WGC Mexico Championship and Tshwane Open – Betting Preview

Unless you are lucky enough to be on the winner it is very frustrating when a tournament is cut to just 54 holes. It brings fortune into the equation that little bit more and that is exactly what happened in South Africa. When the announcement was made on Saturday the leaderboard was extremely bunched together and with only one round to go it meant that the cream (George Coetzee!) had less chance to rise to the top. He did his best though taking advantage of the soft conditions to fly through the field and he found himself joint leader when he stood on the 16th tee. Unfortunately he finished bogey-bogey-birdie to finish on -12 when you have to feel -14 in the clubhouse would have been enough given how nervous all the leaders looked. The fact -12 couldn’t hold onto a place was all the more annoying. In the US Kevin Kisner was on the fringes over the first two days but a 66 on Saturday pulled him into T8th and a place looked a possibility. I’m not sure what happened to him overnight however as he came out and shot a 76 on Sunday.

The results now stand as follows;

2017 pts advised = 97pts

2017 pts returned = 68.66pts

ROI = -29.22%

This week we have the first World Golf Championship of the year and the European Tour has an alternative event with the Tshwane Open from Pretoria.

WGC Mexico Championship

This week after a nine year connection with Doral’s Blue Monster, and rather aptly just a 4 year term with the course under it’s Trump guise, the WGC Cadillac Championship is no more and it has ventured over the border to Mexico for the first WGC of the year at Chapultepec Golf Club.

It’s timing couldn’t be better with so many of the game’s big names arriving with a 2017 win already under their belt. While this will surely make for an exciting tournament, the change of course brings with it quite a challenge for punters. With 9 years worth of course form as a WGC, it was very clear the type of golfer that prevailed at Doral and latterly the shorter hitters had almost no chance at all as the bombers overpowered the course. The last proper tournament to be held here was in 1991 so there isn’t much course form to go on however I have done my best to find out as much as I can about the course and my first instinct is that we shouldn’t see this course over-powered.

The 7330 yard, par 71 course was designed by two Scottish brothers, Willie and Alex Smith from Carnoustie, around the time when Scots were very much the talking point of US golf in the early 1900s. Donald Ross was at the fore front of that and he himself had links to Carnoustie with the first 3 club professionals at his East Lake design all hailing from the Angus town. Indeed the first of those was Alex Smith himself. This suggests to me that they probably shared a lot of Ross’ design philosophy and the course certainly doesn’t look unlike some of his tree-lined courses in the US like East Lake and Sedgefield.

All 18 holes are available to view on You Tube and one of the first things that is noticeable is the sheer number of trees that surround the fairways. But these don’t just line the fairways, they seem to completely shape the tee shot where the driving lines are very tight. In addition to that the greens also appear to be partially blocked out by trees from certain areas of the fairways. This looks nothing like the sort of tree-lined fairways we see at Augusta where there is room to bomb the ball over and around the trees into wide open landing areas. To me it appears more along the lines of the tighter, fiddly courses we see more of in Europe. At 7330 yards long and playing as a Par 71 it is easy to think that the coruse will play very long but I don’t think that will be the case. The course is at severe altitude so the ball will travel around 10% further than normal and two of the three par 5s measure over 600 yards which takes into account a lot of the extra yardage. Only the likes of Dustin Johnson will be able to get home in two on those and even then he will require two brilliant shots. If we look at the rest of the holes then we see a lot of short par 4s and I think they will be key this week with strong wedge players coming to the fore.

At altitude distance control becomes even more important and on a course where I expect accuracy to be key then I think approach play will be the deciding factor this week. The greens are also relatively small and are apparently very fast with Bubba Watson suggesting they were towards 13 on the stimp already. Only the most accurate will be able to hit and hold the right area on the greens

With a very strong case to be made for all the market leaders its very hard to pick between them and with them all trading at 15/1 or below, I decided to instead look further down the field at players that might be suited to the course and can be found at fair each way prices.

It looks to be absolutely ideal for Jason Dufner and to make things even better, he arrives in some fairly decent form. He has only played 4 tournaments so far this year but has finished 21st-MC-25th-14th so he looks to be trending in the right direction. Stats wise he sits 20th in total driving for the 2017 season and he also ranks 12th in Par 4 scoring.

Dufner has shown over the last 5 years that he excels on tough driving layouts and he has an excellent US Open record to back that up. But when playing well his iron game can also compete with the best in the game. Especially when wedges are the name of the game as I expect them to be this week with 6 Par 4s under 410 yards and two monster par 5s which will be a wedge in for the bulk of the field. His ball-striking to win his 2013 US PGA Championship was incredible and he left so many approaches inside 10ft it was too much even for the always accurate Jim Furyk.

But should I be wrong with my assessment of the course, Dufner can also compete on bombers courses. His recent record around Doral is very solid with a 12th, 9th and 11th in the last 4 years.

