Well it was back to earth with a bang last week as there were no returns on either tournament (every dog has its Day?….). However that doesn’t tell the whole story. Made in Denmark was always going to be a tough tournament to pick the winner of and so it proved. I went down the course links route to try to help and while that looked ok for a while on Thursday as Marc Warren and Paul Lawrie were both on the leaderboard, eventually they fell away and left the woefully out of form David Horsey (3 missed cuts from 4) to trot away with the title. It proved a timely reminder though that only small stakes should be used on these weak field European Tour events with limited course form where it can sometimes just be nothing more than educated guess-work.
At the Wyndham Championship it was a completely different story with Snedeker, Haas and Pettersson all in contention right through until Sunday. Teeing up for the final round they were all inside the Top 12 and it looked odds on that there would be some form of returns. But it wasn’t to be as Snedeker fell away with an uncharacteristic +5 round and Haas and Pettersson both finished in the dreaded T6th position! So it opened up for 51-year-old Davis Love III to take the title and become the 3rd oldest winner on Tour. Despite this losing week it’s 91pts out and 105.8pts returned so I’m still in a little bit of profit but down to 16% returns.
The PGA Tour begins its end of season Fed-Ex Cup playoffs this week at The Barclays and the European Tour has another low-key event having just its second running in Prague. I will stick with 3 from each tournament along with some other potential place bets. I always play the EW doubles to small stakes so I will keep them going also as they are a good alternative for those that want an interest each week but have less funds to play with.
The Barclays Championship
This is the first week of the Fed-Ex playoffs where the top 125 season points scorers have qualified to try their hand at yet another Donald Ross creation – Plainfield Country Club, New Jersey. Plainfield is a relatively short, 7012 yard par 70 course and has only held one recent tournament, The Barclays in 2011, won by Dustin Johnson. Dustin while being a bomber, can win on almost any course at his best but his length certainly helped him get to the front here at a rain-soaked event that was cut to 54 holes due to an advancing Hurricane. But the rest of the leaderboard was full of players who thrive with the wedge and/or putter, the likes of Matt Kuchar, Jonathan Byrd, Brandt Snedeker, Aaron Baddeley, Padraig Harrington and Webb Simpson all featuring prominently.
So I’m going to keep it fairly simple and pick 3 in form players that love Donald Ross courses and have an excellent short game.
This means that I’m going to forgive Brandt Snedeker for last week’s Sunday showing and make him my main pick again. Last week he hit a 2nd round 61 to fire himself up the leaderboard and he also hit the course record 61 in his 3rd round at Plainfield in 2011. So even in this elite field I was expecting him to be around 28/1-33/1 but he opened at a general 50/1 which was rightly hoovered up early on Monday however the 40/1 available now still looks decent value for someone who we know is suited to the course and in great form. As an extra bonus, Snedeker is a past Fed-Ex Cup winner so we know he plays great golf around this time of year. It’s hard to be too confident when he is up against the likes of Spieth/Day/Rose but with their prohibitive short prices, Snedeker looks like a great bet at 40/1 playing his second Donald Ross course in a row.
I believe Zach Johnson opened at 66/1 on Monday which is even more bizarre than Snedeker’s price. It was only 5 weeks ago that Zach won The Open defeating the bulk of this field around the Home of Golf nonetheless. How quickly bookmakers can forget the achievements of the lesser-hyped golfer. Jason Day, perhaps rightly, goes off this week at a single figure price and yet Zach’s achievement was every bit as impressive. It was Zach’s short game that won him The Open and I expect if he brings anything near the same level of wedge play and putting to Plainfield, he will out run a price that is bordering on disrespectful!
My 3rd pick was a little bit tougher with Webb Simpson, Luke Donald, Bill Haas, Matt Kuchar and Ben Martin all making the shortlist. However it was the odds (80/1!) that couldn’t keep me away from Jimmy Walker. I know he has been in pretty poor form of late but he still has 5 wins in the last 22 months and has spent longer than anyone on top of the Fed-Ex points lists over that period of time. Walker came 18th here in 2011 (shot a 2nd round 64) when a far less accomplished player and should relish a return. While he is very long off the tee it’s his putting touch that has been at the forefront of his winning run and he also has an affinity for Donald Ross courses; T9th at Pinehurst’s US Open, T4th at 2013 Wyndham Championship. With greens measuring an average of 7,500 square feet I think the putter will be very important this week and despite his recent slump he sits 2nd in Strokes Gained:Putting and most of his wins have come where great putters prevail like the Sony Open in Hawaii and Valero Texas Open. It’s very much a hunch pick but I think he will arrive here after a week off determined for a strong showing through the Fed-Ex series of events.
I’m throwing a few pounds at a couple of Top 20 bets too. Scott Piercy finished in the Top 20 here in 2011 and returned to form with a win in July at the Barbasol. Given his inconsistency over the last few years he will be delighted to have made the Play-offs and will want to go as deep as he can with a strong display here. Ben Martin’s form deserted him after the US Open 2nd round but he has had some better displays recently with a T10 last week and he has exactly the right attributes for this course. He showed he could compete with the very best at Sawgrass in May and if he is back to the top of his game then a Top 20 looks very likely to me.
D+D REAL Czech Masters
I’m not going to go into a great lot of detail here regarding the course, just 3 straight-forward picks and fairly low stakes.
Bradley Dredge came 2nd here last year and finished 6th last week in Denmark. Course form plus current form in addition to having been a proven winner at his peak on this Tour. With this weak field I’d expect him to continue his form and go well.
Eddie Pepperell was 6th here last year and has continued to have some high finishes in elite fields this year on the European Tour. He is yet to get his win but over the last few years we have seen many young up and coming golfers get their first win in a poor field where they are bringing some course knowledge. It can sometimes be forgotten that on top of the pressure of being in their rookie year, a lot of first season ET players are seeing courses for the first time. Backing them on their 2nd look is a solid enough plan for weeks like this and hopefully he should kick on from last year’s performance and go onto chase his first win come Sunday.
Robert Dinwiddie has been on my radar since his T10 at the Omega Masters in Crans during July when he closed with a 63. Interestingly he held his form over for his next start in Denmark last week with 4 under par rounds for a T11. The clincher for me on him was when I was looking back at the two runnings of this tournament in 2012 and 2013 when it was only on the lower tier Challenge Tour. It was also held at a different course but Dinwiddie finished 2nd in 2013 and will surely bring fond memories back to the Czech Republic with him. At a general 80/1 in this field I think he is decent value and will hopefully at least give himself a run at the places.
Summary of bets
Brandt Snedeker – 2pts ew 40/1
Zach Johnson – 1pt ew 55/1
Jimmy Walker – 0.5pt ew 80/1
Scott Piercy Top 20 – 1pt 9/2
Ben Martin Top 20 – 1pt 6/1
Eddie Pepperell – 1pt ew 18/1
Bradley Dredge – 1pt ew 28/1
Robert Dinwiddie – 0.5pt ew 80/1
For the 9 ew doubles I’m going to take out Jimmy Walker and replace him with Jordan Spieth who I’d expect to go very close but isn’t quite a backable price (6/1) for a single at a course he hasnt played and Walker as I said was a bit of a hunch. So it’s (Snedker, Johnson and Spieth) x (Pepperell, Dredge and Dinwiddie)
9 ew doubles – 0.25pt ew @ odds from 132/1 to 4535/1
Weekly outlay = 18.5pts
Running total = 109.5pts