th and an 8th in the first two play-off events. Of course his previous event before the play-offs was the small matter of his US PGA win. On the season he ranks 10th in bogey avoidance which is always key here and he is 12th in strokes gained: tee to green.

Yet again Koepka is being massively under estimated and 14/1 looks a fantastic price. Koepka has stated himself that he often struggles to focus on some of the regular events, instead needing the intensity of a major to bring about the required concentration. I’d wager that lifting the Tour Championship, Fed Ex Cup and Player of the Year all in one swoop will have Koepka massively focussed heading to Atlanta. To me that makes him possibly the most dangerous player in the field and he really should be a lot closer to Rose in the betting. With it being the final event of the 2018 season I’m keen to secure a profitable season so I’m going in heavy on Brooks to try to take advantage of the value.

Francesco Molinari looks worth a bet here as the course could almost be custom-built for the tee-to-green machine. Find the fairway, hit the green and two-putt for par will do no harm at East Lake especially as things firm up over the weekend. Molinari has held his Open winning form over and was 8th last time out at Aronimink. He will arrive for his Tour Championship debut oozing confidence and decent week with the putter should see him go well. For good measure he was 23rd at Pinehurst in 2014 and 33rd at Oak Hill where he ranked 1st in GIR and 2nd in fairways hit!

Despite nobody having won the Tour Championship twice in a row and only Phil having even won twice at East Lake, I think Xander Schauffele looks to be a nice enough price to do just that. He arrives off the back of a 3rd place finish at Aronimink where he ranked 3rd in the all-round ranking. When all parts of his game are working he usually goes close and in theory winning here on his debut should be a lot harder than winning again this time. His best results this season have again been at difficult championship layouts with a runner-up finish at the Players being followed by another 2nd at Carnoustie. He seems to enjoy a tee to green test and I don’t imagine last year’s performance was a fluke.


Portugal Masters

The Portugal Masters heads to Vilamoura and the Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course for the 12th time, which gives us a very nice bank of form to look at. The course is a wide open, exposed par 71 where its relative lack of length and minimal rough allow low scoring and very straight forward conditions. Everyone in the field will find themselves hitting in excess of 65% of these huge greens and more often than not that results in a bit of a putting competition. The bombers have the advantage that they can let rip and not be penalised but they will also be able to be more aggressive with their approaches and find the right area of the greens.

Last year’s winner certainly isn’t what you would call a good putter but Bjerregaard gave himself so many looks with his brilliant approaches that he found the pace early on and went on to rank 1st in the greens. He was chased home by Marc Warren who hit 82% of his greens despite ranking 3rd last in fairways hit from those that made the cut. In 2016 Harrington was similarly wayward with both his driving and approaches yet his short game display rolled back the years as he averaged just 25 putts per round. The 2015 winner Andy Sullivan did most things well but perhaps most striking was the fact that he got up and down for par on all 13 occasions where he missed a green.

This helps confirm what we know about the Dom Pedro course and it is the sort of skill set required at similar events like the Qatar Masters and the Alfred Dunhill Links. There are many repeat offenders on those leaderboards and they are worth a look at to potentially help with angles in this week.

With just 4 regular season events left many of the players will find themselves looking at the Race To Dubai rankings to see what is required of them. This will differ greatly across the field as some simply look to secure their 2019 card while others aim to break into or consolidate their position in the top 60. Then of course we have the top tier of players who will be looking to take advantage of 10 of the 12 Ryder Cup players being absent as they jostle for position at the top of the rankings. The whole narrative begins to make for an interesting event, even if eyes are already being drawn to France and Le Golf National. This motivation angle has helped me find some attractive looking bets as those trading under 20/1 all look short enough to me. With as many as 8 places being paid this week I think there is definitely some each way value to be had.