A lot is said about Dufner’s weakness on the greens but just two starts ago at Torrey Pines he ranked 4th for putting and while he does have problems from 10ft and in, he is an excellent lag putter which will help him on these fast, undulating surfaces. If it turns into a birdie fest then he might begin to fall behind but I’m expecting a relatively difficult week and he showed last year at Oakmont that he can handle fast greens. In case he gets competitive but is ultimately overtaken by some of the bigger names I’m also having a saver in the top 10 market.

The course also resembles Wentworth with tree-lined fairways and tricky, fast greens. This made me think of 2015 BMW PGA winner Byeong-Hun An. “Benny” has been in good form since taking up the chance to play on the PGA Tour last year and so far in 2017 his results read 13-49-6-55.

As well as his BMW PGA win, An won the 2009 US Amateur around the tree-lined Southern Hills course and his first professional win on the Challenge Tour was on yet another tree-lined course in Switzerland which was also played at a slight altitude. He is clearly a player that enjoys having his shot-shape dictated to him on the tee as the more space he has, the more erratic he can be.

At his best he is a brilliant ball-striker and his win at Wentworth was very much Matsuyama-esque such was his perfect control of the golf ball from tee-to-green. His short iron approaches have been back to their best in 2017 and he sits 7th on the PGA Tour in proximity to the hole from 125-150 yards. He has been threatening to win again and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it came in this good a field. He looked over priced when he opened at 100/1 and although he has been cut to 80s I still like him a lot each way considering we only have 77 runners.

Bill Haas was a little screwed over by the draw at Riviera when he was last seen two weeks ago but nobody played the weekend better and he arrives here in excellent form. The combination of kikuyu fairways and poa annua/bentgrass greens will be right up his street as he is a Riviera specialist and it features the same grasses.

Haas is normally renowned for his long, accurate driving so the course looks like it will be ideal for him and the rest of his game looks good too. Par 4 scoring will be important this week and is also usually a good indicator of all-round game. He ranks 3rd in that for 2017 and he also sits 1st in scrambling should he miss these small greens. I have long thought that Haas has another big win in him and while I’m not convinced that it will be a major, he does have a good record in WGCs and this tournament in particular. At Doral he had three Top 10s from seven appearances and he has also showed that he can travel well with two further top 10s at the WGC HSBC in Shanghai. He looks to be a decent each way price at 80/1.

There are two additional place markets that I like through the course conditions and they are Fabrizio Zanotti and David Lipsky. I’m not sure I can see either placing here but a top 20 certainly isn’t stretching the imagination.

Zanotti has shown throughout his career that he thrives on tree-lined courses and on his last start he was seen winning on one in the Maybank Championship in Malaysia.  He also finished 2nd to Fitzpatrick at Woburn in 2015 and that is one of the tightest courses seen on either Tour. This is undoubtedly a big step up in class but as well as liking the course he will handle the conditions no problem too. He hails from Paraguay but more interesting still is that he won the 2006 Mexico Open just 20 minutes north of Chapultepec. That means he has everything in his favour this week, tree-lined course, current form and experience of the altitude conditions. Looks to be priced up as an unfashionable European Tour player and that makes his top 20 price look like a standout piece of value here.

David Lipsky chased Zanotti home in Malaysia last month showing he too enjoys tree-lined courses but it is his win at Crans Golf Club in Switzerland that looks most pertinent here. It is a course at over 5000 ft altitude so he will have faced similar issues with distance and club selection. Additionally the course features a lot of shorter par 4s as per Chapultepec. Course specialist Thomas Bjorn is a two-time winner at Crans and at his peak he was one the best wedge players in the world. I expect Lipsky to thrive on the par 4s in Mexico and arriving in good form he also looks a very nice Top 20 price.

Tshwane Open

This week in South Africa we have an even worse field than last week so as you would expect George Coetzee is an even shorter price. But yet again he has won at the course and Pretoria Country Club is actually his home track. Given that I think he would have won with a 4th round last week, I think he is a very worthy favourite this week. I don’t see any great need to complicate matters having focussed largely on the WGC this week and everything that I said about him last week applies again here.

Being just 40 miles to the north, the course will have had all the rain we saw in Joburg  last week too so there won’t be too much run on the fairways. I have seen reports that the rough is extremely penal there this week so the soft conditions will help the wayward Coetzee stay in the fairways. From there he will attack all the flags again this week and if he putts like he did last week  I don’t think are too many that can keep up with him here.

I noticed Joakim Lagergren is in the field again and given he is one of the better putters already on Tour I’m going to have a small Top 10 bet on him too as he has shown already in his short career that he can handle grainy greens.

