Arnold Palmer Invitational – Betting Preview

Just when I thought I couldn’t have more of a horrible weekend of golf betting somehow yet again an even worse one transpired from a strong half way position. I went from having two 50/1 leaders and a 30/1 place at around 7pm on Saturday night to just a tiny portion of Percy’s place money in Puerto Rico by end of play on Sunday. Cameron Smith found the water 6 times over the weekend and still managed to finish T11th. That confirmed how suited he was to the course even if that was little comfort on Sunday night. If someone had told me at the start of the week that Patrick Reed was going to finish 6th in approaches then I’d have had a silly bet on him given how good his short game has been this year. Somehow though he managed to 3-putt from 35 feet on his penultimate hole to fall short of the places. Detry and Scrivener also came close to their respective top 20 and top 30 bets as they enjoyed the layout but just couldn’t quite put 4 rounds together in that company. A hugely frustrating week but at least the hard work is paying off in terms of finding players that are contending, even if Sundays have been rather brutal lately.

Still no European Tour action until next week so it’s just the Arnold Palmer Invitational from Bay Hill this week.

2021 pts advised = 84.50

2021 pts returned = 53.73

Arnold Palmer Invitational

It was quite an effort to pick myself up again and start another week’s research but that’s the nature of the game so on we go. This week’s action stays in Florida as the Tour heads to Bay Hill which shouldn’t produce too different a test from last week. It is one of the tougher regular stops on Tour with small, hard greens being the main defence along with the potential for a stiff breeze. It’s a tree-lined layout and generally the numbers of fairways and greens found would be fairly low but last year’s field averages of 54% and 50% respectively were particularly low as Hatton won with a winning score of just -4. With that said Hatton only ranked 33rd in driving accuracy so recovery approaches are very much possible here which is perhaps why Tiger Woods is an 8-time Bay Hill winner. Anyone who honed their short game last week at The Concession should be in a good position to tackle these greens however with less slopes and run-offs these will be set up faster which will make those approaches from the rough very difficult.

A lot has been said this year about how so few American players have won this recently and while it’s relevant it perhaps isn’t all that useful. There is nothing preventing any US player from playing well here it is more a reflection of how they tend to be most experienced in target golf PGA Tour style courses whereas those coming from a European Tour pedigree are more accustomed to firm, fiddly greens like these. Don’t be put off picking an American but do make sure they aren’t one dimensional bomb and gauge types as it takes more than that to win around Bay Hill.

Talor Gooch was my first bet on Monday as he has been on the radar since the Genesis two weeks ago. He played very well there to land the top 30 bet with room to spare (T12th) and he has shown on his two visits here (13th-26th) that he enjoys the challenge. Last year nobody scored lower than him over the weekend and if you ignore Friday when he shot 80 then he would have beaten the field by 3 shots. He ranked 6th on the greens last year when his strokes gained figure was the 2nd best he has posted in his career. In 2018 he ranked 6th tee to green putting up his 5th best figure ever. This shows how he is comfortable with every aspect of the course and he gained strokes in every department on that last Genesis start. He also sits 22nd in bogey avoidance which is always important at Bay Hill. If he holds his form he should go well here again this week at a decent 80/1.

To be honest the head of the market looks very strong indeed and I’ve been close to backing McIlroy, Bryson, Im, Hatton, Reed and Fitz but they all look to be about the right price having showed their hand last week on a similar course. I’m really struggling to separate them and it feels like a lot of guesswork would be involved in deciding where to land with my money. If pushed I would probably play McIlroy win only but I just don’t trust his short game enough on fast greens to be backing him at single figures. Instead I’ll have another two bigger each way prices starting with Tom Hoge who has form figures here of 15-26 and played nicely two starts ago at Pebble Beach. He was down the field at the Genesis but he also seems to really like Bay Hill. He posted his best ever strokes gained: approach number here in 2018 and then his 5th best last year. It looks like he enjoys this sort of test with his irons rather the more common target golf. He’s a massive price at 200/1 so there isn’t much to lose but I’ll also have a safer looking top 30 at 4/1.

Finally I’ll stick with Cameron Percy who played very well in Puerto Rico last week. He has never played at Bill Hill so it’s risky but he is 250/1 with Skybet and I don’t think that fairly reflects how well he is playing or how well his GIR heavy game should set up for this difficult test of golf. He was 7th in DA and 1st in GIR last week and he even putted fairly well it was just his scrambling that let him down. That could well be the case again this week but he is 12th on Tour in bogey avoidance and the final push I needed was seeing that he sits 2nd in par 3 scoring so far this season. The last 5 winners here have ranked 1st, 3rd, 3rd, 4th and 4th on the short holes so it’s clearly a crucial area around Bay Hill. I’ll also have a top 30 on him at 4/1.