There is simply no way for me to avoid backing my main man George Coetzee here at 50/1. Putting an indifferent summer aside it looks a massive price when we consider he was 7th here last year. Last week in Holland Coetzee was back to letting rip off the tee as he ranked 1st in driving distance. This is an aspect of his game that has been up and down as he has tried to find a balance between accuracy and distance off the tee. That won’t matter too much in Vilamoura as you can pretty much hit it sideways off the tee and still have a chance of finding the green. Coetzee will then be aggressive enough with his short irons to go flag-hunting and very few in the field putt better on these grainy types of greens. Coetzee is currently outside the top 60 on the Race To Dubai so he knows he has to finish the season strongly. Despite that position of 66th though he still ranks 9th in putts per round and 42nd in scrambling. If he has a decent week with the approach play I’d expect another contending performance on a course where his results read 7-31-21-6-3.

ryan_fox_photo_getty_images_577c1be068

My next bet is another repeat offender and one that I definitely want to be onboard for when he gets his first win. For Ryan Fox it is very much a matter of time and he fits a similar profile to last year’s winner Lucas Bjerregaard. Both had been posting plenty of top 10s and contending in very strong European Tour fields throughout the year. Fox was extremely unlucky not to win in Ireland when Knox scuppered him with consecutive 40ft putts on the 18th hole. The wider links fairways allowed Fox to let rip and he ranked 3rd in GIR for the week. Indeed Fox ranks 20th for the season in GIR and despite his missed cut here last year he should really be perfectly suited to the exposed course. I’m in danger of backing him at restrictive prices but I have to give him another go on a layout like this. Fox ranks 11th on the Race To Dubai rankings and the only man above him in this field is favourite Olesen. That suggests maybe 33/1 isn’t too bad at all with 8 places as he looks to break into the top 10.

I couldn’t decide between Jordan Smith and Nino Bertasio for a 3rd pick so instead I’ve added them both. Smith showed a glimpse of his 2017 form again last week as he ranked 10th at the KLM Open. That was another trending performance as he had been 36th in Czech Republic before a 20th place finish in Denmark. Smith ranked 1st in the all-round ranking last week and while this is his debut at the course he has a 6th at the Qatar Masters where form always ties in nicely with the Vilamoura course. He looks a very solid each way prospect at 50/1.

Bertasio was 12th here last year and that makes sense as you would expect him to enjoy the extra space off the tee. He was tipped to go well last week in KLM but he didn’t hit enough fairways or greens. Both of those will be considerably easier to hit this week with wide open fairways and big undulating greens. Bertasio is a deadly putter who will thrive on the well maintained grainy surfaces and enjoy the difficult lag-putting from distance. As ever he is in a lofty position in most of the short stick stats; 15th in putts per round, 12th in one putts and 29th in strokes gained: putting. He will be confident of improving on last year’s result and is worth a small each way play at 80/1.


Summary of Bets

Tour Championship

Brooks Koepka – 3pts ew @ 14/1 (1/5 odds 5 places general)

Francesco Molinari – 1pt ew @ 25/1 (1/5 odds 5 places)

Xander Schauffele – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odd 5 places)

Portugal Masters

George Coetzee – 1.25pt ew @ 45/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Ryan Fox – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (Skybet)

Jordan Smith – 0.75 pt ew @ 45/1 (Skybet)

Nino Bertasio – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1 (Skybet)

 

Weekly points advised – 17pts

 

@theGreek82

2018 Omega European Masters and BMW Championship – Betting Preview

Erik Van Rooyen grabbed us a full place with a brilliant closing round of -7 but it could have been so much better. He failed to birdie both the par 5s on the back 9 as well as the driveable par 4 so while it was a great round it was a bit gutting that he missed out on the play-off by 1 shot. I was hoping there would be more returns on the PGA Tour with Fleetwood sitting 4th at the half way stage. But he played fairly poorly on Sunday and Monday to let us down again. I’m starting to think for all his talent that he might just be falling into the Rickie Fowler category of being regularly under priced due to his popularity.