Summary of Bets

WGC Mexico

Jason Dufner – 1pt ew @ 80/1 and 2pts Top 10 @6/1

Byeong-Hun An – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1

Bill Haas – 0.75pt ew @ 70/1

Fabrizio Zanotti – 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

David Lipsky – 1pt Top 20 @ 7/1

Tshwane Open

George Coetzee – 1.5pts ew @ 10/1

Joakim Lagergren – 1pt Top 10 @ 4/1

Weekly pts advised = 13pts

2017 total pts advised = 110pts



Honda Classic and Joburg Open – Betting Preview

Jason Scrivener provided some each way money in the Super 6 event but it looked to be the minimum returns when both he and Oosthuizen were in commanding positions in their Quarter Finals and playing very well. I recorded the action on Sunday morning to watch “as live” and the format proved to be quite exciting. Oosthuizen had a putt to go 2 up against Adam Bland and effectively win his match but somehow he knocked it 6 ft past, missed the return putt and allowed his opponent to take it into extra holes. Again Oosthuizen had a putt to win but missed from around 8ft and then he found the bunker on the 3rd play-off hole and that was that for the tournament favourite.

Over in the US all four picks found themselves on the wrong side of the draw and so had to play the bulk of their 2nd rounds in the wind and rain. Once back on a level playing field though Bill Haas stormed through the field and nobody played the final two rounds better than him as he finished T11th. It’s doubtful that he would have got anywhere near our new World No. 1 but I’m sure he would have placed given how close he came even from the worse side of the draw.

It was another week of place money as the next win continues to prove elusive and the 2017 results are as follows.

2017 pts advised – 83pts

2017 pts returned – 68.66pts

ROI – -17.8%

Honda Classic

After a very succesful California swing the Tour heads East to begin the Florida swing and that begins with the Honda Classic at PGA National. The last three winners on Tour have been Hideki Matsuyama, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson so the punters are faced with the same problem as this time last year when the big names started a period of dominance. Despite them appearing obvious picks it can still be difficult to gauge when they are ready to win. Luckily this week none of the world’s top 6 are playing so that should make for a more interesting betting heat.

PGA National is a short 7140 yard, coastal layout that 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 potential 15mph winds then you can 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 9th for scrambling compared to 17th for GIR and 31st 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 and the last 5 winners ranked 1-3-3-4-4 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 in 2015, 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.

I really liked Kevin Kisner for this last year but it wasn’t to be as he had a poor week. But I’m still convinced the course should suit him perfectly and with only mild winds forecast, I’m going to stick with him. He owes me nothing after more profit at the Sony Open and it was that 4th place that had him back in my thoughts for the Honda. Both courses are short, coastal layouts with bermuda greens and there are several players with strong form at both. Russell Henley, Mark Wilson and Ernie Els have all won around both in recent times.

I’m at risk of repeating myself with Kisner so will keep things brief. He putts brilliantly on bermuda, he is a great scrambler (9th in scrambling over the last 3 months) and he drives the ball straight (16th in driving accuracy).

He also plays well on the east coast and enjoys tougher tests of golf. He has looked back to his best so far in 2017 with form figures of 4th – 25th -10th . I had hoped for a bigger price but without any of the worlds top 6 here 45/1 is probably fair.

There are a host of other players around the 30/1-80/1 range that I quite like but Daniel Berger has yet to perform with my money on and despite how much the course should suit Tyrrell Hatton, he looks to be a poor price at just 33/1. Fitzpatrick, Willett, Grace and Donald all made the shortlist but there was a niggling feeling that they were also a little shorter than I would have liked. So instead I have gone for two smaller bets on a couple of three-figure prices.

William McGirt finished 8th last year here and his price seems to be focussing a little too much on last week’s missed cut rather than his course form which also boasts a 22nd from 2015. His long game is in perfect condition for the test at PGA National with him ranking 4th in driving accuracy and 6th in GIR over the last 3 months. He also sits 7th in par 4 scoring which is always key here.

The one downside is his short game maybe isnt as sharp as you would like but he usually goes well on bermuda grass and his only PGA Tour win came on another Jack Nicklaus layout at Muirfield Village. He still ranks 58th in scrambling however so hopefully the switch to bermuda will have him back at his best and he looks to carry a little value at 100/1.

I tipped Zac Blair at a big price at the Sony Open in January given he was 3rd there in 2016 and 6th in 2015, but he didn’t play very well. I’ve been holding that thought however for courses that suit and as we have mentioned the Sony Open correlates nicely with the Honda Classic.

He sits 7th in scrambling, 12th in driving accuracy and 37th in par 4 scoring and I think he should enjoy the test and hopefully give us a run for our money at a speculative 250/1. I will also throw 1pt on him in the top 20 market.

Joburg Open

After a succesful foray into the unknown in Australia last week, the European Tour stays in the southern hemisphere but moves to South Africa. We are at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club (RJKGC) where there are two courses in play this week as they face both the East and West courses before the cut with two further rounds at the weekend on the tougher East championship course.

They were both designed by Bob Grimsdell and subsequently both present a similar type of challenge. Tight, tree-lined fairways appear on both courses with the rough normally being more penal on the Championship layout. The East course also plays considerably longer at 7658 yards compared to the West course’s 7203 yards. As normal in SA the players will be on kikuyu fairways but this week there is some poa mixed through the bentgrass greens which means they will be even harder to read than usual in SA.

