Desert Classic and Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship – Betting preview

Spieth missed the cut last week and I knew it was a risk although his 2nd round 66 suggested that may have found something along the way. It was a value bet though if nothing else and I’ll always struggle not to back him at such a price in what proved to be a very weak field indeed. Thompson fared a lot better and actually found himself up as high as 4th during his front 9 on Friday. As is the norm though when backing him he slowly forgot how to play golf and had a stinker over the weekend.

The European Tour returns this week in Abu Dhabi while the PGA Tour heads to the West coast to begin its California swing.

Desert Classic

It’s yet another name change for what was named the CareerBuilder Challenge last year and we now have the Desert Classic which isn’t to be confused with next week’s European Tour event the Dubai Desert Classic. While the name has changed the courses remain the same 3 that have been in play since the 2016 renewal; PGA West Stadium, PGA West and La Quinta.

The event is a pro-am format where everyone plays each course once before a cut takes place prior to a final round at PGA West Stadium. It’s a Pete Dye designed course and is the toughest of the 3 although still fairly low scoring. It’s very much a birdie fest each year with conditions rather soft and easy for the amateurs in the field. Various different types of players have found success here as the short nature of the courses means that everyone can compete. Due to that competitive nature we see a lot of unfashionable plodder types take part as they know they can contend with a good putting week.

It’s pretty much that simple, keep the ball in play and then attack as many flags as possible. Classic PGA Tour target golf stuff. The winning score is always in excess of -20 so anyone looking to contend will have to make a whole load of birdies.

I have backed Jamie Lovemark a couple of times here and I like his price of 125/1 having put him up at just 35/1 two years ago. Despite his often erratic driving there is something I like about him on short Pete Dye courses as they face here for two rounds. He was 6th here on his only visit with the current course rotation. On his second visit to Dye’s Sawgrass he finished 17th but closed 67-68-67 having opened with a 76. Lovemark was also runner-up  with team-mate Benny An around Dye’s TPC Louisiana in 2016. He had 5 top 20s last season with 3 of those coming on Pete Dye layouts. His iron play is generally better the more loft that he has and with his power off the tee he should be attacking most of these easy pro-am flags. He has looked like a future winner the last couple of seasons  and while he missed the cut last week I’m not overly concerned as his 17th at the Players also followed a MC so he can find his form quickly. The Hawaii missed cut was his first start since November and it means we get a very nice each way price.

Pat Perez used to be a golfer I didn’t take too seriously until he won a couple of times within a year in 2016/2017. I started paying more attention to him on shorter courses and it was very interesting to see him contend for a couple of rounds at Carnoustie last summer. I remember listening to post round interview in which he said he loved the set up as the baked fairways meant he could get the ball out there and was hitting a lot of wedges which suits his game. He also noted how the slower greens suited him as he felt he was a confident putter when he could give the ball a run at the hole. So I immediately noted him down for events like this, not even realising that he is a former event winner. He is also a runner-up at TPC Louisiana and has a top 20 at Sawgrass. The easy flags and slower greens in play here for the amateurs will be ideal for Perez as will the fact that the 3 courses are fairly short par 72s. Perez is also coming off a missed cut in Hawaii so again we get a very solid each way price of 80/1.

Charley Hoffman fits a similar mould to Perez but he is probably an even better player. Hoffman has a solid record in this event too and is also a former winner back in 2007. It hasn’t taken the bookies too long to forget how solid a player Hoffman is these days and I think he has to be backed at the 100-125/1 that is available. He has finished in the top 22 of 6 of the last 8 majors and has really taken his game to a new consistent level in that time. Things tailed off for him a little after the Open last year but he has had a decent break and will enjoy getting back to his native California. In fact the desert event is pretty much halfway between where he lives now and San Diego where he was born. Few will be as comfortable in this environment so lets just hope he has been working hard over the last 2 weeks and if he has he can make his price look very silly.

Abu Dhabi

The European Tour returns after it’s winter break and the first stop is the starting point of the Middle East Swing in Abu Dhabi. Normally we have three great events in a row from the area with form usually tying in nicely across all three. But this year the Qatar Masters has been moved back to March so it’s just the two in a row which doesn’t feel too much like a swing. The first point to note is that it’s a Wednesday start this week so that gives us one less day to prepare.

