Honda Classic and Oman Open – Betting Preview

It was the best week so far in 2019 as 4 out of 7 bets landed in some form or other. Aphibarnrat got the full place money and the top 20 while Li bagged a small share of the top 20 money. Best performer was Amy Yang however who won in Thailand at 28/1. In total 72.83 pts were returned to take the year into profit and boost confidence ahead of the main part of the season.

This week the PGA Tour heads back north to Florida while the European Tour is back in the Middle East with the Oman Open.

2019 pts advised = 88.50

2019 pts returned = 110.33

ROI = 24.67%


Honda Classic

The Florida swing gets underway at PGA National in Palm Beach and it is the first of 4 events in the Sunshine State. The course is a 7140 yard par 70 with water in play and a mix of open holes and tree-lined ones. The fairways are wide enough however and driving accuracy hasn’t been too crucial recently.

Links players tend to play very well here given the similar skill-set. The greens are small and the course is exposed to the elements so a tidy short game is perhaps the most important attribute here and one I have paid close attention to. The lowest winning score we have seen at the course since the switch in 2007 is -13 back in 2010 but only twice since has it been in double figures. This is a coastal resort course but not like the others on Tour, this is a tough test where avoiding bogeys is far more important than racking up birdies. This will require a different mindset compared to many of the events we have seen this year. Mexico last week was pretty tough so while traveling back to the US maybe wasn’t the best preparation, those who teed it up at Chapultepec should arrive with their games primed for PGA National.

Stats wise bogey avoidance and strokes gained: around the green are key. The last 5 winners ranked 1st, 9th, 6th,6th and 9th in scrambling for the week. The last 3 winners finished their winning season 12th, 11th and 21st in bogey avoidance respectively.

I have to go in again on Kiradech Aphibarnrat after landing T3rd place last week. He was under rated last week and on opening show appears to be again. It makes a lot of sense that European Tour players aren’t given immediate respect in the markets for PGA events but the likeable Thai has shown time and time again what a great player he is and beyond just last week’s finish there was a lot to like about his game for PGA National. More often lauded for his short game skills he ranked 5th in strokes gained: tee to green and in elite company that has to make him of interest stepping back down to a fairly average PGA Tour field. Aphi also led the field in scrambling however so his short game was as good as ever, even if we didn’t get to see any of it over the weekend! He has won before on a links course as he took the inaugural Paul Lawrie Match Play title at Murcar Links in 2015 while his win last year at Lake Karrinyup requires similar skills. His Open record isn’t great but a warm weather links course in his current form looks perfect. There is still some 60/1 around but Skybet’s 50/1 with 8 places makes most appeal to me.

Again the first 4 or 5 players in the betting have solid claims but I’ve gone a little further down the market for my next pick. Billy Horschel’s career stalled a little after he won the Fed Ex Cup in 2014 but he has had a win in each of the last 2 seasons so is gradually getting back to where he was. Horschel is Florida born and bred and none of his five wins have come west of Dallas so he will be happy to be back on Eastern Time. With that said though he hasn’t been in bad form at all in the early part of the year with his results reading 45-38-8-25. The 45th in Mexico was let down by a Friday 76 as he opened with a 68 and closed 70-71 over the weekend. Horschel is 42nd in bogey avoidance and he was 7th for scrambling last week, which is impressive as plenty struggled around the tricky green complexes. We know his tee-to-green game is usually pretty reliable and he has been putting fairly well so far this year, ranking 58th with the short stick. Horschell also sits 26th in scoring relative to par from 150-175 yards and that range will be in-play a lot this week. The main reason for the bet however is some strong recent course form. He missed the cut last year but prior to that he went 4th-8th in 2017 and 2016. I think that makes the 40/1 look very fair in this field but I’m probably going to side with Coral’s 33/1 and 7 places.

I’ve been paying close attention to Harold Varner III over the last year or so and I’m convinced he is going to have a good year in 2019. He hasn’t done much at this course in 3 attempts but his last start in Florida was 7th at the Players Championship and he currently ranks 10th in bogey avoidance. For me that should make him a good fit for another course with small, bermuda greens. He has been a little up and down so far in 2019 but there has been plenty to like, namely his 10th at the Phoenix Open when he ranked 4th in GIR. The last two winners of this were ahead of him in 1st and 3rd so I’m hoping we see that HVIII rather than the one who missed the cut at the Genesis. That is entirely possible though as he is another who is more comfortable on the East Coast and is yet to post a top 10 in California. Very little harm can be done backing him at up to 125/1 in this field.