In the ten editions of this tournament there have been seven South African winners and for a while they really did dominate these co-sanctioned events. But since the likes of Schwartzel, Oosthuizen and now Branden Grace are spending more time on the PGA Tour, their dominance isn’t what it was. However they are still at a distinct advantage in the conditions but the field strength should always be the first aspect considered when trying to assess these tournaments. Two years ago Andy Sullivan made the journey to South Africa and won twice in quick succession and Graeme Storm held off Rory McIlroy  to win the South African Open in January. If there is enough quality in the field then some of the classier European contingent always have a chance.

Despite all that I have plumped for one of the local market leaders for my main bet. As regular readers will know I’m a huge fan of George Coetzee and I think he seems to be over his injuries that have plagued him a lot over the last 18 months. He made changes to his game to attempt to be less erratic off the tee and his driving distance was noticeably a lot shorter in 2015 and 2016 but he seems to have gone back to his usual method which is getting driver out there as far as possible and then letting his aggressive iron game and brilliant short game do the rest. It does mean that not all courses suit him but he won here in 2013 and at the top of his game I make him the best player in the field (although Stone may well overtake him soon), especially down in the SA area where all three of his ET wins have come.

He warmed up for this by playing in the Sunshine Tour’s Dimension Data event where he could only finish 14th but notably he ranked 1st for putting. He is boasting 2017 form figures of 14-MC-7 while he sits 10th in the all-round ranking on Tour over the last 3 months. An argument could probably be made for his price being a little short but he has won 3 of his last 12 tournaments in SA so with him appearing fit again I’m happy to take the 18/1 about one of the best putters on Tour. The clinching factor for me was seeing that it has been raining all week and that looks set to continue through to Sunday. That will put the bigger hitters at an advantage and will hopefully stop Coetzee’s wilder drives from running out of fairway. He also has a strong Open Championship record playing in the wind and rain so he will handle conditions better than most.

I’m going back to Chris Paisley again this week in the hope that he can follow in Andy Sullivan’s footsteps by landing his first title in SA. Having recorded back to back Top 20s in the Middle East this is a step down in class and his Portugal Masters 5th place makes him very interesting this week given the course link between its host course, Oceanico Victoria, and RJKGC. Paisley is a brilliant putter but has also been hitting more greens lately and he actually ranks 24th for GIR over the last 3 months and 18th in the all-round. He played alongside Sullivan in the 2011 Walker Cup and he will have noticed how Sullivan was rewarded for repeatedly making the trip to SA.

Paisley has missed his last three cuts in the Joburg Open but Sullivan himself went MC-60th on his first two appearances and I think his persistence can pay off as it does take time to learn how to play in SA. He has improved massively over the last year and again we get a very nice price about Paisley this week so I’m going to back him each way and also Top 20 again.

Paul Dunne first appeared in the limelight when he led the 2015 Open after three rounds at St Andrews. He was still an amateur then but turned pro later on in the year. He has had a decent first year on Tour without properly contending but he does have 12 top 25s from 34 pro starts. His only top 10 arrived in this very tournament last year so it looks an ideal chance for him to go after his first pro title.

It took Justin Rose four years to get his break through win after his brilliant amateur showing at Birkdale in 1998. So while Dunne appears to not have made too much of an impact on Tour, you just have to look at how Rose’s career has panned out to see that there is no rush once they enter the professional ranks.

Dunne is a deadly putter and he showed at St Andrews that he can handle playing in wind and rain so he shouldn’t be affected by the forecast conditions. Lots of golfers map out the bulk of their campaigns at the very start of the year and there is no doubt that Dunne will have highlighted this as a good chance to contend for his first title. He was last seen missing the cut in Malaysia but conditions would not have suited and a better gauge of his current form is how he fared on the Middle East Swing. Those courses have always been suited to links players and considering he was making his debut at all three, figures of 39-21-42 are encouraging.

At 55/1 he looks worth a small each way play and I’m also backing him to get another top 10 at a venue he clearly likes.

Summary of Bets

Honda Classic

Kevin Kisner – 1.5pts ew @ 45/1

William Mcgirt – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

Zac Blair – 0.5pt ew @ 250/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 

Joburg Open

George Coetzee – 1.5pts ew @ 18/1

Chris Paisley – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 and 2pts Top 20 @ 7/2

Paul Dunne – 0.5pt ew @ 55/1 and 1pt Top 10 @ 5/1

Weekly pts advised – 14pts

2017 total pts advised – 97pts


Genesis Open and ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth – Betting Preview

Last week was rather miserable on the whole as none of the players figured at any point really. J.B Holmes started and finished well but seemed to have suffered from playing alongside Bill Murray. In Europe Jaidee and Meesawat played ok but Jaidee was never really threatening the places while Meesawat got himself on the verge of the Top 20 at the start of his final round before throwing away 7 shots in last 8 holes.

