Phoenix Open and Maybank Championship – Betting Preview

We got off the mark last week as Tyrrell Hatton flew through the field on Sunday to land solo 3rd. It promised to be even better than that for a brief spell as he had a 10ft putt to get to -21 at the driveable Par 4 17th. He missed that and then found water on 18 to leave himself 2 shots shy but it was another brilliant desert performance and he rewarded the faith shown in him. Hatton’s consistent play in both desert and links conditions is second to none over the last 18 months and this has to be factored in when assessing his price going forward.

Over in California, Woodland was perfectly placed for a Sunday assault as he was 5th and just 3 shots back. The wind did for him again though just like 2015 and he really doesn’t look to be a great wind player at all. There is no doubt that he loves Torrey Pines South course as his Saturday 66 testified but he doesn’t seem to handle even one round of wind.

This week the PGA Tour moves inland to the desert and the Phoenix Open while the European Tour has a little break from its Middle East swing and heads down to Malaysia for the Maybank Championship.

Total 2018 pts advised = 35.5pts

Total 2018 returns = 9pts


Phoenix Open

In the normally more reserved sport of golf, TPC Scottsdale is the one course that comes closest to typifying U.S. Sports. The course is somewhat famous in the game for it’s stadium seating around the par 3 16th hole and it helps create an atmosphere unlike any seen in regular stroke-play events. That’s not to do the course an injustice however as it is a very serious layout, with pristine conditions and the Phoenix Open usually throws up a classy winner.

Hideki Matsuyama has won the last two events and never finished outside the Top 4. To be honest that tells us everything you need to know about the course. The fairways are wide enough and it pays to have some length off the tee. The greens are on the larger side and in order to fire at the flags, a degree of loft will be required and the control that the fairway allows is also beneficial. TPC Scottsdale is a ball-strikers dream and rewards accurate, aggressive iron play perhaps more than any course I can think of. The greens themselves don’t usually require any brilliance and it is usually all about the law of averages and having more putts inside 15ft than the rest of the field. That is something Matsuyama regularly does when his mid-irons are dialled in and he is as ruthless as anyone on Tour from between 150 and 200 yards out.

With a 12th place finish last week where the putter was behaving, Matsuyama is almost certainly the player to beat and at odds of 10/1 I wouldn’t put anyone off. However with Spieth,  Fowler and Thomas all alongside him in the betting it doesn’t look like a week for a big play on any of the favourites. Instead I’m happy to play some of the healthy each way prices that the strong head of the market has given us.

chappell

Kevin Chappell’s long game was sublime last time out at the CareerBuilder and it was his horrible putting that stopped him from winning. He still managed 6th place though and with the greens being a bit of an equaliser here at Scottsdale I think this pure ball-striker looks to have a great chance. His form at the course isn’t fantastic to date but I’m not really sure why. He plays well in desert conditions and this tee-to-green test should be just about perfect for him on paper. Chappell has three missed cuts from 6 appearances and hasn’t beaten 24th yet but there were positives from that best finish in 2013. He fired opening and closing 66s and there were also some good rounds two years later in 2015 where he shot Friday and Saturday 65s to sit in the top 10 going in to Sunday. That’s enough to confirm to me that he can play this course and if we delve a little further into his finishes we see that they were more about his form at the time. Chappell normally takes a little while to get going in the New Year and that 24th finish came on his only effort in Phoenix where he was arriving off a Top 10 already that calendar year. On a ball-strikers course sometimes you just have to pick ball-strikers and that’s exactly what Chappell is, currently ranking 6th in strokes gained: tee to green. The 66/1 looks a big each way price.

bradley-keegan-080512-640x360_0

Keegan Bradley is another tee-to-green machine and you could make a perfectly good case for him being the most consistently long and accurate driver of the ball in world golf. His approach play isn’t too shabby either and he currently ranks 7th for strokes gained: tee to green. Bradley is a 3 time winner on Tour and also a major winner so given he finished 6th last week and has four top 25s in Phoenix, I’m surprised that we can get 66/1 about him. He has suffered considerably since the anchored putter ban but over the last year or so there have been signs that he is finding a way to get competitive again. We shouldn’t forget that when you strike the ball as well as he does, an average putting week is often all he needs to contend. That will be even more prevalent at TPC Scottsdale and he looks to have a great chance here this week.