The Abu Dhabi Championship has been a staple on the Tour since 2006 and is always held at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, giving us plenty form to look at. It is form very much worth looking at too as 3 men account for 7 of the 13 events to date and the same names crop up on the leaderboard year after year. Tommy Fleetwood returns looking for a three-peat having won here in 2017 and 2018. The fairways are wide with plenty of water in play but generally the rough is playable, certainly for the longer hitters and that gives them a bit of an advantage on a course that already measures 7600 yards. Only the truly errant who find the water off the tee are punished and it sets up very much as a 2nd shot course. The layout is also quite exposed which sets up well for an attacking game and unless the wind blows we can expect the winning score to be somewhere around -20.

Statistically GIR has always been the best pointer in with the last 4 winners having an average GIR ranking for their win of just 6th. Unexpectedly they all scored highly in driving accuracy too averaging 7th. So while finding the fairway isn’t imperative it clearly helps to be playing from the fairways if you want to get close enough to the flag to make the required number of birdies.

The field is as strong as we have seen for some time on the European Tour with the event having been added to the Rolex Series this year. Dustin Johnson is in town as the 7/1 favourite and while he is suited to the event he doesn’t make too much appeal to me. With many of the players returning from their festive break the same can be said about most of the market leaders. With so much guesswork to do I’m far happier going after the juicier each way prices this week and with so many of the Tour’s big names playing there are plenty of those.

Big things have been expected from Thomas Detry for some time and having won the World Cup in November with Thomas Pieters I think the confidence gained from that will bring about his first European Tour title in 2019. There is no question that he is at his best on links style layouts as his excellent short game comes to the fore around hard, fast and undulating green complexes. If he can hold his form over I think this looks like the perfect place for Detry to get off the mark. He was 9th here last year on his debut with the highlight being a Saturday 64. The young Belgian has exactly the right combination of strong iron play and a silky touch that prospers in Abu Dhabi. This was evident throughout 2018 as he ranked 27th in GIR, 19th in strokes gained: putting and 28th in scrambling. With him having played so well in that World Cup win alongside Pieters I was a little surprised that he opened as big as 50/1. Hopefully readers took that after I tweeted on Monday but there is still a little bit around although 40/1 is probably still ok.

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of both Erik Van Rooyen and Ryan Fox and I’m determined not to miss out when they do get their win. I’m in profit on both however as generally the market misses them most of the time. Abu Dhabi Golf Club should very much suit them both.

Ryan Fox has played here twice and finished 19th on his debut in 2017 before a 31st last year. Fox’s game is all about hitting greens and he ranked 10th for GIR on Tour last year. That meant that more often than not when playing on a links style course he contended. The relatively wide fairways and lack of trees will help Fox off the tee as he tends to relax when he has an open view in front of him on the tee-box. If his putter behaves I’m hopeful he can improve on his two finishes to date.

Erik Van Rooyen makes his debut here this week but that didn’t stop him recording Top 10s at numerous venues last season in his rookie year. In fact it’s a season that the bookies seem to have ignored by pricing him up at 110/1 here. There haven’t been too many more consistent debut seasons in Europe in recent times which saw him finish 22nd in stroke average and 38th on the Race To Dubai. He also ranked 12th in GIR and I think he will take to this ball-strikers course. He showed his enjoyment of links golf when he contended for 3 rounds at Carnoustie last summer and with the emphasis here on approaches the South African will surely be relishing a test that also includes grainy greens similar to back home. Looks an excellent each way price.

I wasn’t sure whether to back Thomas Pieters as you never really know what you’re going to get with him. But his form figures here are excellent and there is every chance that his World Cup win has had a good effect on him as well as Detry. The 25/1 looks very fair and I’ll throw him in as a bit of a saver from the front of the market.


Summary of bets

Desert Classic

Jamie Lovemark – 0.75pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)

Pat Perez – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Charley Hoffman – 0.75pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Skybet)

Abu Dhabi Championship

Thomas Detry – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Unibet/888)

Ryan Fox – 0.75pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Skybet)

Erik Van Rooyen – 0.75pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Skybet)

Thomas Pieters – 1pt ew @ 22/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Paddy Power)


Weekly points = 11.5pts



Sony Open – Some bets

Patrick Reed had a stinker last week but I didn’t really see enough to know why. Judging by the scorecard just too many mistakes as he made a lot of bogeys across the 4 days. No regrets with the bet though as he opened at a proper stand out price, even if the 16/1 he went off was about right.