This week on the PGA Tour we have the penultimate Play-Off event in Pennsylvania while the European Tour takes its traditional September visit to Switzerland.

2018 advised points = 412

2018 points returned = 404.5

ROI = -1.8%


European Masters

This week for some reason I thought there was a week’s break on the PGA Tour so I spent most of my time on the European Tour. But unfortunately I’ve not had time for much of a write up for either after noticing the BMW Championship was actually this week.

The Tour heads to Switzerland and the world-famous Crans resort where the pros enjoy one of the more relaxing stops on Tour. The course is a tree-lined fiddly one where keeping it in play off the tee is crucial to allow full visibility of the flags. From there it often resembles a wedge off as there are so many short holes. With fiddly greens though the aggressive flag-hunters will miss some of these and a look through the stats tells us that most winners here scramble brilliantly.

Erik Van Rooyen has to stay in the team after last week. He simply has to win sometime soon as the level of golf he is playing is quite brilliant for a rookie. On another tree-lined layout his accurate game will help him and from the limited action available last week his short game looked to be quite solid too. He ranked 26th in scrambling and 12th in putting which backs that up. Every year it’s all about hitting greens at Crans and Van Rooyen ranks 4th on the European Tour in GIR but that’s good enough for 1st in this field. If the short game improvement remains around the fiddly course then he surely contends yet again.

Ryan Fox is another player like EVR who has played some brilliant golf in 2018 and his win has to be on the horizon. He missed a few events over the last month that looked custom-built for him so he must have needed the rest for whatever reason. Crans doesn’t immediately stand out as a venue that will suit the bomber but you would have said the same about dual-runner up Scott Hend. The course is short enough that they can get the ball in play with an iron on the tighter holes and demolish some of the more forgiving ones. Fox’s short to mid irons have been very impressive this year and he ranks 14th in GIR and 5th in strokes gained: tee to green. He finished 9th here last year and is still improving. He should hopefully pepper these flags with his wedges so if he has a decent week with the putter then he could get that maiden win.

I was surprised to see Alexander Bjork leading the ET in strokes gained: approaches for the season and that pretty much made him an auto pick at 50/1. Everyone knows how brilliant a short game he has but his iron play isn’t always what it needs to be to contend. He is coming in off two missed cuts but they were at the US PGA and then the Nordea Masters in his homeland which brings about extra pressure. He has had a rest since and will be confident of improving on his debut finish of 16th last year. That was all about his putting though and with the approach play improvement we have seen this year then he might go even better.

Nacho Elvira is another who has been threatening to win but for a longer period than Van Rooyen or Fox. He came the closest yet at his home Open earlier this year when he led Jon Rahm briefly down the stretch. He finished 3rd and hasn’t really contended since but his results have been OK with just 2 missed cuts. He comes in off two consecutive top 25s and last week in Denmark he ranked 2nd for GIR. His course results are 59-MC-20 with the 20th coming last year when I backed him at a similar price. With his iron-play in great shape I think he should go well here again.


BMW Championship

I’m taking a break from backing the consistent, season long tee-to-green machines this week despite Matsuyama and Finau placing one week too late in Boston. This probably means Fleetwood or Cantlay will go on to win but they were nowhere near good enough last week so why should it be different on another classical ball-strikers course this week.

The course is Aronimink and its an out-and-out Donald Ross design. It hosted the AT&T National in 2010 and 2011 but hasn’t been seen since. It is a 7230 yard par 70 and on both those occasions it played tough enough for a regular PGA tour stop with Justin Rose winning in 2010 on -10 and Nick Watney reaching -13 a year later.

