Shriners Hospitals and Turkish Airlines Open – Betting Preview

The WGC HSBC was a massive washout early doors so I didn’t really end up watching much at all. I’m guessing it must have played very soft though as the shorter hitters really struggled to keep up with the bombers and that’s not always the case at Sheshan.

At the Sanderson Farms things went a little better as both Baddeley and Gay flirted with the leaderboard over the weekend but they throw in too many mistakes and rather uncharacteristically both missed several shortish putts.

2017 pts advised = 498

2017 pts returned = 381.21

ROI = -23.4%


Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

With the Fall Series having given chances to rookies since it was established back in 2013, many arrive in confident mood knowing that if they play well they will have a chance in these lower quality fields. But last week rather than a young Web.com graduate getting off the mark it was 41 yr old maiden Ryan Armour who showed no chinks as he easily converted his 5 shot final round lead. If we also look at last year’s Shriners winner, 47-year-old Rod Pampling, then we see further proof of how open these events can be. That makes it a nightmare from a betting point of view as realistically everyone in this field is capable of winning. What that means is we really have to err on the side of value even more so than normal this week and we can start by dismissing some of the incredibly short prices at the head of the market. Tony Finau no doubt has a long, successful career ahead of him and he has proven himself already in classy events but he hasn’t yet shown that he can be relied upon as a short price favourite. Webb Simpson at his best is the class act here but we haven’t seen 4 rounds of his best very often since the anchoring ban. Patrick Cantlay makes most appeal of those at the front but he is priced up on reputation as much as anything and while it looks only a matter of time before he wins, I’d prefer him at a price in a stronger field where the scoring isn’t as low.

The course is TPC Summerlin in the desert in Las Vegas. It sits at some 7255 yards but it’s altitude of 2600ft means it won’t play all of that. That has resulted in short hitters having plenty of success in this event over the years as they are able to compete on a fairly level playing field.

TPC Summerlin was designed by Pete Dye protegé Bobby Weed and he is also responsible for TPC River Highlands (Travelers Championship) and Dye’s Valley Course at Sawgrass which hosted the Web.com Tour Championships from 2013-2015. Weed worked closely with Dye for years and his influence was strong so Dye’s own TPC Sawgrass is also worth looking at this week as several players have strong records at both.

There are some trees around but I don’t think it could be classed as tree-lined in a classic sense and the main protection off the tee comes from thick rough which has been up in recent years. The fairways aren’t narrow however so the rough can certainly be avoided by the more accurate players while bombers should still be close enough to muscle the ball out of the rough. The main difficulty of the course however lies with the green complexes as we have come to expect with Dye’s own courses. They are undulating, fairly quick and have lots of runoff areas so only the most controlled, accurate approach shots will end up anywhere near the flag. Therefore being in the fairway is crucial to consistent low-scoring  across the four days and with a winning score usually north of -20, low scoring will be required! Key stats include GIR, proximity to hole and par 3 scoring as the short holes are tough and the winner normally performs well on them.

The head of the market isn’t that appealing this week at all, there are certainly players who can be expected to play well but I’m taking the each way value  given how this tournament has panned out recently. I wanted to compliment some larger prices with one towards the front of the betting but that is proving very hard indeed.

Brett Stegmaier very nearly won this two years ago so I’m a little surprised about his price this week. Stegmaier is another who is no young rookie and at the age of 34 he has been bouncing around the Web.com Tour since he turned professional back in 2006. Stegmaier also has form at TPC River Highlands where he shot an opening 64 to sit 2nd behind Spieth after the first round earlier this year. He would go on to finish a respectable 26th. Stegmaier also has two top 25s around the Dye Valley course but it his Florida Gator roots that made him a must back for me this week. The University of Florida’s golf course is the Mark Bostick Golf Course which was redesigned by Bobby Weed shortly before Stegmaier’s time there. The course appears very similar visually, especially the greens, and that might help explain why he was so comfortable here on just his 5th PGA Tour start. At 200/1 it won’t cost us much to see if he can go well on the course again.

Derek Fathauer is also a huge price this week after a 10th place finish last week in Jackson. That stopped the run of missed cuts and he played ok across the four days but he putted very well. Fathauer has played here three times before and he is improving after posting a 36th last year after two missed cuts. The reason I looked at him first this week was the location of his only professional win, the Dye Valley course at Sawgrass. He won the Tour Championship there in 2014 to earn his card for the 2015 season. He didn’t really make much of an impact but I think he looks a very fair each way price this week after his solid performance at the Sanderson last week.

My final pick is Patrick Rodgers who has stopped the rot of 4 missed cuts with a run of 33-23-43-73. Those 4 missed cuts came after the disappointment of losing out at the John Deere Classic where he was pipped to 2nd by Bryson Dechambeau. Rodgers only professional win was at a similar altitude to TPC Summerlin down in Bogota and he was also 3rd at last year’s Travelers Championship at Weed’s TPC River Highlands course. He missed the cut here last year but was 13th the year before and can get himself back into contention again now he is settled back in the US after the Asian swing.

 


Turkish Airlines Open

This event moved to a new course last year so we only have one year of course form to go on for the first of The Final Series events. Last year’s tournament was won in fairly convincing fashion by Thorbjorn Olesen.

The course is the Regnum Carya Golf Club and was designed by Thomson, Perrett & Lobb Golf Course Architects, which was founded by 5-time Open Champion Peter Thomson. It was said to have been based on the classic heathland courses around London and it is certainly very tree-lined. Last year that perhaps made me look too closely at driving accuracy which meant I was never going to find the usually wild Olesen. But it should be noted that he is a player who can go well on tree-lined courses and perhaps the narrow lines focus his mind and force him to keep the ball in play with irons and 3-woods. Additionally the punishment for finding the trees wasn’t as massive and the greens were still found from under the branches.

Interestingly George Coetzee was 5th here last year and he and Olesen contested a play-off in Mauritius at the tree-lined Heritage course in 2015. Again though that was the only running of that event at the course but they return there next month so it may well be worth keeping an eye on that link even if it cant help us this week.

