A bit of a washout at Crans last week as 250/1 shot Gouveia finished best of the 5 picks. The winner was the fairly obvious Matt Fitzpatrick who I looked at for quite a while but I really didn’t think he was playing well enough to win despite his strong course record. It’s a further reminder however just how much better the top-tier of European Tour players are than the rest even when we see a reasonably deep field. Alex Noren, Matt Fitzpatrick, Thomas Pieters and Tommy Fleetwood are a class above right now and while they maybe still can’t be followed at single figure prices, similarly they shouldn’t be readily dismissed when out of form either.
Total 2017 pts advised = 402.50 pts
Total 2017 pts returned = 329.84 pts
ROI = -18.05%
I have had a look into this week’s course as the BMW returns to Conway Farms, host of the 2013 and 2015 tournaments. However with the current form of the world’s best players, trying to find even each way value could prove futile given those trading under 20/1 could easily fill all five places! This means we should really only be looking at the head of the market for the remaining tournaments, certainly this week as East Lake next week can prove a horses for courses sort of week. The trouble with deciding between the top 4 or 5 players is that it can basically be pot luck as it often comes down to factors that even the shrewdest of tipsters can’t foresee. I certainly struggle with separating “the chalk” in situations like this so I’ve tried not to get heavily involved. (But largely failed!)
Jason Day and Zach Johnson are the previous champions here and that suggests touch on around the greens is required at Conway. That is reflected in the stats too as the first five home averaged 10th (2015) and 18th (2013) in scrambling and 7th (2015) and 8th (2013) in total putting. What does conflict between the two events was how important driving distance was, in 2015 it was crucial with the first five averaging 6th, yet in 2013 when Zach won the top 5 averaged just 45th in driving distance. I’m not too sure what the weather was like during those events but I’d still imagine the short game will be crucial at Conway Farms again this week.
It is a Tom Fazio design so form at Firestone may well be worth a look, Day and Johnson both hold very solid records there as do several of the names on the two final Conway Farms leaderboards; Scott Piercy, Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan.
I think the course should suit Jon Rahm perfectly given the locations he has gone well at so far in his short professional career. A winner of the Farmers Insurance at Torrey Pines and runner-up around Glen Abbey, it appears Rahm usually plays well at the same courses as Jason Day and that makes me think he could be set for his 2nd win here at Conway. Both have powerful, towering ball flights, an excellent touch around the greens and make plenty of birdies so I guess that shouldn’t really shock us. Rahm is still expected to reach the very top of the game, even with the current crop of stars around and while he might not represent any great value on a course he hasn’t seen before, we might be looking back at 14/1 on Rahm this time next year and thinking “wow”. Of course that’s not to say Rahm wont have an awful 2018 and end up being more like 40/1 next year but such is the make-up of these Fed-Ex events now that I’d rather take a slight chance on him at a more juicy price than try to find any reasoning for splitting those above him in the market.
I’m also going to have Jason Day onside here as my other main outright bet. He has firmly turned the corner lately with recent results reading 25-6-9-24-27 . He won here in 2015 and his US PGA win was a just a little further north along Lake Michigan. He was also 9th just last month on the Fazio designed Quail Hollow and he has a good record around Fazio’s Firestone course. This should arrive at just the right time for him to step up his season with a contending performance. Day ranks 5th in birdie average over the last 3 months and he looks another good alternative to the front three.
I’m also going to have a few place bets starting with Daniel Berger for a top 10. Berger was 2nd here in 2015 and having gone from strength to strength since and become a two-time winner, I think he has been dismissed a little too easily on his return to Conway Farms. While I could easily advise an each way bet I prefer the top 10 bet here this week with Berger.
Jhonattan Vegas gets in because of two wins at Glen Abbey and I think that together with a 3rd place just two starts ago makes him over priced at 125/1 for the win. But I’m not really prepared to back him in the outright as he isn’t someone I trust in contention, instead I will have a top 20 bet on the Venezuelan.
Despite him not usually being the best of putters, Bryson Dechambeau showed what he can do when his short iron game is on point at the John Deere Classic in Illinois just two months ago. The science based scholar of the game also won his U.S. Amateur in Illinois so he is obviously comfortable in that part of the country. Given Zach Johnson is a former winner here and also loves the John Deere I thought Bryson looked a little over priced here at 250/1 in a couple of places. I’m not sure whether he can trouble this leaderboard but I will have a small each way bet and a top 20 bet too.
