Alfred Dunhill Championship and Australian Open – Betting Preview

By midday on Thursday it was already beginning to look like a terrible week for me. Stenson had somehow managed to hit just 50% greens for a 77 which was only his 2nd over par round at the course in 20 attempts and 4 shots worse than the 73 from 2010. I can only assume he was injured, ill or playing left handed. But as the day wore on my interest was quickly spiked again as Kevin Kisner was putting together a great round in Georgia to take the lead on -7. With Mcilroy and Rose both bang in contention things were looking a lot better. Rose fell away as did most players leaving Rory to go head to head against Andy Sullivan on Sunday. With the Mcilroy/Kisner double having been advised I was in the unfamiliar position of supporting Mcilroy down the back 9. So when he put his tee shot on 17 into the water you can imagine how frustrating this was. Luckily that lasted for only 5 minutes as he holed a 30fter to maintain a lead and as brilliantly as Sullivan had played you always felt that Mcilroy would find a way to win.

Kisner kept the foot down all weekend and the manner of his win must surely go down as one of the most convincing for a maiden for some time as he maintained his aggression through 18 holes on Sunday to record a 6 shot victory. Kisner looks like he could well turn into a Jimmy Walker type next season where he wins several tournaments after getting off the mark. He is a very solid player without any real weakness apart from maybe not being the longest off the tee. Worth keeping an eye on him in 2016.

So the Mcilroy/Kisner double came in at 125.5/1, returning 73.15pts. Kisner returned 29.5pts and Sullivan’s Top 10 brought in 6pts. Giving a weekly return of 105.65 pts which does the following to the ongoing results;

Total pts advised – 284.50

Total pts returned – 436.41

ROI – 53.4%

This week there is no event on the PGA Tour as they wind down for a what is essentially a Christmas break. As if to keep up with the PGA Tour’s quickfire turnaround between seasons, the 2016 European Tour begins this week just 4 days after the close of the 2015 season. It heads to South Africa for the regular Alfred Dunhill Championship held at Leopard Creek. There is also the second tournament in Australia’s Triple Crown series, The Australian Open.


 

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Alfred Dunhill Championship

With so many tournaments taking place around the world in November and December it is often the time when we see some of the elite players returning home to take part in the tournaments that helped shape their careers when they were starting out. This often requires a slightly different approach when analysing them from a betting point of view. You often have to look at the favourite first and decide whether you think he is going to win and to a lesser extent, if he is a value price to do so.

This week the course in question is Leopard Creek in Malelane, SA and the favourite is last year’s champion Branden Grace, closely followed in the market by three time course winner Charl Scwartzel. The par 72 course is reasonably long at 7287 yards so getting it out there off the tee is certainly a plus on these wide fairways. Although the most important stat over the years looks to be GIR with the last three winners ranking 5th, 4th and 1st. These three tournaments were won by Branden Grace and Charl Schwrtzel (2) so it was interesting to see that they finished 3rd and T4th last week in Dubai. Those two together with Louis Oosthuizen are far and away the best three players in the field and it looks very plausible that they will fill the top 3 positions come Sunday. I’m finding it hard to seperate Grace and Schwartzel but I’m going to rule Oosthuizen out as he just hasn’t played that well over the last month and it could be that his leg injury is beginning to take it’s toll. Grace ranked 9th in GIR last week and Schwartzel just 23rd so when we factor in Charl’s lowly finish of 26th here last year and his high profile collapse to Andy Sullivan in his homeland earlier this year,  I’m beginning to side with Grace. His putting on these grainy, South African bentgrass greens is consistently of the highest standard and he has also won at Fancourt Links and Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club. Unfortunately the bookmakers agree and have Grace as short as 9/2 with Charl at 13/2. I expect Grace to win and there is no question that he is prolific as he has shown he can get over the line very easily in European Tour events with 6 wins already to his name. But I’m not convinced that I can wade in at 9/2 in a full field when there are some talented, proven winners lining up

With 5 places to fill it is worthwhile trying to find a decent each way price down the market for a single but as I can’t see anyone else winning I think my main focus will be on the doubles using both Grace and Schwartzel. However with the grainy greens that I have already mentioned I thought I would have a look to see who had the fewest putts in last years Tournament. It was Andrew Curlewis who finished in a tie for 16th place so I decided to dig a little deeper. He only hit 56.9% GIR here last year to rank in 65th place but this year on the Sunshine Tour in SA he sits in a lofty 9th place for the season with 74% of greens hit. With this improvement in his iron game and having shown a strong liking for these greens I think he could easily grab himself a Top 10 finish.His form figures in SA are 2-9-32 so he is playing well enough to also throw a very small bet on him to win just incase he does go well and sneaks a place.