With Peter Thompson having helped design the course and Olesen having won last year, I’m of the thinking that the course may well play like some of the tree-lined classic courses that I always associate with links players. One of those is Lake Karrinyup in Perth, Australia where Olesen won in 2014. That leads me to my main pick this week, Alexander Levy.

Levy was 2nd there in the final stroke-play event in early 2016 and his form has been simmering away nicely lately as he slowly gotten over the short putt he missed to win the European Open in the summer. An aggressive iron player, Levy’s week can often be dependent on his putter and usually when it performs we see him contend in this level of field. That has seen him become a relatively prolific winner and he already has 4 wins to his name. He has shown already he is happy to travel away from central Europe and he has won twice in China on two different courses. His record in Turkey is good too with top 20s in both the editions at Montgomerie Maxx while he ranked 1st on the greens here last year as he finished 25th. I think he represents a shade of value here at 50/1 given the number of less prolific winners that find themselves shorter in the betting.

The head of the market looks strong but it also looks hard to split them and find a bet so instead I will look for the each way value just like over in the US. My other picks are three talented players that are in no way guaranteed to play well but they should be suited by the course and they look over priced.

Romain Wattel has missed a couple of cuts since his KLM win last month but I don’t think either event would have suited him and he can be forgiven for still not being too focussed having finally obtained his first European Tour win. With this being the first in the Final Series he will be determined to make a good start here and he will be rejuvenated after a week off.

He was 6th at Lake Karrinyup in 2016 and also 6th last year at Wentworth. The course should suit his game and I think we are getting a little bit of value on the Frenchman now that he has the monkey off his back.

Jeung-hun Wang has impressed no end in the last two years but he also has a habit of falling rapidly out of form, only to find it again from nowhere. He is already a three-time winner on Tour and I think he is someone who can still be profitable following at bigger prices when the course suits. I originally looked at Wang because of his win in the Mauritius Open where Olesen won but I forgot that was played on a different course, albeit still a tree-lined one. That tempered my enthusiasm for him a little but then I saw his price. He arrives here after a poor showing in the CJ Cup which would have made him hard to back anywhere under 80/1 but there is still some 125/1 around and that looks big to me.

Wang’s other two wins came in the Qatar Masters and the Trophee Hassan. Olesen has an excellent record in the former and the Trophee Hassan win was around a fairly tight tree-lined course. He played here last year and finished 13th and the course really should suit him. The price more than factors in the chances of him playing poorly again.

Matthew Southgate is a little bit of an enigma, often popping up in elite company and looking like he belongs before promptly disappearing again for a few months. When he is playing well though he is someone you look at and wonder how he isn’t contending most weeks. Obviously he has had his health problems over the last few years but he retains a lot of talent, especially on the right courses. While travelling back from China isn’t ideal, he will have a lot of confidence after his 24th place finish there and the course should suit this accurate driver. He came 31st here last year and will be looking to improve on his 2nd look. Looks over priced to do so at 150/1.


Summary of Bets

Shriners

Patrick Rodgers – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

Brett Stegmaier – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

Derek Fathauer – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

Turkish Airlines Open

Alex Levy – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Romain Wattel – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

Jeunghun Wang – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

Matthew Southgate – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 8pts

Total 2017 pts aadvised = 506pts

@theGreek82

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WGC HSBC and Sanderson Farms – Betting Preview

Patrick Reed, Shane Lowry and Soren Kjeldsen all gave us a run for our money last week and while they never really looked like winning it was rather disappointing that none of them managed to place after spending the bulk of the week in and around the top 15 or so. The first week in six with no returns and it means I’m up against it now to get back into the black for 2017 with just 5 weeks left before the Christmas break.

Total 2017 pts advised =490

Total 2017 pts returned = 381.21

ROI = -22.2%


WGC HSBC

The 3 week Asian swing culminates with the final WGC of the season in Shanghai at Sheshan Golf Club. With the exception of the 2012 running, Sheshan has been the venue for the WGC HSBC Champions dating back to it’s inception in the 2005 season so there is no shortage of course form. It was designed by the renowned Asia based team of Nelson and Haworth and plays at 7266 yards long with undulating, tree-lined fairways, elevated bentgrass greens and plenty water in play. The design team are quoted as saying that they were influenced by Donald Ross’ Oak Hill course which has a lot of varied Par 4s with many elevation changes and puts a premium on distance control.

That is very much what is required around Sheshan and a look through the names on previous leaderboards shows up lots of players who regularly put up impressive proximity to the hole numbers with the full range of irons. While it isn’t always a great putter that wins, they generally perform rather well on the greens that week. Especially when it comes to lag putting from distance as the green complexes are undulating and tricky. Those looking at particular stats should focus on approach proximity, particularly the more difficult longer irons (175-200 and 200-225) which can often separate those who are swinging well and those who aren’t. Three putt avoidance will also be key with lots of difficult long-range putts to be found on the greens.

Ross Fisher will divide opinion this week as he is grouped together with some altogether bigger names in the betting market. But I’m not too fussed about that as Fisher is a classy player who is back to his very best and he has shown over his career he can contend in fields like this when swinging well and holing putts. That is exactly what he has been doing over the last few weeks.

He followed up his course record at St Andrews with another excellent performance when having to settle for 2nd behind Hatton again in Italy. Those two were playing on a different level to the rest of the Tour for two weeks and if Fisher has kept things ticking over since then he can be expected to go well on a course that suits his accurate game. He has finished 6th and 3rd in the last two editions but also has a runner-up finish from back in 2007. A test of accuracy from tee to green right through the bag is exactly what Fisher wants but he has also shown that he can putt well on these greens, ranking 9th on the greens last year and 8th in 2007. Furthermore he has been putting a lot better recently (ignoring his Thursday round at St Andrews where I felt like offering some help his lag putting was so bad!) so he will be confident returning to Sheshan.