A good previous finish is usually an advantage at this difficult layout so I thought I’d add one more with Sung-Hoon Kang looking a little over priced. He was 10th in 2016 here and some of his best results have come at courses where previous Honda Champions have had success. He was 3rd at the CIMB Classic in 2017, 2nd at the Houston Open in 2017 and 8th at Riviera in 2016. Kang isn’t setting the world on fire stats wise this year but he has been posting some decent finishes. He was 10th at the Sony Open, 20th at Torrey Pines and 14th at Pebble Beach. Skybet’s 125/1 with 8 places is just too tempting.

 


Oman Open

This is just the European Tour’s 2nd stop in Oman but the course was also in use on the Challenge Tour from 2015-2017. That course is the Al Mouj GC in Muscat and it was met with very favourable reviews from the players last year. It is a beautiful links style course that measures 7365 yards and sits looking out across the Gulf of Oman. As with most of the links style layouts in the Middle East it is exposed to the wind, heavily bunkered and has undulating fairways. However this perhaps more so than any of the others on rotation properly resembles a links course. Several holes really hug the coast line and some of the holes wind there way through big dunes covered in tall grasses. You could be forgiven for thinking that it is actually a UK course but they get to play in wall to wall sunshine so you can see why it is so popular. Last year’s winner Joost Luiten has a very solid bank of links form even if he doesn’t yet have much of an Open record.

While Luiten isn’t renowned for his putting he actually led the field last year in total putting with runner-up Chris Wood ranking 3rd with the putter. Wood is another links specialist however and there were another 3 UK players in the top 10. There are no stats available for the Challenge Tour event so last year’s analysis is pretty much all we have in that department. The course was designed by Greg Norman and while he doesn’t have too many courses on rotation on the European Tour he did design Golf Club El Prat in Barcelona which hosted the 2011 and 2015 Open De Espana. The course is inland but the bunkering and green complexes are very similar.

Mathieu Pavon recorded a 65 last year and also shot 65 and a 66 to finish 3rd around the course on the Challenge Tour in 2015. Last year’s was only good enough for him to finish 31st but he was let down by the putter. That shouldn’t be the case this year though as he ranks 7th in strokes gained: putting. His form hasn’t been great this year so far in similar events but he has shown lots of promise over the last 2 years on Tour so I’m hoping a return to a more familiar course might bring about an improvement. He does have some solid links form with top 10s in the Nordea Masters and the Scottish Open. Worth a go at 80/1 in this sort of field.

I’ve been looking for an opportunity to back Zander Lombard on a proper links course since he showed his hand early on at Carnoustie last year when sitting 6th at half way. He scrambles brilliantly on fast, grainy links greens and despite only finishing 65th here last year I think he should enjoy the course. He was in very poor form last year while his whole game is in great shape this year. That hasn’t always been borne out in his results though but he does have three top 5s world-wide in his last 9 events. The highlight of those being a 3rd place finish at the Alfred Dunhill Championship. It is his stats that really stand out this year though and they suggest that it is just a matter of time before he begins to fulfil his potential. For the 2019 season Lombard is 4th in strokes gained: tee to green and 9th in strokes gained: around the green. Add in the fact he was 1st in putting when during that 3rd at Leopard Creek and he looks to have an excellent chance here if he can put that all together for 4 rounds.

George Coetzee has to get backed this week on value alone. I know he has been in horrid form since winning for the blog early last season but I can’t see how he is as big as 100/1. He shot an opening 67 last week in Mexico and then scared the leaderboard further on Friday with a front 9 of 35. He fell away to finish down in 56th place but it should have given him a boost and this isn’t a very good field at all. At his best he would be somewhere around 25/1 here so I’m happy to take 4x that and just cross my fingers. If conditions weren’t ideal then maybe I’d leave him out but links style desert courses are what Coetzee is all about. He has racked up 9 top 10s in the Middle East already and should go well on his first look at Al Mouj GC.

I normally don’t like backing too many but I got a bit carried away with some of the big prices on Monday so I have 2 more this week for small stakes.

Ashun Wu has form at lots of key courses namely winning at The Dutch Golf Club when he scopped the KLM Open in September (Luiten won there in 2016). His other win came at the Lyoness Open where both Chris Wood and Joost Luiten have won. Wu has a brilliant short game and that proved to be crucial last year here. He is currently 8th in scrambling and 2nd in one putts this year. His results haven’t been brilliant so far in 2019 but this should be right up his street so I’m expecting an improvement on last year’s missed cut.