Nick Watney has only won 5 times on the PGA Tour with Justin Rose having won 9 times. But they still have 3 common courses on which they have won. As well as Aronimink they both won the WGC Cadillac at Doral and both won the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana. Cameron Smith won the new team event at the Zurich Classic last year for his first PGA Tour win and he looked back to his best when finishing 3rd last week. Watney and Rose both ranked 1st in the all-round ranking when they won at Aronimink and last week Smith was 3rd in the ARR. The list of winners at TPC Louisiana has more Donald Ross experts beyond just Rose and Watney and form at his courses always carries over. Despite not being a Ross design, the link looks solid and I think we can expect Smith to continue his fine play this week. We have seen plenty of younger, hungry players play well throughout the play-offs in recent years and Smith might be the man this year.

Pat Perez withdrew after 54 holes last week as his wife was due to give birth. He is now a proud father of a baby girl and he looks massively over priced with Paddy Power here if he does tee it up. That’s before we even consider the nappy factor! Perez has been playing steady enough since he contended at the Open in July, missing just the one cut when playing out of his comfort zone in Germany. Perez was runner-up at the Zurich with Jason Dufner this year and one of his wins came at the CIMB Classic where Watney has won and Overton (two 3rd places at Aronomink) has finished runner-up. If it plays too long then Perez may struggle but driving distance certainly wasn’t too crucial in 2011 with KJ Choi finishing 2nd so Perez should have enough short to mid irons to be able to compete. He at least has a good knowledge of the course as he made the cut in both 2010 and 2011.

Kevin Kisner has always struck me as someone who should thrive on Donald Ross courses and he did just that last year. He came 10th at Sedgefield before finishing 3rd at East Lake in the Tour Championship. Throw in a runner-up finish at TPC Louisiana and I think he looks massively over price here at 100/1. Kisner has had a couple of slower weeks possibly struggling with the pressure of trying to make the Ryder Cup team. There will still be a little bit of that but with 3 picks already announced he probably realises there are a few ahead of him in the pecking order. That will hopefully allow him to refocus and return to the form we saw in the summer where he came 2nd at the Open and 12th at the US PGA. That surely warrants him being a shorter price in just a 70 man field.

It’s a slightly different strategy this week with a few outsiders but we have seen plenty of unheralded players go well deep into the play-offs so a slight change might just pay dividends.


Summary of Bets

European Masters

Erik van Rooyen – 1.25pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Ryan Fox – 1.25pt ew @ 30/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Alexander Bjork – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Nacho Elvira – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

BMW Championship

Cameron Smith – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Pat Perez – 0.5pt ew @ 300/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Paddy Power)

Kevin Kisner – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

 

Weekly pts = 12pts

 

@theGreek82

Dell Technologies Championship and Made in Denmark – Betting Preview

Another disappointing week as Herbert did nothing in Czech Republic at a course that really should have suited his game perfectly. Over on the PGA Tour it was close but no cigar with 3 of the picks finishing inside the top 20 without managing to ever really make a run at the places. Luke List started the final round inside the top 30 but had a shocker to ruin the last chance of any returns. Both Tours have hit quite a difficult period and therefore I’m not planning on getting hugely involved this week, especially as the profits are now wiped out. In order to get back into profit for the year I’m going to have to be a little more selective and perhaps think about tweaking the strategy somewhat.

2018 pts advised = 400pts

2018 pts returned = 391.05

ROI = -2.2%


Dell Technologies Championship

No time for too much of a write-up for TPC Boston this week but I’ve found a few bets. Every year the course plays like a very scoreable championship course. It rewards mid to long irons and that is shown by the quality of players who have won here. Thomas, McIlroy (x2), Fowler and Stenson are among the recent winners. The score has been in the region of -20 but that is only usually out there for the most in form long games. While the winners don’t all stand out as great putters they all putted well during their win. This tells me that the 12.5 ft stimp, bentgrass greens suit most of the field and are rather straight-forward.

With plenty of trees around the correct placement in the fairway can be important and that often leaves lengthy approach shots. I’ve focussed on approach play between 175-225 yards as that is usually key to scoring in Boston. I’ve also given the all-round ranking a lot of consideration as these are the ARR figures for the season of their win for the last 9 champions here; 5-1-8-27-5-2-1-6-6.

