The Barclays and Made in Denmark – Betting Preview

Just as Bill Haas got himself into contention for the each way places he completely blew it with two out-of-bounds drives on the Par 5 15th. It was pretty hard to take especially as that is relatively out of character for a multiple winner who is usually accurate enough off the tee.

I must admit I was starting to think it pretty much summed up my 2016 so far but it is all too easy to get down on yourself in the difficult golf betting game. I must remember that one good week can quickly turn it all around. It had just better arrive soon!!

Results stand as follows

Total points advised – 766.50

Total points returned – 793.79

ROI – 3.5%

This week it’s the start of the Fed Ex Cup play-off series on the PGA Tour and the European Tour heads to Denmark for  an event which unfortunately won’t be spice up by Ryder Cup qualification as all 9 of the points qualifiers have already been decided. Martin Kaymer and Thomas Pieters will be looking to stake their claim for a wildcard pick however and Darren Clarke has picked Pieters to play with for the opening two rounds. No pressure then!


The Barclays

The top 125 in the Fed Ex Cup list head back to New York this week for the first of the play-off events. Knowing that only the top 100 continue to the following week at the Deutsche Bank Championship, many of those towards the bottom will be playing with the pressure of trying to progress. While that could well inspire, the Barclays is normally won by one of the game’s best as the recent roll of honour includes Jason Day, Hunter Mahan, Adam Scott, Nick Watney, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar and VJ Singh.

I don’t expect that to change given the host course this week. The Barclays has taken to rotating around some of New York’s finest courses and this week it’s the turn of the intimidating Bethpage Black Course. It is famously one of the hardest courses in the world and in the 2002 US Open when Tiger Woods won he was the only man to finish under par. Things picked up a little for the 2009 US Open but there were still only five players in the red when Lucas Glover claimed the trophy. All that despite the course being very receptive with a rain-softened course hosting both editions.

There is some respite for the field this week however as the course played a little easier when hosting the Barclays in 2012. The par 4 7th hole was lengthened and turned into a Par 5 creating a slightly more favourable Par 71. That allowed Nick Watney to win on a figure of -10 and I would imagine we can expect a similar winning score again this year.

The course is another A.W. Tillinghast brute just like Baltusrol and it stands at 7468 yards long. Another similarity with the US PGA host course is the greens as Bethpage features a bentgrass/poa annua mix just like at Baltusrol. That leaderboard looks a good pointer along with 2012’s Barclays leaderboard and the 2009 US Open.

I have found some recent reviews that suggest they have grown the fescue rough up for the Barclays so when considered together with the below average width fairways it is very easy to think that driving accuracy will be important. But I don’t want to fall into the same trap as many did at Baltusrol where it was thought that finding fairways would be vital. Moreover it was actually the ability to hit it close from the rough that separated the field that week. So while long, accurate drivers can certainly prosper, a player should still be able to contend with good proximity figures from the rough.

Bethpage Black sits in a sprawling landscape with lots of elevation changes and that only adds to the difficulty. A look at the last three winners shows a list of fit, relatively young golfers and with the difficulty level, length of course and the physical challenge, I would think twice about backing a golfer who isn’t perhaps one of the more athletic this week as temperatures look set to hit 30 degrees.

Another aspect of the course that might not make driving accuracy the be-all-and-end-all is the size of these greens. They are on the larger side and that will mean that it will be possible to hit them even from 175 yards away in the rough. Approaches from the rough might not quite hold the green however which will make scrambling from the fringe important.

With Lucas Glover having won around the course you wouldn’t imagine holing putts to be too crucial. Although 3-putts will need to be avoided on these large greens so perhaps lag putting is the most important short stick aspect to consider this week.

When looking at the US PGA Championship, putting on poa annua greens was one of the things I considered most and yet Jimmy Walker’s form was poor enough to not even consider a player dubbed “the prince of poa”. So while holing lots of birdie putts might not be crucial this week I’d certainly want anyone I was backing to have some form on the trickier surfaces. One of the main attributes of poa infested greens is the ability for the ball to break sharply at the hole. That resulted in a lot of short putts being missed so if you were looking for another putting stat then holing out from inside 5ft could well be worth a look as that together with lag putting will help keep the 3-putts to a minimum.

While there is some Bethpage Black form to look at there also seems to be a bit of a correlation with Torrey Pines in California, home of the Farmers Insurance Open. Tiger Woods won there numerous times, Nick Watney has won there , 2012 runner-up Brandt Snedeker has two wins there and Lucas Glover has a 3rd and a 4th place finish. It maybe isn’t a rock solid link as they could just be two courses where the best players tend to win but it should be noted that both courses have poa annua present in their greens.

I’d expect Jason Day and Dustin Johnson both to go well this week with their impressive record on US Open layouts but I’m not prepared to fire into either at the prices when lining up against this strong a field, most of which by the nature of the play-offs, are in very good form. But as usual their price leaves some juicy exchange prices around and none more so than the player who I had in mind for this even before his excellent finish last week.

Hideki

Hideki Matsuyama has been putting poorly of late so it is actually quite amazing that he has finished 4th at the US PGA Championship and 3rd at the Wyndham Championship in his last two starts. What is most impressive about that however is that they both virtually turned into glorified putting contests for most of the leaderboard. As we have mentioned already the US PGA was played on a Tillinghast design and it was a brilliant effort to contend while ranking 60th in total putting.