Beyond just this course his general form in China has always been very strong since finishing 4th on his first appearance back in 2005, and he has done everything but pick up a win. Just this year he finished 3rd at the Sheshan International and followed up the week after with a 6th place at the Volvo China Open.

Some will scoff at the price but it’s a 78 man field, he has some of the best course form in the field and is swinging better than most of that field. Whether he can be relied upon to get over the line on Sunday in this company I’m not sure, but I think his each way chances are excellent and he looks very likely to play well again. Unfortunately even the 28/1 is gone now but for those that have a Betfair account there is still some 30.0 kicking about.

Chez Reavie has had three consecutive top 20s to start his 2018 season which is a level of consistency not always associated with him given how he often struggles on certain courses. Sheshan looks right up his street though, difficult approach shots across elevation changes and a premium on proximity to the hole is what his game is all about. Those are key at Riviera where he has solid form and also at Glen Abbey the scene of his only PGA Tour win. Reavie is also an excellent scrambler and I think he could surprise a few on a course where shorter hitters can thrive as long as they are accurate long iron players. He will have his work cut out to win this but then again nobody would have picked out Russell Knox 2 years ago so he could be worth a small play at a good each way price. Last time I picked him he agonisingly finished 7th at 250/1 so I’m also going to have a Top 10 bet given he is someone who can quite often come up just short on Sunday.

I’m going to have a saver on Hideki Matsuyama here after seeing his numbers for his last event at the CIMB Classic. He landed a backdoor 5th place but his long game was very much back to its best prior to his slight slump after the US PGA. He hit 95% of fairways and 86% GIR , good enough to rank 1st in both categories. Returning to the scene of his 7 stroke win last year I would expect him to go close if that level of ball-striking is maintained. No kind of each way price though and if he plays well enough to contend then he should really go on and win so I’ll go win only.


Sanderson Farms Championship

The tournament that now regularly goes up against the WGC HSBC is the Sanderson Farms Championship and it takes place in the deep south of Mississippi and Jackson Country Club. The course is a medium length Par 72 at 7284 yards with tree-lined fairways and small, tricky, champion bermuda greens that are said to resemble Donald Ross greens which tells us they are undulating and generally fall from back to front. This sets a precedent on distance control with irons and indeed approach putting. The three winners of this event to date are all very good putters and despite the course hardly being a cake walk from tee to green, this has largely been settled on the greens thus far.

Aaron Baddeley always jumps out whenever good putters are required and lately he has been putting best on bermuda greens. His best finish last season was at TPC San Antonio where he finished 5th, ranking 7th on the champion bermuda greens. In 2016 he won on the bermuda greens at the Barbasol, another alternate event played during The Open week. His 2nd best finish of 2016 was a 4th place finish in this every event. He’s not in the greatest of form coming off two missed cuts but he ranks 1st in proximity to hole so far for the 2018 season. It’s very much in its infancy but if he can the get the ball anywhere near the hole at Jackson CC then his putter can help him score and he looks a tasty each way price at 80/1 having excelled in similar events in recent times.

Brian Gay’s form has been up and down throughout 2017 but it’s interesting to note his last two placed efforts have been on champion bermuda at TPC San Antonio and the Barbasol. He hasn’t won since 2013, but while he is a bit of a journeyman he usually does ok in lower grade events like this and he is still a 4-time winner on Tour. Three of those have come on bermuda greens and one of those was around TPC Southwind which is very similar to this week’s course. Missed the cut on his first start of the season but he hadn’t played for 6 weeks so he should be better prepared this week having loosened off at the Safeway Open.

While there are many good Web.com graduates on show this week who will be eager to prove themselves early in the season, the bookies are onto most of those who have been playing well recently and subsequently there are a lot of poor prices around. Therefore I will just leave it at the two speculative plays on a couple of proven champion bermuda putters.


Summary of Bets

WGC HSBC

Ross Fisher – 1.5pts ew @ 25/1

Chez Reavie 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 and 1pt Top 10 @ 6/1

Hideki Matsuyama – 1pt win @ 12.5

Sanderson Farms

Aaron Baddeley – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Brian Gay – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1

Weekly pts advised = 8pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 498pts

 

@theGreek82

CJ Cup and Andalucia Masters – Betting Preview

Tommy Fleetwood managed to land a portion of the place returns but ultimately it was a poor week. Rafa Cabrera-Bello played well in Malaysia but could only finish 10th as he struggled to keep pace with the low scoring. The top 20 bets all showed some promise over the first few days but in the end fell well short. It was the 5th week in a row with returns however so hopefully another win is on its way soon.

Total 2017 pts advised = 475pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 381.21

ROI= -19.75%


CJ Cup

The CJ Cup is new to the PGA Tour and it marks the first ever PGA Tour event to be held in Korea. It is hoped that this can really start the mass globalisation of the PGA Tour as they finally seem keen to put their brand and marketability to good use.

The downside for punters is that we have a new course to analyse and one that has only ever seen four LPGA Tour events from 2002-2005. That makes it somewhat of a guessing game so we have to use our imagination a little this week while also keeping stakes low.

The course is Nine Bridges on Jeju Island off the south coast of Korea. Visually it reminds me a little bit of Lake Malaren in Shangai while I noticed Timothy Frank stating on Twitter how it looked a lot like Kapalua which I can also see. The wide fairways meander through trees and water but they also feature several elevation changes both off the tee and on approach shots to greens. However theses appear to be very clear lines towards greens, promoting good visibility. Similar to Jack Nicklaus’ design philosophy which limited blind approaches due to the guesswork and lack of skill that could be involved. The Golf Plan design team behind the course also designed the similarly named Haesley Nine Bridges and also the Sentosa GC which hosts the Singapore Open.

Patrick Reed has had a fairly mixed year often showing some very good signs but more often that not struggling to put all parts of his game together for 4 rounds in any given week. Yet he still rounded off his summer with a runner-up finish to Justin Thomas at the US PGA, a result that was some way his best in a major having never previously recorded a top 10. Reed’s form was simmering a little before the break and he will be more determined than some of the other big names having not had the best of years.

