It was another case of so near yet so far last week as 250/1 tip Chez Reavie managed to finish in the worst of places, 7th and just one shot away from each way returns. He traded as low as 5.6 when he briefly held a 3 shot lead on Saturday night so I managed to lay back my stakes but it was very frustrating to end up with no blog returns at all last week after having a 250/1 shot trade so low.
In Europe none of the picks did too well as I had favoured accuracy off the tee as the most important attribute. Anyone who will have watched the action last week will have noticed that the course was in no way as tight as many thought it would be. Bourdy and Zanotti missed the cut and Oosty finished a never closer 12th after a good closing final round. Luckily I kept stakes small in Malaysia but overall it was still a 14.5pts loss for the week despite Reavie’s brilliant performance in the US.
That leaves the overall standings as follows;
Total pts advised – 427.5pts
Total pts returned – 531.99pts
ROI – 24.44%
This week we see the start of the Florida swing in the US and The European Tour heads down under for The Perth International.
As the Tour heads to Florida it also winds up at what is usually the toughest non-major course the players will face. Over the 9 years that the Honda Classic has been held at PGA National it has had an average winning score of -8.
The short 7140 yard, coastal layout was designed by Tom and George Fazio in 1981 but has since had a couple of renovations carried out by Jack Nicklaus. The fairways are of average width and are exposed to the coastal winds. There is plenty of water in play and the greens are well protected with bunkering and run-offs as is the norm for Jack Nicklaus designs.
With average width fairways and fairly big greens at 5500 square ft it isn’t immediately obvious why this should be such a tough course and the wind is certainly its number one defence. If the fairways are missed then the ball will find itself in lush green rough. It will be hard enough to to control distance out of that sort of lie but when we add in the potentially 20mph winds then you an begin to see why even these larger greens can be missed. Doing so isn’t advisable at PGA National however as getting up and down is in no way straight-forward. That is backed up by the stats from the last 5 editions where the winners have averaged 10th for scrambling compared to 20th for GIR and 37th for driving accuracy. But as you would expect on a tough layout, anyone looking to contend will need all aspects of their game to be in good shape. The last 5 winners ranked 3-3-4-4-11 for the all-round ranking. I’d make scrambling the most important factor this week closely followed by current form as despite Harrington’s surprise win last year, it is difficult to find your game on a demanding layout such as PGA National unless you possess the talent of the multiple major winner.
This blog is slowly turning into a Patrick Reed Appreciation Society but while he keeps providing each way returns and keeps playing so well I’m in no rush to leave him out. With his putter cooling off after a 2nd place finish in Hawaii, Reed’s form tailed off for a few weeks and matters weren’t helped by a small foot injury. But two weeks ago at Pebble Beach Reed got his season very much back on track with a T6th. He ranked 4th for GIR and 10th for total driving at the coastal Pro-am event so there wouldn’t appear to be any problems with his long game. He putted ok but there is no question a return to bermuda greens will be a huge plus for Reed this week. I’ve banged the drum several times already about Reed’s prowess on the surface so I won’t repeat myself with the stats.
Reed finished 7th at the Honda Classic last year after shooting an poor 73 in his final round. But lining up at PGA National last year his tee to green game was nowhere near the standard we have seen over the last 6 months. Indeed he only hit 58% of greens and ranked a lowly 51st for total driving.As we would expect on bermuda greens he putted excellently ranking 10th in putts per round.
So with his driving and approach play back up to speed and returning to a venue where he thrived last year I simply can’t think of any reason not to back the World No. 9 here at a fair price of 20/1. He is the number one pick yet again.
Kevin Kisner is another player who seems to be getting regular mentions from me and this week we get a favourable price due to his missed cut last time out. I’m happy to forgive that however as the unique challenge that comes with the Phoenix Open isn’t for everyone. A short, tough, coastal layout on bermuda greens however is exactly up Kisner’s street. His win at the RSM Classic came at exactly that type of course at Sea Island and two of his play-off losses in 2015 were on difficult bermuda layouts over on the East coast. If we are happy to ignore the missed cut then a look at the all-round ranking shows him in 1st place and considerably ahead of the chasing pack. That is evident when you watch Kisner as he does everthing well. Again I can’t see any reason not to back him this week at 35/1 when he has everything in his favour.
I was really struggling to separate two players for the final pick this week as I really wanted to include both Brian Harman and David Lingmerth. So I decided I would.
Brian Harman is another player who enjoys coastal layouts and he finished 13th at The Sony Open around the Waialae course which correlates well with PGA National. He ranked 1st for driving accuracy and 10th for GIR here last year on his way to a 13th place finish so the course clearly fits his eye. Harman isn’t always the best on and around the greens but he tends to perform better on tougher layouts with bermuda greens as his 8th place at TPC Sawgrass last year confirms. He also hasn’t been in the best of form since Hawaii but he is very much a player that goes well when conditions suit and doesn’t when they don’t. The sort of player that should be profitable for punters, especially at an attractive looking 150/1 this week.
