It was quite a successful week last week with Kevin Na and Patrick Reed both finishing in the places but it could have been so much better. With Justin Rose having won in Hong Kong on Sunday morning Kevin Na would have brought up the 202/1 winning double if he had managed to win The Shriners. I didn’t see much of it but I turned on about 11pm to find Na one shot behind the clubhouse lead with 4 holes left to play and at least 2 of them playing fairly easy. So when he birdied the 16th to tie the -16 lead I was pretty confident that it would be a playoff at worst for him. I was promptly regretting that at the 17th when Na found himself just short of the green but with a fairly lush fringe between him and the hole. The one key attribute that made me pick him last week was his excellent scrambling ability. This made it all the more hard to take when he duffed his chip shot into the fringe to leave himself with a 12ft par save that just missed agonisingly on the high side. He rallied well and played the 18th strongly to give himself a 15 footer for a playoff but again the putt just wouldn’t drop.
Whether I will ever manage to back him again I don’t know, he is a supremely talented golfer and battled back well from his demoralising driving yips of 4 years ago. But there is no question that his pre shot routine slows down dramatically when he is in contention and he looked a bag of nerves over the last few holes. He gave an excuse in his post round interview that suggested an awkward lie on 17 but for such a good chipper it would have been a routine up and down on Thursday or Friday for him. For the future Na is definitely one of those players worth laying back when in contention as it’s hard to be too confident of him getting over the line. He traded as low as 1.80 or so and as I was about to lay my stake back he duffed his chip and I couldn’t get it matched.
As for Hong Kong it was fairly obvious Rose would play well and go close but as I wrote he felt a bit short at 6/1. However with his long game so much better than the majority of the field when he plays in Europe it could be that he manages to rack up a few easy wins in Asia as Westwood did when he was the same age with similar long game prowess. Rose might be worth reconsidering at 6/1 in similar fields in the future.
Last week’s 20.29 pts returns from the two places and two diluted ew doubles gives the following running results.
Total Pts advised – 224 pts
Total Returns – 322.26pts
ROI – 43.87%
This week the PGA Tour makes its now regular stop out East in Malaysia for the CIMB Classic. The European Tour begins its Final Series with the top players heading to Turkey for the Turkish Airlines Open.
Ryan Moore isn’t even in the first 5 in the betting this week as he looks to get his hands on this trophy for the 3rd year in a row. I backed him last year at 14/1 along with many others as he was certainly a popular pick. This year coming off a fairly unspectacular 43rd place at the Shriners he sits at 20/1 and for me looks the most likely winner unless Stenson takes to the course immediately as the 7/1 favourite. Last week’s shock winner rookie Smylie Kauffman served to prove just how much strength in-depth there is in the PGA Tour right now so short prices should probably be avoided heading into an ultra-competitive 2016 season but when a player is 2 from 2 at a course he is going to prove hard to leave out at 20/1.
With Moore as a two-time winner on the course you would expect Kuala Lumpur Golf Club to reward accurate driving but a look at some of the other players who have done well there over the 2 runnings of this (and recent Malaysian Opens) and you will see less accurate drivers like Gary Woodland have prospered. Moreover, Greens in Regulation looks to be most important with Lahiri, Westwood and Aphibarnrat all having won there.
Given this is a co-sanctioned event with Asian Tour, it usually doesn’t have the best of fields which has probably suited Ryan Moore who has never quite managed to push towards the very top-level of World Golf despite having one of the best Amateur/College golf records of recent times. Which suggests that it might be worth looking at players with a similar profile who have the game to compete with the best but maybe not quite the belief to take one of the bigger titles they play for. This year’s running looks a little stronger down the field but is still lacking any of the game’s very best except Stenson.
The course is a short par 72 at 6951 yards with tree-lined fairways and small, fiddly greens which are Sea Isle Supreme grass (basically a sea paspalum I believe). Other courses to feature sea paspalum greens for reference are El Cameleon (Mayakoba Classic), Trump International (Puerto Rico Open) and Kiawah Island (2012 USPGA). The conditions will be warm and humid with rain expected over the four days.
John Senden finished 7th in last year’s renewal and has exactly the right sort of neat and tidy game which can prosper around KL Golf Club. At his best he is a fairways and greens machine but over the years his short game has let him down and stopped him from winning more than twice on Tour. However hailing from Australia he is used to the grainier greens that we find this week at KL Golf Club. His putting stats have improved the last few years and on a course he likes, where he will hit more of these smaller greens than most, I’d expect him to go well again. Senden arrives here off the back of a T16th last week so he appears to be in some sort of form and looks slightly over priced at 66/1.