After years of being a golf bettor’s dream, the KLM moved away from its two regular courses (Hilverschume and Kennemer) to The Dutch last year and left everyone with a bit of a headache. It turned out there needn’t have been any fuss as local favourite and event specialist Joost Luiten won the event for the 2nd time. The leaderboard also contained several with strong KLM Open records so The Dutch seemed to play much the same as the two previous courses. It wasn’t as exposed as the other two but it is described as an inland links course so that shouldn’t surprise.
The course is a short Colin Montgomerie design (6893 yards) and the emphasis last year was very much iron play with there being plenty room off the tee as most of the fairways have wide open landing areas. There is water in play on many approaches so it looks worth following those with solid GIR numbers as missing too many proved detrimental last year with Luiten ranking 2nd in GIR. Scoring was good at -19 so the putter will need to behave even if short stick prowess isn’t the first thing you would associate with Luiten or runner-up Weisberger. They ranked 16th and 6th respectively on the greens.
The forecast this week isn’t good at all with plenty wind and rain on the way. That is usually the case at the KLM Open so event form shouldn’t be taken lightly as Luiten proved last year.
Victor Dubuisson is very much the enigmatic Frenchman but despite his troubles over the last couple of years he retains a lot of ability. Both his European Tour wins have come on another Montgomerie course at the Turkish Airlines Open. The reason he enjoys it so much is there is plenty of room off the tee and that suits Dubuisson whose talents start to shine from the fairway onwards. On his day he can drive the ball well but too often he his erratic and can find himself in trouble. With more fairways being found here he can let his approach play shine and despite a poor year that area of his game is still quite sharp, he ranks 10th in GIR over the last 3 months and he can be quite a streaky putter. However we often see him at his best on grainy links greens and he jointly holds the St Andrews course record of 62 while he also took brilliantly to Gleneagles at the 2014 Ryder Cup which plays very much as an inland links. The downside is that he is in no way certain to enjoy the bad weather that is forecast for much of the week. However when backing a class-act like Dubuisson in a poor field at a price like this, everything isn’t going to be in our favour. I’m taking the price and crossing my fingers we see the best of him this week.
Jamie Donaldson and Padraig Harrington are two who should enjoy the poor weather and links conditions but it’s proving very difficult to be able to follow either with much confidence. Both men have thrown in a couple of good performances this year but far more often they have disappointed.
I really like Ryan Fox for this test but I couldn’t believe the opening price of 22/1. He has been pushed out to a general 25/1 but that is still very skinny. Fox spent most of the summer being under rated by the bookies but it seems they have more than caught up with him now and despite another top 10 last week his price is far too short for someone who hasn’t even really properly contended in a European Tour event nevermind won one yet. He is very talented and I don’t think a win is too far away for the New Zealander but he can easily be left out here at he price. I am all over him for the Alfred Dunhill Links however and hopefully he can hold off until then and we might get 50/1 again in three week’s time.
Instead I’m going to take another speculative punt on Robert Rock who has often shown he can handle playing in bad weather. Rock has three top 5 finishes at the Irish Open in miserable weather and he also came 7th at Oosthuizen’s weather hit Open at St Andrews in 2010. Rock is one of very few in this field to have won a tournament with Tiger Woods competing in it and that does remind you that he has a touch of class and this isn’t the deepest of fields. Rock has been playing better this summer and prior to a missed cut around Crans last week his form was promising; 10th-5th-71st-9th. That 9th was in poor weather at the Scottish Open and the venue was the Kyle Phillips designed Dundonald Links. It has huge landing areas and places the emphasis on iron play much like The Dutch will this week. He ranks 17th for GIR over the last 3 months and as others toil in the wind and rain he should enjoy the test.
Summary of bets
Jon Rahm – 1.5pt ew @ 14/1
Jason Day – 1pt ew @ 18/1
Daniel Berger – 1pt Top 10 @ 5/1
Jonny Vegas – 1pt Top 20 @ 7/2
Bryson Dechambeau – 0.5pt ew @ 250/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 11/2
Victor Dubuisson – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1
Robert Rock – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1
Weekly pts advised = 12pts
Total pts advised = 414.50pts