Despite him putting poorly again at the Wyndham last week there was a slight improvement as he ranked 23rd for total putting. He has some decent results on poa annua greens in addition to Baltusrol last month. His last two performances at the Northern Trust have yielded a 4th and an 11th and the rolling hills of Riviera aren’t too dissimilar to Bethpage Black. He also finished 3rd at Silverado in the 2014 Frys Open open which features poa annua greens.

He fits the mould of recent Barclays winners perfectly this week and given what a brilliant ball-striker he is I was quite surprised by his odds this week. The course certainly looks to be less about putting than the last two that he has played on and given that he only finished 5 and 6 shots behind the respective winners, that could be enough to see him over the line. The rest of his game is in absolutely perfect order as he ranked 1st in total driving, 1st in ball -striking, 2nd in scrambling and even 1st in the all-round ranking despite his misfiring putter. He even ranks a respectable 37th on Tour for putting inside 5ft which will no doubt help him here.

We know he has the game to win big events on Tour and if Bethpage Black rewards ball-striking as I expect it will this week then he might just have ranked up win number three by Sunday night.

Ricky Barnes stormed onto the scene in 2009 taking the 3rd round US Open lead (with a 3rd round 65) at Bethpage Black. He shot a 76 to blow his chances but he still hung on to 2nd place in just his 2nd major start as a professional. It is fairly certain to say that his career hasn’t quite panned out as anyone thought since then and he is still looking for his first PGA Tour win after some 200 odd starts.

But there has been a noted improvement this year from Ricky with two 5th places in his last three starts and he has always been someone who has played well on poa annua surfaces. He grew up on the surface in Northern California and he has some decent results with a 3rd at Pebble Beach and a 9th at Riviera.

He led the Valero Texas Open earlier this year before going on to finish in 4th place and while it was a closing 74 he wasn’t terrible in contention. All that adds up to him sitting at 66th in the Fed Ex List and he knows that a good performance this week could see him right through to the Tour Championship.

From a stats point of view Barnes is also a good match for Bethpage Black as he ranks 4th for GIR over the last 3 months and 5th in 3-putt avoidance. He might not be the proven, multiple winner we are looking for but he won the US Amateur in 2002 and he certainly has ability. At 35 years old he still has plenty of time left to get his win, after all Jimmy Walker took until 34 and he is now a major winner. If he is to get a win then a tough championship layout with poa annua greens looks the place to do it and he is a sporting each way price at 150/1.

Graeme Delaet is a name that sounds the alarm bells with many a punter and subsequently a lot have written him off. But to hark back to Jimmy Walker again, he was a player that was also written off until he got his first win. Granted, Walker was always a good putter whereas Delaet often appears one of the worst on Tour. That’s not quite the case though and he falls into the Lee Westwood category whereby they hit the ball so close, so often that they end up having more birdie putts inside 20ft than most.

I’m not suggesting Delaet is a good putter at all but he is ok at holing out and he is also ok from long-range, he is just very poor from 5ft-20ft. However if my reading of the Bethpage Course is right, I think par will be a good score away from the Par 5s so his short stick woes could be factored out somewhat.

The Canadian also has some course form at Bethpage Black as he was 5th there in 2012. Throw in a 2nd and 9th at Torrey Pines and an 8th at Riviera and you can see that a lot of his better results come at ball-strikers courses with poa on the greens.

As ever he ranks very well in GIR and total driving and if he continues to hit more fairways and greens than the majority this is exactly the sort of track where he could pop up with his first win. All things considered 200/1 for a player of his quality looks like an excellent piece of value.

I’m also going to play Barnes and Delaet in the Top 20 markets as even if they play well they could find a few just too good at this level.

 


Made in Denmark

Now in its third edition, The Made in Denmark will be held again at Himmerland Golf and Spa Resort in Farso near Aalborg. During the first two years it has been a massive success with some of the highest crowds seen for a regular European Tour event. This year Martin Kaymer has joined the field to give it a little bit of class at the head of the market and overall the field does look a little deeper than last year. The course is a short, exposed 6,851 yard Par 71 layout and with two runnings now under its belt there is a little bit more to go on than last year. They were won by Marc Warren in 2014 and then David Horsey last year.

Prior to last year’s tournament I used a few course links through Marc Warren and while the players that I tipped up didn’t do too well, I think those on the leaderboard did back them up a little. I focussed a lot of my work on the two other courses where Marc Warren had won and I’m not seeing too much wrong with the approach although I have also expanded that to look at the courses where David Horsey has gone well.

Despite not being right by the coast, the course plays very much like a links course as the wind usually blows and it has undulating fairways with a sandy soil that can play quite fast if conditions allow. That coupled with Warren’s win made me think of a few similar courses like Barseback, Gleneagles and Doha Golf Club. Another course that would appear to bee a good guide would be Archerfield Links, host course of last month’s Paul Lawrie Match Play. The wind blew all weekend there on the parkland/links mix and visually it is another course that is similar.

David Horsey throws up a slightly different set of courses as he often goes well on fiddlier, shorter tracks and his other three wins have come at Eichenried Golf Club, Golf Club Du Palais Royal and Tseleevo Golf Club. Looking at the list of winners at those tracks we see yet more strong links players like Michael Hoey, Ernie Els and Martin Kaymer.

