Charles Schwab Challenge (Colonial) and Made In Denmark – Betting Preview

Patrick Cantlay finished T3rd and Kang and Scott both delivered Top 20s to give us a profitable week. The main two bets didn’t deliver but that’s why I think it’s important to get involved in the Top 20 markets at majors. Finding the winner is tough (unless you just back Koepka of course!) and I think it’s easier to find a bit of value in the top 20 market. You also get a run for your money the whole weekend if they make the cut and it provides a good chance to make the stakes back.

The 10 places that several firms offer on majors also gives punters a massive opportunity to at least break even on the week. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the blog has done better at majors since 10 places became the norm.

Koepka was brilliant and barring a slight wobble when the wind was at it’s strongest on the back 9 on Sunday he never really looked like losing. His dominance (4 majors from his last 8) will give everyone a real problem in a month”s time when the U.S. Open comes around. We probably won’t see double figures about him for a long time in majors yet he will be looking to become the first player in over 100 years to win 3 U.S. Opens in a row and the first since 1956 to win any major 3 times in a row. It really shouldn’t be easy for him but that’s not to say it won’t be!

Another profitable week makes it 5 weeks from the last 6 and leaves the results as follows;

2019 pts advised = 254

2019 pts returned = 274.96

ROI = 8.25%


Charles Schwab Challenge

Another name change here for what is essentially just called “Colonial” anyway as that’s where it’s been played since 1946. It’s a tree-lined, classical course with fairly tight, winding fairways, thick rough and it’s generally a course that can’t be over powered. You have to hit the right parts of the fairways in order to not be blocked out from going at the flags. It’s a short enough course at just over 7200 yards so from there onwards it becomes a battle of the short irons. Some of the best wedge players in the game have won here like Steve Stricker, Zach Johnson and Jordan Spieth. Find fairways, attack the flags and make your share of putts. That’s the recipe year after year for Colonial. Useful stats are proximity to the hole, scoring relative to par from approaches in both the 100-125 yards and 125-150 yards ranges, putting from 10ft-25ft and one putt percentage. Being a par 70 Par 4 scoring is more important than usual and with the winning score usually nearer to -20 than -10, birdie average is also worth a look.

Corey Conners won around TPC San Antonio and that made a whole lot of sense as it’s an ideal course for him. Colonial also looks a great fit and I’ve got to side with him having missed out on tipping him in Texas due to him only Monday Qualifying and sneaking in under the radar. Conners was 8th here last year on his debut and seems to pop up at any ball-striker’s course where tee-to-green accuracy trumps power. I’ve seen a small backlash against some strokes gained stats recently and while they are by no means the be-all and end-all, used wisely they are a powerful tool. While nothing can predict how a player will play in any upcoming week it makes far more sense to side with someone who has been doing something well all season already. That is exactly what applies to Conners this week as he is 10th in strokes gained: tee to green. His numbers with the short irons are also strong as he is 4th in scoring relative to par from approaches at 150-175 yards, 9th from 125-150 yards and 1st in proximity to the hole. He was also 9th last week in strokes gained: off the tee which was better than McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay. Having made the weekend again for the 2nd major in a row I think his confidence will negate any fatigue and he should pitch up at Colonial raring to go. A decent putting week will surely see him out play his odds of 80/1. There is some 100/1 around still but I’d rather take the 8 places.

This course and Kevin Na are a match made in heaven. Fairways and wedges is what Na is all about and that’s perhaps why he has only missed the cut here once in 11 events returning 7 top 25s. He hasn’t been at his best this year but his numbers are still good in the relevant areas and he just can’t compete on the longer courses unless his whole game is at it’s best. Back here though I expect him to go well. Na is 5th in scoring relative to par from 125-150 yards and 12th in strokes gained: around the green. He missed the cut at Bethpage but that was far too long for him and prior to that he was going ok. His best strokeplay result this year was at the Heritage and if he takes that game here there is no reason he can’t improve on last year’s 4th place finish, especially since he now has that winning monkey off his back.

JT Poston has played here twice finishing 41st on his debut and then 20th last year but it’s his 6th at Heritage last month that gets him on the team here. He was 6th for total accuracy there and 2nd in the all-round and Harbour Town has always tied in nicely with Colonial as a similar skill-set is required at both courses. He was also 22nd at The Players which also correlates well as a more strategic course. There have been some missed cuts since but he played his first major weekend golf at Bethpage and I expect that experience to have a positive effect. Worth an each way go at 125/1.


Made In Denmark

Having left Himmerland GC last year we return again to the course that hosted from 2014-2017. I’m not sure whether that was a one-off or if they are alternating between the two but for now it gives us 4 year’s worth of course form and a fairly well constructed idea of what is required at Himmerland. It’s yet another links style course but it is also one of the shorter tracks on Tour at just 6881 yards and so far a sharp short game has been the order of the week. Everyone should be finding the fairways without the need for driver on lots of holes while the big greens are normally easy enough to hit. Depending on whether the wind blows scrambling can also be crucial as greens will be missed if it blows and it’s a very exposed course. Obviously hitting a high percentage of greens will help you contend at the majority of courses and for the most part the players on the leaderboards have also hit their fare share. However excelling on or around the greens looks like it might be the best way to come out on top this week.

Despite all that talk of short game my first pick is actually a tee-to-green merchant. Benjamin Hebert came agonisingly close yet again to his first ET win 3 weeks ago in China and given his course form here I’ll forgive the MC last time out at Hillside. While that course will share similarities with Himmerland, he will still probably have been gutted about his play-off defeat and traveling back from China to play will have only made that worse. His course form is trending and reads 6-13-14 so he looks an excellent each way bet with Betfair’s 45/1 and 7 places. Whether he will hole enough putts to win I’m not sure but the place portion just looks too good.

Thomas Detry has also been knocking on the door lately and the British Masters looked there for the taking for him two weeks ago. But he put in an uncharacteristically poor round of putting to finish T15th. Generally though he excels on links style layouts with grainy greens where his touch on and around the greens is important. He’s still chasing his first proper win but after winning the World Cup pairs event with Pieters, big things are expected from Detry in 2019. He also didn’t play last week in New York so will have had a week to get him absolutely right for this. He played here once in 2017 when he ranked 7th on the greens on his way to a 14th place finish. Coral’s standout 33/1 also comes with the standout 7 places and I think that looks more than fair with 7 of the 9 above him in the betting having played the US PGA.

Renato Paratore’s sole European Tour win was at Barseback GC where Marc Warren, Adam Scott, Joakim Haeggman and Ricardo Gonzalez have all won. They all have plenty of tie-in form at other similar courses, namely Gleneagles and Doha, and I think Himmerland is another similar course where recent leaderboards have shown the same kind of players with Marc Warren winning the first event back here in 2014. So Paratore would have been of interest this week anyway but the fact he was 8th last time out on a short, links course makes him properly stand out at 150/1 this week. He hasn’t played Gleneagles but he has been 4th at Doha. His two results here were a MC in 2015 but an 18th in 2016 where he ranked 9th on the greens and went 67-68 over the weekend, suggesting that he had got to grips with the course. His 2019 hasn’t really taken off yet but he will be looking to build on that British Masters performance and a course where he can leave the driver in the bag looks an ideal next stop for him.

Richie Ramsay was close as were regular bets Ryan Fox, George Coetzee and Thorbjorn Olesen but ultimately they just didn’t quite tick enough boxes this week. I should probably be backing both Fox (80/1) and Coetzee (100/1) on value grounds alone here but they are both on the naughty step after MCs at Hillside two weeks ago so I can leave them out from the start.


