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
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.
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.
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.
Link to The Golf Family preview below;
Summary of Bets
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)
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