There are a couple of other factors in play here with Reed, firstly the appearance of Nine Bridges as similar to some Jack Nicklaus courses. Reed has a brilliant record on Nicklaus designs having made a name for himself in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. He also has  runner-up finishes at Lake Malaren and Sherwood CC, an 8th at Muirfield Village and a 16th on his only visit to Crans. His win at the Humana Challenge also featured a 63 around Nickalus’s PGA West course. Reed often goes well on courses that he hasn’t seen before with three of his five PGA Tour wins having been as a course debutant. Reed is also a winner and runner-up around Kapalua in Hawaii which hosts the Tournament of Champions.

While some PGA Tour players don’t really like traveling outside the US, Reed has embraced it from the word go having tried his best to maintain his European Tour card over the last few years. He fell short of this due to the tough schedule which that requires but he is comfortable in these surroundings and I’d expect him to take to this course.

Adam Scott has won around the Sentosa course three times in his career so despite his indifferent 2017 season I think he looks a decent price at 35/1 here. Lets not forget that is a price that more than takes into account his form as a peak Scott would be on offer at a similar price to the front three in this market at around 12/1.  Having won several times in Asia and on a similar course I’m hoping the few weeks off might have revitalised him and a new course looks the perfect opportunity for him to show off his tee-to-green prowess.

Si-Woo Kim opened at 125/1 in places and that price is still holding surprisingly. I’m not even going to explain this in any great detail. The Players Champion playing in the first PGA Tour event in his homeland of South Korea. When will he start getting the respect he deserves? It just looks like an auto-bet in a 78 man field with limited depth despite his missed cut last week. In fact it’s possibly the best piece of value I’ve seen in some time. I know he played poorly last week but we have seen already in his short career how quickly his game can turn around and a return home should do just that. Cue a 63rd place finish but a value one nevertheless!

His compatriot Song Young-han is a former winner and runner-up at the Sentosa Golf Club. That win of course was at the expense of Jordan Spieth in 2016 so he is clearly a player of some talent. While he hasn’t played in too many fields of this depth he is playing some consistent golf at the moment in Asia and he has five top 10s from his last 6 starts. He should be comfortable on the course and looks a decent price.

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Andalucia Masters

 

We stay in Europe for the final regular event of the 2017 season and what a venue awaits. Valderrama has only been around since 1980 yet it is already one of the more storied courses in Continental Europe. It famously hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup in which Seve led a European team to a famous victory. It has hosted some regular events since, namely the Volvo Masters from 2002-2008, this very tournament in 2010 and 2011 and it hosted the Open de Espana last year. Most of that is quite dated but is still worthy of consideration given the unique charms of the course.

Players will have to readjust their approach this week after two birdie fests in Scotland and Italy. Valderrama is very much the opposite with the winning score of the last 10 events averaging -5 however Andrew Johnston last year won with a +1 total.

The course was designed in 1980 by Robert Trent Jones Snr and it is very much in keeping with his style of course. His mantle was to make a course where you could score a “difficult par but an easy bogey” and therefore great strategy is required around his courses. Valderrama is very much a shot makers course where concentration will be key throughout all 72 holes. It isn’t a long course either coming in just under 7000 yards and nobody will be overpowering it this week.

The fairways are tree-lined, undulating and narrow while the greens are well protected with innovative bunkering and some water in play. They are also very small and well contoured so there will be plenty greens missed by everyone in the field. The last 5 winners around Valderrama ranked highly in most of the main stats so a good all round game is required to win here but above all accuracy and a patient game will be advantageous while excellent scrambling skills will be required to keep bogeys off the card.

Form across RTJ courses tends to stack up well as most of them are quite difficult and reward accuracy and shot-making. In Europe he has designed or redesigned Golf Du Palais Royal and Royal Golf Da Re Salaam (both hosted the Trophee Hassan) and Royal Park I Roveri (hosted Italian Open 2009-2012) while he is responsible for many more in the US. Most notable for European Tour purposes are Firestone, his Augusta redesign and Hazeltine.

valderrama-golf-club

The chances of Garcia and Rahm are obvious here but last week both Tours showed us the perils involved with backing short prices. Rahm, Thomas and Molinari all looked too short and not one of them even returned full place money. Both can be dismissed as a betting proposition here.

Shane Lowry has been striking the ball very well again lately but hasn’t managed to get the putts to drop. Even last week when missing the cut he still hit 75% of the greens but given the number of putts being holed his rounds of 69 and 71 weren’t enough to make the weekend. He looks worthy of a bet here due to his strong form on tough, Robert Trent Jones layouts. While he has a decent record here at Valderrama of 4th and 18th he is a winner around Firestone and he really should have won the US Open at Oakmont in 2016 after losing a 4 shot final round lead.

Lowry should relish this difficult shot-makers test and he is a far better player now than when visiting previously. He has been a little wild off the tee with driver lately but in truth he can use an iron for position on plenty of the holes this week. It is hard to get excited about his price but I think his skill set is so suited to Valderrama that I have to back him in what isn’t the deepest of fields.

My other pick is another fairly obvious one in course specialist Soren Kjeldsen. I did consider going for some of the juicier each way prices but so many of the players I had marked down for this aren’t playing. The only negative with Kjeldsen is his lack of competitive golf since coming back from injury. But I don’t see that as too much of  problem for the veteran around one of his favourite courses. Very few players plot their way around difficult courses as easily as the Dane appears to and he reminded us of his grinding ability two years ago at Royal County Down when winning the Irish Open in tough conditions. He has also recorded his two best major finishes on courses with RTJ links as he was 7th at Augusta in 2016 and 6th at Hazeltine in 2009 at the US PGA while he also has a 12th at Firestone to his name. Again I don’t think his price is particularly fancy but I think having him and Lowry onside should give us a very strong hand over the weekend when things get tough.