Jon Rahm placed 2 starts ago at the US PGA and I think he can go even better here. It feels like following Rahm on courses like this will pay dividends just as long as he remains calm early on. Rahm ranks 1st for scoring relative to par for approaches over 200 yards and that will serve him well on the Par 5s here which are always crucial to scoring here. While Rahm’s first win was on poa annua greens and his 2nd on bermuda, he has shown a liking for bentgrass as he ranked 5th on the greens at Augusta this year. I’m forgiving him last week’s missed cut and with a better start this week I think he can go well here at a course that will reward his excellent long iron game. Rahm this season has largely either contended or missed the cut so any bet on the Spaniard comes with that risk. However that is factored into his price and with 4 top 5s in his last 8 events he looks a great each way bet again at 25/1.

Patrick Cantlay has also played very well in recent weeks and TPC Boston couldn’t come at a better time for this brilliant ball-striker who was 3rd in the all-round last week. Cantlay ranks 8th in scoring RTP for approaches over 200 yards. The fact he ranked 18th for putting last week is very interesting as that is often his achilles heel. If he keeps that going this week then this long game test looks an ideal place top get his 2nd win. He also ranks 7th on the season in the all-round ranking so he passes that trend nicely too. Cantlay is having his 2nd look at the course having finished 13th last year where he ranked 5th for GIR. His price has come in a little but I like his chances here even if it’s hard to argue there is any value left in the 30/1.

Tommy Fleetwood ranks 2nd in the all-round ranking and that should mean he can go well on his first look at TPC Boston. It is surely only a matter of time before he bags his first PGA Tour win and he would have probably placed last week if it weren’t for an uncharacteristically poor 3rd round. Fleetwood’s long and straight driving will leave him in the ideal spots to reach these greens and he ranks 3rd in the crucial scoring RTP for approaches over 200 yards. With the Ryder Cup looming I don’t expect Fleetwood to be feeling that much pressure here and maybe he can freewheel a little with his Fed Ex Cup expectations lower than that of his American peers. That could be the small difference that helps get him over the line.

Chris Kirk is having a decent enough season and looks over priced as a 200/1 rag here. Kirk won here in 2014 when he was 27th in the all round ranking for the season. This year he is in a similar position at 32nd and I think he warrants a small bet despite his game not quite firing on all cylinders. He hasn’t missed a cut in 10 events so a return to the scene of his biggest win might just get him up the leaderboard again.


Made in Denmark

The Made In Denmark moves courses this year having made its home at Himmerland Golf Course. The new venue is Silkebork Ry Golfklub the home golf course of Thomas Bjorn. The course is quite short at under 7000 yards and it is a tree-lined one again in the mould of Wentworth, Woburn, Crans etc.

With there being a lot of guesswork I’m going to plump for another 1st time winner as my main bet here. The last 4 European Tour winners were getting their maiden win and across the 29 regular ET events this year, 11 of those were won by first-timers. There was a similar theme last year with the 8 ET events following on from the US PGA throwing up 6 first time winners. With the Ryder Cup looming heavily that may be different this week as the market principals are fighting to show Bjorn what they can do. But with that comes extra pressure and Olesen and Pieters have both let down favourite backers on courses that suit in recent weeks.

Erik Van Rooyen will have none of that pressure and he will be arriving rather fresh having only played once since his excellent major debut at Carnoustie. That was a missed cut but if we forgive that for a little rustiness then he was very much trending towards a win through the rest of the year. On a course that should reward tee to green accuracy this set-up should suit Van Rooyen perfectly. He was 20th this year on his Wentworth debut and 7th at the Trophee Hassan around another tree-lined track. At 50/1 there might even be a shade of value there too.