Romain Wattel is another winner at The Dutch and has lots of links form over his 8 seasons on Tour. He is a very frustrating player to back as he is so inconsistent. It is hard to know whether we will see the player who missed the cut in Saudi or the player who posted a 16th in the Dubai Desert Classic but I don’t think I can leave him out given Betfair’s standout 150/1 with 7 places.


Summary of bets

Honda Classic

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – 1pt ew 50/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Billy Horschel – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)

Sung-hoon Kang – 0.75pt ew @ 125/1 (Skybet)

Harold Varner III – 0.75 pt ew @ 100/1 (Skybet)

Oman Open

Mathieu Pavon – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Zander Lombard – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

George Coetzee – 0.75pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Ashun Wu – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)

Romain Wattel – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 (Betfair)

 

Weekly points advised = 13.5 pts

 

@theGreek82

Advertisements

WGC Mexico Championship – Betting Preview

A poor week last week with no returns and only Luke List really threatening to do anything after Kennedy went out in the 2nd round of the knock-out stage in Perth. List putted atrociously though and I counted 9 putts inside 7ft that he missed across the 4 rounds. I don’t think I’ll be backing him again in a hurry.

2019 points advised = 78.5

2019 points returned = 37.5


WGC Mexico

The first WGC of the season heads down to Mexico for the 3rd edition of this at Chapultepec, Nauculpan. Much like the first two years several of the world’s best have decided to give it a miss but we still have a very strong field of 72 to get stuck into. Both previous champions return with 2017 winner Dustin Johnson in average form by his standards but defending champion Mickelson returns in fine fettle having won at Pebble just two starts ago.

The 7330 yard, par 71 course was designed by two Scottish brothers, Willie and Alex Smith from Carnoustie, around the time when Scots were very much the talking point of US golf in the early 1900s. Donald Ross was at the fore front of that and he himself had links to Carnoustie with the first 3 club professionals at his East Lake design all hailing from the Angus town. The course certainly doesn’t look unlike some of Ross’ tree-lined courses in the US like East Lake and Sedgefield. Further course links include Crans which hosts the European Masters as it is at a similar altitude to the Mexico course. Woburn is another short tree-lined course that ties in with Crans while the Sauranja course in Malaysia which hosts the Maybank Championship is visually similar and has some cross-over form through a few players.

Stats wise Mickelson’s long game wasn’t exactly brilliant last year as he only ranked 60th in total driving and 25th in GIR but his short game was as strong as ever. He was 2nd in scrambling and 3rd in putting as he showed his love for slick poa annua surfaces. The 1st and 2nd ranked putters finished 2nd and 3rd respectively.  The year before DJ’s long game was a little better ranking 5th for GIR and 17th for total driving but his short game was also razor-sharp as he was 14th for scrambling and 5th in total putting.

Another thing of great interest is how important current form has been in both the Mexico events but also going back to Doral too. Four of the last six winners had already won that season while Mickelson came in with form figures of 5-2-6 last year and in 2015 DJ had finished 2nd at Riviera and 4th at Pebble Beach. I wouldn’t be expecting anyone to find their game from nowhere this week.

Given that strong cases can be made for the top 10 or so in the betting and they are all trading low enough I’m happier to chase the place money this week. It can almost be a guessing game which one of the elite are going to turn up on any given week and guessing at odds of 12/1 isn’t a lot of fun especially with so many of them having played a lot of golf already in California. In both editions so far we have seen some lesser names on the leaderboard and with that in mind I’ve got three outsiders at bigger odds. I’ve focussed on 3 main things, decent current form, a liking for tree-lined layouts and an excellent short game (be it scrambling or putting but preferably both!)

First up is Hao-Tong Li who has been playing at a seriously high level for some 6 months now. Going back to October his world-wide form reads 2-12-MC-30-5-2-11-9-5 and that missed cut was returning from an 8 week Christmas break. The 11th was at the previous WGC in Shanghai and he has the perfect game for championship layouts. He is a sneaky long driver and regularly gets it out past the 300 yard mark off the tee. When playing well his approaches are usually quite reliable but lately it has been his short game that has been on fire. On his last start in Saudi he ranked 1st in scrambling and 1st in putting finding only Dustin Johnson too good and beating Bryson by 6. He looks as assured holing out from inside 8ft as anyone in the game and that confidence will help him on these slick poa annua greens. We saw last week at Riviera the carnage that can ensue with fast, undulating poa annua greens and I think his flat stick prowess can help him go well this week. He only managed 63rd last year but a second look will be a big plus point for him. Li also has some form at a key course in Malaysia which hosts the Maybank Championship. Sharma won there last year and Zanotti the year before and they both would finish top 10 here in Mexico a few weeks later. Li was 5th there in 2017 on the tree-lined course with fiddly greens. Li looks comfortable in these elite fields and I think he is one to watch in the big events this year. I’m having an each way bet at 66/1 and also top 20 @ 5/2.