Alex Cejka was a bit of a journey man on the PGA Tour until last year when he finally got his first win at the age of 43. He was a multiple winner on other tours but had always came up short on the main Tour. Cejka is an accurate driver of the ball so will keep it in play around KLGC. His win came at the Puerto Rico Open which has small, sea paspalum greens and a similar climate to that of Kuala Lumpur. Cejka also tied for 2nd last week at the Shriners Open so arrives in good form and also looks over priced at 125/1.
I decided I can’t leave Ryan Moore out. Last week was annoying enough seeing Rose win but you don’t get too disconsolate at missing out on a 6/1 winner. But if Moore were to complete his hat trick bid at 20/1 unbacked then I would certainly be annoyed. He completes the line-up.
Turkish Airlines Open
It’s the third running of this tournament with the first two having been won by Victor Dubuisson and then Brooks Koepka. The course at Belek is The Montgomerie Maxx course and as you would expect with those two winners it is a relatively open course with forgiving rough where you can let rip off the tee on most holes. They are both big hitters with aggressive iron games which helped yield winning scores of -24 and -17 respectively. The course is 7133 Yards long and a Par 72 with five Par 5s and water in play around several of the bent grass greens. So long driving combined with an accurate iron game looks the way to go again.
Alexander Levy fits the aggressive bomber profile down to a tee although he does appear to have attempted to become more accurate off the tee this year with his average driving distance down somewhat. Normally he likes to get his driver out there and fire at every single flag which can allow him to contend on good weeks but also results in his fair share of missed cuts when off his game or playing on a course that doesn’t suit. Both Levy’s wins have come on bent grass greens where low scoring was the order of the week. His 1st win was also out east in China and his 2nd win was at the rain shortened Portugal Masters last year where other big hitters like Quiros and Colsaerts have solid records.
He hasn’t been in the greatest of form but he did have a T17th finish at the British Masters three weeks ago on a course that wouldn’t have suited him which that suggests that something was working for him. He was T11th last year on his first go at this course and a further look at his stats show 25th for driving accuracy, 11th for driving distance and 7th for greens in regulation for the week. While it’s a leap of faith perhaps to think he can win again this week his price of 80/1 looks very nice indeed when compared to some of those at the head of the market. When we consider he is arriving with sound course knowledge this time around I’d expect him to resort to his aggressive approach and go low this week.
My shortlist for this comprised of a few big hitters and Peter Uihlein was one of the first names down. He is renowned for his big hitting, birdie heavy game but also his ability to throw in several double bogeys over the course of a tournament due to his erratic driving. Yet when you get him on the right course he is still an excellent talent. When he first joined the tour at a similar time to his friend Brooks Koepka they both looked destined for the top. Uihlein is a former US Amateur Champion and if anything he looked like he may have been the better of the two. He got his first win out of the way in 2013 but has struggled for consistency ever since. Although a T13 last week would point towards a small turnaround and he finished T11th at this course last year which confirms he is suited to the course. 66/1 is fairly generous for a player who still threatens to be top class and arrives with his game in decent shape.
The combination of struggling for a third pick and the respect that must be afforded to Mcilroy in a relatively weak field are pushing me towards including a win only single on him. He is definitely going to make the each way doubles as he is easily the best player in the field and we have seen him go off at the same price (9/2) in better class, full fields in recent years. So with just 77 players to beat here it doesn’t look the worst price ever on a course where his length off the tee will benefit him massively. But there are just about enough question marks coming off a very normal looking T26th two weeks ago at the Frys.com Open. Mcilroy cuts a spoiled brat like figure these days when he falls out of contention and it won’t be winning him any new fans amongst those that follow the game closely. When you compare that attitude with others at the top who battle for every single stroke I think I can afford to leave him out when he won’t be too focussed this weak given that he still leads the European Tour money list and there are another 3 weeks to go after this.
I like both Andy Sullivan and Thomas Pieters’ chances but despite them having impressive multiple win seasons, they look very short in the betting at 20/1 and 25/1 respectively. So I’m going to have a very small interest in Jorge Campillo who had a T6th finish last time out at the Portugal Masters. A finish that makes me think he will be suited to this challenge and is a monster price at 200/1 in a 78 man field.
Summary of bets
Ryan Moore – 1pt ew @ 20/1
John Senden – 1pt ew @ 50/1
Alex Cejka – 0.5pt ew @125/1
Turkish Airlines Open
Alexander Levy – 1pt ew @ 80/1
Peter Uihlein – 1pt ew @ 66/1
Jorge Campillo – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1
3×3 0.25 ew doubles (Moore, Senden and Cejka x Mcilroy (9/2), Levy, Uihlein)
Additional 0.25pts ew on Moore + Mcilroy double
1pt double – Scott Brown Top 20 CIMB + Andy Sullivan Top 10 Turkey @ 27/1
Weekly pts advised – 16pts
Total pts advised – 240pts