 


 

Spieth

Australian Open

It was at this tournament last year around the same course (The Australian Golf Club, Sydney) where I first realised just how good Jordan Spieth was going to be. His closing 63 to win by 6 shots on a course that was playing very hard and fast was nothing short of genius. The next best round was a 68 and only 16 of the 76 strong field broke par. I immediately started backing him for The Masters and his 2015 just went from strength to strength after his Augusta win. Spieth himself credits his win down under with pushing him towards such success so he was always going to make the journey back to defend his title at the same course. I can’t see past him this week as it is a relatively weak field and the only other world class player lining up, Adam Scott, could only finish 5th last week in an even weaker event.

He is a very, very short price but I don’t see who can actually stop him winning on a course he took apart last year and on greens where his amazing putting year started. The only question mark is that we haven’t seen him defend a title yet. However I’d expect the great memories to far outweigh any pressure he may feel and he is young enough to have the energy to cope with being in the spotlight whilst also putting together 4 good rounds. . But it’s nearly impossible to go backing a 15/8 shot in full golf field when he could conceivably get injured on the first hole. The price just simply doesn’t leave enough wiggle room for occurences out with his control. Although I can’t oppose him when I expect him to win so I will include him in the each way doubles (albeit his each way price is even worse!) along with Adam Scott and increase the stakes to allow for the ridiculously short yet merited prices. Scott’s record of placing in his homeland is excellent and with Spieth bringing the spotlight to Sydney this week he will be determined to give a good showing.

Spieth’s short price does throw up some decent value in the each way market. Brett Rumford finished 3rd here last year and 6th at The Australian Masters last week. That mix of current and course form is enough to suggest some value in his top 5 price of 8/1.

Marc Leishman looks worth consideration but is probably a shade too short even for an each way play at 18/1 so I will leave it at the one place bet.

I will go with the highest stake on the Grace + Spieth double as I really do expect them both to win however obvious that may sound. The stakes for the others will be tweaked according to confidence and price so that a placed finish for Grace and Spieth will recoup most of the stakes on the doubles. If all four finish in the Top 5 in their respective Tournaments then stakes will be doubled. It’s not a week to make us rich but with good profit from last week I’m interested to see how this tactic plays out where the two markets are rightly dominated by the favourites.

I will also throw in a place double with Rumford Top 10 and Romain Wattel Top 10 in South Africa. Wattel’s long game was in great shape towards the end of the season as he was hitting greens for fun. His putting woes shouldn’t stop him going well here this week.


Summary of Bets

Alfred Dunhill Championship

Andrew Curlewis – 0.25pt ew 300/1, 1pt Top 10 18/1, 1pt Top 20 15/2

Australian Open

Brett Rumford -1pt Top 5 at 8/1

3pts ew double Grace (9/2) + Spieth (15/8) at 14.8/1

1pts ew Schwartzel (13/2) + Spieth at 20.5/1

1ptw ew Grace + Scott (13/2) at 40.25/1

0.5pt ew Schwartzel + Scott at 55.25/1

1pt Top 10 double Wattel + Rumford at 16.33/1

Weekly outlay – 15.5pts

Total pts advised – 300pts

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DP World Championship and RSM Classic – Betting Preview

While keeping up with it from Thursday through Saturday the only golf I managed to actually watch was the final round at the BMW Masters and it was an excellent spectacle from start to finish. From a betting point of view it was a case of what could have been for Byeong Hun An. He played in a more assured manner than most of the players around him on the leaderboard but he just couldn’t get the 8-12ft putts to drop and I lost count of the number that shaved the hole. If just one had dropped then he could have easily made the play off. Broberg, Bjerregard and indeed Garcia all hit nervy shots down the back 9 so it really did look like Benny’s for the taking once he got to -15. It wasn’t to be though and Kristoffer Broberg got his 1st European Tour win and on the whole he probably deserved it. There were 8.5pts returned for An’s  ¾ share of a place.

In the US there was another rain interrupted tournament and it was also a complete washout for my bets. In hindsight the Mayakoba Classic winner was quite easy to find given we knew it was a fairways and greens course. Graeme Mcdowell had been threatening something for a few months now and while fellow play-off protagonist Russell Knox’s price was maybe a bit skinny, 35/1 about an improving class act like GMac on a course that was always going to suit now looks like some fair value and well done to Ben Coley (@BenColeyGolf) who tipped him. I’m struggling to get a hold on these early season PGA Tour events myself and may lower the stakes stateside this week to allow a larger play on my strong fancy in Europe (well, Dubai)

Running totals after 15 weeks are –

Total advised pts – 268.50

Total returned pts – 330.76

ROI – 23.19%

This week the PGA Tour heads back over the border and along to Sea Island, Georgia for the RSM Classic while we have the Race to Dubai Finale on the European Tour with a stellar field assembled for the DP World Championship.