I might try and start posting blog bets on Twitter as I’m unlikely to manage to get a preview up before Tuesday nights. Although the main thing is people getting the odds rather than the price that I’m recording.

The PGA Tour stays in Hawaii this week with the Sony Open from Waialae GC. The test is an altogether different one even if there have been plenty players to hold their form during the Hawaii fortnight.

The one I can’t get away from is Jordan Spieth at 18/1 in this field. I expect a big 2019 from him and surely at some point he gets back into his groove on the putting green. At this time of year it can be a bit of a guessing game anyway. Therefore I’m happy to assume he has been working hard over the festive period after his first disappointing year on Tour. If he has then I think we are at least getting some potential value, if that makes any sense whatsoever! If he has been grinding hard and starts well then the bookies won’t take long to remember how good he is and he will be appropriately cut like the 3-time major winner he is. Spieth has played here 3 times with a missed cut in 2014 preceding a 3rd and an 18th the last 2 years. On both the most recent efforts he led the field in GIR. It’s not hard for me to imagine him flying out of the blocks with a good putting week. If he can marry those together then at just 7000 yards this is a course that suits Spieth down to the ground.

With Reed performing so poorly last week I’m going to take an outisder as well incase Spieth blows out.

Something seems to have gone wrong with my WordPress account and not really sure what. It’s removed a lot of text and maybe reverted back to a previous draft. The second bet was Michael Thompson ew at 350/1 and also 1pt Top 20 @ 15/2. I had lots of great reasoning I’m sure but not going to type it out again!

Summary of bets

Sony Open

Jordan Spieth 2pts ew @ 16/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Michael Thompson – 0.5pt ew @ 350/1 (1/5 odds 6 places) and 1pt Top 20 @ 15/2


Weekly pts = 6pts


Tournament of Champions -Bets

Just the one bet here and not much of a write up I’m afraid. Patrick Reed opened at 25/1 just before Christmas and it was no surprise that he was quickly slashed into a general 16/1 (hopefully Twitter followers noticed this and took advantage). It’s a price that is still perfectly fair though for a player of his talents and suitability to the course. The wide fairways and big greens play right into Reed’s hands. He can be a little wild off the tee but Kapalua allows him to hit his big slinging draw off the tee and if it doesn’t quite move as much as he needs he is still in the fairway. The big greens allow similar with his approaches and his creativity means he can relax and play his game. With a short game as good as anyone you can see why he has form figures of 6-2-1-16 around a course that is tailor-made for him. I’d have probably played him as low as 14/1 so 16/1 looks absolutely fine. It was remarkable in 2018 just how many times popular players would go off at far too low a price whereas “bad guys” like Reed would always be too high. McIlroy opened at 8/1 for this on his debut at the course while playing the worst golf of his career and Reed opened at 25/1 coming off the back of a career year and as a course winner. This will happen several times throughout 2019 and is worth keeping an eye on. McIlroy, Fowler and Fleetwood are forever too short a price and while maybe laying players isn’t everyone’s cup of tea we can use their odds as a comparison to potentially find value elsewhere.

The 25/1 was truly an early Christmas but I think there is every chance the 16/1 can give us a great start to the year all the same. I’m going 2pts ew at the general 16/1 with 4 places. He is also still around 19.0 on the exchange.

Tournament of Champions

Patrick Reed – 2pts ew @ 16/1


Also advised for 2019 is 2pts on 16 ew major four folds.

Festive Greetings and a quick 2018 recap

I’d like to take this chance to thank everyone who has read my blog throughout 2018 and hopefully you managed to enjoy a few winners along the way. I know from when I started out that perhaps the best way to finding winners in golf tournaments is to read as many different previews as you can and absorb as much information as you can with regards to how others analyse each event and indeed each golfer. So even if you aren’t following the bets I’ve broken some of the results down so that people can see which areas I ight be doing better in.