I was going to leave it at two bets here this week but then I noticed Chesson Hadley’s price. I watched him closely during the fall series and his form was very good without getting over the line for the win. He has kept that going in 2018 although he has done so a little under the radar as the world’s best players have ousted him from the spotlight. Hadley is currently 10th in strokes gained: tee to green, 6th in strokes gained: approach to green and 29th in strokes gained: putting. All those combined suggest he is on the verge of grabbing his 2nd PGA Tour title. His form at Scottsdale isn’t great but he has taken his game to a new level of consistency recently and he looks a great price at 100/1.


Maybank Championship

Link to The Golf Family preview below;

https://thegolffamily.com/maybank-championship-betting-preview/


Summary of Bets

Phoenix Open

Kevin Chappell – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1/4 odds 5 places general)

Keegan Bradley – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1/4 odds 5 places general)

Chesson Hadley – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places several)

Maybank Championship

Alex Levy – 2pt ew @ 16/1 (1/4 odds 5 places Ladbrokes)

Jason Scrivener – 0.75pts ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Boylesports)

David Horsey – 0.75 pts ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Skybet)

Weekly pts advised = 12pts

Total pts advised = 47.5pts

@theGreek82

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Farmers Insurance Open and Dubai Desert Classic – Betting Preview

It was a week for the obvious winners last week as Rahm and Fleetwood both obliged on the main Tours and Garcia romped home in the Singapore Open. Most of my picks were poor and we are still looking for the first returns of the new year. Hopefully they will come this week with a couple of high quality events on both Tours. The PGA Tour stays in California with the Farmers Insurance Open and the European Tour makes its second Middle East stop for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

2018 total pts advised = 20.5pts

2018 total pts returned = 0pts

 


Farmers Insurance Open

This time last year I wrote the following and there is a sense of deja vu in California this week.

“Tiger makes his much-anticipated return to the PGA Tour this week and there couldn’t be a more fitting place for him to return than Torrey Pines. He has won this Tournament 7 times along with a U.S. Open in 2008 which was his last major win. It’s anyone’s guess where he will finish but the signs were good in December so hopefully he will go well as it would be great to get to see a fit Tiger Woods compete again in 2017”

Somehow though Tiger has been cut into 25/1 which is surely the wrong price. It would be special to see him contend again around one of his favourite courses but ultimately he will surely just be looking to make the halfway cut.

Last week’s winner and 2017 Farmers Insurance Open winner Jon Rahm is back to defend as the 8/1 favourite and that is very hard to argue with. He looks to have a great chance but I’m just about happy to leave him out. Fowler, Rose, Matsuyama and Day are up next and they all have claims here given how well they are suited to a tough test of golf. But the bookmakers look like they have their number and barring 2015 winner Jason Day, they don’t have the greatest of records at Torrey.

As well as the South Course each player will have a knock around the easier North Course on Thursday or Friday before the South hosts those that survive the cut on the weekend. In addition to being suited to the tougher South course, if a player wants to contend this week it is important that they adapt also to the North course and record a low score. Historical form around the North may not count for as much as it used to however with the course undergoing a fairly substantial renovation prior to last year’s event.

Torrey has an element of Baltusrol about it where the rough is up and the fairways aren’t overly generous, yet the powerful players can still gouge their ball out and find the green from the rough. This will be easier from nearer the green though and the shorter hitters will definitely need to make sure they are finding the fairway more often than not.