It puts the blog back into negative numbers and it looks like I’m going to have to find a winner to keep it in positive figures for any period of time.

Total pts advised – 70pts

Total pts returned – 58.53

ROI – -16.39%

This week we are at one of my favourite courses in the US, Riviera Country Club, while the European Tour heads down under.


Genesis Open

The PGA Tour stays in California this week for one of the best stops on Tour, Riviera. It’s a classical, tree lined course with lots of elevation changes and plenty of long par 4s. Unlike most of the other courses in the US, the fairways and rough around Riviera are kikuyu grass which is more common in the southern hemisphere. The greens are small, fast and poa annua with many of them raised above fairway level.

The rough is said to be minimal but there is a lot of rain forecast so it won’t be much fun to try and get out of. It will be easier with a degree of loft however so length off the tee will be a huge advantage.

That is the name of the game in general around Riviera as the greens can be difficult to hold. A high ball flight helps and if we look at Bubba (winner of 2 of the last 3 at Riviera) then these are things he excels at. He gets his drives out there further than anyone and has the imagination to still fire at the flag from anywhere should he miss the fairway.

In addition to length off the tee and a high ball flight the 3rd key atrribute is scrambling. With so many greens usually missed, getting up and down is crucial. While the rough may not be up around the fairways, around the greens is a different matter. The greens at Riviera have a very definite fringe and with the rough being wet a delicate touch will be required this week to scramble well from the kikuyu. Putting isn’t usually too important as the undulating, poa annua greens make it very hard to hole putts.

Two strong course links that I mentioned in detail last year were Augusta and Glen Abbey which hosts the Canadian Open.

This is the strongest field assembled so far in 2017 but I don’t think that is any reason for course specialist Bill Haas to be available at 66/1. Last year’s field wasn’t too shabby and I tipped him at 33/1, I’m not sure he has done too much wrong to warrant being double the price. Normally a very long and accurate driver, an in-form Bill Hass doesn’t really have any glaring weakness to his game. If anything he is probably only held back by the fact he also doesn’t quite do anything brilliantly. But he does scramble very well indeed and it is that area of his game that convinced me to back him at 66/1. He currently ranks 1st over the last 3 months, getting up and down an impressive 76.9% of the time. But the fact he is also sitting in 9th for GIR over the same period makes me wonder why he is such a price. Especially when his only two appearances so far this calendar year yielded a 17th at the CareerBuilder Challenge and a 13th at the Sony Open. The 66/1 suggests that he is maybe putting poorly but that isn’t the case as he is 20th in total putting over the last 3 months. Granted these 3 month stats don’t represent a whole lot of tournaments for Haas but they still tell us that his game is very close to where he wants it. As a former winner it makes the 66/1 look an excellent each way bet.

Having tipped Charl Schwartzel last year at 28/1 I don’t think I can leave him out at 66/1. Since last year he finally won his 2nd PGA Tour title at the Travellers Championship and you would expect him to push on from there. He has gone well here before and claims to be his favourite course on Tour. He was brought up playing on kikuyu so he will handle the scrambling better than most. He also prefers putting on fast greens and while he has travelled from Malaysia this week I think that negative is more than factored into his price.

The other two players I like probably aren’t quite worthy of an outright bet so instead I’m going to play them in both the Top 10 and Top 20 markets.

Chez Reavie agonisingly finished 7th last year at 250/1 after sitting 2nd through 54 holes. I stupidly didn’t have a place bet on and I’m not going to make that mistake this year. Given he couldn’t even place last year from a great position I’m not convinced that he can win this in a stronger field at a shorter price but I was right about the course being a good fit. He is scrambling well again this year currently ranking 4th and his form figures so far in the 2017 season read 4-8-12-MC-MC but neither Scottsdale or Pebble Beach suit Reavie so those missed cuts can be forgiven. After proving.last year that the course suits I think both his Top 10 and Top 20 prices look to be represent some value.

Keegan Bradley is another player who loves Riviera thanks to his brilliant tee-to-green game. Few hit the ball higher, longer and straighter than Bradley and that has always helped him here and his form figures read MC-2-16-20-4-MC. He has recently threatened to be getting back to somewhere near his best and he finished 4th at Torrey Pines which is another tough, classical layout. I think that probably explains why he is as short as 80/1 but his price in the Top 10 market still looks very fair. He tends to be feast or famine at the course as he has a mix of missed cuts and top 20s but given he is playing well I think he looks far more likely to go well again than miss the cut this week. Which, on all evidence, makes 7/1 for a Top 10 look a great bet. I’m adding him for a Top 20 too just incase.

Looking at my bets I realised I have tipped exactly the same 4 players as last year! I’m hoping they can repay the loyalty.

ISPS Handa World Super 6 Perth

A lot has been said so far about what a nonsense this tournament is and while I’m loathe to disagree, I’m not convinced that we should write it off completely just yet. The mix of stroke-play and mini 6 hole match-play certainly has a novelty ring to it and were it an aside to a main tournament it would probably be met with more positivity. The fact that it takes over from a regular 72-hole strokeplay event seems to be a source of negativity but what seems to be lost is that we still have 75% of a normal tournament before all the fun and games begin.

