As expected the U.S. Open became more of a U.S. PGA type test than the usual U.S. Open grind but the surprising thing was how many of the big names struggled. The course should have suited DJ, McIlroy, Day, Rahm and Pieters yet they all missed the cut convincingly. My main fancy Justin Rose played quite well in parts over Thursday and Friday but finished his rounds off poorly. Again the course should have suited but he wasn’t at his best and missed the cut by 1 shot.
It was an exciting week though elsewhere as Fowler, Henley and Steele all contended right up to the back 9 on Sunday. Even then it looked like Henley and Steele would both coast to top 20s but just what Henley was up to I have no idea. He managed to lose 9 shots across four holes to fall down to 27th and that cost us a third profitable week in a row. Steele obliged though and Fowler held on for a place so there were still 14.5pts returned.
Brooks Koepka was far and away the most solid player over the 4 days and there was no question he deserved to win but the one annoying thing from my point of view was how Fowler’s game deserted him after Thursday. He really wasn’t playing well and quite how he managed to shoot -4 on the weekend given how he was hitting it is testament to how good a player he has become. Some will consider it another poor performance in contention but if looked at Fowler’s body language it certainly didn’t appear that he was overcome by the occasion. He appeared far more to be someone who knew their game wasn’t at its best and that he was letting another major chance go. That is possibly a matter of opinion but I certainly won’t be giving up on him just yet and he will have a great chance again at Royal Birkdale next month.
It was the best major I have had since 2015’s US PGA and hopefully the next big win is just around the corner after three good weeks in a row.
2017 pts advised = 280pts
2017 pts returned = 202.17pts
The Travelers takes place at TPC River Highlands and it is one of the shorter courses on Tour at 6841yards. It can often be quite a fiddly course as you would expect being largely a Pete Dye design. Bobby Weed also has an influence having done another redesign in 1989 so a look at other courses which they have teamed up on might be helpful. They both worked together on Dye’s Valley course at Sawgrass which hosts the Web.com Tour Championship and TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas which hosts the Shriners Hospital for Children Open. There were some changes carried out to the course last year with a view to toughening the course up a little and they revolved around the repositioning of a number of bunkers to limit the advantage that the bigger hitters were enjoying. On paper that seemed to work with the accurate Russell Knox prevailing. One year’s worth of data isn’t much to go on and there were still plenty of big hitters on the leaderboard. It is still very much a second shot golf course where getting the ball close to the flag is the key for scoring purposes.
Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth head the market after a disappointing U.S. Open for all three. The trouble with 3 players as talented as they are is that they could easily turn up here and win by 7 but we have to go largely on what we saw last week and on a course that suited the former two perfectly, they can easily be left out at single figure prices. Of the three Spieth appeals the most but his putter wasn’t behaving normally last week and again is a little short considering he is making his course debut. Instead I’m going to dabble in an attractive looking each way market and try to find some value down the field.
From a stats point of view, proximity to the hole from the shorter iron range (125-150 yards and 150-175 yards) is key at TPC River Highlands as you would expect on any Dye course. With scoring usually fairly low and perfect bentgrass greens in play then creating chances isn’t enough as putts need to be holed to get towards the usual winning score in the high teens under par. Putting from 5ft to 15ft will be important this week. Strokes gained: approaches and par 4 scoring are other key stats to look at.
I can’t narrow it down this week so am going with 4 larger prices who are all capable of placing in this company if they play their best golf.
David Hearn is a player I always like on Pete Dye courses as he thrives when accuracy is favoured over distance, being particularly handy with his short irons. Hearn was last seen finishing 10th at the St. Jude Classic where he ranked 10th in GIR and 22nd in scrambling. The Canadian was 38th here on his only appearance and he looks over priced at 150/1.
David Lingmerth is my go to Pete Dye player at the moment and everything we saw from him last week at the U.S. Open suggested his next win isn’t too far away. The course was far too long for a player who favours accuracy over distance and the fact he finished 21st was a credit to his approach play and scrambling. Ranks 6th right now in putting from 5ft to 15ft so should enjoy this test.
Emiliano Grillo is making his debut this week but he gets in on some impressive Dye/Weed form as he won the Web.com Tour Championship on the Valley course at Sawgrass in 2015. He also finished 11th at The Players Championship just last month and he ranks 22nd in proximity to the hole from 125-150 yards. Grillo can sometimes struggle with the putter but on a course where getting close to the flag is at a premium he often comes into his own.