It seems like that has been the criteria quite a lot this summer and yet it hasn’t yielded much in the way of returns. I suppose it could be that with more and more links type courses on Tour, players are getting used to playing on them. However I’m going to stick with this method for at least one more week in the hope that it can pay dividends.

Marc Warren

Marc Warren was favourite last year to defend his title and we know how hard even the world’s best can find that so in hindsight tipping him at just 11/1 wasn’t the wisest of plays. But he was arriving in great form and the field was fairly poor. But after a quiet 2016 he has actually perked up a little in recent weeks with a 9th in the Match Play and then an 11th in the Czech Masters. He ranked 9th in total putting last time out and it was his putter that won this for him in 2014 so he looks hard to pass up this year at 45/1.

Warren is also a good wind player which is backed up by where he has won. Barseback GC in Sweden and Gleneagles are both tracks that play very much like links courses with the former also being exposed to the elements. On price alone he must be a bet on a course where has already won.

This is all starting to feel like déjà vu as I also tipped Robert Karlsson last year but again he arrives off the back of a good performance and the course should suit him perfectly. His 7th place finish in the Czech Masters was a turn-around in form as he hadn’t done a great deal in the previous few months.

He has won at Qatar, Crans and finished 2nd at Barseback and they are all courses which have thrown up similar winners over the years, often solid links golf exponents. His game was in good order last week but particularly off the tee and putting as he ranked 5th in total driving and 6th in total putting.

He finished down the field last year with our money on but I’m happy to give him another go on a course that I’m convinced suits him.

Richie Ramsay looks to be another excellent piece of value when you consider both his recent form and the courses that he has won and played well on. Odds of 45/1 appear to forget that he made it to the 3rd round of the Paul Lawrie Matchpaly with some brilliant golf on the first two days before ultimately being knocked out by an inspired Oliver Fisher. Prior to that was a missed cut at The Open but that is a grade above the level where the Scot is comfortable and the week before that he finished 6th in Scotland at Castle Stuart.

He has won both the Omega European Masters (Crans) and the Trophee Hassan (Golf Club Du Palais Royal, where David Horsey won in 2011) and this looks like a course that he will enjoy as he usually plays well in the wind. Odds of 45/1 make him a very solid looking each way pick.

 


Summary of bets

Barclays

Hideki Matsuyama – 1.5pts ew @ 30/1

Ricky Barnes – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1

Graeme Delaet – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 7/1

Made in Denmark

Marc Warren – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Richie Ramsay – 1pt ew @ 45/1

Robert Karlsson – 0.5pt ew @ 75/1

Weekly pts advised – 12pts

Total pts advised – 778.50

@thGreek82

Wyndham Championship and D+D Real Czech Masters – Betting Preview

After all the hype and nonsense regarding the Olympic Golf it turned out to be a complete success and it had a fitting winner in Justin Rose, one of the few elite players that had supported it right from the start. It was just a shame that it came at the expense of our pick Henrik Stenson! Although the Swede traded as low as 1.40 I believe so hopefully those that were on managed to at least trade their stakes back.

It was another frustrating week as Stenson was too short to back each way so there were no returns for the blog. That leaves the results as follows;

Total points advised – 756.50

Total points returned – 793.79

ROI -4.9%

Not pretty reading as the ROI falls ever closer to a negative number but August – October was a very good period last year so hopefully my fortunes will change again soon.

This week we return to the PGA Tour and also have the Czech Masters on the European Tour.


Wyndham Championship

After the buzz of the Olympics its back to the norm again and the final tournament before the Fed Ex Series. That usually makes it quite an exciting week as players jostle in and out of the Top 125 as the weekend takes shape. Ever since the first Fed Ex Play-offs in 2007, The Wyndham Championship has been the final regular tournament and not only that but since 2008 it has been held at Sedgefield CC in North Carolina.

Sedgefield is a Donald Ross design and was opened in 1926. It plays as a 7130 yard long Par 70 course with tree-lined, average width fairways and, typically of a Ross design, relatively small greens. They were bent grass until 2012 when it was decided that scoring was too low so they were replaced with bermuda grass. Subsequently it might be best to focus on the last 4 editions rather than 2008-2011.

The winner is usually an accurate sort that hits plenty of fairways and greens and that certainly helps at Sedgefield. Patrick Reed maybe doesn’t quite fall into that category but he scrambles brilliantly and that is another key attribute at Sedgefield where, despite the low scoring, the small greens will be missed.

Further to the accuracy though there a couple of other key elements at Sedgefield. Most of those that have played well since the 2012 renovation of the greens have got form on bermuda greens with all of the four winners now having multiple PGA Tour wins on the surface.

They also have strong form on Donald Ross courses which include East Lake (Tour Championship), Aronimink GC (AT and T National 2010, 2011), Pinehurst No. 2 ( 2012 US Open), Oak Hill Country Club (2013 US PGA) and Oakland Hills (2008 US PGA Championship).

I backed Bill Haas in this last year and he played very well and finished just out of the places in 6th. It is a perfect course for the North Carolina native and he has been playing quite well again lately. The 6-time winner on Tour has always shown his best golf when the field strength is a little bit below top-class so it was very interesting to see him get his first ever major top 10 last month at Royal Troon. That will have given him a lot of confidence as he arrives at a course where his recent form figures read 6-2-20-7 since the renovations in 2012.