Summary of bets

Charles Schwab

Corey Conners – 1pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)

Kevin Na – 1pt ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

JT Poston – 0.75pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Made In Denmark

Benjamin Hebert – 1pt ew @ 45/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair/PP)

Thomas Detry – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)

Renato Paratore – 1pt ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)
 

 

 

Weekly pts advised =

@theGreek82

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Byron Nelson and British Masters – Betting Preview

A pretty shitty week last week but I was probably due one after three profitable weeks in a row. I won’t dwell on things too long though as we have two excellent events this week both on proper links style courses and therefore lots of good angles in to the betting.

2019 pts advised = 210

2019 pts returned = 216.86

ROI = 3.27%


Byron Nelson

The move to Trinity Forest last year was met with mixed reviews but I’m all for Tournaments at courses that don’t convene to the normal PGA Tour target golf. The old course, TPC Las Colinas, was a fairly traditional ball-strikers paradise and it was also situated at a rather swanky resort so you can see why so many of the seasoned Tour players enjoyed their visit.

Trinity Forest is a modern links course located on an old land fill site and the contrast between it and the previous course is rather strong. The course was designed by Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore and it plays to some 7450 yards but last year it was quite wet so there wasn’t too much run out. It was designed to play hard and fast like a British links course and if that was to be the case this week I think scoring would be tougher than Aaron Wise’s winning score of -23. Unfortunately recent weather in the Dallas area suggests that the course will play quite soft again and therefore we maybe can’t quite take the full-on links player approach.

The course is a wide open one with ample room off the tee, undulating fairways and huge greens. With firm conditions you could probably all but ignore what players do off the tee but with less than ideal roll-out, driving distance will be important again this year as it was last year. From there it becomes very much a second shot course but with big greens a brilliant short game can also get it done. If we can find a player who is getting the ball close to the flags and showing a good touch on and around the greens then even better.

There are five Par 4s under 450 yards and with very little holding them back off the tee we will see a lot of wedges on these holes after the players unleash driver. Therefore an aggressive wedge game will be important this week especially considering the low scoring nature of the event last year. Aaron Wise led the field in Par 4 scoring last year on his way to winning so that’s worth a look too.

Patrick Reed has a stellar record at Coore and Crenshaw’s Kapalua layout in Hawaii and this looks another ideal layout for him even on his debut. Anywhere that wayward drives aren’t punished suits Reed and with his approach game having looked somewhere back to its best last week (10th in GIR) I think he should go well. There are few better short games around than Reed’s and he will handle the long lag putts and lengthy chip shots better than most. He is also an accomplished Texas wind player having been born in San Antonio and he currently lives just outside Houston. He is a fairly determined character who won’t think twice about going all out to win the week before a major if given half a chance. A solid looking each way bet at 28/1 with 8 places.

Charles Howell III was 9th here last year and he started this season very well indeed. Two missed cuts recently have pushed his price out to a very interesting 40/1 with 8 places. Howell sits 2nd in Par 4 scoring and while he isn’t a player with a great bank of links form by any means his relentless hitting of greens should be suited to the course. The lack of bite in the course will suit him if it does play soft and the fact he is putting far better this year should make him a a big player this week. He is 3rd in GIR and 26th in strokes gained: putting and that is exactly the sort of combination you want any week but particularly on this layout.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s form has tailed off a little since the WGC Mexico but this looks ideal for him and I think he has to be backed with Betfair’s stand-out 100/1 with 8 places. With lots of space off the tee he won’t find too much trouble and his wedge game has been excellent so far this year. He leads the Tour in scoring relative to par from approaches inside 125 yards and with the short par 4s and huge greens this range will be in play a lot. He withdrew two weeks ago in an event in Brunei due to a knee injury but I think 100/1 is a massive over reaction to that and he looks a very fair each way bet.

Matt Jones was 13th here last year and has actually been playing quite sneaky well with 6 top 40 finishes in a row. A wide open course will suit this Aussie who is an excellent wind player but possesses an even better short game and sits 26th in strokes gained: around the green this year. His only PGA Tour win to date was in Texas at the Houston Open and if things do firm up over the weekend then few are more suited to hard and fast conditions than this Sydney native who won the Australian Open back in 2015.

Colt Knost jumped off the page at me as he studied at SMU which now uses Trinity Forest as it’s University course. Unfortunately it wasn’t even designed when he graduated in 2007 but he still lives nearby and I’m hoping the local ties might mean he knows more about the course than others. He missed the second half of 2018 through injury and returned in January on a Medical Extension. He missed his first four cuts but there were signs of improvement last week when he finished 38th at Quail Hollow. Knost has always been a good putter and if he does have a little inside knowledge of the huge greens then 300/1 could look big.


British Masters

With the move from May to September of the PGA at Wentworth and an apparent lack of sponsor it looked for a while like we might lose this event. That would have an absolute travesty for the European Tour and particularly British golf. The event has been hugely succesful so far in boosting interest in the game and the interactive nature of what Sky Sports have done so far has been excellent. Thankfully they have managed to bring it forward to May, find a sponsor and also get the brilliant Hillside GC links layout onboard as host. The result is that Tommy Fleetwood hosts the 5th event in a row since its return to the schedule in 2015 at Woburn.

While the first four visited some of south England’s finest parkland courses this time we get a chance to see a lesser known links gem of the north-west in Hillside. It backs up on to Royal Birkdale on the coast and it’s that sort of course with sculpted fairways into the dunes and undulating terrain. A proper links course requires proven links players and that usually helps the punters out even if we are about 2 months ahead of the usual links golf in July. It’s well worth looking at leaderboards from recent Scottish Opens, Irish Opens and Opens as well as the Qatar Masters, Portugal Masters and events from Australia.

Eddie Pepperell and Tyrrell Hatton slot right in behind host and tournament favourite Tommy Fleetwood in the betting. They are both 18/1 here but that doesn’t bother me at all as for me they are the best two links players in the field right now and a chunky each way bet on both of them makes the best betting sense here this week.

Pepperell has been playing quite a bit of golf over on the PGA Tour so far this year and with a fair bit of success. That explains the apparent short price here but this is a massive step-down from the fields he was playing in when he posted 3rd at The Players Championship and 16th at The Heritage. His sometimes suspect putting has been particularly strong so far in the US as he ranks 16th in strokes gained: putting. When you combine that with his always reliable approach play and ability to play in the wind, you get a very smart prospect here this week. Pepperell was 2nd in the Scottish Open last year, 6th in the Open and he won the Qatar Masters which has long been a good guide to links golf. He also has an Alfred Dunhill top 10 and a 2nd and 3rd at the Portugal Masters which is played on another exposed links style course. Defending a tournament is never easy but with it being at a different course that might take away some of the pressure. Although his laid back nature will also help him. The 18/1 might not be for everyone but with Betfred’s 10 places the each way portion looks very solid indeed.

Tyrrell Hatton keeps popping up on links layouts and his Alfred Dunhill Championship record in particular is immense, reading 1-1-2. He hasn’t been playing his best so far this year but he really does come alive on links courses. His imagination and putting touch allow him to play with the utmost of confidence on links courses knowing he will handle whatever comes his way should he miss the greens. But his approach play also seems to improve for being on tight links turf. He likes to flight his ball down and let his approaches run out which is a huge advantage when trying to gauge distance in the wind on links courses. That helps explain why he hit 85% and 83% of greens in regulation when he won his two Alfred Dunhills. There’s not too much more to say, he just loves links golf and I’m willing to take a chance that he finds his form again as soon as he sees the course.