Shane Lowry’s Abu Dhabi win has been quickly forgotten about if the market is anything to go by. Lowry missed the cut at Pebble since then but he is a player who likes to enjoy himself and while he spent the first few weeks of the year grinding hard on his game, I’m sure he would have enjoyed celebrating his win too. I’d expect him to arrive in Mexico fully refocussed though and looking to join an elite group of just 14 players to have won multiple WGCs. It was his putting that he hadn’t been happy with as it had been letting him down the last couple of years. But the hard work paid off as he ranked 3rd on the greens in Abu Dhabi. His long game has been as solid as ever and he has plenty form on narrow tree-lined courses. Lowry should really have won at Wentworth already (six Top 15s), he was 2nd at Woburn while the highlight of his career was at Firestone when he won the WGC Bridgestone. He looks a very solid each way bet at 80/1.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat showed his suitability to the course last year when he finished 5th and I don’t see any good reason why he can’t have a good week again. The Thai is one of those erratic drivers who seems to be helped by playing on tree-lined fairways. It seems to either help him from a visual point of view or temper his aggressive play but either way a lot of his best results have come on courses with difficult driving lines. He was 5th at Woburn in 2015 and also 5th at Wentworth. He led the field for scrambling here last year and while he comes in off 3 missed cuts from his last 4 I think he will be more comfortable away from mainland U.S. He has been struggling to find his feet so far on the PGA Tour as he looks to try to gain his full PGA Tour card but he hasn’t played too much in California to date so I’m not overly worried by that. He finished his 2018 season well with a 4th in the elite field WGC HSBC and then 9th at the DP World Tour Championship. Looks a little over priced considering 4 of the top 10 in 2017 returned to record another top 10 last year, suggesting that having played here before might be a big advantage.

Nothing in Puerto Rico but I thought Amy Yang looked a little bit over priced (28/1) in the Honda LPGA Thailand. Yang loves the course and already at 29 years old she boasts course form of 14-1-3-1-45-12-4-7-10. She hasn’t missed a cut since June and with a lot of the bigger names not fully wound up yet this is a good chance for her to get her 4th LPGA win at a course she excels on.


Summary of bets

WGC Mexico

Hao-Tong Li – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 and 2pts Top 20 @ 5/2

Shane Lowry – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 and 2pts Top 20 @ 5/2

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 and 2pts Top 20 @ 11/2

(all 1/5 odds 6 places general)

Honda LPGA Thailand

Amy Yang – 1pt ew @ 28/1 (1/4 odds 5 places)

 

Weekly points advised = 12

 

@theGreek82

 

Genesis Open and World Super 6 Perth – Betting Preview

Si Woo Kim returned the place money at 125/1 last week and for a little while on Sunday he looked like he had a chance to go even better. But he missed a couple of shortish putts at key moments even if he did play very well on the whole. I’ll be keeping an eye on his odds each week in 2019 as I think his inconsistency doesn’t quite warrant his big odds a lot of the time. He is a supremely talented golfer and 125/1 last week was an absolute steal.

Terry Pilkadaris came up just short of the Top 20 in Australia while Fox was blown off course in the high winds on Saturday. Kim made for a profitable week though and the results look like this now for 2019.

Points advised = 66.5pts

Points returned = 37.5pts


Genesis Open

The next stop in California is the Riviera Country Club and with it perhaps the most glamorous stop on the PGA Tour. In its heyday it welcomed some of the biggest names in Hollywood as members so it’s perhaps a fitting stop to get the year properly underway after pro-ams and birdie-fests cluttering the schedule somewhat up to now.

With the course having been in play for some sort of event since 1973 we have plenty of course form to look at and indeed there is a bit of template appearing for the sort of golfer who wins here. In recent times they have been big hitters with solid iron games and an imaginative short game.