I’m going to supplement the main bet with a small play on an outsider. David Drysdale looks very over priced on a short course like this. The veteran Scot can usually only really contend on shorter courses and the price seems to be a little bit of an over reaction to 2 MCs at courses where bombers had a huge advantage. Prior to that he contended in Germany while he has the made the weekend on all 4 editions of this event. No reason he shouldn’t play well again at a massive 200/1.


Summary of bets

Dell Technologies

Jon Rahm – 1.5pt ew @ 25/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Tommy Fleetwood – 1.25pt ew @ 35/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Patrick Cantlay – 1.25pt ew @ 30/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Chris Kirk – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred)

Made In Denmark

Erik Van Rooyen – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

David Drysdale – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

 

Weekly pts advised = 12pts

@theGreek82

The Northern Trust and Czech Masters – Betting Preview

More annoying than Marc Warren’s round on Sunday or Rafa Cabrera-Bello coming up a little short were my two short lists for both events last week. Paul Waring was one of the first on my list for his solid record around Gleneagles while Brian Gay and David Hearn were both on my Wyndham list for their proximity figures. It’s most frustrating to have found the players and then stupidly ignored my own process but I felt I was already on enough outsiders with Kodaira as my main bet. He was shocking and it was very strange to see a player who made cuts at Carnoustie and Bellerive struggle to make pars on one of the most straight-forward courses they will play all year.

Missing out on Waring is tough to take given he was literally the last man off the list and he would have given the figures a timely boost as I dip ever closer to negative ROI. But it shows I’m at least doing something right and perhaps just need to continue trusting the gut even if that ended badly with Kodaira this week. It’s important to remember that we can’t judge value with any degree of hindsight though and the price was still the best piece of value I’ve seen this year. Of course value is highly subjective but the 38th ranked player in the world just shouldn’t have been 200/1 in that field. Nevermind, on to this week.

2018 pts advised = 386pts

2018 pts returned = 391.05pts

ROI= 1.3%


Northern Trust

The Barclays is no more and after a name change the first play-off event now arrives packaged as The Northern Trust. As is now customary the venue has changed again and we are back to Ridgewood Country Club (7319y Par 71) in New Jersey. It hosted this event previously in 2008, 2010 and 2014 so there is a little course form to look at but with varying weather conditions and ongoing renovations they have played quite differently over the years. The course was designed by the legendary A.W. Tillinghast who was responsible for some of the most esteemed classical courses in the greater New York area and perhaps even the U.S. He designed Winged Foot, Baltusrol and Bethpage Black which have all hosted multiple majors over the years. The course has been reworked by Gill Hanse several times since 1995 as he sought to restore it back to Tillinghast’s original vision. He has widened the fairways, made the greens bigger, renovated the bunkering, removed some trees and since 2014 he has removed the semi-rough meaning that finding the fairways could be crucial this week. Anyone looking for Gill Hanse clues can look at the Olympic Golf leaderboard from Rio or the Scottish Open results at Castle Stuart as they are perhaps his two most famous original designs.

Ridgewood very much resembles the other New York Tillinghast designs in appearance as they are always lush green parkland layouts with heavily tree-lined fairways. Much like Winged Foot however, Ridgewood has an impressive variety of different types and lengths of holes. That helps create a course that tests every aspect of the game and that is evident when we consider Matt Kuchar (2010) and VJ Singh (2008) are both past winners. This year with all the recent rain it sounds like the rough might be even more lush than normal. That will benefit those that stay out of the rough but similarly there won’t be as much roll out so staying out of the rough should be easier in theory. The green complexes are poa annua and having been made bigger, lag-putting could well be crucial this year on greens that will be set-up as quick as possible.

Looking back at the three recent events just confirms this emphasis on doing everything well. Mahan and VJ were both 7th in the all-round ranking when they won while Kuchar ranked 1st during his win. This is something we have seen recently on Tour at other difficult, tree-lined courses as Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka both ranked 1st in the all-round at Firestone and Bellerive respectively. It could be that looking at the top 20 in the all-round ranking might just find you the winner again in a field of this strength on such varied and classic design as Ridgewood. From a scoring point of view the three winners all performed well on the Par 4s with Mahan and Kuchar both ranking 2nd in par 4 scoring and VJ ranking 6th. That is to be expected on a classic design where over powering the par 5s isn’t always possible so a look at recent par 4 scoring averages may also be worthwhile.