I was just going to leave it at the two chunky each way bets but it wouldn’t be a links event with out adding a couple more proven exponents of the traditional British style of golf. I expected Ryan Fox to be backed in given the bank of links form he has built up over the last two summers but Betfred’s 40/1 with 10 places is far too good to pass up. He has gone 4-4 and 6-2 in the Irish Open and Scottish Open the last two years and those were exactly the sort of field that he faces here. He hasn’t disgraced himself in his Open appearances either but he is still finding his feet in the Majors. I expect him to win on a links course sooner rather than later now he has got off the mark in the World Super 6 Perth event. It is played at Lake Karrinyup which is a typical hard and fast Aussie course where good links players thrive. With Fox it is hard to pin point why he is so good on links but it certainly has a lot to do with his fearless approach off the tee which so often means he is going in to the greens with nothing more than a wedge. He is also a very creative player from inside 100 yards and the familiar links turf allows him to flourish in that area. The 40/1 with 10 places looks rock solid even with him coming in off a break.

I wanted to add a proper outsider but then I saw returning blog regular George Coetzee at 70/1 with Betfred’s 10 places. Coetzee is another player who I have long expected to win on a British links course but it hasn’t happened yet. He probably wouldn’t want the weather too miserable but there are few better putters on grainy links greens than Coetzee and for me that is always worth including him at odds like this. He took April off to spend relaxing back home in South Africa with his girlfriend and the fact that she is now his fiance makes me think the break will have had a positive effect (he was also at Anfield on Tuesday night!). If he isn’t too rusty then the 70/1 looks a fantastic price as he was in great form during March finishing 2nd in Qatar on the links course at Doha and then signing off for his holiday with a 6th in India.


Summary of bets

Byron Nelson

Patrick Reed – 1pt ew @ 28/1

Charles Howell III – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – 0.75pts ew @ 100/1

Matt Jones – 0.5pts ew @ 80/1

Colt Knost – 0.25pts ew @ 300/1 (all Betfair 1/5 odds 8 places)

British Masters

Eddie Pepperell – 2pts ew @ 18/1

Tyrrell Hatton – 2pts ew @ 18/1

Ryan Fox – 1pt ew @ 40/1

George Coetzee – 0.5pts ew @ 70/1 (all Betfred 1/5 odds 10 places)

 

Weekly pts advised = 18pts

@theGreek82

Wells Fargo Championship and Volvo China Open – A Betting Preview

Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer clicked as I hoped they would to record a relatively straight-forward win at the Zurich Classic. They parred the 18th for a 3 shot win and while others got close they never really looked like giving up their lead. It was great to see Palmer back with a win as he’s a likeable player who deserves some good fortune after his family issues. As for Jon Rahm he really is something else. Even when he doesn’t appear to have his best stuff like early in the final round he has an amazing knack of grinding out a score. Sometimes he doesn’t look like he is doing anything amazing but he seldom hits 2 bad shots in a row and usually hits a great recovery instead. He has also become very solid at holing out inside 10ft and it often looks like he gets the ball in the hole with sheer will and determination. If Bethpage Black sets up as a true US PGA course in two weeks time then the Spanish powerhouse is going to take a lot of beating.

As preperation for that we have the Wells Fargo this week which of course is played at the 2017 US PGA course, Quail Hollow. The European Tour heads back out to Asia again for the Volvo China Open. Two good events with plenty of recent course form.

Rahm and Palmer’s win puts the blog back into profit for the year;

2019 pts advised = 196

2019 pts returned = 216.86

ROI = 10.64%


Wells Fargo Championship

Back to regular PGA Tour stuff as we head north to Quail Hollow in North Carolina which has hosted since 2003 with the exception of 2017 when it held the US PGA. It is a long, 7600 yard championship style course with a premium on a powerful long game and all recent winners are players who sit in lofty positions in the strokes gained: tee to green rankings. When tee to green supremacy is so important it’s easy to go with some of the massively priced poor putters who strike the ball well. But you generally don’t get too many average players lifting this trophy and playing “the chalk” has been working well for me lately. So instead I’m playing three shorter price players who all still can’t putt!

For my main pick I’m going with Hideki Matsuyama who has been priced up here like he is hitting the ball sideways. That’s not really the case though and despite no win he hasn’t missed a cut since The Open in July. In that time he has returned 11 top 20s from 20 events with 4 of those being top 5s. He sits 2nd in strokes gained: tee to green sandwiched between 2 recent Quail winners in McIlroy and Thomas. He is also 22nd in strokes gained: around the green. His lack of being in contention this year has created a situation where Webb Simpson is the same price to win on a 7600 yard long course. Simpson has never won beyond 7250 yards with all 5 wins coming between 7100 and 7250. Maybe he is just a little short in the betting but I think it’s a combination of Hideki being a little big and Simpson being a little short. Matsuyama’s course form is very strong and was trending nicely until last year’s MC as he went 38-20-11-5  with the 5th coming in the best field of all at the US PGA. He is surely getting closer to a win and the last time he was seen on bermuda greens he finished 8th at TPC Sawgrass. Coral’s 20/1 with 7 places looks to be a great each way bet.

Benny An makes the team yet again and will continue to do so while he continues to return the place money. A tee to green test where scrambling is crucial is right up An’s street. He ranks 6th in strokes gained: tee to green and 1st in strokes gained: around the green. Poor putters can have done very well at Quail as the greens aren’t as difficult as other championship layouts. We know An is as poor as they come on the greens but that surely doesn’t warrant him being 55/1 here I don’t think. He hasn’t done much at the course yet but it should really suit and he was in fine form prior to his MC at the Heritage. He has had a week off and I’m happy to assume he has ironed out the driver problem that he had but the slightly wider fairways will also help.

If I’m placing putting ability down the list of attributes then I really have to side with Luke List at 80/1. His results haven’t been fantastic lately but Quail Hollow is a course that suits him where he has played well before and he finished 9th last year off the back of a MC, while this year he was 41st last time out. This season he ranks 14th in strokes gained: tee to green so he will be looking forward to the upcoming run of long, championship style courses that he can overpower. He’s not always the most reliable player when you think he is going to perform but with the stand out 80/1 we don’t have to get too involved stake wise.

Others who came close were Roberto Castro and Nick Watney and while I couldn’t put anyone off I think their general prices are just about right now since they have been cut. The 150/1 with 8 places very nearly tempted me to add Castro but while I can see him playing well I’d be surprised if he comes out on top of this field on such a long course. So I’ll stick with the three and hope that at least one of them can hole some putts!


Volvo China Open

The China Open returns to Genzon GC in Shangai after being away since 2014. It has hosted the Shenzhen International from 2015-2017 however so there are four events worth of form to look at. The four winners were Bernd Weisberger, Soomin Lee, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Alex Levy.

The course is a Nelson and Hawarth design like so many of the prominent championship courses in China and indeed Asia on the whole. They are responsible for Sheshan GC which hosts the WGC HSBC Champions event as well as Kuala Lumpur G&CC and Royal Selangor GC. They are similar courses and form stacks up nicely as does form in Asia in general. Some players love the consistently hot and humid conditions while others really aren’t suited at all. Don’t expect anyone with horrible form in Asia just to suddenly start enjoying themselves this week.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of this layout is off the tee. There are lots of forced carries, elevation changes and dog-legs where the green can be blocked out on parts of the fairway. A quick look at the leaderboards show plenty of long and accurate drivers. Another aspect looking purely at the winners suggests that committed and aggressive iron play will prosper once the fairways are found. There are few more aggressive players on the European Tour than Levy and Aphibarnrat with their approaches. Both of them will seldom lay-up on a par 5 nor pass up the opportunity to go straight at a flag. Luckily they both have a good enough short game to get them out of trouble if they do short side themselves and that is another attribute that has been crucial so far at Genzon.