The course sits on an area of land with some huge elevation changes and this makes distance control with the irons crucial. There are raised greens and elevated tiers and perhaps more shots that have an elevation change than don’t. Riviera is heavily tree-lined and features lush green rough and in that respect it resembles both Augusta National and Glen Abbey GC.

While some of the tee-shots are reasonably tight and the fairways on the narrow side, driving accuracy hasn’t been of much importance recently. The bombers still wield driver and take their chances from the rough. The logic being that both the fairways and greens are hard enough to hit anyway that they might as well get the ball as near to the green as possible and then worry about their approach shot after that. It has brought plenty success to Bubba Watson who has won here in 2014, 2016 and 2018. Dustin Johnson won in 2017 and driving distance has become more and more crucial at Riviera. With less wedges in play for the majority than the short courses last week, proximity figures from 175-200 yards are the crucial ones to look at this week in terms of approaches. Bubba ranked 9th, 5th and 15th in scoring relative to par from this range during the year of his win. More surprising perhaps is another stat that Bubba has ranked highly in over the last 5 years is approach putt performance. It is a fairly common opinion that Bubba isn’t a good putter but there many different sorts of putting and at Riviera lag putting is crucial with slick, sloping greens. Bubba is a superb lag putter and has ranked T8, T1, T3, T24 and T1 in approach putts the last 5 years. These two stats are worth a look at this week together with the more general driving distance, GIR and scrambling.

Louis Oosthuizen surely can’t be left out by value seekers this week. The world no. 25 is 50/1 with several firms and notably with 8 places at Skybet. Louis doesn’t have the best of form here with a 62nd and a MC but his current form is brilliant and Riviera really should suit his game given he is a bit of an Augusta specialist these days. Very few players hit more greens in regulation than Louis and his distance control is consistently on point. He is also a fantastic scrambler with the touch required for chipping out of thick rough on to slick greens. The final clincher that makes him look a great bet is the kikuyu fairways and poa annua greens. Louis is familiar with kikuyu grass as it is very popular in South Africa (where he has 8 wins) while he has shown a liking for poa annua in several US Open events namely his Chambers Bay runner-up finish. I’m a big fan of Louis so I seldom need to think twice about backing him at silly prices. The one downside is that he has never won in the US but that really can’t go on forever. This year Oosty leads the Tour in GIR and scrambling while he is 4th in driving accuracy and plenty long enough to contend so his game looks in ideal shape to tackle this layout. The 50/1 looks a great bet.

Cameron Smith was at the very top of my list last week at Pebble but for some strange reason he didn’t play. I thought the test would have been ideal for him however Riviera certainly suited him last year when he was 5th and he has plenty of the tools required to win here too. As is the case with most Aussie golfers he has an excellent short game but numbers wise his long game has improved again this season so far. Smith is 5th in strokes gained: approaches and that is a huge improvement on his first two years (103rd in 2018 and 83rd in 2017). Similar improvement can be seen in his bare numbers for putting with his current rank of 16th in strokes gained: putting a big leap from 83rd and 84th in his first two years. Given how he played here last year it’s not ridiculous to think he can win given the level he has taken his game over the last 3 months. Confidence will be oozing after his successful defence of the Australian PGA and I’m expecting his strong form to continue.

Charley Hoffman is a little bit out of form so his odds are very generous this week but I’m convinced this is a course that he can thrive on so I’m including him to very small stakes. Hoffman has excelled at Augusta the last few years to the point where there can’t be many golfers in history to boast a more solid record. Hoffman has only played there 5 times and has form figures of 12-22-29-9-27. That tells me he should love it here and while his form isn’t quite as good he hasn’t missed a Riviera cut in his last 6 visits; 41-4-63-30-12-68. He finished 20th at TPC Scottsdale two weeks ago where he was 9th in the all-round ranking so things aren’t too bad with his game. Hoffman is another who wouldn’t be considered a strong putter but he lags the ball beautifully from distance on quick greens and this year he sits 2nd in approach putt performance. I think his price is too big considering he is often a slow starter in the year and some of the courses won’t have suited him so far. Riviera is far more in line with what he needs and he looks worth a smallish play with Skybet’s standout price and 8 places.

