The Dunhill Links Championship was a tournament to forget for me. All four outright picks missed the 3 round cut and it’s perhaps a timely reminder that where these slightly novelty tournaments are involved, stakes should be lowered accordingly. That’s not to say Thorbjorn Olesen wasn’t a deserving winner with a great bank of Links form it’s just that there are many more variables that can lead to someone under-performing. The Top 20 bets however fared a lot better. Both Anthony Wall and Paul Dunne led the whole tournament at points over Friday/Saturday and were still both right in contention entering Sunday. Ultimately, their high finish disappeared at The Road Hole and their bogey 5s left me with two T19ths and a 2/7ths reduced pay out for very modest returns of 3.43 pts on the week. Although it’s better than nothing and leaves the blog’s running totals as follows.
Total advised – 179 pts
Total returns – 237.10
ROI – 32.36%
This week we have another slightly different tournament to look at with a matchplay team event where US take on the International team in The Presidents Cup and the European Tour stays in the UK with a trip back to Woburn after some 11 years away.
I’m going to take my own advice and not get overly carried away with stakes this week as the nature of The President’s Cup doesn’t give up a lot of value betting propositions and any course form at Woburn is extremely dated.
The Presidents Cup
For those hailing from eligible countries (everywhere bar Europe) I’m sure this biennial event is quite a big deal but it usually fails to get the heart racing for most European golf fans. There are 24 of the World’s best present but for the US team it only really sets up as a match play warm up for The Ryder Cup and for the International team there never appears to be any great cohesion given the very make up of their team. But of course golf bettors can’t always be considered normal European golf fans so there must at least be an angle in for the punters.
Twelve of The United States’ best take on twelve from around the world over four days starting on Thursday. The host course is Jack Nicklaus Golf Club in New Songdo City, South Korea and it plays as a 7413 yard Par 72. The format has been tweaked slightly at the request of the hosts with only 30pts up for grabs as oppose to the 34 from previous years. Thursday sees 5 foursome matches with 5 four-balls on the Friday. Saturday has a morning session of 4 four-balls with an afternoon session of 4 foursomes. The tournament culminates with the usual 12 singles matches on Sunday.
I’m sure most of the people reading this will know who is competing but for those that don’t the two teams with their respective World Rankings are listed below.
Jordan Spieth (1), Bubba Watson (4), Rickie Fowler (5), Dustin Johnson (8), Zach Johnson (10), Matt Kuchar (16), Jimmy Walker (17), JB Holmes (18), Patrick Reed (19), Phil Mickelson (24), Chris Kirk (27) and Bill Haas (29)
Jason Day (2), Louis Oosthuizen (13), Adam Scott (14), Hideki Matsuyama (15), Branden Grace (22), Thongchai Jaidee (31), Danny Lee (36), Marc Leishman (37), Anirban Lahiri (39), Charl Schwartzel (47), Steven Bowditch (58) and Sang Moon Bae (88)
Now the first thing I notice when comparing teams is the average World Rankings. US – 14.83 and Internationals – 33.5 This together with a US 8-1-1 (there’s been one draw) winning run over the series so far combine to make US very short favourites at 1.59 vs ROTW’s 3.1 as I write this.
Personally I don’t see a lot of value there as the International team look up against it even with “home” advantage given they have such limited match play experience compared to the US team. But they do have Jason Day along with other in form players like Danny Lee and Thongchai Jaidee. Although to make any real profits on the outright market then stakes would have to be high and I certainly don’t have the confidence or the required patriotic urge to advise a bet on this market. But given the recent trend of winning margins being 5, 4 and then 3 in 2013, it looks perfectly reasonable that this International team can keep that improving sequence going by making it a tight contest and only giving up a 2pts difference. So a small play on the correct score of US 16-14 Internationals with a saver on 16 ½ – 13 ½ looks like a cheap way to carry an outright interest through to Sunday. In short, I expect US to win but it’s a definite possibility that a couple of their big guns don’t play well after a long season and that could be enough to let a poorer but also slightly younger International team make a proper match of this.
I’ve had a long look at the individual player markets and there isn’t a great deal that excites me beyond the glaringly obvious. Jordan Spieth and Jason Day are by far the best two players on their respective sides at the moment and so head up the Team points scorer lists at 4/1 and 7/2 respectively. Neither price looks particularly generous at first glance. However as I scroll through the International team and consider the requirements this week at Jack Nicklaus Golf Club I don’t see any real threats provided Day still has something in the tank. Even then Day will be in strong pairings Thurs-Sat so I can see getting a minimum of 3 pts from the 5 that will be available to him if he plays all the matches as expected. Day is also a former WGC Matchplay Champion at a Jack Nicklaus course (Dove Mountains) and scored 3 1/2 pts / 5 in the 2013 renewal at another Jack Nicklaus design. This is no surprise as his designs are famed for being tougher as you get towards the green with a strong emphasis on approach play and scrambling. Day’s scrambling is among the best around. Factor in the temperature of his putter over the last 8 weeks and the 4.7 available on Betfair starts to look like a decent enough bet.
