The WGC Cadillac was a tournament to forget for me. The three each way value bets were never really in contention. All three showed flashes of good golf throughout the week but ultimately there were too many mistakes. Leishman alone found water three times on Thursday and that scuppered his chances from the start. While he remains a player firmly in my notebook for tough championship layouts I’m not sure I can say the same about Schwartzel and Oosthuizen. This isn’t the first time they have let me down on US soil when arriving in form and I really seem to struggle to catch them at the right time. I don’t think I’ll be tempted to play either of them again in the US away from perhaps Augusta.
The Bubba Watson saver bet never looked better than with 3 holes to play on Sunday and in truth I expected him to win once he parred the tricky 18th. As stupid as it may sound having gone back to back, I still don’t think of Scott as someone to be relied on under pressure. He showed why with a bail-out drive into the right rough off the 18th tee which left him behind a tree. While this was unfortunate it was still the outcome of a poor drive under pressure. He then tried to cut his approach around the tree but failed massively and the ball pitched on the bank and looked 99% destined for the water. Somehow his ball stopped on the 45 degree bank and then he managed to compose himself to play an excellent chip shot to 8ft. The putt was holed and Scott beat Bubba by a shot but it would have been so different if it weren’t for that outrageous piece of luck. That said Adam Scott became only the 4th player to win back to back PGA Tour titles in the last 30 years and across the week on the whole he was definitely a worthy champion. Hopefully my bout of seconditis will disappear this week with a long awaited 1st win of 2016.
The lack of returns leaves the results as follows;
Total pts advised – 460
Total pts returned – 545.49
ROI – 18.6%
This week the Florida swing continues with the Valspar Championship near Tampa and the European Tour heads east again for the True Thailand Championship in Hua Hin.
Just the picks this week in US as I’m short on time.
My matchbook preview can be found here – https://www.matchbook.com/lounge/event-previews/valspar-championship-2016-03-10
First up is Harris English who has looked like he is shaping up to win again soon. His last three starts have been 10-39-3 and the 10th place finish was his best ever in a major or WGC. English has course form of 10-38-7 and Copperhead is very much a course that suits certain types of players. English favours tree-lined tracks and both his wins have came on similar layouts. He ranked 11th for total driving and 13th for total putting at the Cadillac and that sort of demanding layout should have his solid all-round game primed for a strong showing on a course that he enjoys. Not the best of prices but with so much in his favour he is still the main bet.
Another player who goes well on a lot of similar tracks to Harris English is Ryan Moore. He is a short but accurate player who repeatedly plays well when conditions suit. His current form is good, reading 10-MC-11-10 and he will be annoyed to have missed out on playing in the WGC last week having dropped to World Number 61. Moore finished 5th here last year and ranked 1st in the all round ranking so his game clearly suits Copperhead. So far in the 2016 season he ranks 40th for strokes gained:putting and over the last 3 months he ranks 17th in scrambling. He ranked 5th in the all round ranking last time out which looks promising. Three of his four wins have come without playing the week before so having had a week off while his peers teed it up at Doral I expect him to arrive at Innisbrook with his game finely honed. Looks a decent price each way price at 40/1.
My last pick doesn’t exactly fit into the same mould but he was hard to get away from this week. Jason Kokrak has finished 7th and 14th the last two years here despite appearing to lack the finesse required around Copperhead. Kokrak missed the cut at The Honda Classic but prior to that he was last seen sandwiched between some of the games best at Riviera where he finished 2nd behind Bubba Watson. He ranked 1st for GIR that week but just fell short ultimately around the greens where he only ranked 57th for scrambling and 56th for putting. Given how important those aspects are around this course then I would expect him to struggle but that hasn’t been the case. If he can continue to pound the greens then the confidence obtained from his Riviera performance might just be enough to continue his progressive results and maybe even get him over the line for his first win.
Chez Reavie finished one shot out of the places for us at Riviera and he looks overpriced again this week. I’m not prepared to be let down by him again for an each way payout but a Top 20 looks very achievable for him this week. His accurate game and strong scrambling will help him here and odds of 9/2 look too good to pass up. I will fire this into a double with The European Tour.