I really like Hao Tong Li a lot as a player and a person as he plays golf the right way and has an infectious enthusiasm about him. I’d love to back him to win here and he is definitely the right favourite and probably the best player in the field right now. But even if he is almost the right price I don’t think I want to be wading in at just 12/1 about a player who ultimately hasn’t won since early 2018.

I stupidly made my shortlist this week before I knew who was even in the field and that resulted in scoring out quite a few namely Olesen, Fox, Coetzee and Luiten. But there were still a few names remaining and I’ve sided with three all from the second tier.

Bernd Wiesberger is slowly getting his game back if his last outing at the Indian Open is anything to go by. He ranked 5th in the all-round ranking with his long game showing signs of his best, which would be right at the very top of this field. His form in Asia has always been brilliant since he arrived on Tour. His first win in 2012 was in Korea and he has followed up with further ET trophies in Indonesia and on this very course in 2017. Looking more closely at just China, Wiesberger’s first MC there actually came in this event last year when playing with an injury but his results prior to that were 9-4-1-35-28-24-17-13-17-28-40-42-25-45. That 9th place was at the Nelson and Hawarth Sheshan course while he has been runner-up twice at their Kuala Lumpar course. The main downside this week is that he might still be a little too rusty in contention to get over the line again but conditions and course couldn’t be more suited. I think there is plenty of each way value with Boylesports’ stand-out 50/1 with 8 places.

Matsahiro Kawamura looks hugely over priced on recent form even if a lot of that has been reliant on the short game. His last two events he has finished 6th in Morocco and 2nd in India and both those events were at very difficult courses. Kawamura isn’t a player I know that much about just yet as we haven’t had too many chances to watch him on his rookie season on Tour. He is just 25 years old still but has racked up 28 top 10s world wide and his record of 7 top 20s in his first 12 ET events is a serious effort. The form just leaps out and I have to back him at 50/1 on value grounds alone.

The same applies to Scott Hend who everyone seems to forget very quickly about whenever he plays well or indeed wins like last month in Malaysia. We know ideally Hend wants a bit more space off the tee but that hasn’t stopped him before on courses with tight driving lines as he is a two-time runner-up at Crans and has won around Fanling. He can club down and find the fairways with 3 wood or long irons when needed and with his Asian form I think we are getting some value in this field. In particular he has form at the right courses too with three top 20s at KL G&CC and three top 25s at Sheshan in elite fields. That’s before we even look at his 4th and 15th at this very course.

Hend’s 3 ET wins have all came in Asia and his win in Malaysia in March was at Saujana G&CC which is a tight enough driving course with fiddly greens. The last two times he has won a tournament in March he has gone in again later that year and with him not getting any younger he will know he has to try to rack up the wins while he is playing well. For comparison’s sake price-wise, Ross Fisher is 28/1 and hasn’t won anywhere in 5 years while our main man Erik Van Rooyen is 20/1 and he hasn’t won anywhere full stop! How Hend can be 45/1 in this field is quite frankly a nonsense for me however he plays and he should be backed accordingly.


Summary of Bets

Wells Fargo

Hideki Matsuyama – 2pts ew @ 20/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)

Benny An – 1pt ew @ 55/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

Luke List – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred/Betway)

Volvo China Open

Scott Hend – 1.5pts ew @ 45/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Bernd Wiesberger – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Boylesports)

Matsahiro Kawamura – 0.75pts ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)

 

Weekly pts advised = 14pts

 

@theGreek82

RBC Heritage – Betting Preview

A second profitable major in a row was very welcome but it could have been even better had Kuchar not fallen out of the top 10 on Sunday. That would have resulted in all 3 outright picks placing as well as landing the Molinari top 10. With Tiger Woods winning that would have almost been the perfect Masters Sunday!

It was great to watch and makes the remaining three majors all the more mouthwatering. Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka both looked to have been nowhere near their best and yet both had putts for what would ultimately have been a play-off. Those two together with Woods look the men to beat at the next two US majors with Woods having won at both layouts and DJ and Brooks appearing to still have another gear if playing their best. Just 30 days until Bethpage Black!

2019 pts advised = 175

2019 pts returned = 167.61

ROI = -4.22


RBC Heritage

Rather hard to get up for this event after Sunday and I imagine most of the players who were still around Augusta for the weekend will be feeling the same.

The course at Harbour Town is most unlike Augusta in that there is very little margin for error off the tee and the ball simply must be kept in play. Recent winners include Jim Furyk, Graeme Mcdowell, Matt Kuchar and last year’s play-off winner Satoshi Kodaira. That is very much the profile that you want, a short hitting, accurate plodder who finds fairways and greens but also has an excellent short game when the small fiddly greens are missed. Almost the exact opposite of what we were looking for last week when power was crucial. It won’t get you too far this week at Hilton Head!

It’s a Pete Dye creation just like three weeks ago at the WGC Match Play and it plays to a very similar yardage at just 7099 yards. But that’s where the similarities stop and Harbour Town is more like Dye’s most famous layout TPC Sawgrass. Numerous players have won at both layouts and Players Championship leaderboards as well as RBC Heritage ones are worth a look at. Perhaps not this year’s however as it was very soft and not as challenging as Dye intended.

From a stats point of view players with good proximity figures obviously tend to go well here as putting can often take a back seat to those who hit a high number of the small greens. While driving accuracy numbers are worth a look there are lots of holes where driver won’t be used so it is worth considering those who have thrived on similar layouts and shown an ability to plot their way around a course by taking long irons off the tee to leave them in the best spot on the fairway to attack the green.

Patrick Cantlay could very well be an awful pick this week so if anyone has any doubts then obviously ignore this as always, but I backed him on Monday so it’s only fair to mention the bet. In all the the Woods excitement I had forgotten just how much Cantlay was in the thick of it before he bogeyed two of his last three holes. That probably isn’t something that he can shake off in just three days but Cantlay hasn’t had it easy since he first turned pro in 2012 and I think he might just have more perspective about his final round than most would so I’m willing to take a risk.

Cantlay’s form figures here are brilliant having finised 3rd back in 2017 before returning last year to post a 7th. Beyond that his form at Pete Dye courses is very solid, he has a 22nd and 23rd at Sawgrass and was 15th last year at TPC River Highlands while also setting the course record there in 2011. His solitary PGA Tour win came at TPC Summerlin which was designed by Pete Dye protege Bobby Weed.

This season he ranks 10th in strokes gained: tee to green, 14th in scrambling and 3rd in proximity to the hole from 150-175 yards. That range of approach shots is key as the players have to lay back slightly to avoid tree trouble and getting up and down is crucial with such small fiddly greens. Often Cantlay’s putting lets him down but it was interesting that it was the best part of his game last week at Augusta as he ranked 1st in total putting averaging just 26.5 putts per round. He also led the field in par 4 scoring which isn’t easy at the Masters. It is a skill that is always important at Harbour Town with the last 4 winners having ranked 2nd-1st-1st-2nd-1st in that department.

History tells us to avoid anyone near the Masters leaderboard the week after but we normally don’t see such a strong field and I don’t know if ignoring them all is wise. It is a bit of a risk and we aren’t getting a great price about a man with just 1 PGA Tour win but he loves the course and is in excellent form. He arrives off the back of the best week of his career and I’m hoping he sees that as a positive rather than a negative. When he misses the cut feel free to heckle me though!