With fast, undulating green complexes it will not only be hard to hold the greens but also to get the ball to stop near the flags. Accurate approach play will perhaps be the most important attribute this week closely followed by scrambling which is always more crucial on long, championship courses where greens will be missed. Unlike recent birdie-fests on Tour, make no mistake this will be a proper test and rather than holing putts this week, it will be more about making pars on the South course and trying to shoot a solid round on the easier North course. The greens at the South course are poa annua and they aren’t for everyone. Course form seems to sit nicely with both Riviera and Glen Abbey, the former also having poa greens.

A very strange thing happened after I decided on my picks this week, I looked at last year’s picks at Torrey Pines and I’d picked out the exact same three players again. So I guess I’m either doing something right or making the same stupid mistakes again! But I really like all of their chances despite them letting me down last year. Sometimes golf is  just like horse racing and you have to stick a line through the occasional piece of form.

Cameron Smith returns to Torrey Pines a far more accomplished player than last year having won twice since, once at the Zurich Classic team event and another back home in Australia where he won the PGA Championship at Royal Pines. That’s another long championship course and he has always looked like a player who prefers a difficult course to the normal target golf on the PGA Tour. That was evident at his first major where he finished 4th in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. Smith has an excellent short game and currently ranks 13th for bogey avoidance while he finished 2017 ranked 8th in strokes gained: around the green. So far in 2018 he has been playing rather well with two top 20s and having finished 33rd last year he will be looking to improve again with his confidence high.

Gary Woodland is putting very well this year again and currently ranks 14th in strokes gained: putting for 2018. When Woodland is putting well he is capable of winning anywhere but he is another who has the game for long, difficult courses like Torrey. At 50/1 he is similar odds to last year and his predicament is much the same. A player of his talent really has to start pushing on as several of his peers have overtaken him in recent years. Woodland is in fine form after opening his year with a 7th place finish in Hawaii where he did everything well. Another performance like that should see him get involved over the weekend in an event where he has three Top 20s and was sitting 2nd with a round to go before the wind took over in 2016. Woodland also enjoys poa annua greens and finished 4th on the surface in 2016 at Bethpage Black, which has long been considered one of the toughest courses in the U.S. Most things seem to be in Woodland’s favour this week which makes the 50/1 look like a very tempting each way price.

John Huh is the final pick after grabbing a back door 3rd place last week at the CareerBuilder. On paper he is probably a little short off the tee for Torrey but that hasn’t stopped him before as he has some solid course form having finished 6th and 8th previously and he is one of the best around at avoiding bogeys. At least he will be hitting most of his approaches from the fairway as he is usually deadly accurate with the driver. With his talent if he can add more consistency to his game then he could have a good 2018 and he looks worth following while he is in good form.

Cameron Davis announced himself on the scene when he beat a strong field at the Australian Open in December at just 22 yrs old. He is another tall, powerful hitter who thrives on long courses and I’d expect him to be suited to Torrey Pines and the Aussie won’t be phased if things firm up and the win blows over the weekend. I’m going to have a top 20 bet on him.

Given the way that Rahm and McIlroy performed last week without being at their best it is entirely possible that they blow these fields away so I’m going to have small 1pt win saver on the double as they will surely both contend.


Dubai Desert Classic

Link to The Golf Family Preview;

https://thegolffamily.com/omega-dubai-desert-classic-preview/


Summary of Bets

Farmers Insurance Open

Cameron Smith – 1pt ew @ 66/1  (1/5 odds 7 places several firms)

Gary Woodland – 1pt ew @ 40/1  (1/5 odds 7 places several firms)

John Huh – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 7 places several firms)

Cameron Davis – 1pt Top 20 @ 9/1 (Betfred)

Dubai Desert Classic

Matt Fitzpatrick – 1.5pts ew @ 20/1

Tyrrell Hatton – 1.5 pts ew @ 25/1

Thorbjorn Olesen – 0.5pts ew @ 66/1

Connor Syme – 1pt Top 20 @ 16/1

 

Rahm + McIlroy win double – 1pt win @ 53/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 15pts

 

@theGreek82

 

 

CareerBuilder Challenge and Abu Dhabi Championship 2018 – Betting Preview

I’m still so annoyed at not backing him that I’m not even going to talk about Chris Paisley’s win. Straight on to this week.

