USPGA Review – Jason finally has his Day (…..sorry!)
After two previews with zero returns, had the third also been fruitless then it may well have proved to be the last. However my feeling that Jason Day was going to win was similar to that which I had at this years Masters regarding Jordan Spieth, very strong. So upping the stakes and going with one solid pick turned out to be a great success and the site is now in overall profit for the 3 weeks. (73pts advised, 105.8pts returned for a ROI of 45%)
In reality Day looked like the winner all weekend and barely faltered whatsoever. But that’s not to say it wasn’t still a nervy experience for his backers on Sunday, never more so than straight after his chunked wedge when sitting in A1 position on the 9th fairway. The panic was short-lived though as he saved par and then played a near flawless back 9, oozing the perfect concoction of power, accuracy and touch. Despite the murmurs of it being too easy a major with its record breaking score, I found the US PGA to be one of the more enjoyable Majors of recent years with an immaculate golf course allowing the world’s best golfers to play some truly breath-taking golf. To cap it off we got perhaps the most deserving major winner of the last 5 years and a hugely popular one at that.
The usual post major lull will hit both the PGA Tour and European Tour this week although there is still a decent enough field assembled on both sides of the Atlantic and I’m going to run through my thoughts for both quickly followed by 3 outright picks in each followed by any other bets that I might like. If it’s a succesful format then I might keep it going during these lower profile weeks.
Made in Denmark
Held at Himmerland Golf and Spa Resort in Farso near Aalborg, this tournament had its inaugural running last year and was a massive success with some of the highest crowds seen for a regular European Tour event. It hasn’t attracted too many of the biggest names so a fairly average looking field arrives in Denmark to tackle the relatively short, exposed 7,033 yard Par 71 course. With only one running so far there isn’t a lot of course form to go on so instead I have decided to look quite closely at last year’s winner, Scotland’s Marc Warren for more information. Warren at his best is a great ball striker served by one of the best swings on the European Tour. He is a deadly putter and thrives on windy, links courses. He has won 3 European Tour titles ; The Scandanavian Masters in 2006 at Barseback Golf and Country Club, Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in 2007 and then the 1st Made in Denmark last season.
Whenever I think of Gleneagles I immediately think of a few courses that correlate nicely with Gleneagles. Crans in Switzerland (Omega European Masters), Doha Golf Club (Qatar Masters) and Barseback. As already mentioned Warren has won at two of these and only this year he finished 2nd in Qatar. Thomas Bjorn has won at Crans, Qatar, Gleneagles and came 4th at this course last year. Paul Lawrie has won at Qatar and Gleneagles. Robert Karlsson has won at Crans, Qatar and lost in a playoff to Warren at Barseback. Even Joakim Haeggman had 2 of his 3 career wins at Barseback and Qatar. The list goes on with countless players cropping up on the leaderboards at these same courses over the years.
Some may think “so what?” but it’s a method that can often throw up a winner. Many golfers just feel more comfortable on certain types of courses and it’s no coincidence that most of the courses above have undulating, exposed fairways (bar Crans which is tree-lined) and require a very sharp short game. So I’m looking for players that have performed well in the last couple of years at Qatar Masters and Omega European Masters, are in decent form and preferably better than average putters.
Marc Warren is favourite this week and rightly so. He arrives here off the back of a T48th at Whistling Straits and a T25th at Firestone. Not amazing but playing in fields that make this look like a Sunday Medal. Prior to that he looked set to win the Paul Lawrie Matchplay until a slight back injury prevented him from playing his best towards the end of a long week, losing in the Semi Finals to eventual winner Aphibarnrat. Warren is simply in great form, is suited to the course and on his day is one of the best in this field. His odds look poor but it must be noted that the opposition does too so I think he is worth a win only play at 11.5 on Betfair.