In keeping with players who teed it up at Augusta I’m going for another at the top of the market. Matt Fitzpatrick was yet again tweeting about this being his favourite course and I’m hoping to take notice of that this year. After a horrible start on Thursday Fitz actually played the final three rounds in -11, which was better than everyone bar Xander Schauffele. A tight, tree lined course with fiddly small greens is basically what he is all about and I was surprised he opened as big as 50/1 in places. Already in his short career he has won twice around Crans in Switzerland and Woburn GC and he thrives on these sort of courses. He has played here four times to date with mixed results but given how much he loves it I’m sure he is treating it as a learning curve and his 14th last year was his best yet. Considering how much he improved throughout last week he will no doubt in a good state of mind for this and having been dismissed a little in the market he looks a very fair price for the world number 35 who is suited perfectly to the course.

Danny Lee was 7th on his last appearance at the Valero Texas Open two weeks ago. With a similar skillset required this week I think he could be over priced at 125/1. Lee can often pop up in high quality fields when everything clicks as he did at last years Players Championship where he finished 7th. He was also 3rd at TPC River Highlands in 2017 and 5th that same year at the Careerbuilder which uses another Dye course. Lee’s only PGA Tour win came on another TPC course at the Greenbrier while. Unfortunately for him these results don’t happen too often and his career has been littered sporadically with very good performances only to then struggle to push on. His Harbour Town form isn’t very good having not broken the top 30 in five tries but in keeping with his inconsistent form he has shot a couple of 66s at the course. His 2019 stats suggests he can go well here as he ranks 3rd in GIR from 150-175 yards and 30th from 125-150 yards. A bit of a hunch pick but big enough odds at 125/1 to get away with it.

Two more outsiders and they are Beau Hossler and Chesson Hadley. Hossler is a little bit of a bomber and to be honest not someone who I would immediately associate with this sort of course. But he finished 16th here last year and runner-up at TPC River Highlands while he bounced back to some kind of form with a 36th at the Texas Open two weeks ago. All 4 rounds were level par or better and that should have boosted his confidence. An interesting each way bet at 100/1

Hadley has had brilliant proximity to the hole numbers for the last few seasons and you sometimes wonder how he can still throw in such bad results when he is getting the ball so consistentyl close to the flag. But he is firmly marked down as a go to name for me on Pete Dye courses so I’m going to give him a chance at a big price. He hasn’t done much latey but yet sits 3rd in proximity to the hole and he was 7th here last year. His short game isn’t great but maybe the expected slower conditions will help him with his scrambling.


Summary of bets

RBC Heritage

Patrick Cantlay – 2.25pts ew @ 22/1

Matt Fitzpatrick – 1pt ew @ 33/1

Danny Lee – 0.75pt ew @ 125/1

Beau Hossler – 0.5pts ew @ 100/1

Chesson Hadley – 0.5pts ew @ 125/1 (all 1/5 odds 8 places with Betfair Sportsbook)

 

Weekly pts advised = 10

 

@theGreek82

The Masters 2019 – Betting Preview

Benny An returned a very small share of the place money but it was a frustrating week having to watch Correy Conners win without having tipped him. Regular readers will know I’ve put him up twice this year due to his immaculate tee to green game but when I looked for him on Monday he wasn’t in the field and I never even thought anything more about it until I saw him on the leaderboard after Monday Qualifying. I can only hope some readers remembered me banging on about his accurate tee to green game and backed him. This week we have the best golfing week of the year with The Masters and its shaping up to be as good as ever.

2019 pts advised= 154

2019 pts returned = 144.63

ROI = -6%


The Masters

I was going to waffle on like I have done the last 3 years about Augusta and The Masters but I’d only be regurgitating the same stuff and I’d rather get this published before the odds get slashed further! So instead I’ll just leave a link for people wanting some proper in-depth analysis as most of it is still pertinent now for The Masters and I did a fairly thorough job in 2016. For those that just want a quick summary and the picks just read on below.

https://thegreek82.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/the-masters-betting-preview/

Onto 2019; everyone reading this will probably already know the case for Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy and they are rightfully at the head of the market but neither are for me at the prices. Both are playing very well and while their long games will no doubt have them in the conversation over the weekend I’m still not convinced by either putting inside 10ft on fast greens.

So I’ve gone down the field a little for my main pick and that is the Spanish powerhouse Jon Rahm. He has a tee to green game built for Augusta and that was evident when he finished 4th last year. He has been on my list all winter so his recent form started pushing him further up that list but the clincher for me was looking at his putting stats for the season. He is only 63rd in strokes gained: putting but he is 10th in putting inside 10ft and 15th in 3-putt avoidance. Rahm has always been a very strong lag putter and the fact he is holing out so well is a huge bonus. It is probably the mid range putts that normally let him down but that shouldn’t be too much of a factor as long as he isn’t missing short ones or 3 putting.

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His game off the tee benefits from the huge landing areas at Augusta and given he is 2nd in strokes gained: off the tee he has the capacity to really over power the course much like Bubba Watson does. His natural drive is a big cut although he is capable of hitting a draw on the holes that require one. His big high fade with his irons is absolutely ideal for these hard, fast greens. It will be a huge advantage this week and he will be able stop the ball nearer the flag than most.

Already in his short career he has shown a love for difficult championship courses and his first professional win came at Torrey Pines which has long been a good indicator for the Masters as it requires a similar skill set. As well as his 4th here last year he also rounded off his major season with a 4th place at Quail Hollow and that would have left him hungry to properly launch an assault on this year’s majors. His preparation so far in 2019 couldn’t have set him up much better for that either as he has done everything but win. His stroke-play form this year reads 6-12-45-9-10-5-6-8. That’s extremely consistent golf but it has pretty much what he has been about ever since arriving on Tour. In just 74 events he has finished in the top 10 on 33 occasions.

Seven of the last 8 Masters winners were winning their first major and on the whole 11 of the last 16 major winners were also first timers. There are perhaps only a couple of names that are more deserving than Rahm of winning their first major and that is high praise considering both Fowler and Matsuyama have been professional for nearly three times as long as Rahm. I’m expecting a big week from him and a fairly chunky each way bet with Betfair’s 16/1 and 10 places looks the way to go.

Everyone’s favourite pantomime villain Matt Kuchar looks set for a massive week at Augusta and with his new-found status it means we can get a great price about him. Kuch was always a slightly dismissed player in the betting anyway such is his fairly dull, Furyk style of play. However with his bad press this year the market has gone mad. Kuchar was available to back at 50/1 with 10 places and I don’t see how anyone barring Mexico’s biggest Sergio Garcia fan could have seen that as anything but the standout value in the field. Unfortunately he was cut on Monday and he is now a best price 35/1 with 10 places. However Kuchar has made the last 9 cuts at Augusta returning 4 top 10s while in the 52 majors he has played to date he has 11 Top 10s. But if we look only at the period since 2010 when he raised his game to a new level then all 11 of those top 10s came in just 35 majors. When you are recording major top 10s at a rate of 31% then being able to back him at odds suggesting a 12.5% chance you have to jump at it. Even if you think he can’t win and are writing off the win portion then you are still backing the place at 22% which is considerably lower than his strike rate over the last 9 years.

Even Kuch’s biggest haters would be hard pushed to suggest he hasn’t looked a little more ruthless in the 2019 season having picked up 2 wins already and he marched all the way to the WGC Match Play final. So given how many attempts people normally require to win The Masters (average is around 8 but Garcia took 19!) it seems foolish to write off a Masters specialist with a new-found ability to get over the line again.

