With one or two Christmas trees still standing proud, the golfing season is already back underway as both the PGA Tour and European Tour begin on Thursday.
There won’t be any traditional remains of Christmas however as both Tours find themselves in the sunnier climes of the southern hemisphere. The PGA Tour starts its Hawaii swing with the Hyundai Tournament of Champions and the European Tour is in South Africa with the BMW SA Open.
2015 was a great golfing year and it was also pretty succesful for the blog with a ROI of 39% from the starting point in July. (321.5pts advised and 447.11 returned)
I will continue with the rolling results but might also try to update for 2016 only. If anyone should want a full breakdown then they can tweet me @theGreek82
As of this week I will also be writing weekly golf previews for Matchbook.com, a new, up and coming Betting Exchange. A lot of the information may cross over between the two but for those that are keen then please give it a look. The advice will be different as I will be giving 1 main outright trade on their Matchbook.com exchange and a 72-hole match bet which is something that their site specialises in. If you don’t have an account then it’s well worth looking into.
As for the blog, it will continue in the same format most weeks with 3 picks in each tournament along with the 3×3 ew doubles and some other side bets.
A happy and profitable 2016 to all readers!
Hyundai Tournament of Champions
This week the 2016 PGA Tour season starts properly. Since the PGA Tour started a wraparound season in 2013, many of the bigger names in the game stay off the circuit until this week, giving themselves a well-deserved rest. As the name suggests, here we have a field made up largely of the tournament winners from the 2015 season plus the 2016 Fall Series winners
The host course is The Plantation Course at Kapalua Resort in Hawaii and many of the players have an extended break here while also getting in some practice at the course. Indeed Rickie Fowler has been there for over a week having spent New Year in Hawaii.
The course is unique for the PGA Tour in that it is a Par 73, with some very long par 5s and some very short par 4s bringing up a 7452 total yardage. It has wide, sweeping fairways, minimal rough and large, undulating bermuda greens. It was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and is one of the most picturesque on the whole PGA Tour with stunning views out to the Pacific Ocean and neighbouring islands. The room off the tee and large greens means it perhaps isn’t surprising that the winning score is usually in the 20s under par. When we look at the list of recent champions we find the likes of Patrick Reed, Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, Jonathan Byrd and Stuart Appleby (3). They all have very strong wedge games and are deadly on the greens. With the afore-mentioned short Par 4s and long Par 5s this makes perfect sense as they will be hitting it closer to the flag with their wedge, subsequently having a better chance of holing their putts. Strokes Gained:Putting, GIR under 150 yards and Proximity to the Hole look to be the stats to focus on this week.
Last year’s champion was Patrick Reed and he is back to defend this year coming off a very impressive final few months of 2015. He completed the European Tour Final Series with 3 Top 10s and then went onto to finish 2nd behind Bubba Watson at the Hero World Challenge. The confident, young Reed has 4 PGA Tour wins but hasn’t managed to get over the line since this stop last year. When we look at his four wins we see that two of them arrived in January with one in March so clearly plays well in the early stages of the season and he will be very eager to start the Ryder Cup year strongly to gain a head start on his fellow Americans seeking a place on the team. As well as enjoying his January golf, Reed also loves to putt on bermuda greens as all four of his wins have come on the surface.
With the only possible negative being his defending of the title, there is simply too much in Reed’s favour to leave him out this week. The bookmakers agree unfortunately but I’m still happy with 12.0 about one of the in-form players in world golf in a restricted 32-man field.
Obviously Jordan Spieth and Jason Day warrant respect this week but given the 2015s that they both enjoyed it’s perfectly fair to assume that they would have relaxed and enjoyed a well-earned rest over Christmas. That makes it hard to back them at single figure odds. Fowler and Watson are appealing but are in the same price range as the 6th favourite Reed who we are already backing. So I’m going to look further down the field for a 2nd pick and I like the look of Kevin Kisner here. He arrives off the back of his 1st PGA Tour win in November and a 2nd place finish at the WGC HSBC Champions. Kisner is a player with very similar attributes to Zach Johnson as they both have short, accurate games coupled with a killer touch on the greens. So if he has held his form then I think he can go well on his debut at a course where Zach won in 2014. Just the two picks in Hawaii given the small field.