Whether I’d have done this if I didn’t make it back into profit or not I don’t know, but I think it’s important to keep an accurate account of your results at all times. I know there are plenty in sports “tipping” that don’t but it’s only fair to those that you expect to take your advice. The 2018 results look like this;

2018 pts advised = 508.50

2018 pts returns = 519.74

Profit = 11.24 pts

ROI = 2.21%


Total bets = 297

Outright wins = 6

(Odds of 66/1, 50/1, 70/1, 150/1, 12/1, 25/1)

Total each way place wins = 21

Total place only wins = 6 (from 37 bets placed – 55pts advised, 56.42 returned)

Average points per bet = 1.71

Average odds of winning outrights = 63.17

Average stakes on winning outrights = 0.71pt ew


There probably isn’t as much to take from that as I’d hoped but the one thing I have noticed is that I probably need to be a little more confident when I fancy someone at bigger odds. Only having 0.71pts each way on the winners has probably diluted the returns this year. Maybe I have to review my staking plans in 2019 with a view to maximising profits.

2019 looks to be a very exciting year given the large number of elite level golfers that threw their cap in the ring in 2018. The major venues look as good as any year I remember with the US Open heading to the iconic Pebble Beach, The Open leaving mainland UK for the first time at the brilliant Royal Portrush and the US PGA making its first May appearance at the brutal Bethpage Black course.

With all that to look forward to I’m going to whet the appetite a little with my first advised bet of 2019 and have 16 x 0.0625pt ew cross folds across the 4 majors with 2 picks in each. These are as much a piece of fun as anything and will only total 2pts yet they can get very exciting if you make it past Augusta with the winner!

Masters – Jon Rahm (18/1) and Jordan Spieth (11/1)

US PGA – Brooks Koepka (14/1) and Patrick Reed (40/1)

US Open – Dustin Johnson (11/1) and Jason Day (20/1)

The Open – Rickie Fowler (18/1) and Eddie Pepperell (100/1)


Ranging from 41,039/1 to 1,652,258/1. All Skybet and all 1/4 odds 5 places. 16 x 0.0625pts ew = 2pts total.


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

globe tree




Alfred Dunhill Championship and Indonesian Masters – A few bets

A poor week last week with almost everyone proving a disappointment. Van Zyl again played well in spells but Champ and Kisner had an absolute shocker in the Shootout. Stakes were returned on Van Rooyen as he withdrew before the first tee on Thursday morning.

I was going to leave it this week as I was low on time but then I noticed that the blog was back in the negative by 5pts for 2018. So while I haven’t managed a full preview for either event, I have a couple of bets in a (desperate!?) attempt to get back in to the black for the year.

2018 pts advised =- 500.50

2018 pts returned = 495.74

ROI = -0.95%

Alfred Dunhill Championship

Louis and Charl head the betting here after winning and finishing 3rd last week respectively. Seems perfectly fair and I’d expect one of them to win, with preference probably for Schwartzel given his unrivalled course form (3 wins and several other top 10s). I think Louis will probably have peaked last week and having finally won the South African Open I’m sure he will be on auto-pilot this week. The reverse forecast is more than likely to give you a run through the weekend though and he played some excellent golf last week and they are a class above here.

David Drysdale looks a little over priced here given his course form. His results at Leopard Creek read 11-8-6-11-25-mc-8-mc-29-28-25. He withdrew last week after an opening 73 on the easy layout and then a double bogey on the 3rd hole of his 2nd round. I can’t find any information on his injury so I’m going to assume he was just saving himself for Leopard Creek. I’ll have a very small play each way on the outright as we know he has struggled to win his whole career. I’m also going to have a bet on a Top 20 finish, something that he has managed on his last 4 visits. I’m staking this with a view to finishing the year in profit should he oblige.

Indonesian Masters

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson should really have this covered between them given the drop in class to the next best player. I did consider backing them both combined at 2.1 but there are probably just about enough young, unexposed talents in the field to put me off. I’d expect it to give you a run for your money all week at the absolute worst but I’m not going to put it up given it’s such a short price. I’m surprised it’s not odds on to be honest but the unknown potential in the field maybe make it just about right.

Instead I’m going to have a rock-solid each way double on Rose and Schwartzel. Rose has won on his only appearance at the course and Schwartzel has placed 9 times from 14 at Leopard Creek. If they both place then we still double our money taking 1/4 odds and 5 places with the best prices, 7/4 and 15/2 respectively. The win portion is 179/8 or 23.38 decimal.

Happy holidays to all readers and I’ll be back for the Tournament of Champions in the New Year. Hopefully we can find an early Christmas present in the meantime…..come on David!

