Hero World Challenge – Some bets

Scott Hend was poor last week and the fun trebles never really got going. I wasn’t going to post anything this week but I can’t resist trying to end the season on a winner after a miserable end to the season.

Total 2017 pts advised = 537

Total 2017 pts returned = 381.21

ROI = -29%


Hero World Challenge

I tipped Brooks Koepka here last year at 12/1 and he didn’t play great finishing down in  13th of the 18 man field. But I’m convinced that the course should suit perfectly so I’m going to back in again. He is a far better player now having won the U.S. Open. and yet we are nearly getting the same price. Granted the field is a little stronger but I still think he looks a great price at 10/1. The test looks very similar to Erin Hills where he can bomb the ball into the wide open fairways and allow his aggressive iron play to set-up the birdies. If the putter is behaving, as it does more often than not, then he will enjoy the low-scoring nature which has seen -18 and -25 win the two events to date in the Bahamas.

Elsewhere we have two co-sanctioned events on The European Tour, the Mauritius Open and the Australian PGA. Both have markets dominated by the class acts and as we know they often clean up in these tournaments at the end of the year. The tournament in Mauritius looks there for the taking for Louis Oosthuizen who must have decided to make the small journey prior to his Christmas break back in South Africa. It quite literally has his name all over it as the capital of Mauritius is Port Louis! Despite the weak field though 13/2 looks a little prohibitive in an event that was dominated by putting in 2015. There is a good chance his relentless tee-to-green game will be far too good here but I’d rather throw him an each way double with Koepka, after all it is multiples season now!

Darren Fichardt opened at 66/1 in a couple of places and that looked to me like the stand out value in the Mauritius field. He has been cut in most places now but there is still some 50/1 around that looks worthwhile in this company. Fichardt was 6th last time out which was in a far classier field at the Nedbank. He also won in Joburg earlier this year and looks over priced especially with putting set to be crucial again.

Given how well he performed in his first two starts in the autumn, Connor Syme deserves a mention now with his full European Tour card. But he was down the field at Valderama on his last start so he remains a watching brief into 2018. The course should suit though and he has shown already in his young career he is comfortable travelling to the southern hemisphere having won the Australian Amateur in 2016.

The head of the market in Australia is equally as strong yet it maybe doesn’t look too reliable with Leishman, Scott and Garcia all trading in single figures. As great a 2017 as Leishman has had he makes absolutely no appeal at 15/2 and Adam Scott hasn’t been in any kind of form at all this year. His record in this event is second to none but he hasn’t played in a month and isn’t too appealing at 8/1 in a fairly strong field by Australian standards. Garcia makes the most appeal but he hasn’t played in Australia since 2010 and only 6 times in his career. That tells me there is something he doesn’t love about heading down under and it could just be that he is still having an extended honeymoon. He still looks the most likely of the three however and anyone looking for a solid option for the third leg of their each way treble will struggle to find a better option even if he makes little appeal as a single. The hard and fast layout will certainly suit the Masters champion. In terms of single bets the tournament looks rather trappy to me with a host of young, up and coming Aussies all looking to emulate last week’s winner Cameron Davis. The likes of Marcus Fraser, Andrew Dodt and Tom Lewis all look to be big prices but aren’t consistent or reliable enough to have a bet on I don’t think.

Instead I’m going to place perhaps the most speculative punt of the whole year on Grant Forrest to finish inside the Top 20. Looking through various names and leaderboards I’ve found a bit of a link between Carnoustie and the Royal Pines course. Forrest made the final of the Amateur Championship in 2015, losing to Romain Langasque who finished 10th here last year. He missed out on qualifying for the final two rounds of Q School but only just after firing 4 respectable rounds. Will be looking to make the most of this European Tour start. Worth 1pt for a Top 20 at 10/1 surely.


Summary of bets

Hero World Challenge

Brooks Koepka – 3pts win 10/1

Mauritius Open

Darren Fichardt – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1

Australian PGA

Grant Forrest – 1pt Top 20 @ 10/1

Multiples

Koepka + Oosthuizen ew double – 0.75pt ew @ 82.5

Koepka + Oosthuizen + Garcia ew treble – 0.25pt ew @ 701.25

 

Weekly pts advised = 7pts

Total 2017 pts = 540pts

 

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Hong Kong Open – A couple of small bets

How I came away from last week with no returns given my position at halfway I’m not sure, but Justin Rose’s back nine pretty much summed up my golf betting year.