In the U.S we have the CareerBuilder Challenge while the European Tour starts its Middle East Swing with the Abu Dhabi Championship.

2018 pts advised = 9 pts

2018 pts returned = 0 pts


CareerBuilder Challenge

The PGA Tour heads north to California this week for the multi-course, pro-am format of the CareerBuilder Challenge. In its 3rd edition since the name change from the Humana, the current courses on rotation are also in place for the 3rd time. They are the PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Nicklaus Course and La Quinta Country Club. With everyone making the cut playing a final round at the PGA West Stadium course it is perhaps the most relevant course although the characteristics of all three are similar.

The Stadium course is a Pete Dye design and so far form on his courses has been the best pointer for the event. It found me David Lingmerth in 2016, who was one of the most unlucky runner-ups you will see in golf, and Dufner who beat him had already won at TPC Louisiana while also owning a 6th at Sawgrass. Last year’s winner Hudson Swafford had limited experience of Dye courses but he had shot 66 on his very first round at Sawgrass and proximity to the hole is his main strength.

Courses of Dye’s that are currently on rotation are TPC Sawgrass (The Players Championship), Harbour Town (RBC Heritage), TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic), Crooked Stick (2012 & 2016 BMW Championship) and Whistling Straits (2010 & 2015 US PGA Championships).

All the greens are bermuda so those who putt well on the surface should be respected but ultimately any event that Dufner can win obviously can’t have the most difficult of greens. The short stuff at PGA West certainly doesn’t have the undulations we see at Dye’s Sawgrass so expect everyone to be holing putts. That is perhaps even more likely in the pro-am format where flags aren’t likely to be hidden away until perhaps Sunday. The greens are also on the larger side for a Dye course therefore this event is usually all about proximity to the hole and getting as many makeable birdie putts as possible.

The players at the front of the market all look to have a great chance of playing well but there isn’t a lot of value around with Reed and Harman looking short enough at sub 20/1. Chez Reavie has the game for the course and while he is a player that I like, you won’t see too many worse prices this season than his 40/1. Instead I’m happy to look a look a little further down the betting.

I’m probably going to continue to back David Lingmerth in this event every time he is 50/1+ providing he isn’t playing like an 18 handicapper at the time. His game is perfect for short Dye courses and when he is putting well he can be deadly from the all important 10ft-20ft range that we will see so much of this week. His scrambling skills are also impressive should the greens firm up and become less receptive over the weekend. He hasn’t been seen yet this season but he signed off 2017 in decent nick with a 17th at the RSM Classic where the test is similar. We know he likes the event having lost a play-off to Dufner two years ago and I’d expect him to arrive looking to make amends for that unlucky defeat where he did nothing wrong.

Scott Brown looks a little over priced here considering he was runner-up in the team event (Zurich Classic) at Dye’s TPC of Louisiana course in May last year. The rest of his season involved mixed results but that included a 5th and a 6th as well as his best ever Major result as he finished 13th at the US PGA in August. Brown missed the cut here two years ago but on that occasion he was making his first start of the season whereas this time he has already played in Hawaii. It wasn’t the best of performances but he did make the cut and I think he should be suited to this event as he thrives on shorter courses where accuracy is favoured over power. He isn’t a player that you can ever be too confident backing but I’d make him more of a 100/1 shot so I believe we are getting some value if nothing else.

Derek Fathauer is my stock outsider at Dye courses and while he will probably miss the cut I think his liking for the designer’s courses at least makes him a little bit of value at a huge 400/1. I’m not suggesting a big play by any means as he didn’t have the greatest of 2017s but there were two Top 10s in his last 8 events of the year. Fathauer won the Web.com Tour Championship around the Dye Valley course at Sawgrass in 2014 and also finished 9th the following year. He was also 17th on his only appearance at The Players Championship. Despite missing his last cut of the year at the RSM Classic he hit 72% of his greens which was a big improvement on his numbers before hand. Worth a small interest.