Several of stats this year are also in great shape for the test as he ranks 6th in strokes gained: approaches, 1st in GIR, 14th in par scoring and 5th in par 5 scoring. The improvement this year in some of these are perhaps why he is playing so well and definitely indicate that he could be set for his best ever Masters result. Kuch hasn’t been overly strong in GIR or par 5 scoring in recent years. He ranked just 94th in GIR last year while the two previous years weren’t a whole lot better at 64th and 43rd. He was a lowly 119th in Par 5 scoring last year and 49th-24th the 2 years prior to that. Approach play and over powering the Par 5s are perhaps two of the most important attributes at Augusta and these improvements give him a live chance and he should surely be priced nearer 25/1 this week so the 35/1 still looks like an excellent bet with 10 places.

I badly wanted to put Jordan Spieth up this week and I would have been steaming in at anything over 30/1. Unfortunately though the bookies are staying a little cagey and given his brilliant Masters record that is probably wise. He has been most erratic off the tee this year and we know Augusta is forgiving in that area. But the rest of his game isn’t nearly sharp enough to warrant a bet. Although Betway are apparently paying out as a winner on any outright bet that leads after any round. He might make appeal in that for some given how fast he usually start at Augusta. You could almost see him firing a Thursday 66 to lead only to go backwards the rest of the week.

Instead I’m completing my 3 pronged outright attack with another man whose game has always looked purpose-built for Augusta. Jason Day is very far from the popular, positive player he used to be given all the drama that normally follows him. He is forever moaning about injury or illness and while that is all fine and well if he is injured, he then goes and tees it up injured only to withdraw during the 1st round. That isn’t going to make you too popular with golf fans and particularly punters but at 28/1 with Betfair’s 10 places I can’t leave him out. His form here reads 20-22-10-28-20-3-WD-2 which is extremely impressive even if he hasn’t properly pushed on from nearly winning on his debut. While Day’s tee to green game hasn’t been anywhere near his best this year he still ranks 5th in strokes gained: off the tee despite seemingly never finding a fairway. That is absolutely fine at Augusta though as he can get the ball out there as far as possible without worrying too much where it ends up with the wide fairways on so many holes. The approach play is somewhat more worrying however as he ranks a lowly 125th in strokes gained: approaches. But Day has perhaps the best short game in golf so he shouldn’t need that much of an improvement to get competitive here and it is a long time since we saw him at 28/1 to win The Masters, snap it up and then just hope he doesn’t withdraw! (he has said that his back feels fine ahead of the week…..)

Aside from the main outrights I’ve got my usual major place market bets starting with a couple of ultra consistent tee-to- green players who should go on to post plenty more Augusta Top 10s. Hideki Matsuyama is another whose long game is literally perfect for the course. His putting has always let him down at the business end but only in terms of winning. His recent Masters form is absolutely rock solid reading 19-11-7-5 the last 4 years. He really should have won it in 2016 but he putted terribly on Sunday after giving himself eagle or birdie looks on every hole. That’s what you get however with Hideki but you also get an often peerless iron game and he sits 2nd in strokes gained: approaches this year. Another top 10 could well be looming even if he can’t make those crucial putts on Sunday.

Francesco Molinari’s last 12 months have been incredible and his form is so good now that he looks nailed on to play well in the majors this season. His Masters record isn’t great so far as he is yet to break the top 20 but with the improvement in his putting and the extra 15 yards off the tee that he has found there is a good chance we will see him on the leaderboard this week. I’d still be a little concerned about the 8ft putts on these greens though so a top 10 bet looks the way to play Moli here.

Hao Tong Li has been having a fairly good 2019 season but it’s largely been his form when stepping up in class that makes me think he can finish in the top 20 here. Li is extremely long off the tee and he ranks 3rd in strokes gained on the ET in that area. The rest of his game is suited to this test as well as he hits towering irons and when confident he is very competent holing out his short putts. That short game touch has helped him to 2nd in scrambling on the ET and 3rd in putts per round. He finished 32nd on his debut last year but I think a 2nd look can bring about an improvement and a top 20 looks very possible.

For a little while a few weeks ago I was convinced Charles Howell III was going to win The Masters so I must admit to throwing a few pounds on him to win on the exchange. I have since seen the light though and while I can’t quite advise a win bet I wouldn’t want to put anyone off having a small nibble such are his stats and form this year. Chucky Three Sticks ranks 1st in par 4 scoring, 2nd in bogey avoidance and 2nd in GIR. His results since his Fall Series win read 24-35-15-14-6-20-34-8-14 and he has a solid bank of Augusta form dating back to his early days on Tour (5 top 30s from 8 appearances). A top 20 should be well within reach for him the way he is swinging.

Given how well Rory McIlroy is playing there is a very good chance he is on the leaderboard all week this year. Last year he was in the last group with Patrick Reed going into the final round and this year he is playing considerably better. He is 7/1 to win the Masters but is also 7/1 to lead after round 3. Given his final round exploits to date at the Masters and all his recent Sunday wobbles bar The Players three weeks ago, I far prefer the price to lead after round 3. Despite his brilliance at Sawgrass it’s important to remember how soft it was and the greens were the most receptive we have seen there in years. The stimpmeter rated 15 greens at Augusta are entirely different and we have seen his confidence disappear on them on Sunday before. I can see him flying out of the blocks and finding himself in the final group again this year. After that I wouldn’t be so confident but with this bet you wouldn’t have to worry. So I’ll add a slightly novelty 1pt bet at 7/1 for McIlroy to lead after round 3.

1st round leader

Keegan Bradley is a bit of an obvious pick in the first round leader market as he so often shows up on the leaderboard on Thursday only to go “full Keegan” and miss the cut. He ranks 2nd in 1st round scoring over the last 3 months averaging a brutally low 65.73 for his 8 opening rounds in that period. But he is a considerably less obvious pick to lead after round 1 at Augusta. The (possibly) sound reasoning behind liking him this week at the Masters is the weather. With a rain softened course expected on Thursday I think the longer hitters’ advantage will be strongest on day 1 and while a few have overtaken him Bradley still gets the ball out there plenty far enough with his driver and finds more fairways than pretty much everyone that does out-drive him as he is 6th in total driving. The soft, receptive greens will also aid Bradley who is a horrible putter and only slightly better around the greens. He has a rather poor record at Augusta mainly because he can’t handle the bite in the greens but perhaps only the likes of McIlroy and Adam Scott enjoy a soft golf course more than Bradley. It’s taking a leap of faith to think that he can post a 65 or 66 given he only has 2 rounds in the 60s from his 18 career rounds and 5 rounds of 77 or worse! But one of those came in the final round when Adam Scott won in 2013 and the course was as soft as we have seen it in recent times. Worth a small go at 80/1 with Betfair/Paddy Power’s 8 places.

Keeping with the theme of big hitters, Lucas Bjerregaard couldn’t have wished for better conditions for his debut Masters round. Another ball striker who often struggles on the greens he will be arriving full of confidence after his WGC Match Play exploits. That coupled with the slower greens could see him really enjoy himself on Thursday and he as a fairly early tee-time with just 7 groups ahead of him. Take the 100/1 again with 8 places.

One final bomber and that is another guy who impressed at the Match Play and that is JB Holmes. He beat Jon Rahm and Si-Woo Kim but lost his opening match to Kuchar and that was enough to send him packing. Holmes will also enjoy putting and chipping on slower greens but like Bradley he doesn’t have the best of records at the course despite having a great record at Riviera, Torrey Pines and Quail Hollow. Those courses all have good form links with Augusta and with conditions to suit I think he should thrive off an early tee-time. It is easy to forget that he won around Riviera just 2 months ago so there is plenty mileage in the 80/1 although I’m siding with the 66/1 again for the 8 places..