That’s probably it for the full previews but I will still do a couple of posts if I see anything I like in the remaining tournaments around the world over the next few weeks.

The 2017 results make for miserable reading now but one random Asian Tour winner could turn that all around……

2017 pts advised = 533pts

2017 pts returned = 381.21pts

ROI = -28.5%

 


Hong Kong Open

Having been on Matt Fitzpatrick the last two weeks it would be typical of him to go and win here and I really like his chances but his price isn’t great at all. He was 3rd here in 2015 and has won around Crans which has strong course links. With his recent consistency he looks like the ideal type to fire into some fun cross doubles/trebles this week with and that’s what I’ll be doing. The front four in the market are considerably better than the rest of the field but all must be fighting fatigue having played and travelled so much lately. That means there is surely some each way value to be found with them all trading sub 16/1.

I can’t resist Scott Hend at 90/1. He hasn’t been playing great lately but he has won here before as well as finished runner-up the last two years at Crans. A fiddly narrow track isn’t what we have come to expect Hend to enjoy but more and more he seems to thrive in that environment with his brilliant short game skills. His putter hasn’t been behaving lately but these quicker greens should suit. Looks over priced.

In Australia it is very hard to see past Jordan Spieth and  Jason Day at the head of the betting but these tournaments often throw up the same experienced Aussie names on the leaderboard given the tough test on the hard, fast, Championship courses. As well as including Spieth in trebles, the likes of Rod Pampling and Nick Cullen look solid each way options as they both have event and course form.

In Japan we have the Casio World Open and while there are no big names playing in that this year, there are some nice prices in a tournament usually dominated by the best players on the Japanese Tour. I like both Yuta Ikeda and Shingo Katayama who have won at the course before and are also in decent form this year.

So I’m advising two fun multiples for an interest, firstly a small 0.25pt each way treble on Matt Fitzpatrick in Hong Kong, Rod Pampling in Australia and Shingo Katayama in Japan.

I will also have 1.5pts on a similar place treble; Fitpatrick Top 10, Pampling Top 10 and Yuta Ikeda Top 5.


Summary of Bets

Hong Kong Open

Scott Hend – 1pt ew @ 90/1

Multiples

Fitpatrick (10/1), Pampling (30/1) and Katayama (25/1) – 0.25pt ew @  8865/1

Fitzpatrick Top 10 ( Evens), Pampling Top 10 (14/5), and Ikeda Top 5 (15/8) – 1.5pts @ 21.85

 

Weekly pts advised = 4pts

 

@theGreek82

 

 

DP World Championship and RSM Classic – A Betting Preview

After a 4th week with no returns and Fitzpatrick finishing just outside the places I must admit I’m looking forward to the winter break on the two main Tours. It hasn’t been a great 2017 but it feels like I was very close with a host of players placing throughout the year but most of them failing to get over the line. I might post some small previews with just the tips for anyone still reading these but I’m largely going to take a break until the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January.

It’s easy to think you have all the answers after the success I had in the first year but things have been a lot tougher in the last 18 months. I will look to evaluate my process over the break and may alter things in the New Year, possibly reducing the number of bets and looking more closely at the place markets. Too often have my outsiders played well, missed out on the front 5 but made the Top 20, amounting to a loss for the blog.

We sign off with two great events though, the European Tour season ending DP World Championship from Dubai and the RSM Classic from Sea Island, Georgia.

2017 pts advised = 518pts

2017 pts returned = 381.21pts

ROI = -26.4%

 


DP World Championship

The main story this week will be the battle between Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose and to a lesser extent Setgio Garcia, for the Race To Dubai title. While that will be intriguing we also have an elite European Tour event to try and find the winner of and that looks like no mean feat. The top 60 players through the season line up at the Jumeirah Estate (Earth course) in Dubai and as ever the course that awaits them will be absolutely perfect.

The Greg Norman design is a monster but other than length nobody can have any complaints about the quality course laid out in front of them. Lush green, wide fairways, minimal rough, perfectly manicured bunkers and slick bentgrass greens make for a great event even if it is a very scorable one for those who bring their A game. The winning score often reaches -20 and a quick look through the winners tells us how that is usually acheived. Matt Fitzpatrick stopped the Stenson-McIlroy benefit that was in place since 2012 and while the young Englishman isn’t the longest, he is usually one of the more accurate. Stenson and McIlroy both ate up the Par 4s and 5s with their combination of power, approach accuracy and towering ball flight and on the whole that’s a fairly decent angle in. The greens are heavily undulating and loft will be required to get anywhere near the flags here, many of which are protected by water or sand.

