It was a poor week a fortnight ago as there were no returns despite an encouraging start from Keith Horne in Russia. Unfortunately I had no time to write anything last week as I was on holiday but hopefully some of you might have got on Eddie Pepperell (Tweeted last week @thegreek82) who finished in a tie for 5th after looking like he might finally get his win during a great run on Sunday only to finish a few shots shy of now two-time winner Thomas Pieters. He is a great example of a hugely talented young golfer who took a little while to learn how to win but kept knocking on the door. This happens a lot on the European Tour and I will be keeping an eye on Eddie Pepperell, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Tyrell Hatton over the closing weeks of the season as they all chase their 1st wins after all coming so close in 2015.
Total points advised prior to this week – 127.5
Points returned – 208.49
ROI – 63.5%
After a week off the Fed Ex Playoffs really start to hot up as the top 70 make their way to Chicago and Conway Farms Golf Club. This Tom Fazio designed, 7198 yard, Par 71 course has only held one previous PGA Tournament which happened to be the BMW in 2013. It was won by Zach Johnson on -20 and some other key names on the leaderboard were Jim Furyk, Jason Day, Luke Donald, Steve Stricker, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Jones.
The first thing I notice with that list is how important the wedge game and putting must have been given they are some of the best in and around the greens. Lucky for the punting world, some of those are in great form again two years later so there are some stand out picks. There are a lot of sub stories with regards who can qualify for next week not to mention who can get into the Top 5 of the Fed Ex and therefore leave their destiny in their own hands the following week. But while that can have a bearing further down the field, most Fed-Ex Playoff events are won by players already in top form which makes this week quite straight-forward for me.
Form on Tom Fazio courses was also of interest to me and some of his high-profile redesigns include Augusta National, Quail Hollow (home of the Wells Fargo Championship) Oak Hill (2013 US PGA Championship) and Riviera Country Club (The Northern Trust Open) in addition to original designs like PGA National (Honda Classic) and Sea Island (McGladrey Classic)
Jim Furyk stands out like a sore thumb.3rd here in 2013 after carding a 59 in round 2, a solid record at The Masters, won at Quail Hollow in 2006, 2nd at 2013 USPGA Championship and a series of Top 15s at Riviera. His recent form is also excellent with a T4th at the Deutsche Bank following a T11th at The Barclays. With Furyk’s confidence restored after finally breaking his 5 year drought earlier in the season at The Heritage he looks like he is trending towards another win. Throw in the fact that he won his only Major in Illinois back in 2003 and Furyk looks a stand out bet to go close in familiar surroundings.
Zach Johnson won here in 2013 and is having another excellent season. He has a history of repeatedly playing well on courses that suit his game with dual wins coming at both The Crowne Plaza and Valero Texas Open as well as regularly contending at The John Deere Classic. He has form on Fazio redesigns having won The Masters in 2007, finishing T8th at The 2013 US PGA Championship and a series of decent finishes at other Fazio layouts over the last 10 years. I simply can’t leave him out even at odds of 22/1.
My 3rd pick was tougher this week. I expect Jason Day and Rory Mcilroy both to play very well this week so I might include one of them in my 3×3 doubles. But for the single I have decided to go with Robert Streb through a couple of Tom Fazio course links as much as anything given that he isn’t in spectacular form with two T39s so far in the Play-Offs. But his only win came at the Tom Fazio redesigned Sea Island in October last year and he finished T4th at Quail Hollow earlier this year. Throw in his impressive showings in some of this summer’s biggest tournaments and I think he can go well again at a course that should suit his accurate iron play.
The European Tour returns to Golf Club Milano after a 25 year break with Sky Sports’ very own Richard Boxall the last to get the better of this 7159 yard, Par 72, parkland course in 1990. Other past winners include Sandy Lyle and Jose Maria Canizares. So with limited course form to go on I’m going to again look at the type of player that figured here despite the long break adding in current form to give me my three picks.
Eddie Pepperell is proving a very interesting follow on Twitter these days and today he tweeted that Italian fellow Tour player Marco Crespi had commented on how hard the fairways were to hit around Milano. Now when someone like Crespi is making a note of that it is a bit of a concern for those that are wild off the tee. Crespi hits fairways for fun and currently sits T3 in Driving Accuracy.
Sandy Lyle at his peak was a fantastic golfer with a good allround game but he thrived on tougher, classic layouts having won his Majors at Augusta and Royal St Georges. Also recording wins at such courses as Turnberry, Woburn and Golf Club Eichenried. He was long and accurate off the tee with a very sharp short game.
Alejandro Canizares was the first player I thought of this week so I was pleased to see that he was entered in Milan and even more pleased when I noticed he had bounced back to form recently with a T12th in Holland and two more Top 20s in Scotland and Switzerland. Canizares has always came into his own on courses that suit his accurate game and he has a very impressive CV at the classic, tree-lined Wentworth including a Top 10 there just this year. His two wins have both came on tight, tree lined courses in Morocco and Russia and so this week’s test should suit him. Alejandro ranked 2nd for Driving Accuracy and 12th for Greens in Regulation last week so his long game is in great shape. Hopefully he will also be spurred on playing at a course where his father won 34 years ago and if he has a decent week with the putter then he can go well at a nice each way price of 50/1
Matt Fitzpatrick looks short enough at odds of 25/1 in this field but he has come so close to winning in recent weeks that I can’t leave him out on a course like this that he should take to instantly. His ball-striking over the last two months has probably been the best on Tour and his putting hasn’t been too shabby either. It’s one of those situations where I don’t want to miss out on his first win so will probably continue to back him at poor value prices just because he is such an obvious winner in waiting. He tailed off last week to finish 30th but fired a low round of the week 60 on Friday and was his usual solid self from tee to green ranking 12th and 16th in Driving Accuracy and GIR respectively.
Mike Lorenzo-Vera came onto my radar with a T6th at the Open De France which is a course that requires you to keep the ball in play. So I marked his card as someone who might prefer the test of a classic layout. He came back to form with a T12th last week and he ranked an impressive 4th for Driving Accuracy and 16th for GIR. Looks a good price at 150/1 and since shortlisting him I noticed that the shrewd team at Sporting Life were tipping him which is just the confidence booster I needed to include him over others this week.
Summary of Bets
Jim Furyk – 2pts ew 20/1
Zach Johnson – 1.5pts ew 22/1
Robert Streb – 0.5pts ew 80/1
Alejandro Canizares – 1pt ew @ 45/1
Matt Fitzpatrick – 1pt ew @ 25/1
Mike Lorenzo-Vera – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1
9 x 0.25 ew doubles – 3×3 – (Furyk, Johnson, Mcilroy) x (Canizares, Fitzpatrick, Lorenzo-Vera) I decided to throw Mcilroy into the 3×3 as he goes brilliantly on Fazio designs but couldn’t justify a single given his lack of recent competitive golf.
1pt Top 20 Double 20/1 – Chris Kirk (BMW) and Mikko Korhonen (Open D’Italia)
Weekly outlay – 18.5pts
Total outlay – 146pts
Total returns – 208.49