Sam Burns has drifted to 55.0 on Betfair tonight and that was enough for me to pull the trigger. He might not have won at the Genesis two weeks ago but we can’t overlook the fact that after 36 holes he was 5 shots clear of the strongest regular PGA Tour field of the season on a very demanding course. Even on Sunday when he was ultimately beaten as his scrambling skills deserted him, he still rallied for 3rd. I think he will take the postives into the rest of the season and while 40/1 felt borderline I’m happy with the separate 55.0 outright bet and 6.0 for a top 10 on the exchange.

Summary of bets

Talor Gooch – 1pt ew @ 80/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 7/2

Tom Hoge – 0.5pts ew @ 200/1 (both 1/5 odds 8 places Betfair) and 1pt Top 30 @ 4/1 Betfair

Cameron Percy – 0.5pts ew @ 250/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet) and 1pt Top 30 @ 4/1 Betfair

Sam Burns – 1pt win @ 55.0 and 1pt Top 10 @ 6.0 (both Betfair Exchange)

Weekly points advised = 9pts

WGC Workday Championship – Some bets

There was another disappointing Sunday for blog followers as Sam Burns eventually gave way to both Tony Finau and Max Homa around the 13th hole. He rallied and managed to grab the place money and the top 20 bet as he finished 3rd but we really needed that winner to kick off the season. Burns together with Gooch’s top 30 made for a profitable week but with 3 players inside the top 10 heading in to the final round it was a little hard to swallow all the same. This week we have the first of the WGC’s of the season which has been relocated to Florida and there is an alternate event down in Puerto Rico which I will have a quick look at too.

2021 points advised = 69.50

2021 points returned = 52.35

WGC Workday

The WGC Mexico has been moved due to the Covid-19 pandemic and it has now become the WGC Workday and is being held at The Concession GC in Florida. I won’t bore you with the details around the name as you will hear that 100 times this week. As ever though with a new course on rotation there is a clamber for information and videos of the new course. I have managed to find a few to get some sort of idea what the course is about and rather than rip off this excellent course preview I thought I’d just share it.

On the whole it seems like this will be a very difficult course but ultimately in line with Jack Nicklaus’ usual MO. That is that the challenge becomes greater as you get nearer the hole. He has never been one for making a properly penal driving course and despite all the talk of this being one of the toughest courses in the US, it does look like most of the landing areas are wide enough and will give everyone a chance. There are loads of trees and plenty of water surrounding the greens and fairways but they appear to wind around them at a distance that can be avoided as long as a degree of care is taken. So anyone wildly hooking or cutting the ball is probably going to run into trouble, especially with the fairways looking likely to play hard and fast. A nice high, long baby fade off the tee could be the go to shot this week. From the fairway is where this course appears to get really dicey as some of the images of these green complexes are extremely scary looking. There are deep bunkers winding around the greens which themselves have huge drop offs and run-off areas as well as undulations within the greens themselves. Now add to that they will play firm and fast much like Riviera last week and they are beginning to look rather treacherous. The one saving grace is that they are said to be so well maintained that there is almost no grain on the bermuda greens so they putt more like smooth bentgrass and they will run as pure as Augusta.

The article above goes into great detail about how Nicklaus designed many of the holes and plenty of them are replicas of other holes from around the world at some of his favourite courses. This gives a long list of the types of courses that may tie in well this week and amongst those are his own Muirfield Village and PGA National designs, Augusta, Royal Melbourne, Bay Hill and Riviera. Leaderboards from these courses are worth a look at together with seeing whose iron play or short game flourished around the greens.

I’ve backed Patrick Reed here just on price alone but he should relish these difficult green complexes. On his latest brilliant win at Torrey Pines he only ranked 51st in GIR as he put on a pitch and putt masterclass. That is what he is all about but we know he is capable of a world class iron game on his day too. He is obviously a winner around Augusta but he is also a two time winner in Florida. With a win two starts ago around a difficult course he simply looks over priced for me at 30/1.

In similar fashion to Reed, Tyrrell Hatton’s short game should thrive here but he is also performing brilliantly tee-to-green and is now the world number 5. Despite him appearing reasonably short at 22/1 when he opened I think we forget just how good he is. He has 4 world wide wins in his last 22 starts and he won at the difficult and similar Bay Hill in Florida this time last year. His all-round game should help him if this does produce a properly difficult test off the tee too but ultimately these slick greens and links style run-offs look perfect for a two-time Alfred Dunhill Links winner and someone who has the imagination to pull off every short game shot this course will ask of him.