Despite knowing what is required it is a very difficult event to attempt to find any value in, or to have a very strong opinion on who might win. Justin Rose is very tempting as I figured he would be nearer 5/1 in this small 60 runner field. He is 8.2 on the exchange and he is playing superior golf to everyone in the field and is also probably the best golfer in the field (Rahm?!). There is part of me that thinks he might still be the best value in the field as he surely wins this more like 1 in 6 times rather than 1 in 8. The only thing putting me off is personal as I always seem to to struggle to get Rose right. I was convinced he was going to win the US Open this year at Erin Hills but he missed the cut and that has certainly left me with some scar tissue. But given it is the last event of the season I’m going to attempt to go out with a winner here and he is unquestionably the man to beat so I’m having 4pts win on the Exchange.

Martin Kaymer has been a conundrum for many throughout the 2017 season as he often appears over priced given how classy a performer he is. Then once backed at 66/1 he would maybe show enough to get his backers excited only to fall away as he reminded everyone that he is somewhat of a different beast now since throwing away the Abu Dhabi Championship in February 2015. His whole game has really suffered and since then last week is one of the few weeks where has contended on Sunday. That is enough for me to feel he is over priced here at 40/1 however as deep down we know how much ability he has. He doesn’t have the best of records around the course and I’m not even that confident of his chances but everyone has their price and 40/1 for Kaymer coming off a 5th place in SA just looks too big. Kaymer loves the desert and he has 3 wins in Abu Dhabi as well as a solid record in the Dubai Desert Classic and Qatar Masters. Despite never bettering 10th here he closed with two 67s last year and 40/1 is a solid each way price.

Matt Fitzpatrick threw in one bad round last week which cost us an each way payout and possibly better. A Friday 77 left him playing catch up all weekend but he rallied for 8th place and his 7th consecutive Top 15. That is some serious form that has been overshadowed a little by Hatton and Rose both winning back to back during that run. I think I need to give him a chance to recoup last week’s money and given he won here last year, he looks fairly priced at 16/1. Normally defending might be an issue but I expect Rose and Fleetwood to take a considerable amount of the attention away from Fitzpatrick and he put up an excellent defence of the Nordea Masters in the summer when finding only an inspired Renato Paratore too good. He has absolutely no need to fear anyone in this field as this is firmly his level now. Looks sure to go close as long as he can avoid that one bad round.

Ryan Fox did very well for me through the summer and he spent the bulk of the autumn playing on courses that didn’t suit his game. The one exception was the Alfred Dunhill  where I went in again as I thought it would be ideal, he started well but a poor Friday combined with the slow 6hr rounds seemed to throw him and he ended up missing the 54 hole cut. This is right back in the bombers wheelhouse though and given all the courses he has gone well on this year I’m convinced he can outplay his price but maybe not quite threaten the places. So instead of an each way bet I’m going to play him in the top 10 market.

Despite not loving the tournament as a betting proposition I’ve managed to find 4 bets, this might be exactly where I’ve gone wrong in 2017. Finding a bet in each event just for the sake of it!

 


RSM Classic

The final PGA Tour event of the year takes us back over to the US and to the East coast of Georgia. This week there are two courses in play at Sea Island, the Seaside course and the Plantation course. Everyone will play one course on each before the Plantation takes a back seat over the weekend. Both courses are relatively short at around the 7000 yard mark and the test isn’t too dissimilar to last week as the Seaside course is another fiddly course where accuracy is at a premium. Finding the fairway is required in order to be able to fire approaches at the flags and after that a hot putter will be needed on the undulating bermuda greens. When Kisner racked up the record low score of -22 in 2015 he did so with this exact formula, every time the camera cut to him over the weekend he seemed to be sending a short iron inside 15ft from the middle of the fairway. If we look back at the last 3 editions, the winners have ranked 1st, 2nd 1st for putting.