Three of his wins have come on bermuda greens and he has also won on Donald Ross’ East Lake course, when he announced himself properly on Tour scooping the Fed Ex bonus in 2011. Everything is in his favour this week and prior to his 56th at the US PGA his form has been decent this year with 6 Top 10s and he has given the impression that he is building towards his 7th win.

While he isn’t setting the world alight with his stats this year he is normally a good fit around Sedgefield where a solid all-round game is required. Indeed the last 5 winners have ranked 2nd, 1st, 10th, 1st and 1st in the all-round during the week of their win. Haas himself has ranked 4th, 6th, 15th and 7th so it is definitely a course that brings out his best golf.

He also sits in 21st position for strokes gained:tee to green which I think probably gives a better idea of where his game is at than some of the other more specific stats. The price isn’t fantastic but given his strong course form I think he looks the most likely to play well from those at the head of the market.

Webb Simpson is another North Carolinan that loves it around Sedgefield. So much so in fact that he called his daughter Wyndham! His form figures may have something to do with that as they read 6th-5th-11th-22nd-1st-8th-MC. That win in 2011 was his first on Tour so you can see why he has such a fondness for the event but it also suits his game perfectly.

Simpson hasn’t been at his best the last couple of years and at the start of 2016 he struggled with the anchoring ban. He has putted ok in spells though and a return to the bermuda greens that he knows well should see him prosper. He has also been threatening to win again this season and although the bookies are also aware of that, this looks to be his best chance of winning this year.For the last 3 months he ranks joint 1st in Par 4 scoring and that is always crucial around this Par 70 layout.

A couple of obvious picks this week but I like their each way chances a lot and there isn’t much more that stands out at the longer prices.


D+D Real Czech Masters

I’m a little too short on time to look into this in great detail but I have found a couple of small bets. This is the 3rd edition of this so we have two others to look back on.

I really wanted to back Sebastian Gros for this but for some reason he isn’t teeing it up this week. It looked perfect for him but I guess he may be injured.

I tipped Eddie Pepperell last year at just 18/1 on the strength of his 6th place finish in 2014. He did ok but finished down the field a little in 22nd. He hadn’t been in the best of form over the summer and a couple of weeks ago he had his back 9 collapse that saw him throw a 3 or 4 shot lead away in Asia at The King’s Cup. He then wrote quite an open blog entry about his troubles over the closing holes and he stated that he found it hard to keep his ball in play off the tee. That isn’t overly important at Albatross Golf Club and that could be why he has gone well at the course before.

He got a bit of a hard time on twitter for his blog comments but ultimately I think being so aware of himself will help him and I’d expect that he will have been working very hard on his swing in the two weeks since. The rest of his game is still in fine shape so the fact we can get 50/1 about him this week looks to be a nice piece of value.

I’m not sure that Calum Shinkwin is necessarily ready to win on the European Tour but he ranks highly in the relevant stats this week. He is 2nd in ball-striking, 28th in the all-round ranking, 43rd in Par 5 scoring and 44th in birdie average over the last three months.

Prior to his understandable missed cut at Royal Troon he was in very good form with a couple of top 10s in very strong fields in Scotland and France. That was his 1st ever major championship so it can probably be ignored and that was followed by his first professional match play tournament so I’m not too concerned by his 1st round exit there either.

I think both those have pushed his price out nicely and this course should suit him perfectly despite missing the cut on his only appearance last year. Shinkwin has improved massively in the 12 months since and he looks a good each way bet this week.

The Women’s Olympics takes place on the same Gil Hanse designed course that the men played on last week and while it could well be another shoot-out between Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn I think the fact that Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson pulled away from the field can tell us something about the course. Neither of those are the greatest of putters and while both putted quite well during the week, the Olympic course looks very much like a ball-strikers course. That makes me think that Lexi Thompson looks to be a reasonable piece of value given her recent 8th at the Women’s Open and a good 2016 on the whole. She sits 4th in ball striking and I don’t think the greens can be the toughest so it might help Thompson close the gap with Ko and AJ. The presence of Thomas Pieters and Bubba Watson on the leaderboard also suggested that length off the tee was quite crucial and Lexi sits in 2nd for driving distance.


Summary of Bets

Wyndham Championship

Bill Haas – 1pt ew @ 28/1

Webb Simpson – 1pt ew @ 25/1

D+D Real Czech Masters

Eddie Pepperell – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Calum Shinkwin – 1pt ew @ 45/1

Women’s Olympic Event

Lexi Thompson – 1pt ew @ 14/1 (1/4 1st-5th with Betfair Sportsbook)

Weekly pts advised – 10pts

Total pts advised – 766.50pts

Olympic Golf and John Deere Classic

Last week’s tournaments were rather interesting and threw up one very obvious winner and one that was anything but. Russell Knox has a very solid bank of form on Pete Dye courses and I wouldn’t have been alone in kicking myself on Sunday night when he triumphed for his 2nd PGA Tour win and his first on American soil. Even more annoying was that he went off at a fairly good price (50/1) and he is someone who should definitely be considered on Dye tracks regardless of current form as he consistently hits greens even when the rest of his game might not be at its sharpest.

In the Paul Lawrie Match Play Anthony Wall was also picking up his 2nd win but while Knox’s came some 9 months after his first, Wall had a 16 year wait in between his trophies. With very average form he was difficult to fancy before the off but his win further highlights how difficult a betting format knockout match play can be.