My third pick is Cameron Smith and you can see the template I’m going for with short game wizardry! However Cameron Smith’s long game bounced back last week at Riviera too and there is no question he prefers difficult, firm tests that remind of him home rather than the ten-a-penny target golf courses we see on the PGA Tour week in and week out. He was 10th in approaches and 2nd around the green last week and that was the best combination for those two stats in the whole field. That immediately put him on the short list for this week given the expected skill-set required at Concession. His 2nd and 5th at The Masters also looks like solid form for these difficult greens and I think he is very close to the sort of level of player that we have seen pick up their first big win at a WGC in recent times. His price has shortened since Monday but there is still some 50/1 about with 7 places and I think that looks fair enough.

I’m taking a bit of a punt on Thomas Detry who played here for the University of Illinois in the 2015 NCAA Championships. He finished T3rd in the individual event behind Bryson and CT Pan but Illinois won the team event. Competitive experience of the course can surely only be a positive but Detry’s normally stellar short game should also be suited to the course. He is yet to win on the European Tour in a regular event but he and Thomas Pieters won the World Cup in 2018 around Metropolitan GC on the Melbourne Sandbelt. That course looks quite similar to the Concession GC particularly the hard, fast yet perfectly manicured greens and the stylish bunkering. It was also partly designed by Dick Wilson who designed Bay Hill in Florida which looks like it will tie in nicely with Concession. Detry tends to play most of his best stuff on Thursdays and Fridays before wilting over the weekend so it’s hard to see him winning an event of this stature but we know he has plenty of ability. His long game has taken a little while to get going this season but he is only 10 rounds in and last year he ranked 14th on the European Tour for strokes gained: tee to green. Hopefully he can start well and give us an option to trade out but I’ll also include a top 20 bet as he should feel quite comfortable returning here.

Finally I’m having a 2nd punt on Jason Scrivener who is another player with that approach game and short game combination but also one who thrives on difficult firm greens. You would normally say this is a huge jump in class for the steady Aussie but if we look at his recent Abu Dhabi piece of form there is no reason he should be as big as 250/1. He came 2nd there and was sandwiched between Tyrrell Hatton and Rory McIlroy as he earned over €700,000, which was over 25% of his career earnings to that point. That would have been somewhat life changing for him and therefore we can excuse the two follow-up results of 41-MC. It’s very speculative but he should enjoy the course and if he can bring that Abu Dhabi form I expect him to out play his odds. Again I will also have a more realistic top 30 bet at 7/2.

Down in Puerto Rico I’m just having a play on Aussie veteran Cameron Percy. He has caught the eye a few times this year briefly popping up on leaderboards and he is striking the ball well ranking 7th in GIR over the last 6 months. He is used to golf on the coast hailing from Melbourne and his form in Puerto Rico is solid enough with just 1 missed cut from 7 attempts and 4 of those returning top 30 finishes. He was 21st on his last start at Pebble Beach which would have been a good preparation for this. If the putter can warm up in this lower grade then he should have a decent week and rates a good each way bet at 50/1.

Summary of bets

Patrick Reed – 2pts ew @ 30/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)

Tyrrell Hatton – 2pts ew @ 20/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Skybet)

Cameron Smith – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Bet365 & 888)

Thomas Detry – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 7 places) and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2 general

Jason Scrivener – 0.25pts ew @ 250/1 (1/5 odds 7 places) and 1.5pts Top 30 @ 7/2 Betfair

Puerto Rico – Cameron Percy – 0.5pts ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)

Weekly points advised = 15pts

Genesis Invitational – The bets

Jordan Spieth couldn’t get it done on Sunday but he finished 3rd to justify the faith put in him. I was very impressed with him and definitely think there were a lot of positives to take. Sky Sports mentioned how many Cantlay putts burned the edge on Sunday but Spieth had just as many so it wasn’t really his long game that cost him despite a few wayward drives. I’ll be watching him very closely ahead of the Masters in just 7 weeks time. This week we have the Genesis Invitational from Riviera while there are still a few empty weeks yet with no European Tour action.

