A little bit late to post this week so apologies to any followers that might miss out. Despite the end of season feel to both the main tournaments, there was some very high class golf on show in both South Africa and the Bahamas.
In South Africa, Marc Leishman was a very impressive 6 shot winner of the Nedbank fuelled by a very strong long game across all four days. The Aussie also holed his share of putts and so rightly finished on top of the leaderboard. As I alluded to in the preview, long straight driving was the name of the game and so it was hardly surprising to see Henrik Stenson up there in 2nd place. While Leishman isn’t renowned for his consistent driving of the golf ball, when playing well he is both long and straight and his distance control with his long irons is very strong. With this win and the new found perspective he gained in 2015 Leishman could prove to be very dangerous on Tour next year. He has the game for the big tournaments and he showed over the weekend that he isn’t phased by winning. Fisher, Jaidee and An all looked like contending at some point across the 4 days but ultimately they all fell short. Fisher’s putting was poor, Jaidee’s lack of length off the tee did seem to hold him back on the Par 5s and An’s lack of course knowledge meant he only really got to grips with the course by Sunday.
Over in The Bahamas it was very much the Bubba Golf show as he won by a comfortable 3 shots. The very fact the course had five Par 5s should maybe have screamed his name but his poor showing at the WGC HSBC made him hard to back. But it is a timely reminder that regardless of form, Bubba is such a phenomenon that he can take almost any course apart where he is able to use his imagination off the tee. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of his game in the Bahamas was his scrambling. Several times over the weekend he got up and down from absolutely nowhere. Patrick Reed also scrambled brilliantly and that point is worth noting for next year as they finished 1st and 2nd. It was good to get a return from Reed even if it was only 3.4pts. He played well as expected and if it hadn’t been for Bubba’s inspired weekend he could well have found himself getting the win.
It was a losing week with just the 3.4pts returned which leaves the running total as follows;
Total pts advised – 315.5
Total pts returned – 447.11
ROI – 41.72%
This week there is only one tournament and it is the last before the Tours properly stop for Christmas. Bangkok is the location for the Asian Tour’s flagship event, the Thailand Golf Championship and more specifically the Amata Spring Golf Course.
This is the 5th running of this tournament and the previous 4 have been won by Lee Westwood (2), Sergio Garcia and Charl Schwartzel. This suggests that classy ball strikers come to the fore around this course and that is exactly what we expect in these late season, weak field tournaments. So I won’t be looking too far from the head of the market again this week in the hope of finding one last winner to help pay for the festivities.
The course is 7322 yards long and was designed by Schmidt Curley Golf Design who were also responsible for Binhai Lake in China as well as helping out with both the Mission Hills golf complexes. They learned their trade under Pete Dye, a fact not lost when we see that Amata has a similar 17th hole island green to that of Sawgrass. There are two lakes situated around the course so there is plenty more water in play elsewhere.
Given that both Bubba and Garcia arrive here having won their respective tournaments last week they are deservedly at the front of the market. Westwood obviously loves this course but he also has a decent record in Sun City where he had a miserable week. I don’t think he can be trusted to finish above either Bubba or Garcia though. While Garcia is a former champion here, Bubba has a mixed record with a 2nd in 2012 being followed by a 30th and a 25th. Both look just about short enough though at
I’m struggling to separate them to be honest and when both at their best they are a very similar standard and easily Top 10 in the world players. Obviously Bubba has the two Green jackets to his name and doesn’t have any of the mental damage that Sergio has built up over the years. But it must be noted that a confident Garcia is an entirely different proposition to the moping, beleaguered figure that we have seen in recent times. On Sunday he noted in his interview afterwards just how big the win would be for his confidence. This is a player who has 20 Major Top 10s and on his day is one of the best ball-strikers of his generation.
When we consider the dangers that lie off the tee for Bubba, I’m slowly siding with Garcia before we look at their prices. But with them both trading under 6/1 I I don’t see much value in a decent enough field. There is a good chance that they will be the first two home but I’m happy to look elsewhere for some each way value.
Even with Westwood’s dire form he could easily finish 3rd behind those two more often than not but that still leaves two places up for grabs so I’m going to have each way plays on two players who are good enough to win this should the front two in the market falter.
Victor Dubuisson arrives with form as good as anyone bar the front two who won last week. His win in Turkey was followed by solid performances in the DP World Championship and last week’s Nedbank. Victor missed the cut on his only appearance here but he has been flushing his irons for the last two months. He has played at Binhai Lake twice and finished 1st for GIR on both occasions resulting in finishes of 3rd and 4th so I think he should go better this time round. He might need to reign in his aggression off the tee here but should he be able to find a suitable number of fairways then his putting and approach play will take him close this week. At odds of 16/1 he is certainly a better value option that Garcia or Watson.
Unfortunately VDub has withdrawn this week! A shame as I really liked him for this. So I will add a small bet on Marcus Fraser who finished 2nd here last year and simply looks over priced at 50/1 in a relatively weak event.
There is no question that 22/1 Kaymer and 25/1 Westwood look to be excellent value at first glance based on all they have done in the game. But they were both simply awful last week and there is nothing to suggest that simply a familiar course can bring an immediate upturn in their fortunes.
2nd 1st pick I’m going to keep the faith with Thongchai Jaidee. He played fairly well last week and just got overpowered in the end having to face 25 Par 5s across the week. He has been desperate to win his home Championship and so there will be some pressure on him but he has seldom arrived with his game in such good shape and his strong bank of recent form suggests he is sure to play well again. The Thai has won in this company before and certainly has the ability to stay with Garcia and Watson unless they bring their very best game this week, which is something that isn’t guaranteed. Looks decent value at 18/1 this week.
With Dubuisson out and subsequent reduced stakes on Fraser I’m going to have 1pt on the Bubba Watson/Sergio Garcia dual forecast which pays out for those two finishing 1st and 2nd in any order.
That’s probably me until the New Year now so Merry Christmas to everyone! I might try and write a brief review of the year should I have some time over Christmas but failing that I will be back for The Hyundai Tournament of Champions which is a Wednesday start (6th January) and the European Tour’s BMW South Africa Open.
Summary of bets
Thonghai Jaidee – 2pt ew @ 18/1
Marcus Fraser – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1
Bubba Watson/Sergio Garcia Dual Forecast – 1pt @ 16/1
Weekly points advised – 6pts
Total pts advised – 321.5pts