Luke List is an L.A. resident these days and has both the required power and touch to go well around Riviera. His record to date is solid enough going 26-MC-20 the last three years. It’s been a patchy start to the year for List as he has had two 4th place finishes but also three MCs. In truth there isn’t that much sound reasoning for the bet but I just have a hunch that List could win here. He is 52nd in strokes gained: approaches, 28th in GIR and 39th in approach putt performance while he is normally a very competent scrambler. Like many he pitches the ball better out of proper rough than he does tightly mown grass so the lush kikuyu should help his confidence around the greens. Worth a go at 100/1.


Perth World Super 6

This slightly novelty event sees three days of stroke-play around Lake Karrinyup with a regular two round cut and a further cut after Saturday leaving the top 24 players to play 6 hole knockout match play on the Sunday. Of those 24 the top 8 will be seeded and receive a bye into the last 16 with the other 16 playing off to join them.

This event isn’t for everyone but I must admit I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both editions so far. The course is superb and requires the perfect blend of strategy, power and touch. I think that makes it a brilliant layout for match-play and the 18th hole in particular has served up some great drama already in the event’s short life. It is one of my favourite holes on the European Tour and I would urge people to watch the coverage where many matches will be decided. The hole is a fairly innocuous 444 yard par 4 at first look but on the tee they are faced with a tree-lined, uphill, dog leg left drive whereby the braver they are with their shot shape the shorter iron they will have in for their approach. It is an approach where loft is required into a fast, raised green with several tiers and 4 huge bunkers. Aphibarnrat gave the field a lesson in clutch scrambling from tight lies last year on his way to victory, particularly at this hole which sees much of the drama. He played so many clutch wedge shots, pitches and putts and the less experienced players he faced had no answer even in the short 6 holes format.

While obviously they have to be in form in order to make the top 24 after 3 rounds of stroke play, I’d make scrambling possibly the most important attribute during the match play as plenty of greens will be missed on the Sunday when the course will be playing its most firm. Hitting a high number of greens through the first three days is probably the best angle for finding a player who will make that top 24. Previous positive experience of match play can only be a good thing as will an affinity for links style golf.

Many look at match play as a random format where anyone can win over 18 holes so there is an assumption that 6 holes is even more of a crap shoot. But both winners to date have been more than obvious. 2017 winner Rumford hails from Perth originally and has a brilliant short game while Aphibarnrat was the 2nd favourite and one of the best players in the field. While it isn’t an event to go silly stake-wise, the winner can certainly be found by applying some of the above criteria.

Gavin Moynihan first came on my radar when he won the Golf Sixes alongside Paul Dunne last year and despite being the less experienced he actually played considerably better than Dunne. The fact he played so well in a novelty 6 hole match play event naturally suggests he might go well here. He was brought up on hard and fast links courses and therefore I think he will be quite suited to Australian golf. We saw just last week how comfortable Scot David Law was when he got his first ET win from nowhere on just his 17th start. Moynihan acclimatised nicely down under with a 27th place last week and that was his first start of the season. Prior to two events in South Africa before Christmas he was in fine form on the ET with 8th and 11th place finishes. He missed the cut here last year shooting 73-77 but that was his first trip to Aus and at least he has played the course before.

Moynihan played in two Walker Cups as an amateur winning 2 points from 4 in both events. His only defeats were to now established PGA Tour players Dechambeau, Thomas and Rodgers. In an event where you could make a case for more than half the field I think he rates a decent bet at 125/1 even if it is a speculative one.

Brad Kennedy is the stand-out course and current form pick this week so he is perhaps quite obvious and also not a great price. But you could say that about plenty in this field! Kennedy ranked 1st in scrambling last week and 3rd in the all-round ranking n his way to a runner-up finish in Melbourne last week. He came 5th here last year ranking 1st in ball-striking and he will be relishing his return. Kennedy plays most of his golf on the Japanese Tour so it’s a step below even this standard but last week showed lots of promise and he hasn’t missed a cut since May. The 33/1 maybe isn’t to everyone’s taste but I really like his chances this week.

Skybet are offering 6 places on the event which could give an even better run for your money as the losing players in the knock-out all play-off to receive their own finishing spot. So what might be a dead rubber on paper could turn into an exciting match for some punters.

I’m not wanting to tip another player here but I noticed a brilliant odds boost on Skybet today regarding the Top 24 stroke-play. They are offering 6/1 about Tom Lewis and Paul Dunne making the Top 24 after Saturday. Lewis is swinging better than perhaps anyone on the whole European Tour and should be suited to the course while Paul Dunne scrambles and putts as well as anyone so he should also go well providing he can keep the erratic drives and big numbers off the card. Ultimately they are better than most of this lot and the 6/1 looks very generous where they will have 54 holes to assert their authority.