Genesis Open

Patrick Cantlay is surely trending to another win again soon and a tee-to-green California test which doesn’t usually require too hot a putter looks an ideal stop for him. The fact that he is yet to put up the same sort of W numbers as the likes of Day, DJ, McIlroy, Bryson and Thomas have all done at periods over the last 6 years or so often leaves a feeling that he is under priced when we see him at 16/1 in these fields. But such is the strength of his game I have no doubt he is going to win more consistently than many of the bigger names over the course of his career. Whether he will ever turn in a 4 or 5 win season I’m not sure but he looks extremely likely to win once or twice each year for the next 10-15 years. So I’m suggesting there is almost an element of implied value with his price although that maybe sounds daft to say it out loud! Anyway he ranked 1st tee-to-green last week, he has recent Riviera form figures of 17-15-4, current form figures of 3-2-13-17-1 and hails from down the road in Long Beach. He is clearly comfortable here and playing as well as anyone. He looks a rock solid each way bet at 16/1. Well he looked a rock solid bet at 16/1! But I see he has been cut to 14/1 now. I’ve backed him so I’ll include him but 14 feels like the absolute minimum I’d be taking. He is 16.5 on the Betfair Exchange.

I have backed Charley Hoffman at Riviera the last three years as I’m convinced that it should be a perfect course for him. The two main courses that tie in with Riviera are Augusta and Glen Abbey and Hoffman has as a brilliant and well documented record at the former while he lost a playoff to Vegas at Glen Abbey in 2017. Considering I’d have probably backed him anyway it was nice to see him shoot a round of the day 66 on Sunday to finish T7th at Pebble Beach. However that hasn’t done for his price as much as I’d expect and we can still get 150/1 which is more than fair. Hoffman ranked 10th off the tee at Pebble while he is 20th for the season so far. He is 25th for GIR but more pertinently for Riviera he is 7th in GIR from over 200 yards. Strokes Gained: Approaches is one of the best analytical tools in the game but with Riviera demanding you find the right portions of the undulating greens I think the more traditional metric of GIR is as good a pointer this week. Trying to get close to every flag is dangerous at Riviera and Adam Scott’s strategy last year was all about hitting greens rather than firing at flags. Hoffman’s iron game is in a good place for finding greens while he is also scoring well on the longer par 4s as he sits 4th in efficiency on Par 4s measuring 450-500 yards. Riviera has an extremely tough set of long par 4s with 6 holes inside that yardage range and the last 7 winners have ranked 6th-2nd-1st-1st-6th-5th-2nd for those holes while two further play-off losers were 1st and 5th. Scoring well on these 6 holes is imperative if you want to contend at Riviera and only Wes Bryan in this field is performing better on holes of that length. I swear I will give up on Hoffman here if he doesn’t do anything this year but I think his 4th place finish from 2017 is more in line with what he is capable of at Riviera and I think he is a great each way bet at 150/1. I’m also going to have a top 20 bet at 9/2.

Talor Gooch performed well here last year to finish 10th but he has been a little out of sorts lately even if he does still have two top 5s for the season. I’m going to include him anyway as Riviera is the sort of course that just suits some players and he has hardly been playing terribly. He ranked 6th tee to green last year while he was 7th for that same metric on his debut in 2018 while finishing 20th. Hopefully there is just something that fits his eye about Riviera and he leaves last week’s missed cut behind. I’ll have a top 30 bet too at 11/4.

Sam Burns is having a very good season and ranks 14th off the tee, 15th in GIR, 32nd in putting and 16th for the 450-500 yard par 4s. He isn’t the best of scramblers though so I was weary of including him here but sometimes poor chippers like Burns actually improve at Riviera because there is plenty of grass under the ball. If he can scramble to even a half decent standard this week the rest of his game is so good right now I would expect him to improve on last year’s 23rd.

I’m surprised KH Lee’s price has held at 150/1 given he has the bookie friendly current and course form so I’m definitely having a small play. He was superb at TPC Scottsdale two weeks ago as he led the field tee to green and his Riviera form reads 13-25. He was 7th here tee to green last year and 3rd for putting in 2019 so he can handle both the long game test and the undulating greens. If he can bring both this week we can surely expect another top 30 at least so I’ll play both markets.

At the risk of getting carried away with 6 picks Chez Reavie is another player that I have always thought is suited perfectly to Riviera. That nearly paid off in 2016 when he went close to winning at 250/1 and he recorded another top 10 last year. He was on the radar for this week even before I noticed that he ranked 5th tee-to-green at Pebble Beach as he finished 16th. Obviously Riviera is considerably longer but Reavie is a lovely long iron and hybrid player and despite his lack of power he is also very good out of the rough. I think he is well worth a small each way interest here.