Summary of bets

Alfred Dunhill Championship

David Drysdale – 0.5pts ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

David Drysdale – 3pts Top 20 @ 7/2

Other bets

Justin Rose and Charl Schwartzel – 2pts ew double @ 4.13 place and 23.38 win



Weekly pts advised = 8pts



QBE Shootout and South Africa Open – Betting Preview

Jaco Van Zyl made his odds of 80/1 look very silly on Thursday morning and when he had the lead I thought we would be in for a contending performance but either his wrist flared up or his rustiness kicked in as his Friday and Saturday rounds took him completely out of the reckoning. Sordet got agonisingly close to a place as he finished 11th but I was still happy with the bet as I think he was over priced given his form and knowledge of the course.

Woodland did the opposite to Van Zyl in the Bahamas and improved through Friday and Saturday after a poor start. But after getting himself into the places prior to the final round he played very poorly on Sunday to fall down the leaderboard. So there were no returns for the week and in order to attempt to stay in profit I might add a couple of more solid place bets this week. Just the two events this week with another novelty team event in the US, the QBE Shootout while a mammoth field (200+) takes to the Sunshine Tour in the South African Open.

2018 pts advised = 491.50

2018 pts returned = 495.74

ROI = 0.86%

QBE Shootout

This was formerly known as the Franklin Templeton Shootout and has been an end of a season, unofficial event for quite some time with the first event taking place as far back as 1989. The host course is Tiburon GC in Naples, Florida and the field is only made up of twelve 2-man teams. Several of the players are repeat offenders lining up every year for an enjoyable, laid back birdie fest. Steve Stricker, Matt Kuchar, Harris English and Sean O’Hair have all had plenty of success in the event. It’s not an event that I would normally get too involved in but without any bigger events this week I’ve had a look and have found an angle that has given me two bets.

The course was designed by Greg Norman so I had a look at results at his two other regular stops on the schedule; TPC San Antonio (Valero Texas Open) and El Cameleon GC (Mayakoba/OHL Classic). The results were interesting and there seems to be quite a strong correlation with several of the same names popping up. Kuchar and English have won here twice and finished second twice and both men are Mayakoba winners. Charley Hoffman and Sean O’Hair are two with good records here and TPC San Antonio and there are several others.

Kevin Kisner

Cameron Champ finished 10th at the Mayakoba after contending again two weeks after his win. He is yet to play TPC San Antonio but as both courses seem to reward long and straight driving, I’m sure he will take to it in April. The recipe for success is very much solid ball-striking with a red-hot putter. Last year Stricker and O’ Hair combined for a 57 in the first round scramble format and if you don’t go low you may as well go home! Champ’s putting has been immense so far in the 2019 season so he will enjoy the low-scoring nature while he was an amateur as recently as 2017, which means he will have plenty of recent experience playing team golf. Kevin Kisner has a very solid record playing on the South-east coast and he has experience of the course too having teed it up the last two years. He is also a deadly putter, especially on bermuda greens. Playing with the powerful Champ, Kisner will be able to put his accurate short to mid-irons to better use around here than he might playing off his own drives. Two of the three rounds will involve moving to the best tee-shot and I think that makes this combination potentially very useful indeed. Given Champ’s recent form they aren’t much of a price but we need to remember this is only a 12-runner event. I’ll play them win only I think in the hope they contend and then I can look at laying stakes back rather than betting each way.

Andrew Landry won around TPC San Antonio for the blog in April at a big price so doesn’t really owe me anything. Here he is playing with one of the best putters the PGA Tour has seen this century in Luke Donald. I’m going to overlook current form of the former World No. 1 and instead have a little nibble on one of the rank outsiders. Their combined lack of length might just do for them here in a format that should in theory reward aggressive power. However Steve Stricker won here last year while Kuchar is a two-time winner and Snedeker has also had his hands on the trophy. None of those three are the longest hitters and usually rely on short iron accuracy and putting, which this team should be all about. I’m going to have a small each way bet for an added interest.

South African Open

The Sunshine Tour have decided to merge the Joburg Open and the South Africa Open into one. As someone who enjoys all the events in SA I’m not really sure why they have done this. But the important thing for punters is the courses at Randpark GC have been used before in 1995, 2000 and last year in the Joburg Open. There is also some Sunshine Tour Pro-Am event form from 2009 and 2010. There are two courses, the Bushwillow and the Firethorn. Bushwillow is the shortest of the two and doesn’t appear too challenging while Firethorn is a bit tougher standing over 7500 yards. Both courses are fairly typical of the sorts we see in South Africa with tree-lined yet wide fairways and difficult green complexes and well placed bunkering. Despite last year’s low winning score of -23, it can be a challenging course and I’d expect them to have things set up a little tougher to keep the scoring below -20. The field consists of some 240 players across the two courses with loads of young South Africans dreaming of making their mark in their national Open.