The two shorter prices make speculation down the field a little trickier but the majority of players that I liked have decided not to play. The only one that I like now is Johan Carlsson, whose stats don’t quite tally up with his finish of 56th last week. He ranked 15th for GIR but amazingly the often erratic Swede was 2nd for driving accuracy on the tight course. It was an ice-cold putter that did for him in Italy but that isn’t often the case with Carlsson and it shouldn’t matter too much here if his long game retains that level of accuracy. Only Rahm, Drysdale and Wallace recorded less than his 4 bogeys for the week. Carlsson was 14th at Valderrama last year on his first appearance at the course and I think he can out play his odds of 150/1 this week. I will also have a top 20 bet on him here.

I tipped Alejandro Canizares at Valderrama last year due to the fact it’s his home course but he could only finish 11th. He has had a poor 2017 but played well again last week and he was probably the only other one close to being included but I think a similar finish could be on the cards for him without threatening to win.

 


Summary of bets

CJ Cup

Patrick Reed – 1pt ew @ 28/1

Adam Scott – 1pt ew @ 35/1

Si-Woo Kim – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

Song Young-han – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

Andalucia Masters

Shane Lowry – 2pt ew @ 16/1

Soren Kjeldsen – 1.5pt ew @ 18/1

Johan Carlsson – 0.25pt ew @ 150/1 and 1.5pt Top 20 @ 5/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 15pts

Total 2017 pts asvised = 490pts

@theGreek82

CIMB Classic and Italian Open – Betting Preview

There were returns last week on both Tours as Hadley and Warren both grabbed full places. That very nearly made for a profitable week but not quite (16.5pts) and we really need winners to get back into profit for 2017. Hadley looked like he was going to oblige as he started the final round as favourite but could only manage to shoot level par on a tricky day where Steele rallied with a few timely (and lucky!) birdies.

In Scotland we were in a great position early on but I’m not sure what happened to Coetzee and Fox after Thursday. I followed them around St Andrews and they were both playing very well on the whole. Warren did the opposite though finishing strongly after starting slowly on Carnoustie. Lagergren looked like he might have snagged a place again but a double bogey on the 14th did for his chances on Sunday.

2017 pts advised = 460

2017 pts returned = 376.35

ROI = -18.2%

I’m a little bit rushed for time this week having been away so will focus on the picks. Both tournaments are on the same course so a lot of last year’s info will still be key.


CIMB Classic

 

The CIMB Classic takes its usual position at the Kuala Lumpur Golf Club and we have a strong bank of form to look at with just two men having won the last four editions as both Ryan Moore and then Justin Thomas doubled up. That further confirms how important course form is this week as it’s played in serious humidity in Malaysia and there are quirky sea paspalum greens like those on Tour at El Cameleon and Puerto Rico. The course was designed by Nelson and Haworth who are responsible for several championship courses in Asia and the form often stacks up. It is an early start this week through the night in Malaysia and conditions are hot and humid. Both Thomas and Moore putted the lights out during their wins despite neither men being considered consistently great putters. Sea paspalum is a tricky surface and comfort levels need to be high in order to contend.

Rafa

Rafa Cabrera Bello had some excellent form at the course even before his 10th place finish on the PGA Tour in this event last year. In the Malaysian Open he was 3rd and 4th in 2011 and 2012. For years the Spaniard threatened to become a bit of a journeyman on Tour always failing to maximise his brilliant ball-striking by falling short on Sundays. Gradually over the last two years though he has moved his game to another level and he got his reward with a slightly back-door win at the Scottish Open as Shinkwin himself struggled to get over the line in July. Rafa has also recorded some strong results in elite company recently, making the semi-finals of the World Match Play in 2016 before his best ever Major finish at this year’s Birkdale Open where he was 4th. I think the market has under estimated him this week so he is largely getting backed on a value basis. His tee-to-green game is better than the majority of this field but as ever it’s his very average short game that can hold him back. Having said that it has improved significantly lately and therefore he contends more often than not now as he only needs to perform slightly above average on the greens to do so. The slight worry with regards to winning this week is how prevalent putting has been for the winner. But there is enough value in the each way price for that not to concern me and he has putted well on these sea paspalum greens before. A solid looking bet at 40/1.

Chris Stroud looks a little over priced here despite his run of poor form. Stroud finally got his first PGA Tour win this summer at the Barracuda Championship and chased that with his first Major Top 10 at Quail Hollow the week after. Having secured his card and had his best ever two results in the space of two weeks it’s easy to see why he lost a little intensity and missed his next three cuts in strong fields. He has had a month off since then and would have got rid of any rust last week in California so will be relishing his return to both Malaysia and sea paspalum greens. Stroud finished 3rd at Kuala Lumpur GC in 2013 and followed that up with another 3rd two weeks later on Mayakoba’s sea paspalum. He ranked 2nd and 10th for putting those two weeks and thrives on the different surface as two further Top 10s in Puerto Rico testify. Stroud has also finished runner-up in the Alfred Dunhill and 8th in the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, showing he isn’t your typical PGA Tour pro who can struggle when playing on the other side of the world. May well miss the cut again but I think he has been a little bit too easily dismissed at the 200/1 available with Betfred. Top 20 too at 5/1

James Hahn’s claims are very obvious being the only man bar Thomas to finish inside the top 10 the last two years. He was the first name on the shortlist but his price is a bit of a joke now around the 40/1 mark. We know how good he can be in contention but he is so inconsistent that it is very hard to know when he will play well. There are a few other prices that I cannot get on board with this week. Yes, Lahiri loves the course but should he really only be 3 times the price of Matsuyama, or the same price as last week’s winner Brendan Steele? I don’t think so. In fact I’m going to leave it at just the two picks here as Thomas should really win this again but is completely unbackable at just 4/1.

 


Italian Open

The Italian Open returns to Golf Club De Milano for the third time in a row. Francesco Molinari returns to defend and Jon Rahm tees it up as favourite looking to get his quota in for Ryder Cup eligibility. His presence together with the always too short Molinari have set the tournament up as a strong looking betting heat.