There has been quite a lot of rain at Augusta the last couple of days and there was more forecast. If you are reading this on Wednesday then these might lose some of their appeal if there has been no more rain and the sub-air systems have dried the greens out. Worth a forecast check.

I’ve gone with a 4th pick as a bit of potential cover for the weather but they are all to very small stakes given how tricky it can be to predict. Charles Howell III sits 15th in round 1 scoring this season and I went over how well he is playing this year above. He has an early tee-time again here and has been in the 60s in 11 of his last 14 opening rounds. If the putter behaves, which it has been so far this season, he could go low enough to scare the leaderboard.

Anyone looking for one from the head of the market should probably consider Justin Thomas whose Masters form is improving every year and he sits 2nd in 1st round scoring for the season. I prefer to play the bigger prices in this market however even if there are usually at least 2 or 3 of the favourites right up there after day 1.


Summary of Bets

Jon Rahm – 3pts ew @ 16/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Betfair)

Matt Kuchar – 1.5pts ew @ 35/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Skybet)

Jason Day – 1pt ew @ 28/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Betfair)

Hideki Matsuyama – 2pts Top 10 @ 11/4

Francesco Molinari – 3pts Top 10 @ 7/4

Hao-Tong Li – 1pt Top 20 @ 9/2

Charles Howell III – 1pt Top 20 @ 4/1

Rory McIlroy to Lead After Round 3 – 1pt @ 7/1 (Betfair)

1st round leader bets

Keegan Bradley – 0.25pts ew @ 80/1

Lucas Bjerregaard – 0.25pts ew @ 100/1

JB Holmes – 0.25pts ew @ 66/1

Charles Howell III – 0.25pt ew @ 70/1 (all 1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

 

Weekly points advised = 21pts

@theGreek82

Valero Texas Open

Last week was a bit of a disaster and I really need to remember for next year that neither the WGC Match Play or the Indian Open are events to get too involved in. I’m still not sure how both Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm got eliminated at the group stage but those are the perils of match play golf I guess.

We just have the one event this week on the PGA Tour as everything builds towards The Masters next week. Unfortunately last week puts us back into the red but hopefully I can sort that this week having found Andrew Landry and Kevin Chappell the last 2 years in this event.

2019 pts advised = 146

2019 pts returned = 142.75

ROI = -2.2%


Valero Texas Open

The Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio is very much one that plays to accurate tee to green games. We probably shouldn’t expect much else from Greg Norman’s most famous course given he was one of the best drivers of a ball the game has seen prior to all the modern equipment changes.

With The Masters next week not everyone’s focus will be solely on winning here so it might pay to avoid those at the very top of the market. When Kevin Chappell won this 2 years ago he was very much a winner in waiting with several near misses. Last year Andrew Landry wasn’t perhaps quite so ready to win but he too had come close on a couple of occasions.

So the Texas Open is very much an event where you can give that player one more chance to get that win. If it’s been putting that’s been holding them back then you don’t have to worry too much as performance on the greens isn’t usually the deciding factor here.

This brings me on to Benny An and I’m going to give him one more go. Despite his group stage exit at the WGC Match Play An was his usually brilliant self from to tee to green but unfortunately he was also his usual awful self on the greens. An ranks 6th in strokes gained: tee to green for the season and this looks an ideal stop for him on current form.

He has only played here once and finished 40th but there was a 2nd round 69 so there is something to build on. The obvious downside is his putting but he has been scrambling better than most on the PGA Tour and that is usually more important on a course where plenty of greens are missed. Worth one more go at 33/1 with 8 places.

Joost Luiten is one of the very best tee to green on the European Tour and he will be looking to take advantage of his PGA invite in Texas. His record to date on U.S. soil isn’t very good but most of those have been in very strong fields for majors or the Players Championship. A fairly weak field like we have here should be a good chance for him to show the PGA Tour what he can do. With a Masters spot up for grabs as well Luiten will have plenty of motivation and appeals as a nice each way bet at 50/1

Andrew Landry hasn’t been in the best of form but sometimes course form is crucial with certain players. Defending a title isn’t easy even for the best players in the world but Matt Every has managed though so I think Landry can be backed to small stakes at least each way. Despite the results not being great he still ranks 12th in total accuracy over the last 3 months. It could just be that this is his course and at 100/1 it’s worth finding out.


ANA Inspiration

Having had a successful foray into the LPGA earlier in the year I thought I’d have a pop at the first Ladies major of the year. It’s not a particularly imaginative pick but I think Sung-Hyun Park’s form this year has been so good she is worthy of her place at the head of the market. The Ladies game is extremely competitive right now but at her best Park can still look almost unbeatable. Her current form this year reads 2-14-1-21 with the 2nd place coming on Sunday when she was beaten by Hataoka. That was also in California so she will be feeling comfortable going in to this week and also hungry having came up short. Her form in the event is strong reading 9-14-6 and if she continues playing the way she is I’d expect her to contend in every major this year. Consistency hasn’t always been her strongest suit to date in her career but she is maturing all the time and looks very much the player to beat this week as she chases her 3rd major. The general 10/1 isn’t fancy at all but I’m going to go win only with 2 points for a little interest elsewhere from Texas. Even if she doesn’t win it means we get to watch one of the best swings in golf for 4 days while cheering her on!

Speaking of sweet swings I’ve got to have a small bet on Anne Van Dam after her recent exploits in Europe. The young Dutch player has won 3 times since September on the European Tour with the most recent coming 3 starts ago. I’m not sure how long we will be able to back her at odds of 100/1 so I guess it’s more about her potential here than anything else. Her major record to date isn’t great but she hasn’t played in too many and this will be her first as a winner on Tour. Nothing too much can go wrong at 100/1.


Summmary of Bets

Valero

Benny An – 1pt ew @ 33/1

Joost Luiten – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Andrew Landry 0.5pt ew @ 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (All 1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

ANA Inspiration

Sung Hyun Park – 2pts win @ 10/1

Anne Van Dam – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

 

Weekly pts = 8

@theGreek82

WGC Dell Technologies Match Play and Hero Indian Open – Betting Preview

Both Jazz and Kieffer returned the each way money last week but things could have been even better as they were poised in 3rd place entering the final round. Hend holed two monster putts on his front 9 though and after a couple of other huge tree breaks it never really looked like anything but his day.

On the PGA Tour all the picks did terribly and missed the cut so we won’t dwell on that…..

This week we have 3 events to look at where I’ve got at least one bet in each, the WGC Match Play, Hero Indian Open and the PGA Tour alternate event in the Dominican.

2019 pts advised = 132

2019 pts returned = 142.75

ROI =8.14%


WGC Match Play

The WGC Match Play is settled into the new format now and that’s what 64 of the world’s best face again at Austin Country Club in Texas. They have been drawn into 16 groups of 4 with only the group winners advancing to the last 16 knockout stages over the weekend. They will each play one match a day from Wednesday to Friday so please note the early start this week. The course was designed by Pete Dye and the par 72 course sits at 7169 yards and is rather spectacular to the eye. It is a parkland course set along sprawling hills giving rise to elevation changes and undulating fairways very akin to some British links courses. There are also a lot of deep, menacing bunkers that give it a further links appearance. There are some driveable par 4s as well as 4 relatively short par 5s.