TRUE THAILAND CLASSIC
The European Tour takes to Thailand this week at the Black Mountain GC. It held the inaugural tournament last year but that is the only time it has held a European Tour event so there isn’t much top class form to look at although the Asian Tour has held a couple of tournaments there since it was opened in 2007; The Royal Trophy in 2011 and The King’s Cup in 2014. Without a great deal to look at I’m taking a fairly routine approach this week.
A case could be made for many of these in form Asian Tour players but so often they come up short while trying to win on The European Tour. With that in mind I’m going to look at the classier players in what is quite a strong field for a co-sanctioned event.
While Andrew Dodt won last year with a brilliant all-round performance, the rest of the leaderboard was littered with powerful hitters and strong putters, or both in the case of Aphibarnrat and Scott Hend. This is backed up by the 7346 yardage and the fact that the greens ran at 12.3 on the stimp meter last year. So that’s where I started the search.
Peter Uihlein looked almost back to his best on his last couple of outings and if that is the case then he is a cut above most of this field. In his youth he was regarded on the same level as Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth and that looked to be the case when he won in his rookie year on Tour. The wins haven’t came as quickly as we would have expected and while he seems to enjoy The European Tour there is no doubt that his intentions were to use this as a spring board to the PGA Tour like his friend Brooks. He is still a young man but he will be keen to get back to winning ways to get his PGA Tour card sooner rather than later. His last two outings have been very positive with a 9th in Malaysia followed by a 4th in Perth. His driving was as wayward as usual but that wasn’t punished in either of those starts and with these wide open fairways then it will be more of the same from the tee from the American. His huge distance off the tee will allow him more looks at eagle and birdie than most and with the state of his putting that should help him to keep up his progressive results and hopefully pick up his 2nd win. He ranked 1st for total putting last time out in Perth and sits 33rd over the last 3 months. With last year’s winner Dodt having seen the course before in the King’s Cup it pays to have played here before so Uihlein’s two rounds last year will be a huge advantage. As will the fact he doesn’t have the bad memories of a missed cut as he had to withdraw having shot 69-70 on the opening two days. Uihlein looks to have a great chance of playing well again this week at a venue where the two key attributes happen to be his two best weapons, power and the putter.
Thomas Pieters has hit a bit of a mini slump of late with two missed cuts but it is hard to ignore him on a track that favours big hitters and strong putters. Pieter’s game is very similar to Uihlein and the Belgian is expected to go on to be top class. I’m happy to ignore the poor form given how well suited he should be to this course. Despite that poor form he ranks 12th in putting and it is only 6 months since he won twice in quick succession. He is sure to rack up a lot more wins in future and off the back of a two week break I’d expect him to find his game again at a course that looks perfect for him.
The final pick comes in the shape of a strong course and current form player in Jorge Campillo. The Spaniard arrives here off the back of a 4th place finish in Malaysia where he ranked 1st in total putting and 27th in driving distance. He finished 15th in this last year after opening with a 73 so with a decent start he should hopefully get into contention on a course where he averaged just 27.25 putts per round last year.
Prayad Marksaeng won the King’s Cup at Black Mountain in 2014 and also lives nearby. While being a very short hitter the veteran Thai is an excellent putter and arrives off the back of 12th place finish in Malaysia. There is no reason to think that he can get his 1st European Tour win at the age of 50 but odds of 2/1 for a Top 20 at his home course look more than fair. I’m going to stick this together with Reavie for 16.5/1 Top 20 double.
I’m also going to persist with the each way doubles as they are still in large profit overall. But if the ROI continues to creep towards zero then I may decide to omit them to keep the weeklay outlay down.
Summary of Bets
Harris English – 1pt ew @ 33/1
Ryan Moore – 1pt ew @ 40/1
Jason Kokrak – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1
True Thailand Classic
Peter Uihlein – 1pt ew @ 25/1
Thomas Pieters – 1pt ew @ 25/1
Jorge Campillo – 0.5pt ew @ 70/1
3×3 0.25pts each way doubles (English, Moore, Kokrak) + (Uihlein, Pieters, Campillo)
Reavie + Marksaeng Top 20 double – 1pt @ 16.5/1
Weekly outlay – 16pts
Total outlay – 476pts