Summary of bets

Genesis Open

Louis Oosthuizen – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Cameron Smith – 1pt ew @ 35/1

Charlie Hoffman – 0.50pt ew @ 150/1

Luke List – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

Perth Super 6

Gareth Moynihan – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 6 places) and 1pt Top 24 @ 5/1

Brad Kennedy – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Tom Lewis and Paul Dunne both to make the knockout stage – 2pts @ 6/1

 

Weekly points advised = 12pts

Pebble Beach Pro-Am and ISPS Handa Vic Open – Betting Preview

Matt Kuchar delivered the each way money, as he so often does, but despite a poor last round it could have been even better. As Fowler, Thomas and Grace faltered, Kuch found himself in the middle of the 15th fairway with a good chance of giving himself an eagle look when only two shots behind. He gave a nod to the Kuchar of old though as he wildly hooked the ball into the water with his normally trusty hybrid.

Over in Saudi Aaron Rai got himself into the Top 20 on the front 9 on Sunday but fell to bits on the back 9.

Two good interesting events this week with this year’s US Open venue Pebble Beach getting a warm up and the European Tour heads Down Under for a couple of weeks.

2019 pts advised = 53.50

2019 pts returned = 18pts


Pebble Beach Pro-Am

It’s back to California for the PGA Tour and one of the most scenic events of the year. It’s not for everyone though as it’s another 6 hour pro-am slog. Things could be even slower this year with some poor weather expected.

The challenge this week will be hitting a high number of greens and scrambling well when they are missed. The greens on the Pebble Beach course are some of the smaller they will face on Tour but with the amount of rain they have had in the last week holding them will be easier than usual. Pebble will probably play as close to target golf as it ever will and aggressive, accurate wedge play will be required this week. With the average winning score since 2009 being -17, it can become somewhat of a birdie-fest anyway but with slower, softer greens the winner might just scare -30 with the easy pro-am flags in play.

All three courses in play this week are short enough and without US Open style rough, driving isn’t usually too important. However with the course being so soft, driving distance may be a little more important than in a normal year. The general stats that I focus on each year at Pebble are GIR, scrambling and birdie average. Looking more closely though, the winners usually rank highly in proximity to the hole from 125-150 yards and also scoring relative to par from that range. You really need a player who is capable of getting the ball close to the flag here and can make enough of the 10-20 footers to post 4 rounds in the 60s. Previous form counts for a lot in this event as does form at other short, seaside courses.

Andrew Putnam was all the rage in the first few events of the year but two events later he is out to a very backable price of 80/1. The fact he has missed both cuts here probably helped to elevate that price but I very much like his chances here given the skillset he has shown over the last 6 months. Putnam is 1st in scoring relative to par (RTP) from 100-125 yards, 7th from 125-150 yards, 19th in birdie average and 2nd in strokes gained: putting. From these stats alone Putnam should have an excellent chance but he was also on a brilliant run of form prior to last week’s missed cut and his figures dating back to his first PGA Tour win in July read; 34-2-14-17-4-29-50-16-49-78-59-1. Putnam ranks 37th in GIR and 35th in scrambling which should also be of use.

One further bonus is that he went to University in California further down the coast in L.A. Hopefully that means he is comfortable on poa annua and maybe knows the courses better than his 2 MCs suggest. The fact he has really stepped up his game this season takes the focus off those missed cuts and the world number 47 rates an excellent ew bet.

Adam Hadwin is another in form golfer whose odds have been pushed back out again following a 43rd place finish in Phoenix. The 50/1 still available seems quite high given that on his previous start he was runner-up in the Desert Classic. Hadwin has only played here once and he finished 39th but he has a very good record in California. He ranks 3rd in scoring (RTP) from 125-150 yards, 45th in birdie average and 41st in one putt percentage. These short courses with an emphasis away from power should suit him better than Scottsdale last week and he is back at a very sporting each way price.

Si-Woo Kim also ranks very highly in some of the key stats and with his talent we don’t need to think twice about backing him at 125/1. Kim is 9th in scoring (RTP) on approaches from 100-125 yards and 27th in the same category from 125-150 yards. Add in his 17th in birdie average, 7th in one putt percentage and 34th in strokes gained: putting and we can see that a potential birdie-fest at Pebble should suit him. Both his PGA Tour wins to date have come on relatively short courses where wedge play is crucial and a consistent 4 days is required with the putter. He doesn’t have the best of course form yet sandwiching a 35th with two MCs but he’s so inconsistent you never know what you’re going to get so I’m not going to read too much into that. Instead I’m going to continue to back him at dismissive prices on courses that suit just in case the real Si-Woo turns up.