The one interesting aspect of Wall’s win however was him showing the importance of scrambling in links golf. When the wind blows then greens will be missed and those with a great touch around the bumps and run-offs usually fare well. Year after year Wall is one of the best scramblers on Tour, as is runner-up Alexander Noren and I don’t think it was a coincidence that they played out the final after a very windy weekend of links golf.

Another week of no returns is leaving the profits very bare now but August and September were good months last year so hopefully I can turn it around and start pushing the ROI up again.

Total pts advised – 748.50

Total pts returned – 793.79

ROI – 6.05%

This week we have no action in Europe as the Olympic Golf Tournament just about takes centre stage over the PGA Tour’s John Deere Classic. I’ve focussed on the Rio action but have also had a brief look at the US golf.


Olympic Golf

There has been enough written about the Olympic golf debacle to thoroughly bore everyone already so I’m not going to get drawn into that and instead I have focussed solely on the golf tournament in question.

We have a 60 man field assembled down in Rio and while not being as strong as it could be there is a very nice mix of top-level PGA Tour players and those that have been lighting up the other lesser known Tours. I think that in itself will give an Olympic feel to the tournament and while a team event may have been more fitting, everyone that is playing is doing so because they want to win that gold medal for both themselves and their country.

The Olympic course in the Barra region of Rio is where the action will happen and it is a standard 72-hole stroke-play format running from Thursday to Sunday as normal. Gil Hanse designed the course specifically for the Olympics after being chosen ahead of some of the most respected modern-day designers in the game.

While being a very active designer, Hanse doesn’t have too many original designs that are in play on either the PGA Tour or the European Tour but he has been quoted saying that he based a lot of the design on his links course at Castle Stuart. Looking at the pictures that seems very fair as there is definitely a sprawling links nature to the fairways and they appear to be very wide just like his Scottish design. He has also carried out a few high-profile renovations and perhaps his most notable two are at Doral’s Blue Monster Course (host of the WGC Cadillac Championship from 2007-2016) and TPC Boston (home of the Deutsche Bank Championship)

The other narrative this week has been that the course has a Melbourne Sandbelt feel to it with the course being built on very sandy soil. That doesn’t give us too much to go on here with just the two Aussies in the field but it does suggest that the course could play hard and fast as it dries out over the four days with no rain forecast.

It is a 7128 yard Par 71 but it is quite different in that it still has four Par 5s but also has five Par 3s. There is very little in the way of rough and instead the fairways are lined with waste areas like we have seen at recent US Opens at Pinehurst and Chambers Bay. The greens are sea paspalum this week which we don’t see in use on the PGA Tour too much but there are a few courses with the grass in use; El Cameleon (OHL Classic), Kuala Lumpur GC (CIMB Classic), Trump International GC (Puerto Rico Open) and Sea Island (RSM Classic).

I have been through the field several times and while there is no doubt some value there I keep coming back to the same player and it is the most obvious pick and favourite Henrik Stenson.

For a couple of years now I have been banging the Stenson drum and it was a bit annoying to miss out on his Open win although he wasn’t the greatest of prices. I believe him to be the best player in the world from tee-to green and while many will say Rory McIlroy or Dustin Johnson, Stenson’s consistency is unrivalled and he showed at Royal Troon just what he is capable of if he has a good week on the greens.

The main thing pulling me in his direction however is his excellent record around Castle Stuart. He has played there three times and finished 8th, 3rd and then 13th last month when preparing for his Open win the following week. On those last two appearances he ranked 1st in total driving and this year he hit a best in field 91% of them. If the Olympic course does in fact play anything like Castle Stuart then it is certainly going to fit his eye.

Nobody in the field has putted on these greens before and that could be a great equaliser which would surely help the likes of Stenson who isn’t one of the better putters in the field.

There are a couple of other links that interest me too. He has shown that he can play Doral with a T4th there last year and his win at the 2007 WGC Match Play came on a course that is visually quite like the Olympic course, The Gallery Golf Club in Arizona. It is full of sand being in the desert and it also has lots of waste areas just like in Rio. He also has a win and 2nd place at TPC Boston since Hanse carried out his renovations in 2007.

The ice-cool Swede is extremely patriotic and he has already won golf’s World Cup in 2008 alongside Robert Karlsson. Becoming Sweden’s first ever male major winner was a huge deal for him and Sweden, in the subsequent weeks after his Open win there were several other performances around the world from Swedish golfers who claimed to be inspired by Stenson’s win. He knows that he is perhaps Sweden’s biggest star in Rio and also one of their best medal hopes. He will thrive under that pressure and will be determined to add a gold medal to what is already a career year for him.

It is perhaps a boring pick but as long as he shows no signs of fatigue I think he will take all the stopping and even if he just has an above average week on the greens then he could find himself pulling away from the pack again and bagging himself the first golfing gold medal since 1904.

On first glance odds of 6/1 might appear short but we must remember that it is a reduced field of 60 and there are only another 5 major winners besides Stenson so we can’t really expect much better odds for the Champion Golfer of The Year.

With a lot of the bookmakers only paying the medalists it doesn’t  look like a great each way betting prospect so I’m going to play another win only and then two very small stakes on a couple of outsiders with firms that are paying slightly lower odds but the usual each way terms. I quite like Patrick Reed for this but his odds have shortened this week after being tipped up by some of the bigger players. Reed has had a fairly impressive 2016 even if he hasn’t managed a win and it’s his pair of 67s at Castle Stuart over the weekend that makes him a bet here. That was his first look at the course and after getting to grips with it on the first two days he played the weekend lower than everyone bar Nicolas Colsaerts. He followed that up at Troon by getting himself into contention early on at The Open before the draw bias left him with too much to do.