The course is a very narrow one as I covered in greater detail last year. But unlike so many tree-lined narrow tracks, this is also fairly long and has some very small greens. So perhaps it’s a little surprising how low the scoring has been to date.

Anywhere that Molinari wins you would imagine can’t put much emphasis on putting and despite some of the stats conflicting with that a little (Moli ranked 18th for putting, Karlberg 17th in 2015),  I’m happy to assume it isn’t overly important this week despite the need for birdies as the greens aren’t too difficult. Many of the holes wind through the trees with dog-legs and as such it is an extremely strategic course off the tee. Not only will they have to be on the correct side of the fairway but more often than not they will only be able to take an iron off the tee, resulting in lots of long iron approaches, especially on the front 9. That sits very well with Molinari having won as he hits his long irons and hybrids as well as anyone on the European Tour.

It’s all about the tee-to-green at Golf Club De Milano and then trying to get the putter hot by giving themselves plenty of chances.

Tommy Fleetwood was the massive standout at the prices on Monday when they came out and subsequently everyone jumped on. I did tweet about the 25s along with many others so hopefully readers managed to get involved. The dilemma then for me was at what price I can still advise him in the blog. The 25s came and went and unfortunately so did most of the 22s about the new father this week but there is still a little bit around and 20/1 is still just about fair too.

We all know what a fantastic long game Fleetwood has and he showed that throughout the summer. An argument could be made for him being in the top 12 or so in the world in terms of ball-striking alone but I must admit I still don’t rate him as much of a putter which usually means I still struggle to back him at short prices. However, in this field, on a tight course with small greens, he probably won’t need to putt too well to get into contention. The fact that he is still a bigger price than Molinari and Tyrell Hatton is to ignore Fleetwood’s rise to the top golfing table in 2017. Therefore with a 7th place last year, where he ranked 1st in GIR, and having broken the Carnoustie course record last Friday, I’ve decided he is still a worthwhile play at 20/1 even if some of the early juice has gone.

Anyone following Martin Kaymer will have had an interesting time to say the least since his meltdown in Abu Dhabi in 2015. It has been very odd to see a double major winner’s form take such an abrupt downturn but even still there have been instances where he has looked backable due to course form and disrespectful prices. This looks like one of those opportunities but this week we also have the added bonus of the fact his long game is very much back to it’s best. He ranked 4th for total driving and 9th for total accuracy last week in Scotland.

So if we see more of the same from him this week he surely has to go well on a course that he was 2nd at in 2015, again throwing away a lead as he led by three at the turn on Sunday. The 40/1 might take into account the fact that hasn’t been able to close them out lately but for me it hasn’t factored in his combination of class, course form and current ball-striking level. Anything much over 28/1 looks generous for the German this week.

There are a host of outsiders I liked this week at the prices and I’ve decided to plump for three more. I’m backing them in the Top 20 market too.

Chris Hanson recorded a top 20 here last year on his first look and I think he is over priced here on his return. Hanson ranks 2nd in total accuracy over the last three months and that combination will be ideal this week on such a narrow course. He hit 79% of the greens at the course last year which ranked 10th for the week. His current form is good if we ignore his missed cut last week in Scotland in the pro-am slog. His results prior to that read 11-25-37-14 with the 11th coming at the tree-lined Close House layout. If his long game remains as sharp as it has been then he should play well again.

Ricardo Gouveia got my attention after last week as he actually ranked 3rd in total driving and 5th in total accuracy. Obviously that was playing three rounds on wide open fairways where comfort levels would have been high for the young Portuguese on the tee. So when I saw that he missed the cut here last year my enthusiasm was tempered a little. However when I delved a little further I noticed that one of his Challenge Tour wins was in Italy on an old-fashioned, tree-lined course with a premium on accuracy. He backed that up with a 6th place finish the year after when defending. I put him up a few weeks ago and he played well so I’m going to give him another go here but just a very small win bet and a bigger top 20 bet.

Jason Scrivener ranked 1st in total accuracy last week but still finished down the field in Scotland as he was let down by his putter. That’s not often the case so if he can improve on the greens he should go well. He was 5th on his last trip to Italy earlier this year at the Rocco Forte Open and has course form of 36-14 so he looks a little over priced.

 


Summary of Bets

CIMB Classic

Rafa Cabrera Bello – 1.5pt ew @ 40/1

Chris Stroud – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1

Italian Open

Tommy Fleetwood – 1.5pt ew @ 22/1

Martin Kaymer – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Chris Hanson – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 6/1

Jason Scrivener – 0.25pt ew @ 175/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 7/1

Ricardo Gouveia – 0.25pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 15pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 475pts

@theGreek

Safeway Open and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Betting Preview

Shane Lowry just managed to snag a full place with most of the bookmakers offering 7 places for their home based event. He looked to be striping it most of the weekend but just couldn’t get the putts to drop. Paul Dunne was a very deserving winner but he wasn’t someone I fancied on a new course like Close House. Generally when shifting to a new venue you want to side with solid tee-to-green games but it was Dunne’s sublime short-game that won him the trophy. He has that very rare ability of chipping the ball almost stone dead from anywhere around the green and that masked a very average ball-striking round for him on Sunday where he hit just 6 fairways and 11 greens in reg. Should we return to Close House in the future it’s worth remembering how key scrambling can be there as some of the greens are small and very fiddly.

Ashley Chesters looked like bagging the Top 20 effortlessly but unfortunately the pressure of being in the final group on Saturday was a bit much and he had a horrible weekend as nerves took over.

The Presidents Cup was a little bit of a non-event and I really shouldn’t have got involved. I knew that from the start though and need to be more disciplined and just leave events like that alone.

Total 2017 pts advised = 442 pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 359.6 pts

ROI = -18.65%


Safeway Open

No sooner has the 2017 season finished but the 2018 season is underway and in all honesty it feels rather daft to have such a short break. That is even more apparent this year by the Monday finish of the Web.com Tour Championship which leaves the 25 players who have earned their card just two days to prepare for their assault at the main Tour.