2015 U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying

I backed Jamie Lovemark here last year at 80/1 and he fell one spot shy in the agonising 6th place. Unfortunately he is a lot shorter this week but I really like his chances here of getting his maiden win. The last three RSM winners were all winning for the first time on the PGA Tour. Lovemark missed the cut in Mexico last week but prior to that he was last seen finishing 5th in the CJ Cup where he ranked 5th for driving accuracy and 7th for GIR. Returning to Sea Island where he has played well I’m hoping he can find that level of long game to go with his always assured putting stroke (24th in Strokes Gained: Putting). His best two finishes last season were a 3rd at Greenbrier and 4th at the Sony Open, two courses which often correlate well with Sea Island. They were both partly designed by Seth Raynor who used classic British links characteristics on lots of his holes. Sea Island was designed by the great Harry Colt who is responsible for some of the best links courses in the world. There might just be something about these classic tracks that fit the eye for Lovemark and although the 40/1 isn’t a price to get excited about I do like his chances this week.

I’ve backed Si-Woo Kim a few times lately on price alone and I think he looks a must bet again here, especially as he arrives in good form this week. The bookmakers continue to forget that he has won The Players Championship and that piece of form places him way ahead of the majority of this field. But he has also won around the tree-lined Sedgefield and is still just 22 years old. Both those wins were on bermuda greens and this streaky putter clearly performs better on that surface. He missed the cut last year but was 18th on his debut the year before. Kim looks to me like the sort of player that has his price and almost needs to be followed in whenever he isn’t given the respect he deserves. He opened at various prices towards 80/1 which was really far too big, he is now 50/1 and to be honest that still feels very big coming in off a 3rd place in Mexico.

Blayne Barber was high on my list even before I looked at his course form which included a runner-up finish last year. That meant he had to be backed just as long as his price was ok and we are getting three figures across the board on the young Floridian. Barber hails from just over the border in Tallahassee and he has already won the South Georgian Classic on the Web.com Tour. He is clearly comfortable in these conditions and I think he looks a very solid bet to go contend here again. His best finish other than his 2nd here last year is a 3rd at the Honda Classic. That is another short, exposed course designed by Tom Fazio (Fazio redesigned the Seaside course) and they seem to be the sort of courses where it could pay to follow Barber in his early career. He is another strong putter who ranked 23rd in strokes gained: putting last year but it was actually his long game that clicked here last year as he hit 80% of the fairways and 87% of the greens. He missed his first cut of the season but finished 45th last week in Mexico which will set him up nicely for his return to Sea Island.


Summary of Bets

RSM Classic

Jamie Lovemark – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Si-Woo Kim – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Blayne Barber – 0.5pt ew @ 110/1

DP World Championship

Justin Rose – 4pts win @ 8.2

Matt Fitzpatrick – 1.5pt ew @ 16/1

Martin Kaymer – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Ryan Fox – 1pt Top 10 @ 16/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 15pts

2017 pts advised = 533pts

@theGreek82

OHL Classic and Nedbank Golf Challenge – Betting Preview

There were exciting finishes on both Tours last week but none of our players were quite on the premises down the stretch on Sunday. Matthew Southgate was on the leaderboard most of the weekend but a poor front nine on Sunday left him with too much to do and he could only finish 11th. On the PGA Tour it was annoying to miss out on Patrick Cantlay as his win has been coming and he looked to have a good chance however 20/1 about a maiden however talented isn’t a price for everyone. The outsiders I plumped for instead started very well as both Stegmaier and Fathauer sat in the top 20 after the first round but both struggled on Friday on what was a very strange 2nd round. They couldn’t get closer again over the weekend and it was annoying to see Hadley place as I left him out on price alone.

Total 2017 pts advised = 506pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 381.21pts

ROI = -24.67%


OHL Classic

The penultimate event of the 2017 Fall Series takes place south of the border, down Mexico way. The course is El Camaleon at Mayakoba and has been a staple on the Tour since 2007. It is quite a unique event for a couple of reasons, firstly it was the only regular PGA Tour event outside the U.S. for a number of years and secondly it was one of the few courses they play annually that is less than 7000 yards long.

To allow for the lack of length the course is heavily tree-lined with very narrow fairways and some smaller, fairly tricky sea paspalum greens. Despite the fiddly nature of the course, scoring is usually very low and while it isn’t over powered, the accurate players in the field can make plenty of birdies, especially if they enjoy putting on the often quirky sea paspalum greens. Sea paspalum is said to grab the ball a lot more than other grasses so those with an aggressive short iron game are able to pepper the flag and make a score without having to hole a serious amount of distance. Experience of the grass is certainly advantageous and the strain of grass caused quite a stir back at the 2012 US PGA when very few players had seen sea paspalum on the PGA Tour. It is becoming increasingly more common now however and is used at lots of Web.com Tour venues.