HenrikDP World Championsip

I’m going to start with the European Tour this week as that’s where my most confident bet since Jason Day in the US PGA lies. Played at the Jumeirah Golf Estates (Earth Course) in Dubai the DP World Championship is in its 7th running with the 6 previous editions being won by Stenson(2), Mcilroy, Quiros, Karlsson and Westwood.

That immediately suggests long, accurate driving together with a sound long iron game and that’s exactly what is needed around this Greg Norman designed, 7675 yard Par 72. With plenty water in play off the tee you simply can’t spray it about and hope to contend. The undulating greens also have protection from the ponds so distance control is paramount. It’s no surprise then that Henrik Stenson has won the last two here by a combined margin of 8 shots. If you were to design a perfect golf course just for Henrik Stenson then this would undoubtedly be it. Forget your Rory Mcilroys, Jason Days and Jordan Spieths, for me when at the top of his game there is simply nobody in the world as good as Henrik from tee to green. Two years ago here when he strolled his way to a 6 shot victory was one of the finest performances I have seen. This was a player in complete control of his golf ball. So it was interesting to note last week that he led the field with 90% of greens hit and was 15th for fairways hit. He averaged an awful 31.5 putts per round compared with Broberg’s 28.5 but Stenson finished just 1 shot behind Broberg. Giving up 12 strokes on the greens shows just what Stenson’s long game can do. He can contend without holing anything. Indeed even on his last two wins here he has averaged 30.25 putts / round. So I’m not in the least bit bothered about his flat stick this week on a course that his ball striking does the talking. He can do his damage on the Par 5s, keep his bogeys to a minimum and surely go very close again if not win. The bookmakers are obviously onto him this week but I can’t work out just how Mcilroy is favourite ahead of the big Swede. It’s not the greatest price in the world about a player who can struggle over the line at times but Stenson is a different beast around this course and it is a confident if very unoriginal pick.

There isn’t a lot else to fancy this week so I’m going with Stenson only in the outright but will play Rose and Mcilroy for the each way doubles. They both have strong records around the course with Rose holding the course record 62 and Mcilory having won here as well as four other Top 5s. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if these three were the first home in whatever order as the rest of the field will struggle to compete with their long games.

Speaking of long games, Andy Sullivan’s looked in great shape last week again but he struggled on the greens. I don’t expect that to be too much of a problem this week and he looks like he is primed for a Top 10 finish so I’m going to include that as my only other single bet on the tournament.


RSM Classic

The RSM Classic takes place this week at Sea Island Golf Club, Georgia. It is in its 6th running, being known as The Mcgladrey Classic until this year due to a change of sponsor. The resort itself is very picturesque and has resulted in many Tour pros setting up home in the Sea Island area. Indeed this tournament was actually initiated by Davis Love III and Zach Johnson two of the biggest stars to live there. There are several other players who reside there and it is definitely worth paying close attention to those who will be able to sleep in their own beds this week while playing on a course they know intimately.

This week as well as the regular Seaside course all the field well get one round on the Plantation course. The main Seaside course is a 7055 yard par 70 with fairways of average width but some thick rough and water if you do venture off course.  The Plantation plays at 7,058 yards but is a Par 70. The greens are bermuda grass and are some of the larger we will see on Tour but they can be tough to read. A look at the last 5 winners shows a mix of accurate drivers, neat and tidy wedge games but above all strong putters; Robert Streb, Chris Kirk, Tommy Gainey, Ben Crane and Heath Slocum being those five men. A further look at recent leaderboards shows the likes of David Toms, Webb Simpson and Brendan De Jonge having gone well.

Kevin Kisner arrives here off the back of reminding the bookies just how good he can be with a 2nd place finish at the WGC HSBC Champions in Shangai so his price this week for a non-winner is not the greatest. But he finished 4th here last year, arrives with better form than everyone bar Russell Knox and he also attended University of Georgia further north in Athens. Kisner showed in 2015 that he could contend on any course where accuracy was favoured over length and he did everything but win with 3 playoff losses. Two of those play off losses came on classical layouts with bermuda greens at The Players and RBC Heritage so we know he putts well on bermuda. Unlike so many players who come up short, Kisner has never really thrown away a tournament, always being beaten by inspired golf from his peers. Kisner has two wins on the Web.com Tour, one of those was the Mylan Classic where last years’s Mcgladrey winner Robert Streb has also won. They are both accurate sorts who can excel on the greens so that makes sense. With the confidence boost that his WGC performance will have given him I’d expect him to arrive in Georgia refreshed after a week off and looking to chase down his 1st win. His price doesn’t really give us much value but I’m convinced he looks like the most likely winner this week.