Johan Carlsson is also in good recent form with a T9th at the Matchplay and a T16th at Crans with no over par rounds and 68% of greens hit and 12th in Putts Per Round. This isn’t one of his strongest attributes usually so to me that was worth noting. Carlsson finished 13th and 16th the last two years in Qatar hitting a 65 on both occasions so we know he can go low when conditions suit. Carlsson isn’t the most accurate off the tee but last year’s winner Warren only hit 50% of fairways so it clearly isn’t the most crucial of factors at Himmerland. The clincher for me with Johan was another course link. He has only won once as a professional on The Challenge Tour. This win was at the Kazakhstan Open and the previous winner at that same course was Tommy Fleetwood who has won at Gleneagles. Another tedious link to some no doubt but enough for me to think that he can go well at a big price.
As I have mentioned Robert Karlsson has already won at both Qatar and Crans with the lost playoff at Barseback. So he is a great fit for the course but he also arrives in impressive form, having made the final of the Paul Lawrie Matchplay at Murchar Links. While he hasn’t won for a few years that performance will have given him confidence and looks overpriced if anywhere near his best.
Like most Donald Ross designed courses, Sedgefield favours those that arrive with their whole game in good shape. This event has been held here since 2008 so there is plenty course form to study along with form at numerous other Donald Ross (DR) designs which the PGA Tour visits (East Lake, Aronimink, Oak Hill, Oakland Hills)
I’m not going to overthink this too much as there is a decent field with 7/8 top class players lining up so I’ve found three proven winners that arrive playing well with a solid bank of form around DR courses. They also rank highly on Par 4 Scoring and Scrambling which are possibly two of the more important attributes at Sedgefield.
Brandt Snedeker is vying for favouritism and on first look he appears a bit short at 16/1. However he closed impressively last week at the USPGA and has had a good enough 2015 considering he has been hampered by a hip injury. A Top 20 last week suggests he is over that and Brandt has performed well on a number of DR courses, finishing 9th at the US Open in 2014 at Pinehurst and winning the Tour Championship at East Lake in 2012. He ranks 10th in Par 4 Scoring and 5th in Scrambling. Add to that a win in the Wyndham at a different course with 2 further Top 5s at Sedgefield and Snedeker looks primed to get his 2015 going again.
Bill Haas is a player I have had some joy backing over the last few years. When playing well Haas has the all-round game to challenge the best but we normally see him coming to the fore in the tier below Majors/WGCs. He has a couple of Top 10s here and usually plays nicely around DR courses. Bill finished down the field last week but prior to that had a 25th at Firestone and a T4th at the Quicken Loans. Ranks 32nd in Scrambling and 46th in Par 4 Scoring.
Carl Pettersson won the first staging of this and has had several Top 10 finishes since 2008. He can be a little patchy with his form and missed the cut last week but prior to that he was T4th at the Quicken Loans and is never without a chance around his favourite courses. Looks a decent price and I’d expect him to play well again.
Made in Denmark
Marc Warren – 2pts win @ 11.5
Robert Karlsson – 1pt ew @ 40/1
Johan Carlsson – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1 and 1pt Top 10 @ 7.4
Brandt Snedeker – 2pts ew @ 16/1
Bill Haas – 1pt ew @ 28/1
Carl Pettersson – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1
In addition to these main bets I’m going to do each way cross doubles with the selections above at 0.25pt ew. The cross doubles just means that I will combine each of the European Tour selections with each of the PGA Tour selections to give 9 each way bets. This is a good way to have a betting interest in the golf each week for lower stakes but still with the potential for decent returns. Obviously for a return you need to get one player from each tournament in the Top 5 while the dream is to get both winners!
9 ew cross doubles (Warren, Karlsson, Carlsson) x (Snedeker, Haas, Pettersson)- 0.25pt ew @ odds ranging from 209/1 to 5426/1
Johan Carlsson + Carl Pettersson Top 20 All Swedish Double – 0.5pt @ 15/1
This weeks outlay = 18pts
Total outlay = 91pts
Total returns to date = 105.8