Summary of bets

Patrick Cantlay – 2.5pts ew @ 14/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)

Charley Hoffman – 1pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places general) and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2 Betfair

Talor Gooch – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfred) and 1pt Top 30 @ 11/4 Betfair

Sam Burns – 0.5pts ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 8 places) and 1pt Top 20 @ 7/2 general

KH Lee – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 8 places) and 1pt Top 30 @ 12/5

Chez Reavie – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 8 places) and 1pt Top 30 @ 5/2

Weekly points advised = 16pts

AT&T Pebble Beach – Some bets

Ryan Fox managed to land the bulk of the place money as well as the top 20 to make it the first profitable week of the year. The PGA Tour was a wash out as Conners couldn’t quite get close enough to challenge. The European Tour takes a break for a few weeks so it’s just Pebble Beach this week and there is no pro-am this year so they are only playing Pebble and Spyglass. This might see things play a little harder as Monterrey was generally the least taxing course and there will be no easy amateur flags. However I still think it will be a fairly wide open event as usual, especially with DJ’s late withdrawal.

2021 pts advised = 45

2021 pts returned = 25.5

Pebble Beach

I’m always keen to try to find an outsider or two at Pebble Beach given the format and relatively short course. It usually means that pretty much anyone in the field can win this with a good short iron game and a strong putting week. DJ Trahan caught my eye having been 18th just two years ago but also when having a quick look at some of this season’s wedge stats. Trahan is 4th in proximity to the hole from 50-125 yards and 5th in scoring relative to par on approaches inside 125 yards. He has missed his last three cuts around the turn of the year but on his last start in California in October he was 14th at the Safeway Open (poa green) and he has two other top 10s at Pebble Beach. One of his two PGA Tour wins came in the state as did his best ever major finish when he finished T4th and three shots shy of the famous 2008 US Open play-off at Torrey Pines. He ranked 8th for putting on the poa annua greens here in 2019 and if the switch can bring about another good putting week he could make 500/1 look rather big come Sunday. There is obviously a very clear risk he that he misses the cut but I also like the 9/2 about a top 40 finish. He has played this event 12 times making just 6 cuts but recording a top 40 in 5 of those 6.

In similar fashion to Trahan I’m going to take another punt on local player Ricky Barnes who made it in to the field as an alternate on Monday when Kuchar pulled out. Barnes hasn’t played since November due to limited Tour status but he has made all three cuts and his approach numbers were superb on his last home start at Silverado (also poa annua greens). So good in fact that they still have him in 1st on Tour for approaches and proximity to the hole but they are the only 4 rounds that he has had recorded this season! Despite those rankings, we can probably just take that with a pinch of salt but Barnes was 3rd here back in 2012 and 27th at the US Open in 2010. So he clearly enjoys the layout when playing well and if you’re thinking that was a long time ago then he actually opened with a 67 in round 1 at Monterrey last year to sit in 4th place. Monterrey isn’t on rotation this year and he fell away in the wind on Spyglass to miss the cut but all in I think there could be some mileage in backing him here at 500/1. I will also throw some pounds on a Barnes Top 40 at 9/2.

I’ve been trying to get away from backing Jordan Spieth since the markets opened on Monday but when it was announced DJ had pulled out I knew there was no chance I’d manage. It’s impossible to say with any degree of certainty which Jordan Spieth will turn up this week but I’m hoping we have seen the start of him coming out of his slump. Spieth led a very good field in approaches last week on his way to a 4th place finish. He also ranked first for approaches at Pebble Beach last year and we know he loves the course with good form figures either side of the 2017 win. Yes he only shot level par on Sunday when joint 54-hole leader but if we’re being critical then neither Xander or Thomas fared much better. I think it’s a huge positive how he hung around and while his driver was all over the place these shorter courses will mean he doesn’t have to wield it on every hole. He was 10th in 250-275 yard proximity last week so his 3-wood and hybrid were working fine. There will be plenty who won’t like the price but I don’t hate the 22/1 at all with DJ now out. It’s not that strong a field, he loves Pebble Beach and if he can just keep the ball in play more often than not then his iron play and putter can do the talking from there. It’s a big ask but I’m a big fan and while my heart is perhaps leading the head over this bet I have now backed him so I have to include him here. Whatever happens with the bet, fingers crossed he can put 4 decent rounds together and continue his comeback. I’m sure most people will agree after the weekend that golf is all the better for him being back on the leaderboard.