With a normal 36 hole cut those that don’t finish in the top 65 might as well have been playing a regular event and you could argue the same for those who don’t make the top 24 after 54 holes. Ultimately the challenge laid out in front of the players is very much the same as usual. That in itself is forcing me to focus on those who have gone well before on the course. Lake Karrinyup is a a relatively short (approx 7100 yards), tree lined course that features some links style bunkering with hard and fast conditions as we have come to expect in Australia.

Despite the trees, driving accuracy isn’t normally that important and both Jeong and Olesen sprayed the ball around off the tee during the week of their win. Far more crucial is GIR as all the course winners featured prominently in this area. Ability to play in the wind and a familiarity with slick, grainy, Australian greens will also be beneficial this week.

Despite Louis Oosthuizen only being 12/1 I’m still loathe to leave him out. I realise it doesn’t sound sensible backing someone at those odds in this sort of tournament but given he won around the course last year hitting 93% of greens, he must surely make the top 24 in this field. After that his reputation alone could beat some of this field on the first tee, even in the shortened 6 hole format. But if we add his current form and his match-play pedigree into the equation, he looks a very deserving favourite. His only two starts in 2017 saw him shake the rust off around Torrey Pines where he finished a respectable 41st on his debut and then follow up with a 3rd at the Phoenix Open. That is quite some way ahead of anything else on show in Perth. He ranked 2nd in GIR around TPC Scottsdale and with that being another ball-strikers course his game should be in good shape for his defence at Lake Karrinyup.

His recent match-play record is also immense as he has slowly found his way in the format. On his last President’s Cup appearance he won 4.5 pts out of 5. His record at the WGC Match-play is also very solid. In 2014 and 2016 he lost to the eventual winner Jason Day in the quarter finals and final respectively. In between those was another quarter-final defeat to Jim Furyk. Since the introduction of the round robin groups in 2015 he has won all three of his matches in the group stages which on the whole gives him a record of played 16 and won 13 over the last three editions. In that period he has also beaten Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler.

With a week off last week and time to acclimatise he looks to have at very worst a favourites chance but should he make the last 24 he will (rightly or wrongly) be a very strong favourite come the knockout stages. That will give people the chance to cover their bets should they decide the fickle nature of match-play is too risky.

After doing this blog for 18 months now I notice that I’m tending to fancy the same players as I did first time round when previewing tournaments. It might not be a sound betting plan in terms of those that didn’t deliver any returns but it could yet prove to be prudent with regards those who did. Last year I backed Jason Scrivener in this at 50/1 due to his strong record in his home country. He fnished 3rd which means his course form now reads 28th-15th-3rd which I would imagine is as good as anyone in the field. As we noted the key stat around Lake Karrinyup is GIR and on his last two visits he has hit 81% of his greens.

Further to that his results in Australia in general over the last 2 1/2 years also make good viewing; 64-4-14-3-28-3-11-18-38-15-18. As we can see he would have made the top 24 in 7 of those 11 tournaments. Given that all we can really hope for is a top 24 and then some luck in the match-play rounds, he again looks to be a value play at 50/1.

A look at his Middle East swing results doesn’t do a great deal to boost confidence but that was his debut on all three courses so 39th-MC-39th isn’t all that bad on very long courses where course experience is vital.

Lasse Jensen simply looks overpriced in this field off the face of his 3rd two weeks ago in Dubai. He finished down the field in 55th in Malaysia last week but that course was a little bit too tight for Jense who prefers a bit of room off the tee. We don’t really know how he might fare at the course or the in match-play but sometimes it just pays to pick in form golfers.His 3rd place finish is streets ahead of what the majority of this field have acheived in 2017 so despite his two missed cuts here he shouldn’t be a three figure price. At 32 years old he is by no means an improving youngster but he has been playing lately with an increased confidence at this level and can hopefully outplay his odds by making the top 24 and the match-play stages.

If any of these three do make the top 24 after 3 rounds then consideration should be given to trading/partial cashing out. Match-play can throw up plenty of surprises over 18 holes so you would imagine the likelihood of upsets will be even greater over 6 holes.

Summary of bets

Genesis Open

Bill Haas – 1pt ew @66/1

Charl Schwartzel – 0.75pts ew @ 66/1 

Chez Reavie – 1pt Top 10 @ 12/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 11/2

Keegan Bradley – 1pt Top 10 @ 7/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 3/1

Perth Super 6

 Louis Oosthuizen – 1.5pts ew @ 12/1

Jason Scrivener – 0.75pts ew @ 50/1

Lasse Jensen – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

Weekly pts advised – 13pts

Total pts advised – 83pts


AT&T Pebble Beach and Maybank Championship – Betting Preview

After landing two consecutive Top 20 bets Chris Paisley is fast becoming my new favourite golfer. Had he played better over the weekend he might have even landed a place at 250/1 after sitting in T5th at the halfway stage. But he fell away a little perhaps daunted somewhat by playing alongside Stenson on the Saturday.