Jason Day is proving very hard to get away from this week. With course form of 1st-5th and having looked somewhere back to his best on his last few starts he looks like the man to beat, certainly at the price anyway. Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas are ahead of him in the market and while they are probably considered better golfers right now it’s important that we don’t let recency bias cloud our judgement too much. Both those players have been excellent over the last couple of years but if we look at the last 3 years then DJ has 10 wins while Day is sitting alongside Justin Thomas on 9 wins a piece. He belongs up there in the market having found his form again this year. I’ve been guilty of following him unsuccessfully at times but with his brilliantly consistent Fed Ex Play-Off record I’m going to give him another go this week. The stat legend that is @JustinRayGC tweeted the best scores to par over the last 4 years of play-offs and Day is miles ahead.

Jason Day -128, PaulCasey -96, Dustin Johnson -94, Rickie Fowler -86.

He confirmed his suitability to Tillinghast courses with poa annua greens when he chased home Jimmy Walker at Baltusrol in 2016’s US PGA and then also finished 4th at Bethpage Black in that same year’s Barclays event. Back him to continue his play-off form on a course that he clearly loves.

Hideki Matsuyama looks to be a huge price on a ball-strikers course given that he looked to be getting back to form last week at the Wyndham. He put up his best GIR performance of the year hitting 83% and while we know Sedgefield isn’t the longest he still hit more greens than both Snedeker and CT Pan who came 1st and 2nd. It was back to the usual poor putting with Matsuyama but this looks like the sort of course that he will relish if he can keep the ball on the fairway. It’s tree-lined but with enough room so that he won’t feel too intimidated on the tee given his driving troubles this year. The right to left dog-legs will suit a player who thrives on similar shaped fairways at Augusta. There are definitely more in form players but there probably isn’t any better value if his long game is getting back in tune. Prior to his 11th at the Wyndham he was 39th at Firestone and a respectable 35th at the US PGA. A player of his ability has to bounce back at some point and the play-offs might just be ideal timing for him. A value play surely if nothing else.

I was very enthusiastic about Ryan Moore’s chances until I looked at his course form. But having regretted not backing Paul Waring last week on form reasons I’m not going to dwell on Moore’s 3 missed cuts at Ridgewood. Instead I’m focussing on his current form and the fact that the classic Tillinghast design looks custom-built for Moore. The course may well be dominated by a Dustin Johnson or Jason Day if they find their groove off the tee but I’ll be surprised if we don’t see some plotting ball-strikers up on the leaderboard too. Ryan Moore won his US Amateur on another Tillinghast course at Winged Foot and while all his courses differ a little they all have the classic Tillinghast trait of testing a golfer right through the bag. In another slightly tenuous link to Winged Foot, Geoff Ogilvy won the US Open there in 2006 and he has won around the only other course which Mahan and Kuchar have both won, the Golf Club at Dove Mountain. That hosted the WGC Match Play from 2009-2014 and it might also help confirm the type of player that could go well here. Winning the WGC Match Play at that course was often about who could consistently hit the most fairways and greens and Ogilvy, Mahan, Kuchar and indeed Moore all fall into that category. Moore ranks 6th on Tour in Par 4 scoring while he is 30th for strokes gained: off the tee, a very impressive number for a shorter driver. Having warmed up with a 6th at the Wyndham and 12th at Carnoustie in July I think he is rounding into form at just the right time for both the play-offs and perhaps a very late run at the Ryder Cup team.