I did have Kevin Streelman and Matthew NeSmith featuring heavily on my shortlist but I’m not sure I can quite get onboard with Streelman’s 40/1 while the NeSmith price is a little more tempting even if it is a fraction of last week’s after a strong 7th place finish in Phoenix. His putting improved out of sight though as he gained 3.73 strokes on the greens which was his highest number since last January’s Sony Open and a big improvement on the 4.817 strokes he lost the week before. The downside is that the big loss was on poa annua greens but he fared OK on the Pebble greens last year ranking 27th on his way to a debut 11th place finish. That was impressive and he will be expecting to hold his form over and enjoy another good week having his 2nd competitive look at the courses. So I’ll have a smallish bet at 66/1 with Betfred’s 8 places.

Summary of bets

Jordan Spieth – 1.5pts ew @ 22/1 (1/5 odds 8 places WH)

Matthew NeSmith – 0.75pts ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfred)

DJ Trahan – 0.5pts ew @ 500/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfair) and 1pt Top 40 @ 9/2 (Betfair)

Ricky Barnes – 0.5pts ew @ 500/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet) and 1pt Top 40 @ 9/2 (Betfair)

Weekly points advised = 8.5

Phoenix Open and Saudi International – Some bets

Big Tony repaid the faith I showed in him to bounce back as he finished T2nd behind Patrick Reed at Torrey Pines. While he didn’t really contend on the weekend too closely he still probably came as close as anyone bar Hovland to stopping Reed. In similar fashion to the week before Finau went eagle chasing with his approach on the 18th and he came up what appeared to be just a yard short of carrying the bank and ended up in the water. His line was perfect and had he carried he may have banked down to a fairly short eagle putt. Ifs and buts although it would have been interesting if he had posted -11 never mind the -12 that an eagle would have taken him to. The returns were the first of the year but not quite enough for a profitable week. I’ll update these figures tomorrow and post below.

Phoenix Open

TPC Scottsdale will be somewhat more quiet this year than normal but everything else should be the same. It’s normally a ball-strikers haven where a long and accurate tee-to-green game gets it done. Jon Rahm heads the market and looks every bit the man to beat but his new equipment would make it very hard to back him just yet at single figures. Instead I’ve had a couple of each way plays on two golfers who have been playing well for a sustained period, have put up some good long game numbers this season and also played well here before.

Daniel Berger has four top 11 finishes at Scottsdale and is 2nd in ball-striking over the last 3 months (his last 12 rounds) after two consecutive top 10s in Hawaii. He then took a couple of week’s off but should be nicely rested for this. His 9th here last year kicked off a brilliant run of form either side of lockdown as he became the hottest player on Tour after his win at Colonial. While things slowed down a little he has still only missed one cut in his last 20 events and his consistent long game should see him go well again here. His odds of 20/1 aren’t huge but there isn’t the usual depth of field here after many made the trip to Saudi for a pay day and I think that makes it look like a rock solid each way bet.

Correy Conners followed up his best ever major finish of 10th at the Masters with another two Top 20s to close the year. Last week’s 37th was his first start of 2021 so some rust was to be expected. He has just played here once when he finished 45th last year but Conners should love this ball-striker’s test and he sits 4th in that department over the last 3 months. Having missed Hawaii he is back off the radar after his Masters performance and the 70/1 looks very fair indeed.

Saudi International

The European Tour heads to an event that most fans would probably rather didn’t exist but this will be the 3rd running and its brought the best field so far which for me is hugely depressing. I’ll not go into much detail beyond stating that the course is a bit of a bomber’s paradise that can be overpowered due to the wide fairways and typically minimal desert rough. With that said GMac managed to win last year so an accurate long game can be enough if they also possess a brilliant short game but ultimately the big hitters have a huge advantage here.

That makes it very hard to look too far beyond DJ and Bryson at the head of the market but those short prices have created a good each way market so I’ve played three powerhouses who thrive on open desert layouts and an Austrian with some sneaky current form.

Firstly I’m sticking with Adri Arnaus after he came up one shot shy last week in Dubai. He had a bad run of 18 holes over Friday and Saturday yet still managed to rally to finish T9th. Arnaus gained strokes in all the main 5 departments and that was only the 2nd time he has managed that and not finshed inside the places. Generally when he puts it all together he contends at the regular European Tour level so with his game in excellent shape I think he can go well on his 4th Middle East start in a row. The first three have produced a run of 10-12-9 as he has showed how comfortable he is in these parts. He has gained strokes on the green in his last 3 starts and that is a huge positive for a player whose poor putting is the main reason that he hasn’t won yet. The strong field gives us a nice price of 66/1 but he easily has the talent to improve on last year’s 27th and contend here given his current form.