Adam Hadwin looks over priced here at 80/1 and he also gets in off the Web.com Tour Championship form as well as a top 30 at The Players Championship. Hadwin has a very neat and tidy short iron game and putts well. This should be right up his street and the fact he missed the last two cuts here doesn’t worry me at all. Before his Valspar win earlier this year his form there was 71-MC and he is a vastly improved player this year. He ranks 36th for strokes gained:putting and 30th in approach proximity from 125-150 yards. Played ok last week at the U.S. Open but again that course was too long form him and he should bounce back here.
BMW International Open
The BMW International Open now seems to be on a set rotation going back and forth between Golf Club Gut Larchenhof and this year’s Golf Club Eichenried. So there is some decent course form this week but it is important to note the years where it has been held at Eichenried. With the European Tour site being close to useless at the moment, information like that can be a little harder to find. The years we are looking at are 1997 right through to 2011 and then both 2013 and 2015. Two of the last three editions here were won by Pablo Larrazabal and other recent course winners include Ernie Els, David Horsey, Nick Dougherty, Martin Kaymer, Niclas Fasth and Henrik Stenson.
The course is situated to the north of Munich and it is around average length at 7235 yards. Visually the course looks identical to Wentworth and that might explain why so many good links players have won here. The wind can be tough to judge at Wentworth and together with the winding fairways, the course favours those who can shape their ball and control it in the wind. Those types of players generally play well on links layouts and it looks like a solid plan of attack this week. Of the 16 winners around Eichenried, 6 of them have won the Alfred Dunhill Championship and another 3 have won The Open. Another similarity are the greens as Eichenried has very fast poa annua greens which are often a feature of links courses in the summer and Wentworth also features some of the slickest on the European Tour.
Many of the European Tour’s biggest names have made the journey back from Wisconsin for this and subsequently they dominate the betting. It is hard to fancy them though at their prices and therefore it looks like an event for small plays on some of the resulting big each way prices.
David Horsey is the obvious course and current form play this week so I’m surprised his price has held at 50/1 but that is down to the big names in the field. It looks set up for him to probably bomb out and miss the cut but repeat winners are common at Eichenried with Larrazabal and Bjorn having both won twice. Several other palyers have performed well year after year at Eichenried too like Padraig Harrington and Bernard Langer. If he continues his form he should really go well again on a course he enjoys.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat holds a very good record in this event at both Eichenried and Gut Larchenoff so seems to be comfortable on German courses. He was 4th here in 2015 and when playing well he is someone who has proven themselves as an excellent ball-striker capable of shaping his ball-flight to suit. That coupled with his excellent touch around the greens makes him a solid alternative to those at the head of the betting. His form hasn’t been fantastic in 2017 but he does have some decent results on tracks that suit him; 4th in Abu Dhabi, 9th in Qatar and 14th at Wentworth. For a 3-time winner with strong event form he is a nice price here at 40/1.
I’m going to give Alexander Bjork another go here on account of how well he is scrambling and good showings at Wentworth and Diamond Country Club. He leads the Tour for scrambling and is also 41st in total putting over the last three months. He looks worth a small Top 20 bet.
Chris Paisley is another who has been tipped a few times lately but he is also one of the few players who is in profit for me. He was 3rd here in 2015 so looks massively overpriced at 200/1.
Mark Foster is a speculative punt here but he has two 3rd places at the course and has shown glimpses lately with two top 10s in May. At 200/1 it won’t cost much to get involved.
Reluctantly I can’t get involved with George Coetzee again this week after missing the cut at the U.S. Open following a 2nd round 79. Travelling over from the U.S he won’t be the best prepared for Thursday but he may be worth watching in-play as he was 3rd here back in 2011 and has been playing well on the European Tour lately.
Summary of Bets
David Hearn – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1
Emiliano Grillo – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1
David Lingmerth – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1
Adam Hadwin – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1
BMW International Open
David Horsey – 1pt ew @ 50/1
Kiradech Aphibarnrat – 0.75pt ew @ 40/1
Alexander Bjork – 1pt Top 20 @ 4/1
Chris Paisley – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1
Mark Foster – 0.25pt ew @ 250/1
Weekly pts advised = 10
Total 2017 pts advised = 290