Whenever a course has elevation changes then distance control becomes absolutely paramount. As we have come to expect from Pete Dye designs (Sawgrass, RBC Heritage, Whistling Straits, PGA West), the greens are relatively small and they are undulating and tiered. Accurate approach shots will be required to find the correct portion of the green to allow a makeable birdie putt. But there will be many flags that simply have to be avoided with run-offs and green side bunkers aplenty. There are several examples of very aggressive players who play well in match play but similarly steady players that keep mistakes to a minimum can also thrive in the format. Just like stroke-play there are often different ways to succeed on a course but from what we have seen in the three editions in Austin so far, aggression and power are very advantageous indeed.

If we look at the three winners to date in Austin then something very obvious stands out (Bubba, DJ and Day). They are all elite bombers who were enjoying very good seasons and had all won that year already. They had all won majors and multiple WGC events. Despite the somewhat fortuitous nature of match play golf none of the winners were even close to a surprise. The new format may also have something to do with that but I’m not looking too far down the market for my main bets and I’m keeping with the same profile that has succeeded in the previous 3 events.

Genesis Open - Round Three

I suppose the obvious place to start would be with the two favourites Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson. Two of the most powerful players on Tour, both have won this year, both are in great form and both have won this title before. Yet despite my wish to stay at the head of the market I don’t think I quite want to be backing them at just 10/1 in this type of event where 4 of your best rounds guarantees nothing. You would also surely get a better price just backing him to win each match and then reloading the returns (not that simple as 3 group wins not required but hey ho). It isn’t quite the crap shoot some will suggest but a difficult group and one poor round can still send you home on Friday. Instead I’m going for the next player in “strokes gained: total” and that is Justin Thomas at a more appealing 20.0 win only on the exchange. He doesn’t quite have that 2019 win but he fits the profile perfectly apart from that. He isn’t having his best season with the driver, only ranking 38th in strokes gained: off the tee, but that has been met with yet further improvement in his iron game as he currently sits 4th on Tour in strokes gained: approaches. Thomas also ranks 10th in scrambling and 1st in par 5 scoring. That is a very strong combination if he brings his A game to Austin this week. In his early career he didn’t particularly stand out as someone who thrived in match play but we have to re-evaluate that given the heights he hit in 2018. Not only did he make the semi-finals here, losing only to the winner, but he refused to wilt in Paris at the Ryder Cup. While his team-mates were spraying the ball everywhere at Le Golf National, Thomas stood up and showed how adaptable he has become by taking 4pts from 5. I think the new Thomas that we have seen over the last 2 years is one that will be a formidable match play opponent for years to come and he looks to have a great chance of grabbing his second WGC this week.

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Instead of having a few big each way picks I’m having another win only from the top in the shape of big Jon Rahm. His form has taken a huge upturn in the last month having started 2019 rather slowly. He does have a win this season but just not a PGA Tour recognised event despite the Hero World Challenge being an elite field. Rahm also showed his suitability to the course on his debut when he marched to the final only to find DJ just too good. I imagine expectations would have been very high last year for the cocky Spaniard so a group stage exit might have given him a reminder that you can’t get everything your own way in Match Play. His numbers have also been improving and he ranks 2nd in strokes gained: off the tee which is crucial. If he brings the approach game that we saw at Sawgrass then I’d expect another strong showing like 2017.

It is surely a matter of time before he starts winning big titles and these days the ideal preparation for winning a major seems to be winning a WGC. With a reasonable group he should make it through to the knockout stage and nobody in the field would relish playing him head to head this week. Both Rahm and Thomas are in the tough half of the draw and on paper would face DJ and Rory in the semi finals respectively. But there will be chances to hedge if we make it that far and I’d give them a good shot at winning those matches anyway.

Backing outsiders in this can very quickly go wrong and Abraham Ancer might just lose his first match to Paul Casey to all but lose the bet. But at odds of 125/1 with 8 places he surely makes the last 8 more than just once in 26 attempts from this group. Therefore I think we are getting a very solid each way price but I also think he will be suited to a match play event in Texas. You don’t win an Australian Open without having both a strong short game and ability to play in the wind. Both those attributes will help him this week and if he can avoid defeat to Casey he might just play his way into this Tournament. Ancer is a long enough driver of the ball but he is also accurate and ranks 23rd in strokes gained: off the tee. That is always valuable at Austin Country Club and he was last seen finishing 12th on another Dye course at Sawgrass. He ranks 29th in scrambling and 44th in strokes gained: approaches for the season. He doesn’t have much match play experience of any note but that hasn’t stopped a few debutants running deep in this event before. Worth a little go in the hope Casey maybe isn’t fully wound up on Wednesday after his Valspar win on Sunday.

Benny An was on my short list for this but was then given a pretty awful draw alongside both Tommy Fleetwood and Louis Oosthuizen. However the way An has been playing, particularly scrambling, I think he maybe still has a chance. Fleetwood has been putting probably as poorly as An himself so that match will be interesting on the greens. Oosthuizen finished runner-up to Casey at the weekend but he only hit 6 of his greens in regulation on Sunday and he wasn’t much better through the week. Oosty will have to improve his approach play if he wants to get out of a group that features 3  tee-to-green machines. If Benny can hole a few putts (I know, fat chance of that!) then I think he can get more competitive than his price suggests. He sits 11th in strokes gained: off the tee, 50th in approaches and he is 2nd around the green. Small stakes each way at 100/1 and cross our fingers!


Hero Indian Open

The DLF Golf and Country Club in Delhi is probably about as quirky and trappy a course as we will see in professional golf and therefore punters have learned it’s not an event to waste that much time on. The propensity for event ruining bad bounces off a rock means that fortune certainly plays its part more than it does at other events. Although that shouldn’t detract too much from the two very deserving winners the course has thrown up.

With all this in mind then the best angle in is probably to play a couple of bigger prices. However there aren’t too many that I like the look of so instead I’ve decided to go with two in form players that owe me nothing after returning the place money last week. Both Sharma and SSP arrived in decent form so with good GIR numbers last week, Jazz Janewattananond and Max Kieffer appeal again. They are both fairly horrible prices at first look, especially for 2 players chasing their first ET win. But we have to be flexible on a week like this where the field strength isn’t great and Jorge Campillo is among the favourites. If I wasn’t playing with last week’s profit I could maybe pass but both should enjoy this test and they showed that last week with Kieffer ranking 2nd in GIR and Jazz 1st in driving accuracy. Jazz actually also came 3rd for putting despite missing practically everything on Sunday. His whole game really is in great shape and given he didn’t look like he was scared to win I make him the man to beat this week. Take Kieffer as a solid each way back-up plan again.


Corales Puntacana Championship

Just the one pick here that interests me in the alternative event and that is Curtis Luck. The event the last couple of years has turned into somewhat of a short game battle and few in the field are better equipped than the young Aussie. He isn’t the best ball-striker in this field by any stretch but with wide open fairways and big, straight-forward paspalum greens, the majority of the field will be finding a high number of greens. He finished 13th last week at the Valspar which was his best finish of the season. He was 3rd in putting and 12th for scrambling. If we see that level of short game again then he should relish this course.


Summary of bets

WGC Match Play

Justin Thomas – 2.5pts win @ 20.0 on Exchange (anything down to 17.0 looks fair)

Jon Rahm – 2pts win @ 20.0 on Exchange (again anything down to 17.0 fine)

Abraham Ancer – 0.75pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfair/Paddy Power)

Benny An – 0.5pts ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)

Hero Indian Open

Jazz Janewattananond- 1.5pt ew @ 16/1

Max Kieffer – 1pt ew @ 22/1 (both 1/5 odds 7 places)

Corales Puntacana

Curtis Luck – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

 

Weekly points advised = 14pts

 

@theGreek82