The BMW South Africa Open
The South African Open returns to Glendower Golf Club for the 3rd consecutive year with Andy Sullivan arriving as the reigning champion after a win last year that propelled him to a career year and well into the World’s Top 50. Morten Orum Madsen won the 2014 renewal and VJ SIngh won the only other time it was held here in 1997. So rather uncharacteristically for a SA tournament, that’s three non South African winners from three runnings.
The Glendower Golf Club is 7564 yards long but it is at quite an altitude so it won’t play to all of that. As usual in SA the fairways and fringes will be the rather specialist Kikuyu grass and the greens are bentgrass. Although the course does appear to be quite a tight driving course, the last two winners have only hit 47.6% and 46.4% of fairways respectively. Last year Sullivan won the tournament with a fantastic performance on and around the greens while Madsen hit a very high number of greens en route to his 2014 victory but also putted solidly. Despite Sullivan’s poor numbers of fairways hit, to me he is the type of golfer who is capable of doing everything strongly, so when he putts well he can take a lot of stopping, something that Rory Mcilroy will testify to after their shootout at the DP World Championship.
So I’m looking at players with a good all round game, have a decent record in South Africa and also found some form towards the end of 2015.
Perhaps the most obvious play then is to back last year’s winner Andy Sullivan again. We know he likes the course, has another win in South Africa and bounced back to form in the Race to Dubai Final Series. But it is so obvious that the bookmakers have him a general 8/1 2nd favourite. To me he looks the most likely winner and given his calm, smiley nature on the golf course I can’t see defending a tournament as a problem for him. At double figures i would be happy to advise an outright bet however I think the 4 week break makes it very hard to back someone at single figures when they aren’t in the elite bracket yet. I will include him as my 3rd player for the each way doubles though.
Branden Grace is also plenty short enough at 4/1 so I’m looking down the field for some each way value.
But we don’t have to look too hard. Pablo Martin Benavides is a very streaky player but one who has 3 European Tour wins to his name already and is still only 29 years old. Two of those three wins came in South Africa at the Alfred Dunhill Championship and he finished 11th there in December before signing off for Christmas with a 28th in Australia. He ranks 2nd in one putts on the European Tour,14th in putts per round and 19th in driving distance. Pablo also finished 4th in this event last year so will know exactly what challenge is to be expected around Glendower. Odds of 125/1 are simply too big for a three-time winner who claimed in December to be playing the best golf of his career.
Gregory Bourdy signed off for the festive break with an excellent 2nd place to Charl Schwartzel at Leopard Creek. He enjoys the test of South African golf and should the rough be more penal this year then this accurate driver will be able to plot his way around better than most. Bourdy’s all round stats were excellent too for that 2nd place, 10th in DA, 18th in DD, 14th in GIR and 8th in Putts/round. In addition to that he sits in 16th place in scrambling for 2016 season so his game looks in great shape to contend again in a relatively weak field when we take into account the Frenchman is a 4 time European Tour winner.
Summary of bets
Patrick Reed – 2pts win @12s on Matchbook.com, 2pt Top 4 @ 3.35 on Betfair Ex
Kevin Kisner – 1pt win @ 23s on Matchbook.com, 1pt Top 4 @ 6.2 on Betfair Ex
BMW SA Open
Pablo Martin Benavides – 1pt ew 125/1
Gregory Bourdy – 1pt ew 28/1
2×3 0.3pts Each way doubles (Reed, Kisner) x (Sullivan, Martin Benavides, Bourdy)
Additional 0.45pt ew on Reed + Sullivan double
Weekly outlay – 14.5pts
Total outlay – 336pts
2016 outlay – 14.5