Limited time this week so I’ll not bore you with my take on a brilliant Masters finale and another losing week on the blog. Mainly just the picks this week and a little bit of reasoning.
Total pts advised 2017 = 162
Total pts returned 2017 = 79.72
ROI = -50.79
The RBC Heritage at Hilton Head normally has a fairly clear type of player that wins. They are normally very tactical players that like to plot their way round golf courses. The course was designed by Pete Dye so some of his other courses can be a good guide. The last five winners were Branden Grace, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Graeme McDowell and Carl Pettersson.
With narrow, tree-lined fairways a lot of care is required off the tee and despite the course being short at just under 7,000 yards, there a lot of tee-shots where an iron will be taken to allow position. This means there will still be a lot of approaches around 200 yards and upwards and Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar and Graeme McDowell all excel with their long irons and hybrids.
The greens are small and tough to hit so as well as approach accuracy, scrambling is key at Hilton Head. Those 5 winners ranked 3rd, 1st, 11th, 1st and 15th in scrambling and 14th, 11th, 1st, 7th and 1st in GIR.
My first pick is the fairly obvious Kevin Kisner but as long as he keeps providing me with returns on courses that clearly suit then I’m going to keep backing him when we can still get 25/1. In short there isn’t too much more to say about him than the last time I tipped him. He loves bermuda greens and plays well on Pete Dye courses where accuracy is favoured over distance. Kisner ranks 18th in driving accuracy, 8th in strokes gained: approaches to the green and 47th in scrambling. The strokes gained: approaches is a handy indicator at Hilton Head as it gives a clear indication of who is taking advantage of their close proximity to the flag. The last 5 winners all ranked inside the top 65 for this stat during the season of their win.
He hasn’t quite been hitting as many greens as usual but his form is trending and his finish of 43rd last week at the Masters is the perfect non-contending warm up for one of his favourite courses where he lost in a play-off to Furyk in 2015.
Webb Simpson jumped off the page at me at 80/1 this week as he fits the Furyk/Kuchar/GMac mould perfectly and he is playing better of late. He missed the cut at the Masters by two shots last week but three of the last 5 winners here also missed the cut the week before their win by either one or two shots.
Simpson sits 9th in strokes gained : approaches to the green and 14th in scrambling and it was only a few weeks ago that he came runner-up to Matsuyama in Phoenix. He has finished down the field on his last two starts here but in 2013 he came 2nd, proof that the course does suit. At 80/1 he looks decent value this week in a field lacking any great depth.
Anirban Lahiri has a few similarities to last year’s winner Branden Grace. Both arrived with a bang on the European Tour, quickly becoming a multiple winner after initial success in their homelands. They are both also blessed with an excellent touch and short game which helped establish them on Tour. While Grace wasn’t an obvious pick to win at Hilton Head, neither is Lahiri. Both are known to be a little erratic off the tee but having trees around them seem to force them to develop more of a strategy off the tee. They both have excellent long iron games so being a little further back in the fairway isn’t too much of a hindrance. Lahiri has already won on a tight track in Malaysia and I think he should be well suited to this course on his 2nd look after finishing 44th on his debut here in 2015.
Lahiri also has some excellent form on Pete Dye’s Whistling Straits course when he finished 5th in the US PGA Championship. The course isn’t too similar visually but the green complexes aren’t too dissimilar and Grace also went well in that tournament contending all the way to the 16th on the final round.
My final pick is Brian Stuard after giving a very decent showing at the Masters last week when finishing 36th on his debut. He came 5th here in 2014 and has the exactly the sort of steady, accurate game required around Hilton Head. Stuard leads the Tour in driving accuracy, is 56th in strokes gained: approach to the green and 41st in scrambling. With his confidence flying after the Masters he should play well here again on a far shorter course that will play to his strengths.
Trophee Hassan II
This is an altogether trappier looking event with a pretty basic field and the fact that the market is headed by recent European Tour winner Dean Burmester tells you everything you need to know. That said, the next three players in the betting are actually pretty good and it feels like we have a false favourite. Joost Luiten, Jeunghun Wang and Brandon Stone are all proven, multiple winners and they must be respected this week even if they don’t make much appeal at the prices.
The player I like here is actually one that I usually smirk at when I see others tip him but that is normally when he is a very short price as he is still a European Tour maiden. Jaco Van Zyl is the man in question and in truth I’m not sure if he will ever get over the line on the main Tour but he has certainly looked a lot more likely in recent times. He lost in a playoff to Wang in Qatar in February and it is actually that piece of form that prompted me to look at him this week. At his best Van Zyl is an excellent iron player that can sometimes get in his own way on the greens. But I think he will be comfortable on the course as it will play a lot like the South African courses with kikuyu grass in play and the field is of similar strength to those that he often contends in when playing in co-sanctioned events.
Given the first (Wang) and second (Elvira) here last year both rank in the top 10 for putting on Tour over the last 3 months, it is fair to conclude that putting is quite important at Royal Golf Club Dar Es Salam. So having backed a ball-striker already I’m going to go with a putter for my 2nd pick. Jorge Campillo has been tipped a few times already on the blog for that same reason and he currently ranks 2nd in total putting. It surely can’t hurt that his fellow countryman just won the Masters at the weekend. Campillo finished 2nd in South Africa just two starts ago and should be comfortable again in similar conditions.
I’m also going to have a small bet on Adrien Saddier for a couple of reasons. Rhys Davies won at this course back in 2010 and while struggling on the main Tour recently he has won several times on the Challenge Tour. Two of those came at the Challenge de Espana around Tecina Golf Club. Saddier won around there last year so he might just take to the course. That alone wouldn’t have made him a bet but he finished 2nd on his last start on the Challenge Tour down in Kenya. He also came 16th here last year and improvement can be expected on his 2nd look.
Summary of Bets
Kevin Kisner – 1pt ew @ 25/1
Webb Simpson – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1
Anirban Lahiri – 0.5pt ew @ 90/1
Brian Stuard – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1
Trophee Hassan II
Jaco Van Zyl – 1pt ew @ 50/1
Jorge Campillo – 0.75pt ew @ 40/1
Adrien Saddier – 0.5 pt ew @ 150/1
Weekly pts advised = 10pts
2017 pts advised = 172