A couple of small speculative plays to finish. Corey Conners isn’t someone I knew too much about until this season but he has a runner-up and a 3rd place finish already at Sanderson Farms and the Sony Open respectively. That 3rd was just two starts ago so he interests me from a value point of view but again he popped up in some key statistical areas. He sits 7th in GIR, 2nd in proximity to the hole and 10th in scoring (RTP) from 125-150 yards. He’s not the best of putters but I’m hoping the lack of bite in them might help him out. There won’t be too many firing the short irons closer so he should get plenty of chances to warm the putter up.

I tipped Freddie Jacobson here in 2016 when he went on to finish 4th at 90/1. He’s had his fair share of trouble since then, most notably thumb surgery and family illness, but he has returned for 2019 with around 15 events remaining on a medical extension. So I took notice when he opened with a 68 in Phoenix to sit inside the top 20. He would go on to make the cut and finish down in 70th but it was his first weekend golf on the PGA since April 2017. In recent years we have seen the likes of Vaughan Taylor and Ted Potter come from nowhere to win this with a brilliant putting week. If there’s one thing Jacobsen can do it is putt so he might just go well returning to an event where he has finished inside the top 10 on two of his last three starts. As a further positive he sits 20th in scoring (RTP) for approaches from 125-150 yards and 7th from under 125 yards so he should be able to score on these short courses. I’m having a small interest in the outright and also a top 20 bet with Bet 365’s favourable 20/1.


Vic Open

The PGA Tour of Australasia’s regular event the Vic Open has become a European Tour event this year so the first stop down under is at a new venue. There are two courses in play to allow for the fact there is also a Ladies’ event being played at the same time. The courses are on the famous Melbourne Sandbelt and although they are a little different both will be running hard and fast and play very much like the courses we see each year when the ET pitches up. Usually those familiar with the test go well and perhaps play better than they should. The firm nature of the courses and the undulations make many of the courses play as links courses and fact that two of Australia’s best players, Greg Norman and Adam Scott, are both links experts isn’t a coincidence. Therefore I would advise anyone having a bet to look at both links golf records and form in Australia.

It’s probably no surprise to any regular reader that I’m tipping Ryan Fox again here but there is no getting away from him after last week’s 6th place . The courses are short links style layouts that will play firm and fast. That has been the hallmark of his game over the last two European Tour summers as he has destroyed several British links courses by wielding driver on practically every par 4 and par 5 in sight. Apart from the odd occasion where he would find some serious trouble, his imaginative wedge game helped him to record birdie after birdie. It’s a game plan that will surely see him win sooner rather than later on a links course and last week he did extremely well to finish 6th despite ranking 36th for putting. A return to the southern hemisphere and a very weak field could be the perfect opportunity for Fox. His odds may look short enough but he is an immensely talented player and I think he is going places that the bulk of this field aren’t. He also has some experience of the courses having played there 3 times when coming up through the ranks. You would expect several of the young Aussie/Kiwis playing on the European Tour to really fancy their chances but he makes the most appeal to me in a tough looking betting heat.

Just the one additional bet and it’s a bit of an outsider in Aussie veteran Terry Pilkadaris. Every time the Tour heads down under we see older local players playing well as they are so used to the style of golf required in the Melbourne Sandbelt. Pilkadaris looks massively over priced here considering he finished 4th the last time he played here in 2014. He missed his last cut of the year in Indonesia and his first start of 2019 in Singapore but prior to that he recorded two top 20s in the Australian PGA and the Australian Open. On that last Aus start he ranked 4th for driving accuracy, 3rd in GIR and 6th in scrambling. His comfort levels are high on home soil and while it’s a lot to ask I think we are getting a good price here.


Summary of bets

Pebble Beach

Andrew Putnam – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Adam Hadwin – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Si-Woo Kim – 0.75pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Corey Connners – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Freddie Jacobson – 0.25pt ew @ 500/1 (1/5 odds 8 places) and 0.5pt Top 20 @ 20/1
Vic Open

Ryan Fox – 2pts ew @ 16/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Paddy Power)

Terry Pilkadaris – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 7 places general) and 1pt Top 20 @ 7/1

 

Weekly points = 13

 

@theGreek82