Several other “Georgia Bulldogs” were worth consideration this week and I noticed that Hudson Swafford also attended the University of Georgia. Swafford is a good ball striker and long driver of the ball who had a fairly solid 2015 season without ever really getting into contention anywhere, 6 Top 25s but just the one Top 10. His only win as a professional came in Georgia at The University’s home course in Athens and returning to Georgia this week I’d expect that added incentive to propel him to the correct end of the leaderboard at a course where he finished 12th last year.

Nothing else really appeals to me here so I’m going to just go with those two and also only play 3×2 ew doubles but alter the stakes slightly to allow for the low odds in Europe.


Summary of bets

DP World Championship

Henrik Stenson – 4pts win @ 7.0, 3pts Top 5 @ 2.38

Andy Sullivan – 1pt Top 10 @ 5/1

RSM Classic

Kevin Kisner – 1pt ew @ 22/1

Hudson Swafford – 0.5pt ew 125/1

 3 x 0.50pts ew doubles (Stenson, Mcilroy, Rose) x Kisner

3 x 0.25 ew doubles (Stenson, Mcilroy, Rose) x Swafford

Additional 0.25pts ew double Stenson + Kisner

Weekly pts advised – 16pts

Total pts advised – 284.5pts

BMW Masters and OHL Mayakoba Classic – Betting Preview

I would love to see the bookmakers results from the HSBC Champions as I really can’t see how anyone would have backed Scottish/American hybrid Russell Knox to win it even with his known ability. Indeed the only thing more surprising than Knox winning was the fact that Graeme Mcdowell has been pushed down to 2nd place in “Most cringeworthy accents on PGA  Tour”. That said, Knox seems like a decent guy and the way he closed out the tournament was very impressive. Starting the week as 7th reserve and then once in the field, playing in his first ever WGC without even a regular win on the PGA Tour it was hard to see him holding on even down the stretch on Sunday with a three shot lead. From a personal point of view I noted last week how important proximity to the hole stats would be this week so it was particularly annoying to check these on Sunday morning and find Knox finished the 2015 season sitting 2nd behind only Jim Furyk. Leishman, Fowler and Oosthuizen never really contended despite Leishman getting my hopes up with a 65 on Saturday to get himself inside the Top 10.

With a weather affected tournament the Sanderson Farms Championship very nearly turned into a non-event. However with two rounds to play I took a little more interest again once Michael Thompson (125/1) got himself into the Top 5. I wish I hadn’t bothered. He bogeyed his final hole of his 3rd round and struggled to get anything going during his 4th round to finish down in 20th place. Quite frustrating as he led the field in Strokes Gained:Putting over the first two rounds and was looking good for a place. The winner was yet another young 1st time winner, Peter Malnati who led the field a merry dance on the putting greens to achieve a Strokes Gained:Putting rating of 11.85 which according to Twitter sits inside the Top 10 recorded since 2004. Impressive.

Another losing week leaves the running total as follows;

Total points advised – 254

Total points returned – 322.26

ROI – 26.88%

This week the European Tour stays in Shangai for the penultimate tournament of the 2015 season, The BMW Masters at Lake Malaren . The PGA Tour crosses the border to Mexico for the OHL Mayakoba Classic at El Cameleon in Playa Del Carmen.


The BMW Masters

With Danny Willett’s strong finish last week the Race to Dubai is set up perfectly with two tournaments to play. Willett has closed the gap and Mcilroy isn’t playing this week so he will be looking to overhaul the World No.3 to give himself the best possible chance of finishing the season on top of the points list. I read somewhere that a Top 25 finish would do it so it looks likely that Willett will hold his form at least enough to accomplish that goal.

There is no doubt that will be the story of the week but for the punters there is a puzzle to solve with regards winning the tournament. The BMW Masters is in its 5th running this week with the past champions being Marcel Siem, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Peter Hanson and Rory Mcilroy. The course is a long one at 7607 yards and is a Par 72 designed by Jack Nicklaus. The fairways are wide and exposed and there is plenty water in play. As well as those four previous editions we can look at some of the other many Jack Nicklaus designs that they face on Tour.