Reed showed us on his Ryder Cup debut just how much he enjoys representing his country and this will mean a lot him. His biggest win to date was at Doral in 2014 and with form on two of the key Hanse courses I think he should take to the course in Rio and he is definitely due a win.

Nicholas Colsaerts weekend score was two shots better with a couple of 66s and it’s that piece of form that gets him into the staking plan. He was playing some very consistent golf up to that point and he is another patriotic golfer who should be suited to the course. Looks a little over priced here.

My final pick is another fairly unoriginal one as many are keen on Alex Cejka‘s chances. To put things simply he is in very good form and he putts well on Sea Paspalum greens. Worth a small stakes play here.


John Deere Classic

This tournament has been somewhat of a benefit for Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth lately. Since 2008 only Brian Harman has managed to stop their monopoly here and while Stricker and Spieth have been doing the bulk of the winning with 3 wins and 2 wins respectively, Johnson hasn’t been outside the top 3 since 2009.

Luckily the profile of those 3 is a fairly obvious one. They are all excellent wedge players but more importantly 3 of the best putters that we have seen on Tour over the last 15 years.

That tells me not to look into too much detail and pick someone who is scoring well from 150 yards and in. So with limited time I’m not going to go into too much detail about the course at Deere Run, suffice to say that what you do from the tee isn’t overly important, it’s all about the greens and getting it close so that enough birdies can be made to get well into double figures under par.

Unfortunately for most of the field, Johnson and Stricker both line up here again and they look very hard to oppose. The only real angle in seems to be taking some of the value that their short prices have created in the each way market.

Stuart Appleby is one of those that seems a little over priced in this weak a field. Over his career he is a proven winner and while he hasn’t been playing brilliantly he popped up in a couple of the key stats here this week. He sits in 7th place for one putt percentage and 13th in approach performance relative to par from 125-150 yards. Both those have been key indicators around Deere Run so I’m going to have a small speculative play on the 9-time winner.

I expect Kevin Na to play well but I still haven’t forgiven him for last year and he surely can’t be backed to win at just 22/1.

Prior to his missed cut last week Steve Wheatcroft was last seen finishing 5th in Canada when he thinned his sand wedge out of the bunker on the Par 5 18th hole at Glen Abbey. That was a cruel blow when he had played so well during the round but that piece of form looks well ahead of those in the same odds bracket this week. He also ranks 16th in one putt percentage and finished 8th here in 2015. Another who looks a very fair each way price at 80/1

 

Summary of Bets

Olympic Golf

Henrik Stenson 3 pts win @ 6.6 on Exchange

Patrick Reed 1pt win @ 19.0 on Exchange

Nicolas Colsaerts – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1 (1/4 odds 1st-5th)

Alex Cejka – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1 (1/4 odds 1st – 5th)

John Deere Classic

Stuart Appleby – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

Steve Wheatcroft – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Weekly points advised – 8pts

Total points advised – 756.50

@theGreek82

Travelers Championship and Paul Lawrie Match Play – Betting Preview

 

Jimmy Walker was a very deserving champion at the US PGA but it was a little bit annoying given how much I focused on the poa annua greens in my research. Walker has often been dubbed the “Prince of Poa” but in truth he was virtually impossible to find without a Top 10 since early March. Year after year the US PGA is the one non-specialist major that is won by someone who has had a great season and is arriving with their game at its best. I guess that is why I was surprised to see him play so well for the four days and I wouldn’t have been alone in expecting Day to catch him.

Emiliano Grillo nearly made it a profitable week on his own but I don’t think playing with Day for the last 36 holes suited him and he slipped out of the Top 10 over the weekend. Ultimately the tee-to-green test became a bit too easy for the field and he probably needed tougher conditions to prosper over the weekend. He did return 13pts on Thursday though with the each way portion of the 1st round leader bet. That was a little annoying too as he was only denied a share of 1st by a 31ft Walker putt on the toughest hole on the course. That leaves the results as follows;

Total pts advised – 741.50

Total pts returned – 793.79

ROI – 7.05%

This week we have the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour and the 2nd running of the Paul Lawrie Match Play in Europe.


Travelers Championship

It’s back to regular PGA Tour golf as we move further north to Connecticut for The Travelers Championship. The course is TPC River Highlands and while not being an original Pete Dye design, he redesigned it in the early 80s before a further redesign by Bobby Weed in 1989.

After some very high-profile tournaments lately this feels like a bit of a come down tournament and my first thoughts were that this wouldn’t be won by anyone that contended last weekend.

But on further inspection of the field, it isn’t that deep so I’m not going to write them off as they haven’t travelled too far for this and some of those played some very impressive golf at Baltusrol.

I do however think that the Tournaments that fall between the US PGA and the Fed Ex series usually require some form of extra motivation, be it trying to get on the Ryder Cup team or trying to make it into the Top 125 on the Fed Ex list. A quick look at the head of the market though and we can see that a lot of those players fall into that first category; Patrick Reed, JB Holmes, Matt Kuchar, Brooks Koepka, Jim Furyk, Shane Lowry, Daniel Berger and Kevin Chappell will all still hold ideas of making it to Hazeltine. While the majority of players from the 100-150th bracket of the Fed Ex list also tee it up. This makes it look a far tougher task than I first thought.