This looks to me like Kevin Na’s sort of course and that might just be the case looking at his results here. His course form reads 31-36-9 with the 36th having come when the course was soaking wet and would have played too long. In 2008 he was 31st but led the field in GIR while the 9th was a very reasonable effort in 2014. For several years you had to back Na with the caveat that you would probably get a run for your each way money even if the win portion was very unlikely to come your way. But with Na having finally stopped the 8 year rot at The Greenbrier in July there is still plenty of time left for the 34 year old to enjoy the latter years of his PGA Tour career in a similar manner to Matt Kuchar and Jimmy Walker. Since that win his results have been trending again with a 51st at Carnoustie, a 31st at Firestone and an impressive 19th at Bellerive where the bombers dominated. He ranks 6th in Par 4 scoring over the last 3 months, 2nd in scoring relative to par for approaches from 150-175 yards and 41st in the same category from 175-200 yards. Na currently sits 6th in strokes gained: around the green too and is one of the best scramblers around. That will be important in the lush green side rough at Ridgewood. These should all serve him well around this classic layout. Na is in good enough form that 80/1 looks a fantastic each way price

I’m getting a little carried away here and wanted to back a 5th in the shape of Luke List but instead I’ll just have a top 20 bet on him. List has been showing up all year on ball-striking courses and he should enjoy Ridgewood given he ranks 5th in strokes gained: tee to green. The clincher for having to include List was that he lost in the US Amateur Final to Ryan Moore at Winged Foot. Looks a solid bet at 9/2.


Czech Masters

With the 7467 yard par 72 Albatross Golf Club now hosting for the 5th year we have a very clear picture of what is required to win this event. The course plays long and while there is plenty of water in play the majority of it only really becomes an issue on approaches. The landing areas are wide enough and both Thomas Pieters and Haydn Porteous were able to drive it as long as they liked without worrying too much about where the ball ended up. Paul Peterson was the opposite in 2016 when he won as he hit 83% if his fairways. What all 4 winners have done to date though is hit plenty of greens and putted brilliantly. There is no question that the bombers have an advantage here though as that extra loft in their hands allows them to attack the well protected greens. Don’t dwell on Paul Peterson and follow the profile of players like Porteous and Pieters would be my advice this week, even if I haven’t found too many options myself.

This means we should be looking at stats like birdie average, driving distance, par 5 scoring, strokes gained: approaches and also players who have been putting well lately.

Lucas Herbert has been having a very strong 2018 season and he has been doing that with limited status on the European Tour. Last week’s 5th in Sweden was his 4th top 10 of the year and it also continued a nice trend of results for the young Australian. He made the cut at Carnoustie before a 29th in Germany and 18th in Fiji heading into last week. I’m not sure he is ready to win just yet in the way that Porteous and Pieters were here but he fits a very similar profile. They are all young, aggressive golfers who hit the ball a mile and can score very well when the putter behaves. Granted that is more often than not with Pieters and Porteous while Herbert seems a little more streaky with the short stick. His long game wasn’t amazing last week but I think he looks very worth following here as he is scoring well. He is 18th in birdie average for the season, 26th in driving distance and 38th in strokes gained: approaches so statistically he should be a good fit.

I badly wanted to back Ryan Fox here this week and I’m a little surprised he isn’t playing as he has the perfect profile for this. Lucas Bjerregaard also appealed before I noticed that he withdrew last week. He should probably be monitored in play along with the always difficult to back Johan Carlsson. He is another who should be suited to the layout but given he has only finished MC or top 30 so far in 2018 it is probably worth waiting until the half-way point to see which version of the inconsistent Swede turns up. So I’ll just leave it at the one bet I think in a tough looking betting event where the favourite Pieters could hose up by 8 if he arrives with the right attitude.


Summary of bets

Northern Trust

Jason Day – 2.5pts ew @ 14/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Hideki Matsuyama – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Ryan Moore – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Kevin Na – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)

Luke List – 2pts Top 20 @ 9/2

Czech Masters

Lucas Hebert – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

 

Weekly points advised – 14pts

@theGreek82