Lahiri got to -5 on the Thursday but that was as good as it got for him and Bjerregaard was never really a threat at any point.

Jon Rahm divided opinion last week and those who dismissed him at his price might have been a little worried for an hour or so on Saturday when he raced through his first 8 holes in -6 to get within 1 shot of the lead. But a poor back 9 followed by an average final round left him down the field. Mahan played well and threatened with the top 20 at times but just couldn’t hole enough putts to keep any momentum going.

Paisley’s returns put the blog back into profit for 2017.

Total pts advised – 56pts

Total pts returned – 58.53pts

ROI = 4.5%

AT&T Pebble Beach

The Tour heads back over to California this week and specifically Pebble Beach which has long been regarded as one of the most scenic courses in world golf. 

With this being a Pro-Am tournament the field will have plenty of opportunities to take in the views as rounds regularly take around 6 hours to complete. That means it isn’t for everyone but this year we have one of the strongest fields for quite a few years.

It’s another multi-course set up this week with rotation across Spyglass Hill, Monterey Peninsula and Pebble Beach Golf Links over the first three days with the Top 60 and ties playing the final round on the more famous Pebble Beach course on the Sunday.

With the amateurs in tow we can expect another fairly low scoring week and all three of the courses measure under 7000 yards. To help aid the celebrities and money men further, the rough isn’t normally very penal, the flags won’t be hidden away and the greens will run quite slow.

The challenge this week will be hitting a high number of greens and scrambling well when they are missed. The greens on Pebble Beach are some of the smaller they will face on Tour so that will be particularly important come Sunday when the course will have firmed up. With the average winning score since 2009 being -17, it can become somewhat of a birdie-fest if weather conditions allow and Snedeker broke the Tournament record in 2015 with a -22 total.

That means lots of birdies are required to win this and therefore the man who made the most birdies in the field last week sticks out, JB Holmes. He managed 25 of them on his way to a 24th place finish. He also has a lot of course form and clearly enjoys playing in California. He has finished 10th and 11th here the last two years but was also runner-up in 2011.

From a stats point of view he is a great fit around these 3 short courses. We saw last year how important wedge play proximity was as Vaughan Taylor peppered the flagstick with great regularity. Holmes currently sits 3rd for approach proximity from 125-150 yards and also 2nd for scoring relative to par from that same range. That tells us not only is his wedge game on point but he is also making the most of his chances when he does hit it close. Being such a powerful hitter he will have a lot more approaches under 150 yards than most this week. He looks to have everything in his favour and is a very strong each way bet at 40/1.

I tipped Mickelson in this last year and despite a poor final round he should really have still made the play-off after failing to get up and down from a fairly easy position. He is without a win anywhere now since 2013 and while I remain a huge fan and he is still in great form, I am a little sceptical of playing him again at just 22/1. Should he start well I may look at him win only in-play but he just misses out from the off.

Instead I’m going to take a links specialist in Shane Lowry who has proven he has what it takes to compete in strong PGA fields with his win at the WGC Bridgestone event and contending at the US Open at Oakmont. He is comfortable on poa annua greens as he showed at Oakmont  and he also plays well in the wind. Should he miss these small greens then he has an excellent short game yet he doesn’t often rank too well in that department in the US. He is far happier scrambling around links courses than he is in lush green rough as he likes to get the ball rolling on the green early and he has quite a shallow chipping stroke.

He finished 16th last week but that doesn’t tell the whole story as he ranked 2nd in GIR and 2nd in total driving he just putted terribly. We know that isn’t the norm for Lowry though and the move to poa annua will suit. He has finished 41st and 21st the last two years and having a 3rd look we should see the best of Lowry as he gets to grip with the links layout.

Having finished 3rd and 6th in the European Tour’s Pro-Am equivalent, the Alfred Dunhill Links, we know this laid back player is comfortable playing in this different format and if he starts well I’d expect him to have a good week.

I was very annoyed to miss out on Jimmy Walker’s win at the US PGA given that most of my research revolved around poa annua greens and he is arguably the best putter on the surface. So as a previous winner he looked very tempting at 40/1  but then I checked his current scrambling rank and he sits 2nd last in 219th position. With plenty of these small greens getting missed I’m not sure he will manage to keep up with the leaders if he can’t get up and down. But of course his scrambling can be expected to improve for being on poa annua as he will hole out more. He also sits 21st in GIR so that should also help him. In truth I’m very torn as to whether I should include him so I will just have a very small saver as it is hard to know which Jimmy Walker will turn up having missed his last two cuts.

 Maybank Championship

Foolishly I started my research for this by assuming it was being held at the Royal Selangor Golf Club again. After all last year was the inaugural running and it seemed to be a success. It’s very annoying when Tournaments move around year to year but there is actually a little bit more course to go on at this year’s venue, the Saujana Golf Club. It has previously held six Malaysian Opens; in 1999, 2001, 2004, 005, 2007 and 2009.