The course is a short one at just 6820 yards but it isn’t too tight so it can be overpowered as Bubba Watson showed us last year and previously in 2010 when he registered the first of his 9 PGA Tour titles. Short hitters have also prospered here however so it’s not all about power off the tee. With the Tournament having been held here since 1984 there is plenty of course form to look at but there have been some small renovations carried out since last year. Some 45 bunkers were removed and replaced with new ones in more strategic places to allow for the distances that modern drives are carrying. It is hard to say just what effect this will have but on paper it looks like a little more care will be required off the tee than previously.

As with most Pete Dye courses, approach play accuracy is paramount even if that hasn’t been reflected in the stats recently. Bubba only ranked 42nd for GIR last year but Casey and Harman who followed him home ranked 1st and 2nd respectively. Perhaps more crucial than GIR is proximity to the hole as the last 5 winners usually rank highly in that category, particularly from the 150-175 yard range.

Statistically putting has been the most important factor on these average sized bent grass greens. They feature many famous Dye runoffs and hitting the correct portion of the green is important to avoid finding these. Looking at previous winners I make putting from 5’ to 15’ quite important here as that is often the key range for Bubba Watson. His pin-seeking approaches leave him with a lot of putts in that range and whether he contends or not can come down to how many of those he holes.

Most of the winners have form on other Pete Dye courses so it is certainly worth looking at results at Harbour Town (RBC Heritage), TPC Sawgrass (Players Championship), TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic 2014-16), PGA West Stadium Course (CareerBuilder Challenge) and Whistling Straits (US PGA Championship 2010 and 2015).

I’m largely looking for someone with form at Dye courses, some extra motivation to win this week and some current form. Bubba Watson heads the market here and that is perfectly fair given he is the class act in the field and also a two-time course winner. He has been poor enough of late though and the relocated bunkers are enough for me to look beyond him this week.

Branden Grace is harder to look beyond though given the way he was striking the ball last week. He putted poorly but the South African has always performed better on faster greens so I don’t think that will be a massive issue. While the soft greens didn’t aid his putting last week I do think they perhaps helped his tee to green game. Grace has an extremely low ball flight that can sometimes run him into trouble on faster conditions. Everything stuck last week though and he ranked 6th for GIR.

He is very tempting but a missed cut here last year is enough to scare me off as 2nd favourite. The fact he was the last winner on a Dye course at Harbour Town might have negated that for me had he been available at over 20/1 but odds of 16/1 look a little restrictive.

PaulCasey-569202

Paul Casey has been playing some decent golf lately, most recently his T10th at the US PGA Championship. While that was a major championship, it didn’t quite have the tee-to-green test that you would expect at a US Major. So the fact that Casey, an excellent ball-striker, managed to finish so high up makes me think his game is primed again for TPC River Highlands. He finished 2nd there last year on his first appearance so coming off a good week in New Jersey I’m sure he will be expecting to challenge again on his second look at the course.

Casey ranks 3rd on Tour for GIR from 150-175 yards and just last week he hit 62/72 greens in regulation which was only bettered by Louis Oosthuizen. He was also impressive on the Par 4s ranking 2nd in Par 4 scoring and that is always a crucial stat with the last 5 winners at River Highlands having ranked 1st, 1st, 2nd, 16th and 2nd on the Par 4s.

He is a relatively obvious pick but the 28/1 looks fair when we consider the 2016 he has had on the whole. His 4th place at The Masters was his best ever Augusta result and you have to go back to 2007 to find the last time he had two major top 10s in the same season. He also finished 16th at Firestone last month which was a place that he shared with last week’s winner Jimmy Walker. A decent showing at Firestone has long been a good indication of where a player’s all-round game is at.

Casey did not renew his European Tour membership this season much to the annoyance of many in the media. So while that firstly tells us that he no longer has any interest in playing in the Ryder Cup, it also tells us that he is determined to finish his career off strongly in the US. To date he only has one PGA Tour title to his name but he has been getting closer the last few years since his form returned. 2015 saw two play-off losses and with no Ryder Cup to think about I think it is safe to assume that he is looking to have a real run at the Fed-Ex Cup this year. Winning this week would be a perfect start and would allow him to miss a week of the final series should he require the break.

Everything looks to be in his favour in Connecticut and the 28/1 about this GIR machine looks a solid each way play at a course that we know suits.

The best piece of value in the field looks to be Billy Hurley III at 150/1 this week. It is only 6 weeks since he was winning the Quicken Loans National at Congressional CC and yet he is priced up here alongside some players whose recent achievements are nowhere close to that.

It’s not like he has lost his form either having recorded his best ever major finish of T22nd at Baltusrol last week. Hurley has an accurate tee-to-green game and he currently ranks 5th in proximity to the hole but also 5th from the all-important 150-175 yards range. His putting isn’t too shabby either and last week he ranked 12th for total putting. That sits nicely alongside his 2016 ranking of 20th in the one-putt percentage category.

Unfortunately he doesn’t have a great deal of form on Pete Dye courses but he has made both cuts here, finishing 57th in 2014 and 47th in 2012 when a far less accomplished player. He also has a 31st at Harbour Town a couple of years ago and his win at Congressional was on bent grass greens. His game should suit TPC River Highlands and if that is the case then the 180.0 looks an absolute steal for an improving, confident player with a recent win tucked away who will be looking to finish his breakthrough season with a strong run into the Fed-Ex Series.