Erik Van Rooyen is my main pick here, yet again, and having finished runner-up at the course last year it is rather an obvious one. He has been tipped several times this year on what has been a brilliantly consistent rookie season. He has racked up 5 top 10s, a major debut top 20 and has done almost everything but win. But we are in profit on EVR after two places despite putting him up 6 times (11pts advised with 25pts returned). His form has tailed off a little but his last 4 starts were very strong fields so a return home should sort that out. One of his two professional wins came in another Joburg suburb which tells us he is comfortable in the city. The low scoring nature might have been an issue for an average putter but it didn’t hold him back last year as he ranked 1st in GIR hitting a ridiculous 90%. When you are doing that there isn’t so much pressure on the putting and I don’t think I can leave him out here. Hopefully he can cap an impressive first year on Tour with that elusive win!

Jaco Van Zyl makes the team again despite those annoying middle rounds in Mauritius. He was coming off a decent lay-off and he still finished 23rd with an opening 65 and a closing 66. Only the winner fired two lower rounds in the week. It wasn’t enough to shift his odds though and we can get 80/1 again with a run under his belt. I’ve got to go in again despite everyone knowing how hard he is to get over the line. As we said last week though he is a 14-time winner in SA with 3 of those in the Joburg area. He also has some sneaky form at the course having finished 2nd and 6th in the two Pro-am events in 2009 and 2010. If it was just rust last week then 80/1 is a great price for a player of his talent in a fairly basic field even if it is a 240 man one.

I’m also going to have to give Clement Sordet another run out after playing so well last week. As well as finishing 11th he put up the 2nd best combined GIR and scrambling numbers in the field, ranking 3rd in GIR and 11th in scrambling. Missed the cut last year but is improving all the time and looks worth another go while he remains at a solid each way price of 80/1.

Herman Loubser is still just 19 and has very little experience of European Tour events. What he does have however is an abundance of experience of both courses this week. He won his first amateur title on the Bushwillow course in 2015 while he caddied for a friend who won a match play event at the Firethorn in 2016. He said himself that this gave him valuable knowledge of both courses and helped him feel comfortable there. We’re not done there yet though as he would go on to win the 2017 Sunshine Tour Q-School at Randpark to gain his full card. Unfortunately he would miss the cut here last year at the Joburg Open but that was his first ever European Tour start so he would have been nervous enough and yet he still shot an opening 68. I’m expecting a better performance this time around as he hasn’t missed a cut in his last 6 Sunshine Tour starts, returning 5 Top 25s. Whether he will prove good enough to nab a Top 20 I don’t know but I think the ew and top 20 odds could give us a little value given how well he knows the course. Very speculative but worth a go at the prices.

Summary of bets

QBE Shootout

Kisner + Champ = 3pts win @ 11/2

Landry + Donald – 0.75pt ew @ 28/1 (1/5 odds 4 places)
South Africa Open

Erik Van Rooyen – 1.25pts ew @ 28/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Jaco Van Zyl – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Skybet)

Clement Sordet – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Skybet)

Herman Loubser – 0.25pt ew @ 500/1 (1/5 odds 7 places) and 1pt Top 20 @ 20/1

Weekly pts advised = 11.5pts


Hero World Challenge, Mauritius Open and Australian PGA – Betting Preview

Aaron Rai brilliantly led from start to finish in Hong Kong to give us a much-needed 66/1 winner. I couldn’t quite believe how well he played particularly over the weekend with such a quality chasing pack. It was an impressive way to get his first win in such a famous event with Fitzpatrick, Fleetwood, Garcia and Cabrera-Bello all in behind and each one with no excuses.

Denmark nabbed a share of 4th place in the World Cup to give us a very small return and the blog is back in profit for 2018! But only just. It gives us some money to play with this week though as again we have multiple tournaments from around the world. Looking at how many of the fancied runners placed last week and how close the treble came to landing the each way money, I’ll be considering similar bets again this week.