Thomas Pieters is perhaps the biggest enigma in the game in terms of how much talent he possesses but yet seems to struggle to bring it all to the course. That’s a strange thing to say about a 5-time European Tour winner still only 29 years old but Pieters is a monster of a golfer tee-to-green although he is an even worse putter than Arnaus. So as soon as I noticed he was 8th in putting last week in Dubai I knew I was backing him this week. Honestly though I wasn’t expecting odds as big as the 66/1 that was around when he opened but I’m perfectly happy with the 50/1 and 8 places that Skybet are still offering. Pieters has played both events to date and last year he finished 3rd putting up the highest tee-to-green number of his career as he gained 15.804 strokes. If he can bring anything like last week’s putting to Saudi then he must have a chance given how consistent his long game has been (2nd tee-to-green for 2020) and how well suited he is to the course.

Matthias Schwab isn’t a player who has done too much yet in the desert but his long game numbers have been immense lately and I think that should bring around a good result here on a course where he will be able to unload more than he normally does with the driver. Schwab has gained over 37 strokes tee-to-green on his last 4 starts and I doubt there are many better in that stretch. He has played both events here with his results of 44th and 24th nothing better than solid but coming in off a 9th place finish last week a slight improvement with the putter should be all he needs to contend again.

Finally I’ll go back to one of my favourites Ryan Fox who loves wide open desert courses where the emphasis is on the 2nd shot. Fox’s approach play was in great shape last week so I’d expect to see something more like his 6th from 2019 than his 27th here last year. I will also have a top 20 bet on the Kiwi.

With Rahm and DJ’s chance so clear I’m going to have a small saver bet on the each way double. Nothing in sport is ever certain but it be a huge surprise if either didn’t manage to finish inside the top 8 even with the strong fields.

Summary of bets

Phoenix Open

Daniel Berger – 1.5pts ew @ 20/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Correy Conners – 0.75pt ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 8 places WH)

Saudi International

Adri Arnaus – 1pt ew @ 66/1

Thomas Pieters – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Matthias Schwab – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1

Ryan Fox – 0.5pts ew @ 100/1 (all 1/5 odds 8 places Skybet) and 1pt Top 20 @ 7/2 (Betfair)

Jon Rahm (13/2) + Dustin Johnson (5/1) – 1pts ew double @ 44/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Weekly points advised = 14pts


Farmers Insurance Open and Omega Dubai Desert Classic – Some bets

One week off was enough to have me missing the golf especially as one of my regular picks Si Woo Kim won the Desert Classic. It’s hard to say for sure whether I would have put him up as Steve Palmer may have done for his price by Tuesday night but I’d almost have certainly threw a few pounds on him on the Exchange had I had any outright singles last week. To make matters worse Michael Thompson who I had tipped in both Hawaii events pitched up and finished T5th. Is it still 2020?

Farmers Insurance Open

There are two schools of thought with Tony Finau this week, one that he will have taken last week’s loss hard and the other that he will be more determined than ever. I have definitely leaned to the latter. Throughout Finau’s search for that elusive 2nd W he has picked himself up and dusted himself down only to return promptly with another customary top 10. Whichever way you want to present it there are numbers that can back up either side of the argument. From a purely visual point of view he hit a bad approach to the par 5 11th and missed two short putts. The putts we can forgive, how many short putts have the likes of Westwood, Fleetwood, Rory and DJ missed over the years and all are multiple winners. We know Finaus is a poor putter so that information was nothing new. The over drawn approach into 11 would be a bigger worry and a legitimate stick with which to beat Finau. But the only reason he went anywhere near the water was because he took on a high tariff shot attacking the flag and chasing a potential eagle. It’s hard to criticise both that and the more reserved tactics that we so often see from players chasing the win on a Sunday as we can’t have it both ways. He may well blow out and miss the cut but I think it’s important to analyse these sort of things ourselves rather than just listen to the media narrative on the matter.

However the reason I decided to back him this week was after looking at his performances the week before Torrey Pines. This is his 7th appearance here and he has some brilliant form figures of 24-18-4-6-13-6 but he has never had a week as good as last week heading into the event. Last year he lost strokes off the tee and with his approaches the week prior while it was his first start of the year in 2019. In 2018 he played two weeks prior but gave up shots off the tee and around the greens while in 2017 he had also played the Sony but he putted horribly. In 2016 he arrived off the back of a missed cut while 2015 was his Torrey Pines debut. This year he arrives off the back of a 4th place finish where he was 3rd tee-to-green and gained strokes off the tee, with approaches and around the green. He also almost broke even with the putter although his putting usually improves on these poa annua greens and he has only lost strokes on the greens once in his six appearances. The only negative is how he might respond to last week but everything we have seen suggests these blows aren’t all that crushing in terms of how he plays going forward. Quite when he will get that 2nd win nobody knows but he is far too good a player for it not to happen. I expect it to arrive on a long championship course where par is a good score and tee-to-green brilliance could pull him away from the pack with just a decent putting week. The presence of Rahm and McIlroy is a worry but Finua loves it here and I think he is tougher than some give him credit for. Even with his struggles to get over the line I think 20/1 is very good each way price such is his chance of contending here yet again and his brilliant course form. *ducks for cover*