I did look for a third pick and Webb Simpson was very close but 33/1 looks just a little bit short for someone who still hasn’t quite got to grips with the short putter yet. He is worth keeping an eye on though incase he drifts on Wednesday as his long game looks nearly back to its best.

 


Paul Lawrie Match Play.

After just one running at Paul Lawrie’s home course, Murcar Links, this is on the move already down to the exclusive Archerfield Links in East Lothian. Archerfield is fast becoming one of the most expensive courses in the UK and subsequently is a course that is kept in excellent condition. There are two courses on site, the Dirleton Links and the Fidra Links and it is the latter in use this week.

Being along the coast less than a mile from Muirfield the Fidra course is unquestionably a links course but it is also, rather differently, a parkland course as the first 12 holes run through woodland. This will make for an interesting test this week and while last year’s competition can well be used as a starting point, Murcar is a shorter, more classic links layout whereas despite the trees, there is definitely more room off the tee at Archerfield and the rough doesn’t look to be too penal at all.

The only course form of any note is the Ladies Scottish Open and I did find an interesting angle through East Lothian’s own Catriona Matthew who won there in 2011 and 2013. Matthew is very much a links specialist and as well as winning a Women’s Open she has also won at Barseback and Gleneagles in her career. They are both perfect examples of courses that mix links type terrain with parkland. Just last week we saw Matthew contending at another parkland course at Woburn, a course that links specialists have always fared well on which was evident with 4 previous Open champions in the top 7.

A look at the European Tour result from Woburn helps further highlight this. It was won by Matt Fitzpatrick, a former boys Amateur champion and solid links player. In behind were Soren Kjeldsen and Shane Lowry, two former winners of the Irish Open on links courses.

So in a round-about way all I’m suggesting here is that we can paint quite a good picture of the type of player that might go well on this course. They should have a solid links pedigree, preferably in Scotland but also have played well on British parkland courses like Woburn and Wentworth where the wind can feature quite heavily.

Given this is a match play tournament rather than stroke play, anyone we are backing should have some form in the alternative format. That isn’t so easy however as there aren’t a lot of professional match play tournaments around for those outside the upper echelons of the game. The Volvo World Match Play, the Eurasia Trophy and last year’s running of this is about the height of it if we assume that none of this field is good enough to have played in the Ryder Cup.

That would be a hasty assumption though and my main play for the Tournament actually has two Ryder Cup performances to his name and a fairly decent record at that winning 3 ½ pts out of 5. Granted they were back in 2004 and 2006 when he was at the peak of his powers but he has rounded back into form in recent weeks with a 45th place finish at the Scottish Open coming before an excellent 22nd at The Open at Troon.

David Howell has won at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship as well as Wentworth and the highlight of his career came in 2005 when he successfully went head to head down the stretch with Tiger at the WGC HSBC Champions in Shanghai. He also made the semi-finals of this very tournament last year at Murcar Links.

At his best he is a grade above most of these bar the front three in the market but yet Howell is available at 50/1 whereas Wood, Noren and Fitzpatrick are all trading under 20/1. We know the random nature of match play means that it can pay to take the larger prices so Howell looks exceptional value this week on a course that should suit in a format he is proven in.

Despite his price Matt Fitzpatrick is very hard to leave alone as he meets all the relevant criteria. Strong links player (albeit as an amateur), has won at Woburn, good match-play record from his illustrious amateur career and fairly good recent form having won just 7 starts ago in Sweden. His run of 5 missed cuts would be a worry but he stopped the rot at Baltusrol and he will welcome this change of format.

It’s just his price that I’m not really happy with here but I’m going to include a small bet on him purely because I can’t leave him out. *He has been drawn against Thomas Bjorn so I’m keeping it win only. If he gets past the Dane then he could go on a run.

David Howell is by far my most fancied player this week but keeping with the Ryder Cup theme I’m going to take a very speculative punt on Oliver Wilson. He played on the last losing European side in 2008 but managed to win 1 of his 2 points. He isn’t in the greatest of form but he is a huge price and he has shown before that he can win from virtually nowhere. When he won his Alfred Dunhill Links title in 2014 he had form figures of 47-MC-MC-MC and this week he arrives with a similar looking 57-58-MC-MC-45.

He led the field for putting on the way to that 45th place finish at the Nordea Masters and on his last start he hit 76% of GIR so it isn’t all bad for the Englishman .

He can also boast a play-off defeat at Wentworth in 2008 and I just think he looks a little over priced here. The course should suit and he has more top-class match play experience than the bulk of this field. If he can get through his first match then his confidence might just pick up and he could massively outplay his odds of 200/1 in this tricky betting format.

These were all picked out prior to the draw but luckily they are all in separate quarters so I’m happy to stick with them. Hopefully they can all make it to the semi-finals!

 


Summary of Bets

Travelers Championship

Paul Casey – 1pt ew @ 28/1

Billy Hurley – 0.75pt ew @ 150/1

Paul Lawrie Match Play

David Howell – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Oliver Wilson – 0.25pt ew @ 200/1

Matt Fitzpatrick – 1pt win @ 16/1

 

Weekly points – 7 pts

Total points advised – 748.50

 

@theGreek82