With the winners enclosure list at Lake Malaren we can assume it is a ball strikers course above anything while length off the tee is an advantage without being necessary. As ever, the norm for Jack Nicklaus designs is for the challenge to become harder as you get nearer the green which sits nicely with GIR machines like Hanson, Mcilroy and Fernandez-Castano having won here. But none of those could be described as excellent scramblers and putters which suggests that just hitting greens isn’t overly tough here but hitting it close to the flag is the way to get it done. That is backed up by the fact Lake Malaren has some of the larger greens you will see on Tour. So I’m going to keep with this theme and look at in form ball-strikers who will give themselves plenty of short birdie putts. Then even if they only hole their fair share they should still contend on greens where 3 putts will be in abundance for those that can’t find the right areas. Each of the front three in the market could win this at a canter with their A game but the market is only too aware of that and they all look short enough in what is a very strong European Tour field. It looks like a week to find some value in the middle of the market to me.

LevyAlexander Levy looked like he might reward me with a contending week a couple of weeks ago in Turkey only to fall away after a terrible start to his 3rd round. But at 50/1 this week he represents some decent value at a course where he excelled for 63 holes last year before blowing up on the home stretch. The large greens allow this aggressive player to fire at the flags and with the rain softened conditions of the greens this week, his aggression can be rewarded. He isn’t the most accurate off the tee but he is long and his T20 in Turkey came with a GIR ranking of 1st and 81%. I’m convinced he will focus on the good memories from those first 63 holes rather than the bad memories from his closing 9 holes. Levy is a pretty solid putter from the 10ft-15ft range so if his irons are dialled in then he looks primed to out play his price.

An in-form Ross Fisher is one of the best tee to green on the European Tour and he has 5 ET wins to his name as well as a career year in The Majors in 2009 when he finished 30th, 5th, 13th and 19th. He has gone off the boil a little bit since then only to pop back up every now and then with a contending performance. His last win came in March of 2014 and he struggles for consistency but last week’s finish of T3rd came along with some great stats for the week as he ranked 6th in fairways hit and 10th in GIR.  Fisher came 2nd here in 2014 and so he clearly likes the course. He certainly isn’t one of the best putters around but neither was Fernandez-Castano so with his iron game on song he can contend again this week where he will be fully acclimatised to the Shanghai conditions having played there last week.

Byeong Hun An is a player I’ve followed closely this year since his win at Wentworth and I’m convinced it won’t be long until he wins again. Two weeks ago this well renowned accurate ball striker actually came 2nd for putts/round in Turkey. A solid 19th  place finish last week will set up nicely for the test this week and I’d expect him to pound the greens at Lake Malaren. If his putter is still even slightly warm then he could run away with this where his errant driving (50% fairways hit last week) won’t be punished.


OHL Mayakoba Classic

The PGA Tour takes its now regular jaunt down to Mexico this week and the El Cameleon Golf Club in Playa Del Carmen. The course is quite a short, fiddly, tree-lined Par 71 at 6987 yards long. The greens are sea paspalum again as we were in Kuala Lumpur 2 weeks ago. This is the 4th running at this course and the previous three winners are John Huh, Harris English and Charley Hoffmann. All three are good drivers of the ball and when you look at photos of the narrow fairways with fairly lush rough you can see why the course generally suits the more accurate types. While there are no doubt some very accurate 2016 rookies, if we look at the winners so far this season like Smilie Kaufman and Peter Malnati they have been doing it on courses where they can simply get the ball out there and putt their way to victory. While there is no reason to think another fearless rookie can’t go in again this week, I think there are just about enough tricks at the El Cameleon course to make it very hard for someone to arrive and win on their first look. So without ruling them out I’m going to try and look more closely at those that have played here before and know exactly the type of test they face.

FedEx St. Jude Classic - Final RoundHarris English hasn’t been in the greatest of form lately but he opened with a 67 last week in Shanghai before struggling to keep up with the pace and finishing in a decent enough share of 23rd, ranking 22nd for driving accuracy and 18th in GIR. He is a two-time winner on Tour but both of those wins came in 2013 and so he will be looking to get back on track this season after a disappointing 2015 season. He is a former winner around here and the course seems to suit him. His other win came at The Fed Ex St Jude Classic which is actually one of the harder tournaments on Tour with fairways and greens rather difficult to find. While the scoring at Mayakoba is considerably easier, both courses are similar in that they need an accurate tee to green game to prosper. English should hopefully contend this week on one of his favourite courses where his price probably just about fair but it could have been worse given his strong course form and a relatively weak field. His travelling from Shanghai should be negated somewhat by the fact that a lot of these players will have had a late finish at the Sanderson Farms on Monday and will have had a similarly interrupted preparation.

