With the Presidents Cup taking place in South Korea it meant I managed to watch very little so don’t have any real insight to what went on. The only 2 noteworthy occurrences that I managed to pick up on was the amazing number of hole outs than went on all week and the records of Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace. Given the two South Africans performances last week (5pts and 4 1/2pts) and their strong record in the 2015 majors it seems very likely that they will continue their form into 2016 and could well be the players to attempt to take the fight to Jason Day and Jordan Spieth.
As for the hole outs it seems that more and more of these are occurring every week and suggests to me that the overall standard of the game is improving. 2016 is already shaping up to be an excellent year for Golf.
I did however manage to watch the final round of The British Masters and what a round it was from Matt Fitpatrick. After spending the front 9 just not quite on his game and being kept at bay by both Zanotti and Kjeldsen, Matt fired 4 birdies on his back 9 and the two older men had no response to his aggressive yet controlled iron play and even with a slight wobble at the 18th he maintained a 2 shot lead for his first win as a professional. It was impressive to watch and also very pleasing after deciding it was just a matter of time before he won and he proved me right. With the manner in which he won and his undoubted talent then I imagine he will go on to win many more Tournaments however the bookmakers will be only too aware of this and some players can find the 2nd win a lot tougher than others so it may be hard to find him at a value price again for a little while. Definitely a player to a keep an eye on though.
Total points advised – 193 pts
Total points returned – 301.98pts
Return on investment – 56.47%
This week the PGA Tour 2016 season gets underway with the Frys.com Open and the European Tour is back in Continental Europe with the Portugal Masters at Villamoura in the Algarve.
With the 2015 season having only finished 2 weeks ago, the start of 2016 season is quite a different time on the PGA Tour. Given such a long year for many players, some will be turning up here with limited motivation. Others will be arriving determined to get off to a great start in order to get their card for 2017 season as early as possible and others will be arriving looking to prove that they should have been a part of last week’s Presidents Cup. Either way I think it is important to look at players that are not only suited to this week’s course but have something driving them to play well.
The course at the Silverado Resort in California is 7203 yards long and has only had one running at the course. Several players are on record saying how these are small greens that are tough to hit and even harder to get up and down when you miss. So that points me to the neat and tidy iron players who feature prominently in the proximity to hole stats but also the strong putters that will be able to make the clutch par save putts when they haven’t got their chip as close as they would have liked. A liking for fast poa annua/bent grass greens is also an advantage given their slightly specialist nature. Riviera, Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines are three other courses with similar greens.
Many in the golfing world thought Brooks Koepka should have been an original US Captain’s pick last week so when he wasn’t even drafted in to replace Jim Furyk it appeared a slightly odd decision. But JB Holmes (who replaced Furyk in the end) had a decent week and US won so the decision stood up and most of the team probably quickly forgot. Koepka on the other hand will be gutted to have missed out and he will have 1 main goal this year and that will be to make the Ryder Cup Team. There is no better start than to take an early lead in the money list so on a course where he finished in the Top 10 last year I’d expect him to feature very prominently. He is a solid iron player and scrambler but is an exceptional putter on his day sitting 17th for Strokes Gained:Putting: He is undoubtedly quite a skinny price at 18/1 this week given that he has only won once on the PGA Tour but he arrives fresh off a T2nd in Scotland 2 weeks ago where he led the field for Greens in Regulation. Koepka also has a European Tour title to his name and a further 4 Challenge Tour wins so he knows how to get over the line. I’m going to take the 18/1 as I think he will go very close this week and when we break his price down he would surely win this at least once in 19 runnings given this week’s scenario.
Other than Koepka there aren’t a lot of players that I really like this week despite the bigger prices that Mcilroy and Rose are creating. So I’m going to have a couple of small stakes plays on two proven winners that could be overpriced this week given their extra motivation.
Brandt Snedeker (50/1) and Hunter Mahan (55/1) will also both have been gutted to miss out on The Presidents Cup. They have a lot of US Team Matchplay experience already and wouldn’t have enjoyed watching it on the TV last week. Similarly to Koepka they will be looking to fly out of the blocks in 2016.
Snedeker always enjoys the California swing and is one of the best putters around on Poa annua/bentgrass having won twice at Pebble Beach and once at Torrey Pines.
Mahan will also have been left frustrated when he failed to make the Tour Championship for the first time this year. He also lost the honour of having been the only player to have played in every single playoff event since the Fed Ex Cup Series began. This will fuel Mahan further and I dont doubt he will have been using the last two weeks to get his purest of ball striking back up to speed in order to make some dollars before the Christmas break. He also finished T3rd last year so would appear to enjoy the course.
The Portugal Masters
Thorbjorn Olesen won only two weeks ago at The Dunhill Links so I’m quite surprised to see him available to back at 50/1 this week. Given his pedigree and his return to form it looks a standout piece of value in the field at the Oceanico Victoria GC in Villamoura. Olesen has already shot a 64 and a 66 at the course so it clearly fits his eye when playing well. When when we look at previous types of players to go well in this tournament there a lot of aggressive bombers taking advantage of the wide fairways that allow them more loft on their approach shots. Alvaro Quiros and Alexander Levy are two previous winners while Nicholas Colsaerts also has a credible record. They love nothing more to go flag hunting and subsequently low scoring when their putters are warm. Olesen is also fairly long and inaccurate off the tee but there was nothing wrong with his iron game 2 weeks ago and he was holing putts from everywhere. My main pick at a generous 50/1.
I’m struggling with any strong thoughts for backing anyone else but the 3 from each tournament format is currently serving me well so I will keep it going with another couple of less confident picks. Joakim Lagergren led the field for putts per round and putts per GIR at The Dunhill Links two weeks ago for a share of 4th place and also had a T3 in Italy two weeks before that. With putting so important this week as scoring looks likely to go low I think he is an ok price at 80/1 for someone in such good form.
Benjamin Herbert also finished T4 in Scotland and recorded a T10th at The Qatar Masters this year where form usually ties in very nicely with Villamoura. Good form and may outplay his general price of 80/1
Summary of bets
Brooks Koepka – 2pts ew 18/1
Brandt Snedker – 0.5pts ew 50/1
Hunter Mahan – 0.5pt ew 55/1
Thorbjorn Olesen – 1.5pts ew 50/1
Joakim Lagergren – 0.5pts ew 80/1
Benjamin Herbert – 0.5pts ew 80/1
0.15pts ew on 3×3 doubles (Koepka, Snedeker, Mahan x Olesen, Lagergren and Herbert)
0.9pts ew Koepka/Olesen double (additional bet due to higher confidence)
Weekly outlay – 15.5pts
Total outlay – 208.5pts