2018 pts advised= 483.50

2018 pts returned = 495.73

ROI = 2.53%

Hero World Challenge

With the whole field of 18 men ranging in price from just 8/1 to 40/1 this has the feeling of being an absolute minefield where any of the players could legitimately win. Even the very head of the market is extremely tight with 8 golfers sitting between 8/1 and 12/1. The sensible outcome of a quick look at the event would be “no bet” but that’s not a whole lot of fun and probably not what anyone wants to hear! So we may as well have a deeper look and see if we can find anything of interest.

The Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas hosts for the 4th year in a row now so we have 3 years of event form to pour over. Unfortunately another negative is that there are no stats for any of those given it isn’t an official PGA Tour event. So all we can really go on is the type of player that has won here and what makes the course suitable, together with having a look to see if there is a trend with motivation for all the event winners. An end of season December jolly to the Bahamas doesn’t stand out as one of the most important events to be winning so plenty of the field will be enjoying it for exactly what it is. Several of the field however will be looking to lay down a marker for 2019 having had a poor year on Tour by their standards.

If we look at the 3 winners at Albany, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson, there appears to be some sort of link with TPC Scottsdale and the Phoenix Open. Matsuyama has won the Phoenix Open twice, Fowler lost in a play-off to Matsuyama and also finished runner-up in 2010 while Bubba finished runner-up in 2014 and 2015. The courses perhaps aren’t all that similar but on both courses the winner tends to have performed very well on the Par 5s. That makes sense at Albany with five of the longer holes but Scottsdale only has 3. Further similarities might be that both sets of greens have a tifeagle bermuda base and run rather fast for regular PGA Tour surfaces so they reward well struck approach shots, something that Fowler, Matsuyama and Bubba excel at when on their game. They are also both courses where driving distance is a big advantage.

This has thrown up my only bet in the event and that is this year’s Phoenix Open winner Gary Woodland. He is a big hitter having ranked 7th in driving distance last year and few play the Par 5s better on a regular basis. This year so far he ranks 14th in par 5 scoring average while his rankings the last 3 years read 9-24-7. Woodland also arrives in decent form with a run of 5-2-10 prior to a 41st at the Mayakoba last time out. He closed that with a 65 on Sunday however and he will be relishing his first start here in the Bahamas after a 2 week break. Woodland has already shown in his career that he is comfortable playing outside the US with a strong record in Malaysia’s CIMB Classic as well as a World Cup win in China alongside Matt Kuchar.  Both those events take place in the last quarter of the year too so he clearly still has motivation at this time of year. It won’t be easy to win in this field but at least we are getting a nice price about someone who should enjoy the test and can easily contend at this elite level.

While Fowler is a very short price and surely can’t be considered for singles, his record at the course makes him a very solid pick for accumulator bets this week.

Mauritius Open

This is the 4th edition of the Mauritius Open since it had European Tour status but with it moving every 2nd year it is just the 2nd at the Four Seasons Golf Club at Anahita. It is a long Ernie Els designed course that can play to some 7500 yards if required and the fairways are very wide. The challenge tends to be the greens as they are rather undulating with lots of run-offs, hillocks, bunkers and even stone dykes protecting them! Els always enjoyed the imagination required around links courses so it is to be expected that he would replicate that test around his greens. 2016 winner Wang and runner-up Rahman both got up and down brilliantly all week to rank 5th and 3rd in scrambling. The course is also right by the sea so if the wind blows as it did in 2016 there will be plenty greens being missed. Therefore solid approach play and a sharp short game look to be the route to success at the Four Season GC.

Last year’s winner Dylan Frittelli (Heritage GC) returns to defend as a 10/1 favourite and that tells you quite a lot about the calibre of the field. Frittelli is a very exciting prospect but he isn’t someone who deserves to be backed to win a golf tournament at those odds. To be honest the same could be said about most of those at the top of the market with Mattias Schwab the 3rd favourite at around 22/1. Not only has he not won on Tour but he hasn’t even really properly contended in an event despite his lofty reputation and a consistent season. Bernd Wiesberger returns after some 6 months out through injury so he can probably be left out on grounds of being a little rusty. George Coetzee would normally be included in the blog on a week like this especially at 25/1 but he hasn’t had the best of years and only finished 27th here in 2016 when in better form. Again this had me looking further down the market to find some each way interest where a place will pay more than a Frittelli win. That makes a lot of sense in an event like this and I have found three nice looking bets.