Alex Cejka didn’t quite do himself justice two weeks ago when I backed him. But I’m applying the same logic to him again this week. To recap, a winner at the Puerto Rico Open in the summer on sea paspalum greens in hot and humid conditions. Cejka is also a very accurate player that sat T3rd last year with a round to go only to finish with a two over par 73 to fall down to T16th. With a recent win under his belt if he finds himself in that situation again I expect him to deal with it in a more convincing manner. I’m going to give him one more chance this week at 70/1 (going fast on Paddy Power)

Chez Reavie regained his PGA card with an impressive showing at the Web.com Final series, finishing 1st in the mini money list. So with his full card for the 2016 season and after winning again on the Web.com Tour he will be looking to get his 2nd PGA Tour win having not won on Tour since his 2008 Canadian Open win at Glen Abbey. As well as having strong recent success I was drawn to a couple of his PGA Tour stats from the 2015 season. He ranked 3rd in driving accuracy and 4th in proximity to hole. That looks like a deadly combination around El Cameleon so for a player full of confidence, he looks worth a small play at 100/1 even though he is making his El Cameleon debut.

Summary of bets

BMW Masters

Alexander Levy 1pt ew @ 50/1

Ross Fisher – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Byeong Hun An – 1pt ew @ 40/1

OHL Mayakoba Classic

Harris English – 1pt ew @ 28/1

Alex Cejka – 0.5pt ew @ 70/1

Chez Reavie – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

3×3 0.25 EW doubles (Levy, Fisher, An x English, Cejka , Reavie)

 

 Weekly points advised – 14.5pts

 Total points advised – 268.5pts

WGC HSBC Champions and Sanderson Farms Championsip – Betting Preview

In the end it was a very frustrating week with no returns at all. There were times on Thursday and Friday where it looked like I might have got a good run in both tournaments but by Sunday morning all hopes lay with Peter Uihlein nabbing a place in Turkey. If it wasn’t for one bad tee shot on the 9th then he would have done so comfortably but even still a birdie at the 18th would have given him a share of 5th so when he hit the longest drive of the week there to leave himself an 8 iron approach I thought he had saved the week. But he chunked it into the bunker and proceeded to play an average bunker shot leaving 12 ft for his birdie. The putt just turned right on him to finish in the dreaded 6th position. The tournament was won in convincing style by the enigmatic Frenchman Victor Dubuisson. His ice cool aggression on Sunday made for one of the most exciting finishes we have seen for a while and also didn’t paint the Sky commentary team in the best of lights. Twice on short par 4 holes he took out the driver when trailing by 2 shots, on both occasions Mark Roe ridiculed the move. While their job is to analyse, it’s the sort of uppity, condescending attitude that we have come to expect from Roe and he really can be hard to listen to at times. With the number of top pros leaving the European Tour for the PGA Tour you would think they should be embracing one of their very best showmen rather than questioning his brave and exciting style. Especially as it worked for him there in 2013 and again on Sunday. After appearing emotionless all round , when his birdie putt dropped at the 18th he was completely overcome and broke down in tears with his coach. The year since his Ryder Cup debut has been a very tough period for Victor, fighting injury, personal problems and a related loss of form. It was great to see him back winning as there are few more exciting players to watch when in full flow.

In the US despite promising starts in the CIMB Classic from Moore and Cejka they never got close enough over the weekend in a tournament that turned out to play as easily as any will in 2016 with -26 winning. Justin Thomas was by no means a shock winner though going off a general 25/1 after having gone close a number of times in the last year. He is very highly thought of and could well win a few more this season after getting off the mark. As one of Jordan Spieth’s closest friends there is fair chance that some of Spieth’s winning mentality has rubbed off on Thomas and he could really push on as the 2016 season unfolds.

 The losing week gives a running total of

Total pts advised – 240pts

Total pts returned – 322.26

ROI – 34.3%

This week we have the last WGC of  2015 and the only one to currently be held outwith US, the HSBC Champions in Sheshan, Shanghai, China. The world’s best assemble for this but there is a great chance for 2016 PGA Tour rookies to get off the mark this week too at The Sanderson Farms Open at Jackson County Club in Mississippi.