As for Top US player, Spieth looks a little more vulnerable even with his slightly larger price of 4/1. Spieth doesn’t quite have the length off the tee that can prove such a weapon in Matchplay golf. Of course he makes up for that with his approach play and a short game only rivalled by Jason Day right now. But there are a few players that look capable of having a good week and getting close to the 4 pts that could win this market. If, as predicted, Patrick Reed is paired again with Spieth then he will accumulate a very similar number of points. Given how brilliantly they fared in last years Ryder Cup at Gleneagles (yet another Jack Nicklaus design!) then they won’t fear anyone this week and could quite easily rack up 4/4 pts in the team events should they be given the chance. Reed’s odds of 8/1 factor all this in but he still looks a better value play than Spieth who is coming off the back of his Fed Ex Cup win and history tells us that those $12m bonus winners struggle in the immediate future for form. Although Jordan Spieth has made a career of redefining history so far, I’m still happy to side with his accomplished friend Patrick Reed at double the price. I’m also going to have a small play on both these in the Overall Points Scorer market.
The British Masters
We don’t have a lot of elite European Tour course form at Woburn to go on with only the 2001 and 2002 runnings of this tournament being held at The Marquess Course at Woburn. They were won by Thomas Levet and Justin Rose which gives us an immediate idea that it is a bit of a test tee to green. A further delve into those results back that up as Levet finished 3rd for Driving Accuracy, 1st in GIR and a lowly 71st in putting. While a year later Rose was 7th in Driving Accuracy and 5th in GIR.
A look through pictures of Woburn (above) helps corroborate that as the course winds through the forest with lots of tight tee shots and many greens that appear to only be approachable from the correct areas of the fairway. I have seen several comparisons to Wentworth a little further south and it is yet another solid tee to green test where shorter, accurate types prevail. With this in mind I have looked largely at the recent Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation stats and will use those as a guide.
Many golf punters will bemoan the need they have to continue backing certain, highly talented maidens until their first win. Often doing so at prices that aren’t really considered value. I’ve done this with a few players over the last couple of years, some with success (George Coetzee, Bernd Weisberger) and some without (Romain Wattel). Right now Matthew Fitzpatrick keeps pulling me (and plenty others!) back in. It can be even harder to avoid them if you like them as a golfer and Fitzpatrick is a very likeable character so makes it easier to back him. He’s a grounded, laid-back young man who plays at a refreshing speed compared to some of the robotic and monotonous pre-shot routines that are so rife in the game. This tight track looks ideal for him as he ranks 9th in Driving Accuracy and 6th in GIR. It is surely a matter of time before he wins and at 33/1 this week I think he is just about worth one more go.
Peter Hanson hit more greens than anyone in the field last week in Scotland and while they were largely fairly big greens that sets him up very well for a test such as Woburn. He is also familiar with the course as he finished in T11th in 2002 ranking 3rd in Driving Accuracy and 5th in GIR. At the top of his game he is a proven winner and Ryder Cup player so with his long game is in such good shape I’d expect him to contend this week.
If Woburn does play very much like Wentworth then I would expect Luke Donald to feature but his stats last week were very poor so he can easily be overlooked at just 28/1. Shane Lowry is a deserved favourite and his T19th last week will have shaken off the cobwebs for him but I still can’t help but think he is a little short at 16/1.
Another course in the same area that appears to have similarities with Woburn is Sunningdale and if that is the case then Graeme Storm will be in his element. He has qualified for The Open on several occasions at Sunningdale and openly admits to loving the course. Storm hit more greens and more fairways than anyone else two weeks ago in Germany so we know he is playing well. Even though he is hardly a prolific winner he is a fair each way price this week (125/1) at a course that could suit him perfectly.
Summary of bets
The Presidents Cup
Jason Day – Top International Points Scorer – 2pts @ 4.7 on Betfair
Jason Day – Top Overall Points Scorer – 1pt @ 10
Patrick Reed – Top US Points scorer – 2pt @ 10 on Betfair
Patrick Reed – Top Overall Points scorer – 0.5pt @ 19 on Betfair
Correct Score US 16-14 Internationals – 1pt 8/1
Correct Score US 16 1/2 – 13 1/2 Internationals – 0.5pt 10/1
The British Masters
Matthew Fitzpatrick – 1.5pt ew 33/1
Peter Hanson – 1pt ew 66/1
Graeme Storm – 0.5pts ew 125/1
0.5pt ew double – Fitzpatrick and Jason Day Top Overall Points scorer @ 305/1
Outlay – 14pts
Total Outlay – 193