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.
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.
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
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