The winners of those are a mixed bag but worth noting nevertheless. In chronological order they are Gerry Norqvist, VJ Singh, Thonghai Jaidee (x2), Peter Hedblom and Anthony Kang.

The course in question at the Saujana Golf Club is the Palm Course which is nicknamed The Cobra, suggesting that it has a fair bit of defence. But that’s not entirely in keeping with its scoring where those six events had an average winning score of -14. Visually it is a sprawling, undulating course with several elevated green complexes which are well protected by both water and bunkers. The fairways are tree-lined in parts but they still retain a decent width and with the course measuring around 7,000 yards, I don’t think driving accuracy or distance will be that crucial this week. That is backed up by the stats for several of the past events at Saujana where putting has been far and away the most important factor. The leaderboards are also full of players who racked up good GIR figures but on the whole they appear to have been beaten by a hot putter.

As is the case whenever they venture to the co-sanctioned Asian Tour events, previous form playing in the humid climate is a huge advantage and it is worth noting that several of the players in the field will have played the course before.

Course links this week may be a little tedious but when looking through photos the big elevation changes reminded me of Gleneagles and Peter Hedblom also has a win there while Miles Tunnicliff has a runner-up finish here as well as his Gleneagles win.

Thongchai Jaidee will be a very popular bet this week and rightly so. He is a relatively short price but when we study those in front of him in the market then he looks to be the standout bet at the head of the market. The Thai veteran has won 8 times on the European Tour with the last four of those coming in fully sanctioned European events over the last 5 years. Cabrera-Bello and Wiesberger, who are fighting for favouritism with Schwartzel, have only won two and three times respectively and are almost always under-priced. They are very consistent but struggle in the heat of battle on the back 9 on Sunday whereas Jaidee usually thrives in such an environment. While Schwartzel does indeed have 11 European Tour titles to his name, you have to go back to 2008 to find the last time he won one outside of South Africa (excluding his 2011 Masters win). He is the best player in the field but he hasn’t played for two months and struggles these days to win outside of his homeland so he can be left out easily enough at the price.

So on strike-rate alone you could argue that Jaidee should be closer to them in the market but when you consider that Jaidee has won around the course twice it makes it even harder to leave him out this week. He also finished a very respectable 15th last week in Dubai where he ranked 8th for GIR but the normally excellent putter was actually let down by his short stick. A return to the type of greens that he is more accomplished on should see the improvement required to contend again.

Jorge Campillo was going to be a confident bet until I realised that there was a change of course. He finished 4th last year and has been playing well with Middle East swing results of 39-13-23. But a further look at his Asian form in general suggests that he is becoming fond of these co-sanctioned events as he has form figures of 10-10-19-4.

Over the last 3 months he ranks 2nd in total putting and 21st in scrambling so he should take to the course well and continue his good recent form.

Raphael Jacquelin hasn’t done a great deal lately on Tour but should still be respected on shorter courses like this. Especially when his short game is as sharp as it was last week. He ranked 1st for scrambling and 5th for total putting to finish in a tie for 13th around a course that is too long for him. That has always been the case for him on the Middle East Swing so it looks to me like a very positive finish for a player who has always been more about accuracy and touch than power.

The Frenchman has a respectable enough record in Asia with one of his four European Tour wins coming in China and he has another six top 10 finishes. He also has some very solid form around Gleneagles earlier in his career with a 3rd and three other top 10s. If he turns up with his short game in the same fettle as last week then he should go well and another top 20 looks very achievable.

There are a couple of other Top 20 bets that I like after the market being kind to me recently. I was very tempted to include Chris Paisley for a hat-trick of Top 20s but I think the bookmakers finally have him priced up correctly this week. Instead I’m going to go with a couple of players who have played the course well several times before and arrive in decent form. Prom Meesawat finished 15th last week and he is another short hitter who enjoys tests like this more than the long desert tracks in the Middle East. He finished 6th in 2005 and 7th in 2007 and has the required short game ability to go well again at the course.

Jyoti Randhawa has amassed 8 Asian Tour titles but he hasn’t won since 2009 and at 44 years old he is now a veteran but I think he looks capable of a Top 20 this week. He was the runner-up here in 2005 and 2009 and that level of course form will surely benefit him this week.

Summary of bets

Pebble Beach

JB Holmes – 1.5pt ew @ 40/1

Shane Lowry – 1pt ew 50/1

Jimmy Walker – 0.5pt ew @ 40/1

Maybank Championship

Thongchai Jaidee – 1pt ew @ 25/1

Jorge Campillo – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1

Raphael Jacquelin – 2pt Top 20 @ 6/1

Prom Meesawat – 2pt Top 20 @ 4/1

Jyoti Randhawa – 1pt Top 20 @ 6/1

Weekly pts advised – 14pts

Total pts advised – 70pts