While young rookies tend to do very well in these early season events, more experienced pros tend to enjoy the test at Mayakoba and we can see that if we look at the last three winners, Pat Perez, Graeme McDowell and Charlie Hoffman. I wouldn’t want to rule any of the younger players out but I will be focussing on the experienced players who will have the patience for a more considered test of golf.

I’d make accuracy the most important attribute this week, both off the tee and indeed with their irons. Having played well previously in the heat and humidity will be beneficial and proximity to the hole numbers are worth a look, especially with the wedges from 100 to 150 yards.

Chesson Hadley is one of the form players in the world right now and while I left him out at 28/1 last week I’m going to include him here as he has shown his liking for sea paspalum in the past and played well in the humid conditions. Hadley didn’t actually do a lot wrong last week as he bogeyed the 18th to miss out on the play-off but that was the only mistake he really made down the stretch and he wasn’t alone in bogeying the impossibly hard final hole.

His whole game has been in great shape for the last two months and he doesn’t really have too much of a weakness to his game. He was won before away from mainland U.S as his sole PGA Tour win came in Puerto Rico in similar climate and on similar paspalum greens. In all honesty I thought we would be looking at joint 2nd favourite here around 18/1 or 20/1 so I’ll gladly take the 25/1 on offer about the player who looks more likely than anyone in the field to play well. *Since initially writing this he has been cut to 22/1, it’s not brilliant but still the right side of 20s for me.

This layout should suit Kevin Chappell quite well as he enjoys a test of long game accuracy as much as anyone on Tour. I normally associate him with tougher courses as one of his main strengths is protecting his par on testing ball-striking layouts and his win came at TPC San Antonio on a score of -12. While scoring here is always a lot lower than that, it is the San Antonio link that I like here. It is another Greg Norman course with a premium on accuracy and the green complexes are similar. Chappell can eat up the Par 5s around here with his consistent tee-to-green game and that will allow some slack with the putter which doesn’t always behave.

His form is actually sneaky good coming in too despite not really appearing on any leaderboards. He hasn’t finished outside the Top 35 since The Open and his figures read a very positive 20-28-12-35-6-33-13-8. That 20th was last week at The Shriners and was an excellent result considering it was his first appearance since his successful Presidents Cup debut over a month ago. This is his debut at the course but he finished 9th and 11th in the Mexico Open on the Web.com Tour and the course should suit. I think we are getting a decent price given he is a winner earlier this year, arriving in good form and has pieces of form over the last couple of years as strong as anyone in the field bar Fowler or Reed.

Andrew Putnam looks a great outsider here largely due to his results in the South American/Caribbean swing on the Web.com earlier this year. He went on a run of 8th-11th-5th-1st in the Bahamas, Colombia and Panama and all of those were played in similarly hot and humid conditions. The most interesting point however is that they all feature sea paspalum greens and the Panama GC where he won is also tree-lined and considered a difficult test tee to green. He isn’t the most accurate of drivers but given he has won on tight courses before we can assume he is capable of a strategic game off the tee.

He has played Mayakoba just once and he made the cut but finished down in 72nd last year. He struggled with his long game but yet he ranked 1st for putting which is a big positive. He hasn’t done much lately but his form in similar climates and on sea paspalum greens makes the 250/1 look huge. I’ll also have an interest in the Top 20 market.

Kyle Thompson has missed all three cuts so far in the 2017 season and after last week’s wash out I probably shouldn’t have such a speculative bet but he is another with very good form from the Web.com tournaments played outside the U.S. He won the Great Exuma Classic in January at the Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course in the Bahamas which is another Greg Norman design with sea paspalum greens. It isn’t quite as tight a driving course but the green complexes and bunkering look very similar as is the climate. He is a massive price and quite out of form but I’m still having a very small interest each way and Top 20.


Nedbank

This is played at the Gary Player Country Club at Sun City in South Africa and it plays about as long as the multiple major winner’s self-indulgent stories. That figure is around 7800 yards and while it is at altitude it is still one of the longer courses on Tour. Unlike many of those though, the players aren’t able to completely let rip with the driver as the fairways are very narrow, tree-lined and feature quite sticky kikuyu rough. Additionally the greens are quite small and are intricately shaped to allow several difficult pin positions. This has seen many of the European Tour’s best ball-strikers win the title over the years and the long-game has to be fully on point to compete in this 72 hole slog in the blistering heat. We have seen many rounds crumble away into the 80s and without a cut this week there will be a huge disparity between the winner and the player in last place. The course will reward good shots but heavily punish those not on their game, especially as the greens firm up over the weekend.

fitz

Matt Fitzpatrick has been top of my list for this ever since he won the European Masters at Crans. To say that Crans and the Gary Player CC are exactly the same test would be inaccurate given the huge difference in length, however there are definitely some crossovers and for me the two have some sort of link. Five of the last seven Nedbanks have been won by players who have also won around Crans and I suppose the two common attributes are finding fairways and being in form. Neither course is one where a player can compete without finding the short stuff or arriving without their game in a good place.