HSBC Champions

With Victor Dubuisson showing last week just how important course form can be it’s something that will not be lost on me this week in China despite Dustin Johnson winning at his first look in 2013. With the exception of the 2012 running, Sheshan Golf Club has been the venue for the WGC HSBC Champions dating back to it’s inception in 2005 season so there is no shortage of course form. It was designed by the renowned Asia based team of Nelson and Haworth and plays at 7266 yards long with undulating, tree-lined fairways, elevated bentgrass greens and plenty water in play. The design team are quoted as saying that they were influenced by Donald Ross’ Oak Hill course which has a lot of varied Par 4s with many elevation changes. Given that the last two winners were Bubba and Dustin Johnson you would think that length off the tee was a prerequisite but Bubba had to hole his bunker shot at 18 last year to force a playoff with Tim Clark who is one of the shorter hitters on Tour and in 2010 the short but deadly accurate Franceso Molinari won the event. Both those players are excellent with their long irons so while different types can prosper it would seem that distance control when trying to hit the greens and indeed getting the ball as close to the flag as possible are key to scoring at Sheshan. Clark regularly ranks highly on the PGA Tour for proximity to hole and Molinari would if there was such a stat on the European Tour. Graeme Mcdowell and Martin Kaymer both hold strong records here also and while both being top class in general, one of their best attributes is their lag putting.

Rickie-Fowler-CoverA look at USPGA Oak Hill form is of interest to me. Tim Clark finished T3rd there in 2003, Stenson finished 3rd in 2013 and David Toms was 7th in 2013. Clark and Stenson are both winners of The Players Championship and Toms has a great record there with a runner up finish and several other Top 10s. In a roundabout way this serves to highlight a player that I already had on the shortlist for this week, Rickie Fowler, who won this year’s Players Championship as well as finishing 3rd round here last year. His distance control at TPC Sawgrass was amazing on his back 9 and those memories of such accurate iron play under immense pressure will serve him well this week. Additionally when we look at his recent form we see a win at Deutsche Bank in the play offs. A disappointing 1pt from 4pts at the Presidents Cup preceded a T25th at The Shriners. But Rickie has really learned to peak for the larger Tournaments over the last 18 months and I’m sure he will arrive here in confident mood. With both Spieth and Mcilroy playing this week the odds for Fowler are even quite fair at 20/1 so he is my main pick this week where Spieth and Mcilroy both look opposable at single figure prices with only Mcilroy being able to boast a Top 10 finish (although he does have 3 of them). But he averaged over 30 putts per round last week and until we see an improvement that just isn’t going to get it done in this company where Dustin finished 1st in putts per round in 2013 and Bubba finished 13th last year. At least I know Rickie Fowler is putting well as he led the field at The Shriners for strokes gained:putting. I would probably have preferred 25/1 but 20/1 isn’t to be sniffed at for the world no. 5 in a 78 man field.

After a promising few rounds last week Graeme Mcdowell was going to make my staking plan for this week but I see he isn’t playing. I’m sure this must be his decision rather than the result of his demise over the last year but either way he won’t be in Sheshan this week.

 My mid range pick was between Martin Kaymer and Louis Oosthuizen. Louis has had an excellent 2015 but hasn’t managed to find that elusive win. With runners up finishes in both The US Open and The Open he will be pleased but feel that he missed out to a certain extent. On top form there are only a handful of golfers in the world that can be considered better. His two perfomances so far at Sheshan read T14, T15 so they are solid without standing out but none of those 8 rounds were over par which is encouraging and suggests he does like the course. This year he arrives (touchwood) injury free and in excellent form after scoring 4.5pts/5pts at The Presidents Cup thanks to a dream partnership with Branden Grace. With that taking place in Korea it was further proof that Oosthuizen is happy playing anywhere around the world. His long and accurate driving will serve him well this week and with it playing tougher last year a half decent week on the greens could see him contend at surprising odds of 50/1. Annoyingly the 50/1 has gone but 40/1 is still just about fair.

Marc Leishman is always a player of interest to me in the bigger tournaments these days. With a couple of strong major performances already behind him (T5th 2014 Open, T4 2013 Masters) he very nearly won The Open this year at the home of golf. Indeed he played the weekend at St Andrews 5 shots better than the next best (Spieth) and 6 shots better than the winner, Zach Johnson. That is a serious level of golf. Last year here, he shot 69-69 over the weekend to finish 9th and with opening rounds of 72-71, none of his rounds were over par on his first appearance at Sheshan. His weekend score was only beaten by Pablo Larrazabal’s 69-68. He also finished T12th around Oak Hill in 2013 and has a Players Championship T8th in the bank too. A recent T29th at the Shriners was ok and while his 1.5pts/4pts at the President’s Cup was only average, he defeated Jordan Spieth in the singles which is sure to have given him a big confidence boost. Leishman isn’t the most accurate of drivers by any means but he has a strong long iron game and is deadly on the greens. While he still only has one win to his name on Tour (the 2012 Travellers Championship which has been won twice by reigning WGC HSBC Champion Bubba Watson) his exploits in the summer tell me that he has the ability to contend in elite fields and with available odds of 125/1 I think he looks a very nice ew price if he can keep the ball in play.