Abu Dhabi Championship

Link to Golf Family preview;

https://thegolffamily.com/abu-dhabi-hsbc-championsip-preview/

 


Summary of Bets

CareerBuilder

David Lingmerth – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1-7 places 1/5 odds several places)

Scott Brown – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 (1-7 places 1/5 odds Coral)

Derek Fathauer – 0.25pt ew @ 400/1 (1-7 places 1/5 odds Coral)

Abu Dhabi Championship

Matt Kuchar – 1.5pts ew @ 33/1 (1-7 places at 1/5 odds Coral)

Jordan Smith – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1-6 places at 1/5 odds Skybet and William Hill)

Jordan Smith – 2pts Top 20 @ 9/2

Jamie Donaldson – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1-7 places at 1/5 odds Coral)

Jamie Donaldson – 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 11.5pts

Total 2018 pts advised = 20.5pts

@theGreek82

Sony Open – Some bets

After a disappointing 2017 I was lacking enthusiasm for the 2018 season prior to Christmas but it’s amazing what a month’s break from golf can do! I’m itching to get back into it now and try and get back to the winning ways of 2015. (You and me both Mr Day?)

I’m a little short of time this week however for a full PGA preview and I have a little news regarding my European Tour content below.

As from next week I should be looking at my normal 2018 posts going forward.

Final 2017 results;

Total pts advised = 544pts

Total pts returned = 381.21

ROI = – 29.92


Sony Open

Having not paid close attention to last week in Hawaii I’m still not fully up to speed yet so I’m not getting heavily involved in the Sony Open. But we certainly know what the challenge entails at Waialae from previous years as it has hosted since 1965!

The course is a short, coastal yet tree-lined one with small bermuda greens and a lot more subtelty is required than last week despite the power packed Justin Thomas winning last year. That was largely due to him dominating the game for 2 months though and he would probably have won on any course in the world the way he was playing.

I thought Kevin Na looked a little over priced here at 80/1. It’s hard to see him winning given he hasn’t managed over the line since 2010 but he is an each way machine when accuracy is important and 20/1 for a top 5 doesn’t accurately reflect his chances. He already has 3 top eight finishes from his eleven visits.

Si-Woo Kim opened up at a ridiculous price of around 70/1 but that was quickly snapped up and unfortunately there is only 40/1 around now which is about right. I spoke last year of how often he seemed over priced due to the  erratic nature of his form. But that up and down nature seems to be based far more on whether he is fit or not and it appearss like the festive break did him the power of good. I’m not sure I can quite advise him at 40/1 but along with everyone else I like his chances this week. Kim is at his best on bermuda greens as he showed when winning at TPC Sawgrass last year and Sedgfield in 2016. If you can find any 50s then that is probably still a nice bet.

I’m also going to throw a small bet on an outsider in the shape of Kelly Kraft. He’s not my favourite player on Tour but at odds of 200/1 I thought he was a little over priced considering he last missed a cut in July. He also finished 5th in July at the Greenbrier which is played at The Old White TPC, a course Seth Raynor helped to redesign. Waialae is another Raynor design and despite Kraft being a power player he has shown an affinity for the more classic design. Worth a small interest here on his return after a 27th place finish on his debut last year when he shot 4 rounds in the 60s.

 


South African Open

Some of you might have noticed on Twitter that i have joined The Golf Family and will be writing weekly European Tour previews for their site in 2018.

But I will include any bets on my blog still together with an easy link straight to the Golf Family preview.

This week’s preview

https://thegolffamily.com/south-african-open-preview/


 

Summary of Bets

Sony Open

Kevin Na – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Kelly Kraft – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

South Africa Open

Dean Burmester – 1.5pts ew @ 25/1

Dylan Frittelli – 1.5pts ew @ 20/1

Graeme Storm – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 9pts

@theGreek82