The starting point is The Silverado Course at Napa in California and with it having hosted since 2014 we have a fair idea of what is required to win. The course is a par 72 and so stands fairly short at just 7200 yards meaning it isn’t usually over powered. It is tree-lined and although not overly narrow, positioning off the tee is crucial as the courses main defence are the slick, small greens. Approaches have to be from the fairway in order to hold the correct area to allow up hill putts as the greens become very difficult if out of position. The greens are poa annua so only those confident on the surface will fancy tricky 5ft downhill putts for par. Therefore proximity to the hole and poa annua putting will both be key this week. While the stats don’t suggest driving accuracy is too crucial, with thick rough and difficult flag locations, players will need to have full control of their golf ball and bombers are likely to struggle unless taking a more strategic approach off the tee this week.

The Fall Series provides a very welcome change to the betting landscape for punters having struggled to pick which one of the world-class players was going to win over the last 6 weeks. We are back to wide open fields without the majority of the game’s best players and we often see big price winners at this time of year. If you like a player here this week then don’t be put off by the price. Although it might pay to consider whether those who contended on Monday at the Web.com will be fully prepared for this just

Such is Kevin Na’s form around the Silverado course he was already on my shortlist for this before the horrific events unfolded in his home town of Las Vegas. It feels a little uneasy putting him up now but we only have to look at Stacey Lewis in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey hitting her hometown of Houston to see how such tragic events can give them a sense of perspective or in Lewis’ case a drive to donate as much money as possible. Quite how this will affect Na we really can’t be sure but its clear from a golfing point of view that the course suits so I’m happy to get behind him here despite claiming I would never back him again! Na is a nervous character that often seems overwhelmed when he is in contention so playing this week with his thoughts elsewhere might just free up his pre-shot routine should he find himself on the leaderboard on Sunday.

Na was 7th here last year and 2nd the year before that and the shorter track together with the requirement for accurate approaches is right up his street. In 2017 Na ranked 5th for Scoring Relative To Par on Approaches from 125-150 yards and he will find himself in that range more often than not around Silverado. The scoring stat rather than just proximity to hole is often more telling as we know he is taking his chances. Na is a solid enough putter and he has shown over the years he is comfortable on poa annua, none more so than when he was 7th at Oakmont’s U.S. Open last year but he also came 4th at Riviera in February. One of his main strengths is his scrambling which well help him over the weekend as the greens firm up. His recent form is good with a 4th and a 6th in his last four tournaments.

Pricewise it’s always a bit of a conundrum with Na as his win price always seems short yet his high number of top 5 finishes can help counter that somewhat. He has 8 placed efforts from his last 52 tournaments and 14 from his last 100. There’s also something quite genuine about him and I can’t help but root for Na so I would love to see him get his long overdue 2nd PGA Tour win here. Not going to argue that there is much value in 28/1 but similarly I think it’s a fair price with his combination of course and current form.

Martin Laird started playing some very good golf at the tail end of the 2017 season so a stop at one of his favourite courses looks very timely indeed. Laird has one of the highest ball flights on Tour with his irons and that helps him find the right portion of these slick greens. His record at the course is very good reading 8th-63rd-3rd and these are precisely the sort  of tournaments that the Scot thrives in. He targets these weaker events as great opportunities to contend and although he hasn’t won in 4 years he is a 3 time winner who doesn’t usually back up when the chance to win is there.

His last few results of the season were solid but ultimately too late to make a mark on the Fed Ex Play-offs. He closed the season going 20th-40th-44th and on that last start at the BMW his tee-to-green game was brilliant and he was only let down by the putter. A return to poa annua might help counter that and he generally performs well on the rougher surfaces having ranked 14th on the greens here last year. If he has kept his swing ticking over the last two weeks he will hopefully play well again.

Luckily Chesson Hadley wasn’t at the business end of last week’s Tour Championship on the Web.com so he will be fresher than most of the 2018 new batch this week. But he was the outstanding player on the 2nd Tour having topped the final money list so he doesn’t quite arrive on Tour under the radar. Hadley has the big plus of having had his Tour card before though, even notching up a win at the Puerto Rico Open in 2014. Hadley also has three other wins on the Web.com Tour. His record around the course is quite poor but he is playing far better lately and won just three weeks ago at the Albertson Boise Open which features poa annua greens. In fact three of his professional wins have come on the surface so he clearly enjoys putting on poa. Hedley ranked 6th on the PGA Tour in GIR over the last 6 months and while that is for quite a small sample size he also ranked 14th on the Web.com for the same stat over the 2017 season. Hadley will be determined to make his mark this time around on Tour and this looks like an ideal starting point.

Scott Brown always seems to be underestimated by the bookies and that looks to be the case again with quotes of 100/1 in a couple of places. Brown is coming off a very good 2017 where he was runner-up twice, in the team event in New Orleans with Kisner and at Riviera. He also recorded his best major finish to date with a 13th at the US PGA in only his 4th appearance at one of the big four events. It is the Riviera finish that stands out though, highlighting that he is happy putting on poa annua greens. He missed the cut here in 2015 but was 12th in 2014 when playing better. Brown will arrive full of confidence after a good finish to his summer and should go well.

I wanted to tip Andres Gonzales this week but unfortunately he isn’t in the field. Instead I will finish with Daniel Summerhays. He is a player who has really struggled to get that elusive win on the PGA Tour but one thing he doesn’t struggle with is poa annua greens. In 2016 he finished 3rd at the US Open and 8th at the US PGA, both of which were played on poa annua greens. He hasn’t done brilliantly at the course yet but he has made 2 out of 3 cuts and he did rank 6th in putting in 2014. It’s rather speculative but at these odds (150/1) he is always worth consideration on poa greens.