I’d still like to involve Kaymer somehow but will see what the Sanderson Farms throws up.


  Sanderson Farms Championship

The tournament that has the pleasure of going up against the WGC HSBC is the Sanderson Farms Championship and it takes place in the deep south of Mississippi and Jackson Country Club. The course is a medium length Par 72 at 7284 yards with tree lined fairways and small, tricky greens that are said to resemble Donald Ross greens which suggests they are undulating and generally fall from back to front. This sets a precedent on distance control with irons and indeed approach putting. Last year was the first running at Jackson CC so course form is limited but it was won by Canadian rookie Nick Taylor who was excellent on the greens.

There will be a lot of very determined and highly motivated rookies teeing it up this week, all inspired by Smilie Kaufman’s win 2 weeks ago. None of these players will have the benefit of having seen the course last year but the flip side to that is that none of the worlds’ best players are here and subsequently we have a tournament that could quite literally be won by any one of the 156 strong field. This makes taking short prices look like something we should avoid this week so unfortunately the first name on my shortlist, Jason Bohn has to be ruled out at a ridiculous price of 10/1. He arrives with excellent form figures of T2, T3 but this is a 42 year old 2 time winner on Tour with his last win coming in 2010. He may be in great form and even finished T2nd here last year but that is a crazy price for a player that struggles to win up against all the young and hungry 2016 rookies. Although given his form he looks likely to contend again so he is on my mind for the place markets.

This poorly priced favourite points to value down the field so lets have a look at last year’s running. The leaderboard had neat and tidy sorts like Bohn, ball strikers like Mcgirt and Weekley, in addition to bombers like Thomas and Uihlein all inside the Top 10 so it does appear a course where all sorts of players can thrive. All in this looks fairly tough to get an angle into so I will keep stakes small and focus on some previously decent sorts who have already won on Tour and might be just over priced in a field this weak. With the greens quite hard to hit last year I’m also going to pay close attention to scrambling and proximity to hole although the conditions are apparently softer this year so the greens should be more receptive. Given the competitive nature of this tournament my 3×3 EW doubles will have reduced stakes this week.

Kevin Streelman is a solid enough player that I have marked as a great putter so it surprised me to see that he ranked 13th for ball striking on Tour in 2015. He is a two time winner on Tour having won the Tampa Bay Championship in 2013 and The Travelers Championship in 2014. He can be quite streaky and arrives here with form figures of T41, T16 so in a tricky looking betting event he looks probably about the best value bet from the head of the market.

KJ Choi arrives having served as Vice Captain to Nick Price at The Presidents Cup in his homeland of South Korea. Sometimes things like that can remind players of what they are missing out on. At KJ’s best he was a Top 10 player and a former Players Championship winner so if he received any motivation from that then his odds of 80/1 could look very generous. Four of his eight wins have come on bermuda greens so we know he putts well on the surface. His high ball flight hybrids will help him to hold these greens from distance but when he misses his excellent scrambling skills will allow him to save par and I’m hoping he can find some form on a course that he will surely enjoy.

Michael Thompson is a bit of a hunch pick really based on his liking for classic golf layouts and the fact that he is a very good price for someone who is a PGA Tour winner and still potentially better than the majority of these. He finished T3rd this year at the Fed Ex St Jude Classic and there are similarities here with it’s TPC Southwind course as both feature elevated bermuda greens. His most recent finish was only a T50th at The Shriners so stakes will be small but he could find some form at his 2nd look on a course that should suit him.


 Summary of Bets

WGC HSBC Champions

Rickie Fowler – 1.5pt ew @ 20/1

Louis Oosthuizen – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Marc Leishman – 0.5pt ew 125/1

Sanderson Farms Championship

Kevin Streelman – 1pt ew @ 33/1

KJ Choi – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Michael Thompson – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

3×3 0.15pts* ew (Fowler, Oosthuizen, Leishman x Streelman, Choi, Thompson ) *lower than usual stakes

1.3pts on a place double – Paul Casey Top 10 HSBC + Jason Bohn Top 10 Sanderson Farms @ 17/2

Weekly pts advised – 14pts

Total pts advised – 254pts