Fitzpatrick is a supremely accurate driver of the ball and although he is quite short, his long iron game is also very accurate meaning he will still be able to hit these smallish greens. His two efforts to date in the Nedbank haven’t been spectacular but he has made the top 20 on both occasions. He hasn’t quite threatened to win in recent weeks but his form has still been good with results of 11-9-15-15-11 since his win in Switzerland. If he starts well then I expect him to contend this week.

Tommy Fleetwood should enjoy this test but I’m a little unsure how he might perform with the pressure that Justin Rose heaped on him last week. He will be very much the focus at the course during the build up and having played so much golf lately, that might just take its toll after a long flight from Turkey. Instead I’m looking at two outsiders for an added interest.

Paul Waring drives the ball very long and very straight and he bounced back to form last week as he finished 14th in Turkey. His whole game was very strong as he ranked 11th in the all-round, 5th in total driving and 7th in ball-striking. His best finish to date on Tour was a runner-up finish in the Joburg Open in February so I’m hoping he will be comfortable in these conditions. Had this been a star-studded field he might have struggled but given the number of big names now missing he shouldn’t be overawed.

I wanted to include Romain Wattel again but it was proving hard to forgive him his opening round last week where I really fancied him to go well. But at 150/1 I think he is worth another go as he ranked 7th for total driving, 8th for GIR and closed with rounds of 68-69-67. It was just a poor start and a cold putter that prevented him contending and I’m hoping a trip to SA and the grainy putting greens might sort the latter out. He already has three placed efforts in the country so should go well now he is returning as a European Tour winner.


Summary of bets

OHL Classic

Chesson Hadley – 1pt ew @ 22/1

Kevin Chappell – 1pt ew @ 30/1

Andrew Putnam – 0.5pt ew @ 250/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

Kyle Thompson – 0.25pt ew @ 500/1 and 0.5pt Top 20 @ 20/1

Nedbank Challenge

Matt Fitzpatrick – 1.5pts ew @ 18/1

Paul Waring – 0.5pt ew @ 175/1

Romain Wattel – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 12pts

2017 pts advised = 518pts

@theGreek82

Shriners Hospitals and Turkish Airlines Open – Betting Preview

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

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

2017 pts advised = 498

2017 pts returned = 381.21

ROI = -23.4%


Shriners Hospitals for Children Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Turkish Airlines Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Summary of Bets

Shriners

Patrick Rodgers – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

Brett Stegmaier – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

Derek Fathauer – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1

Turkish Airlines Open

Alex Levy – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Romain Wattel – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

Jeunghun Wang – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

Matthew Southgate – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 8pts

Total 2017 pts aadvised = 506pts

@theGreek82

WGC HSBC and Sanderson Farms – Betting Preview

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

Total 2017 pts advised =490

Total 2017 pts returned = 381.21

ROI = -22.2%


WGC HSBC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sanderson Farms Championship

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

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

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

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


Summary of Bets

WGC HSBC

Ross Fisher – 1.5pts ew @ 25/1

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

Hideki Matsuyama – 1pt win @ 12.5

Sanderson Farms

Aaron Baddeley – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Brian Gay – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1

Weekly pts advised = 8pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 498pts

 

@theGreek82

CJ Cup and Andalucia Masters – Betting Preview

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

Total 2017 pts advised = 475pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 381.21

ROI= -19.75%


CJ Cup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

.


Andalucia Masters

 

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

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

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

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

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

valderrama-golf-club

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Summary of bets

CJ Cup

Patrick Reed – 1pt ew @ 28/1

Adam Scott – 1pt ew @ 35/1

Si-Woo Kim – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1

Song Young-han – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1

Andalucia Masters

Shane Lowry – 2pt ew @ 16/1

Soren Kjeldsen – 1.5pt ew @ 18/1

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

 

Weekly pts advised = 15pts

Total 2017 pts asvised = 490pts

@theGreek82