David Lingmerth came so close to the first win of 2016 for the blog at The CareerBuilder Challenge. Despite having a good record at that birdie-fest the Swede is a player that I think of as one who is better suited to tough layouts. He first came to my attention when contending on the bermuda greens at The Players Championship where he finished 2nd. He also has a liking for Jack Nicklaus courses with his only win coming at Muirfield Village last summer. Lingmerth arrives off the back of two missed cuts but a switch back to the East coast should suit him and I expect him to go well on a course where he finished 25th last year and actually led the field for putting. Looks a fair price at 66/1
For the sake of the 3×3 ew doubles I’m going to include Lingmerth as he is probably a classier player than Harman and the odds suggest he is more likely to play well here.
The Tour heads to Western Australia this week for the 4th running of the co-sanctioned Perth International at Lake Karrinyup. The course is tree-lined yet still features a decent breeze whistling through more often than not. Despite its tree lined fairways Thorbjorn Olesen managed to win last year ranking just 66th for fairways hit. He did however rank 8th in GIR and that looks by far the best angle in. Th three winners of this plus the two from the tournaments held in 2002 and 2003 averaged 5th for GIR so I’m looking at those who hit a lot of greens when playing well. Any course that features both wind and trees can take a lot of getting used to with regards gauging the wind. It is one of the main reasons that there are so many repeat performers at Wentworth and I think a similar case can be made for Lake Karrinyup. As is the norm for Australian courses the greens are hard and fast so a tidy short game is certainly beneficial at the course too. Olesen ranked 4th for scrambling last year which further backs that up. He is also an excellent links exponent where the greens are usually hard and fast so players with a strong links pedigree should go well this week.
Lucas Bjerregaard’s form took a little dip early in the New Year as he missed two cuts but he has come back into form and interestingly he ranked 2nd in GIR last week in Malaysia. He finished 4th in this tournament last year and putted very well ranking 1st in total putting. So having discovered his approach play again I think he will go well on greens that he has shown a liking for before. The young Dane looked a winner in waiting throughout 2015 and it’s possible that he will need an event like this to get over the line. Many European Tour maidens get their 1st wins in co-sanctioned events when the field strength isn’t quite as intimidating as it might be in mainland Europe. His odds of 30/1 possibly reflect his chance but with their only being 5 players considered by the bookies to have a better chance, that further highlights the lack of depth to the field. There are plenty of decent European Tour players further down the market but to coin a racing term, they are all exposed sorts. In tournaments like this it can pay to side with younger players that could yet still turn out to be top class rather than European Tour journey men. When going head to head with Rose in Hong Kong last year Lucas suggested that he might just have the game to threaten the upper tier of European Tour players. If that is the case then he should take all the beating this week.
Jason Scrivener is a player creeping into more and more golf punter’s notebooks and he is of particular interest back in his homeland this week. Scrivener has form figures in this tournament of 15-28-19 and of equal interest was his GIR ranking in those three, 1-17-4. This is a player who is gradually finding his feet on the European Tour but he has a very solid record in Australia lately. He has missed only 1 cut from his last 21 appearances down under and he turned 13 of those into Top 25s, 5 of which were Top 10 finishes.
He hasn’t had the greatest of starts to 2016 but form figures of 63-44-12-28-27-3-3 are hardly anything to get too worried about. Last time out he ranked 14th for GIR he just struggled around the greens in South Africa. Scrivener is a big hitter off the tee but he has already shown both here and at Fanling in November (3rd) that he can change his approach on tree lined layouts. He actually hails from a town just 45 miles from Perth so he will feel comfortable on a course that he knows well and I think he will view this sort of field as an ideal chance to get himself into contention for the weekend. He looks a decent each way price at 50/1.
Andrew Johnston missed the cut last week in Malaysia but there seems to have been a massive over reaction with regards his price. He is 100/1 this week just 4 weeks after finishing 4th in the Qatar Masters which is played on a links course and is exposed to the conditions. He also won on The Challenge Tour at Aviemore which isn’t a links course but is windy and plays both firm and fast. Johnston also ranks 2nd for GIR over the last 3 months and 5th for driving accuracy so he will surely enjoy this test and can contend with a decent week on the greens. He didn’t play here in 2014 but he has seen the course before in 2012 where he made the cut during his rookie season on Tour. As much a price selection as anything he is the 3rd pick at 100/1.
Summary of bets
Patrick Reed – 1.5pts ew @ 20/1
Kevin Kisner – 1pt ew @ 35/1
David Lingmerth – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1
Brian Harman – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1
Lucas Bjerregaard – 1pt ew @ 30/1
Jason Scrivener – 1pt ew @ 50/1
Andrew Johnston – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1
3×3 0.25pt each way doubles (Reed, Kisner, Lingmerth) + (Bjerregaard, Scrivener, Johnston)
Weekly outlay – 16.5pts
Total outlay – 444pts
Matchbook preview – https://www.matchbook.com/lounge/event-previews/the-honda-classic-2016-02-25