I backed Joel Dahmen here last year after his 9th place finish in 2019 but he didn’t do a great deal and finished 55th. I think his form over the last 6 months warrants another go here though. Dahmen missed the cut last week but an easy birdie fest doesn’t really suit his game. His two California starts prior to that involved an 8th place at the ZOZO Championship and a 10th at the US PGA. He is yet to win on Tour but his best finish is a runner-up at Quail Hollow yet another long championship course. He has an excellent tee-to-green game with particularly good long irons and he is suited to tests like Torrey Pines where he won’t need to make too many birdies. Dahmen is also normally a good scrambler which helps here around the small, fast greens. It’s only his putting that has really prevented him from winning so far but in 2019 at Torrey he gained almost 7 strokes on the greens so again he is another that seems to improve on fast poa greens. At 125/1 he is a fairly sporting price for someone with some sneaky form in the area over the last 6 months.

Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Adri Arnaus was 12th last week in Abu Dhabi and that was enough to interest me but a closer look shows that he actually putted brilliantly which is in no way the norm for the Spaniard. He gained 4.679 strokes on the greens somehow which is his 2nd highest figure ever. With this being his first start in 6 weeks I’m going to assume he was working hard with the flat stick and that maybe he has found something over the holidays. If that is the case it is surely just a matter of time before he gets the win and a desert course that has historically rewarded strong iron play looks like the ideal stop. His approach play has been superb both on his last start of 2020 at the DP World Championship and last week where he ranked 10th for approaches. His powerful driving was a little off last week as he lost strokes off the tee but that is generally a strength of his game and he was 1st off the tee here last year on his way to a 3rd place finish. The bookmakers are on to his current and course form as you would expect but if he can marry last year’s driving with his current approach play and putting then he should be a solid each way bet at 45/1. The price won’t be for everyone as a European Tour maiden but I’m not sure we could have expected much more this week.

Two-time Desert Classic winner Stephen Gallacher finished 16th last week to follow on from his 30th in Dubai in December and it suggests he is rounding in to form just in time for his favourite event. His two wins in 2013 and 2014 came courtesy of long driving, great iron play and some solid putting. He wasn’t quite there in all these departments last week but his scrambling was excellent. Given that last year’s event was dominated by short game skills I thought it might be a decent angle to side with Gallacher. It’s his favourite course where he knows his long game can prosper, his short game is in good order and he arrives in fine form off the back of his first top 20 since his last win in India almost two years ago. It’s always a little risky with Gallacher but at odds of 150/1 we can have a speculative outright bet as well as a top 20 play at 11/2.

I had to have a double take at George Coetzee’s opening price of 100/1. That has been backed in to 80/1 but I still think that he should be more like 50-60/1 here off the back of 11th last week where he gained strokes in all four main departments. He doesn’t have a great recent record there as he hadn’t bettered 35th in his previous 6 events until last week. Coetzee is a 5 time European Tour winner who won just 4 months ago and finished 29th at the DP World Championship. That win was at the Portugal Masters where form always ties in quite well with this event and I can’t believe some of the players shorter than him. Coetzee was 7th here in 2017 and I’m expecting another big year in 2021 so for me 80/1 rates an excellent each way bet.

Finally I’ll have a small dabble on Chris Paisley who I expected to be shorter after a top 10 last week. As is normally the case with Paisley it was the putter that did most of the scoring but he was also 23rd both for approaches and around the green. If last year’s switch to being a short game battle remains the case this year then few will be in a better position to handle it than a confident Paisley and I think there is some value with the 125/1 even if the fancy prices are all gone.

Summary of bets

Farmers Insurance Open

Tony Finau – 2.25pts ew @ 20/1

Joel Dahmen – 0.75pts ew @ 125/1 (both 1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

Dubai Desert Classic

Adri Arnaus – 1pt ew @ 45/1 (1/5 odds 8 places 888 Sport)

Stephen Gallacher – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Skybet) and 1pt Top 20 @ 11/2

George Coetzee – 1pt ew @ 80/1

Chris Paisley – 0.5pts ew @ 125/1 (both 1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

Weekly points advised = 13pts


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