Jaco Van Zyl was one of the first names to jump out at me this week. Partly because he has hardly played this year due to a wrist injury but also due to his good record at both of the other courses which Wang has won at; the Trophee Hassan and the Qatar Masters. Van Zyl was 2nd in Qatar just this year while he also has a runner-up and a 3rd at the Trophee Hassan. At his best the South African journeyman is a supremely consistent ball-striker with an effortlessly smooth swing. But he seems to always get in the way of himself when it comes to winning, be it mentally or poor putting when it matters. However 2018 has very much been the year of both the overdue win and the comeback win. Van Zyl is a 14 time winner on the Sunshine Tour so he is definitely more comfortable in these parts and at exactly the same age as Charles Howell III and Richard McEvoy, he could well take inspiration from their success. He made his first start since wrist surgery in August but to limited success. However he stopped a run of missed cuts last time out when finished 10th on the Sunshine Tour. He has had another month off to rest his wrist further since then so I’m hoping he is ready to go this week. He was 12th here in 2016 and if he is anywhere close to full fitness then he looks a fantastic bet at 80/1.

Clement Sordet was another of the first names on the short list purely because he is listed on the European Tour website as being based at the other Mauritius host course the Heritage Club. So I figured he must spend a fair bit of time down on the island and has probably played this course quite a few times. But my confidence was boosted when I realised he finished 8th at Q-School to gain a full European Tour card last month. I figured he must be in decent form but then Ben Coley pointed out in his preview that Sordet and Langasque actually won a PR doubles event at this course over the weekend. So the Frenchman is clearly very comfortable down here and probably even has his own place. He isn’t a player I know a whole lot about just yet but he is a 4-time winner on the Challenge Tour and he came 16th at Walton Heath which was a very strong field on a tough layout.  Looking at his stats he is pretty capable in most departments but doesn’t always manage to put the whole game together on any given week. In a more relaxed environment without a Tour card to worry about this could be a big week for him.

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano has been in the golfing wilderness for the last 4 or 5 years, losing his game at almost exactly the same time he left for the PGA Tour. It is what most golfers on the European Tour will dream of ultimately and it was a shame how things worked out for the likeable Spaniard. He had just begun to assert himself as a European Tour heavyweight when he upped sticks so having lost his playing rights in the US he will be keen to make a mark back on the European Tour. He has had mixed results so far in the 7 events since he returned but the pick of the bunch was his 5th at Valderrama last month. It is always a difficult course with a winning score in line with Wang’s -6 score here in 2016. Gonzo has always been a brilliant ball-striker and wind player but was sometimes let down by his short game. So it is particularly interesting that he leads the Tour in scrambling over the last 3 months. I’m expecting a decent week for a player who has never finished outside the top 26 on his four trips to Africa.

Australian PGA

We noticed last week just how much the cream rises to the top of the leaderboard in events at this time of the year and nobody needs me to tell them that Cameron Smith, Marc Leishman and Royal Pine course horse Harold Varner III are three solid favourites in Australia this week. I will probably look at including all 3 in some fun accumulators this week but they don’t really appeal as singles given it is quite hard to pick between them. Smith and Leishman both played brilliantly last week in Melbourne while Harold Varner III arrives in very solid form and boasts course figures of 2-1-6.

So it’s just the one each way bet and that is last year’s play-off loser Jordan Zunic. He is a young Aussie still based on the PGA of Australasia Tour but he showed what he is capable of in this company last year when he put his home Tour knowledge to good use. He led the field that week in putting so he obviously enjoys the greens here. Zunic also won along the road in Brisbane just three weeks ago so he looks a little bit over priced here at 66/1.

I wanted to have another go at an each way treble here and I’m liking Harold Varner III and Rickie Fowler given they both have rock solid course form and are both playing well. But there is no such pick at the top of the market in Mauritius. So instead I’m going to take a leap of faith that Bernd Wiesberger might just be fit enough to contend here. At his best he would probably be a 9/1 favourite in this field so I’m going take that potential value and cross my fingers.

Summary of bets

Hero World Challenge

Gary Woodland – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 4 places)

Mauritius Open

Jaco Van Zyl – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 6 places general)

Clement Sordet – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Sky bet)

Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Australian PGA

Jordan Zunic – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Sky bet)

Other bets

Rickie Fowler, Harold Varner III and Bernd Wiesberger – 0.5pts ew treble @ 2519/1

Weekly pts advised = 9pts