Alfred Dunhill Links

This week’s Dunhill Links sits in its usual spot on the European Tour and having been on the go since 2001 almost everyone knows what to expect on the East Coast of Scotland this week. It takes the form of a pro-am across three courses during the first three days so the courses are set up extremely easily for the celebrity hackers. With the spot in the calendar being in October in Scotland we don’t see any of the hard and fast conditions that are prevalent at The Open. The greens and fairways are soft so trouble is even harder to find than usual at St Andrews and Kingsbarns. Carnoustie is usually a little more difficult but even still it will need the wind to blow to prevent rounds in the 60s being the norm. The flags are also very favourable to allow the amateurs to enjoy their experience so with all that combined you can see why the winning score is usually in the 20s under par. St Andrews and Kingsbarns both have wide open fairways and plenty of drivable par 4s so power is very much a weapon this week. Ultimately though, it is all about making birdies so aggressive iron play and a hot putter will be the order of the week in Fife and Angus.

After a round at each course everyone who makes the 3rd round cut plays the final round at the home of golf and things get a little more serious on the Sunday. The forecast for the whole week is a steady wind throughout but I’m hoping the rain stays away as I’ll be at one of the courses for the first round on Thursday.

Ryan Fox went firmly into the notebook for this after his superb summer of Links golf. Fox finished 5th at Le Golf National, 4th at the Irish Open and 4th again at the Scottish Open confirming himself a very strong links and bad weather player. The fact that he went a little off the boil through August and September isn’t of too much interest to me and merely serves to give us a good price here. His brilliant July guaranteed his Card for next year so it was no surprise to see him take some time off after the Open and US PGA and he would have needed a few events to blow the cobwebs off on his return.

The Scottish Open 4th is the one that interests me most with it having come at the Kyle Phillips designed Dundonald Links course. Kingsbarns is another Phillips design and together with St Andrews and Castle Stuart they are probably the 4 widest championship Links courses you will see in the UK.

Therefore we would expect Fox to be suited by them as most of his mistakes come with the big stick in hand. Fox hits it further than pretty much everyone on Tour and he will eat St Andrews and Kingsbarns up. He is aggressive with his irons and his putting improves on grainy links greens. The New Zealander first plied his trade on the PGA Tour of Australasia so is at home on the grainier surface as well as exposed golf courses. Having been brought up on firm, fast courses he has also shown he is comfortable knocking the ball down and chasing it onto the greens when conditions dictate.

This whole set-up just looks absolutely perfect for Fox and despite this being his debut in the event I think the easy set-up will help him adjust and he has already played St Andrews in the 2015 Open when it was set-up considerably tougher than it will be this week. Quite how he might fare at the tougher Carnoustie I don’t know but while it will be harder than the other two courses this week, it will be as soft so scoring should still be good. That will also suit a player who ranks 2nd for birdie average over the last 3 months. Fox looks like the best piece of value in the field to my eye at 66/1.

While Fox is a confident pick I also want a few players onside that have more recent form in the bag. Step forward George Coetzee yet again. I’m not going to bang on again about Coetzee too much but he is such a good links putter I’m pretty much going to continue to back him in this event whenever he is bigger than 33/1. There are few players who have been in better form over the last month and bizarrely it has been his long game that has had him at the right end of the leaderboard lately. If he keeps that up,  the extra room off the tee will take the pressure off his driving and his short game skills should help this birdie machine contend again this week. Ranks 6th in the all-round so with every part of his game in decent nick the timing of this event is ideal for someone who jointly holds the course record at the Old Course.

I’m in danger of going overboard and backing 7 or 8 players this week. I have to give Marc Warren another go after playing well at Close House. Warren is another sublime putter who thrives on links greens. He was 5th last year and is back in form again at the right time this year. His wild driving has been stopping him contending on Sunday recently but again he will be able to relax on most tee shots this week and let rip. He ranked 19th for GIR and 19th in putting so he should be looking forward to returning north to his homeland.

Joakim Lagergren is a very straight-forward pick this week. He has finished in the top 10 the last two years, returning a Top 20 bet for me here last year at a great price. That left me regretting not putting him up each way as he finished 4th. Not going to make the same mistake this year, especially at 90/1. The young Swede has one of the most silky smooth putting strokes you will see and enjoys the easy pro-am set up here. It takes the pressure off his tee-to-green game which isn’t always a strength. Everyone hits these huge greens so it’s often a battle between the putters and those who aggressively fire at every flag. Lagergren likes to do both so can be expected to go well again at a tasty enough price.

I was going to have a 5th pick of Robert Karlsson given how well he played last week. He opened at 175/1 with bet365 and with him being a past winner of this event that looked far too big. He has been cut into 125/1 which looks about right for someone who has struggled for so long. But I think he is still perhaps value to finish inside the Top 10 at 12/1.

Finally I’m also having a bet on Florian Fritsch for a Top 20 here. Fritsch is perhaps most famous for his fear of flying and he will be playing his 7th week out of the last 8 while we have been in Europe. Keeping hold of his card when he can only play half the schedule is very tough but he is learning to make the most of his strong periods of form and he usually has to play every event this time of year. Fritsch was 7th here last year and 19th the year before on his debut so he clearly enjoys the format. So with a 100% record of top 20s in the event he looks a rock solid bet at 5/1. I will have 2pts on this to return stakes for the event should everything else go wrong.

I’ve got bit carried away this week but both events are good betting heats so hopefully the extra picks pay off this week as I try to sneak back to level for the year.

 


Summary of bets

Safeway Open

Kevin Na – 1.5pt ew @ 28/1

Martin Laird – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (Unibet, 888)

Chesson Hadley – 0.5pt ew @ 60/1

Scott Brown – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (Unibet, 888)

Daniel Summerhays- 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 (Unibet again!)

Dunhill Links

Ryan Fox – 1.5pts ew @ 66/1

George Coetzee – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Marc Warren – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1

Joakim Lagergren – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Robert Karlsson – 1pt Top 10 @ 8/1

Florian Fritsch – 2pts Top 20 @ 5/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 18 pts

2017 pts advised = 460 pts

@theGreek82