BMW Championship and D+D Real Czech Masters – Betting Preview

A poor week last week with nobody even looking like contending. I must admit with the change in schedule everything has felt a little bit different this summer and I’ve struggled to get a handle on things the last month or so. Thankfully the European Tour returns after a break but with lots of rusty swings it looks like a small stakes week in the Czech Republic.

2019 pts advised = 408

2019 pts returned = 492.73

ROI = 20.77%

BMW Championship

Medinah is of course long etched in the memory of European golfers and fans alike after the Miracle in 2012. But you have to go back to 2006 to find the last time it was used for a professional stroke-play event. At some 7650 yards there has been a lot said about power off the tee this week but I think it is equally going to be about the long approach shots. So while the bombers could well be hitting more like 175-200 yard approaches into lots of holes, the shorter hitters can still contend if they are excellent long iron and hybrid players from 200 yards plus. With very small greens there will be plenty missed and I’d make accuracy with the mid to long irons the most important factor this week. As always with small greens though good scrambling skills will also be required. These appear to hold strong if we look at that 2006 leaderboard and also the players who fared well at the 2012 Ryder Cup. Tiger won here in 2006 and he was arguably one the best long iron player ever while Donald finished 3rd and at his peak he was a brilliant iron player and also one of the best scramblers on Tour. Garcia and Scott also tied for 3rd and you would struggle to name too many more consistent iron players over the last 20 years. Bradley and Mickelson won all 3 of their matches together at the 2012 Ryder Cup and Bradley is one of the best long iron players in the game while Mickelson is one of the most impressive scramblers we have ever seen. You can see why they were such a perfect team at Medinah.

Rickie Fowler stood out massively on Monday at 48.0 on Betfair although the 28/1 with the bookmakers isn’t quite so exciting. I’m still willing to give it a go though as Fowler tends to come alive around this time of the year in the Fed Ex events played in the North East. His last two results in Illinois in particular have been 2nd and 4th while before last week’s missed cut his previous start was 6th at The Open. Last week in New York will surely have been more about shaking the rust off ahead of the last two big stroke-play events of the year. With Fowler very happy in his personal life now I look at his all-round game and keep seeing absolutely no reason for him not to move to the next level. The only thing holding him back now seems to be mental and we have all been stung backing him sub 20/1 in a major when everything looked in his favour. But there is a huge difference between that and backing him at 28/1 in a 70-runner event without the Major pressure. His game is simply too good to give up on and he is particularly suited to long, classic courses like Medinah. Fowler ranks 12th in proximity to the hole from approaches over 200 yards and this has always been a strong part of his game ranking 20th, 11th, 79th, 16th, 95th, 80th, 88th, 1st, 13th since he turned professional. There is a feeling that he has had a poor year yet he sits 17th in the Fed Ex Cup, has a win to his name and ranks 7th in the all-round ranking so his game is clearly in great order. In truth it’s hard to say why he hasn’t had a better summer but I expect to see a big Fed Ex finish from Fowler and I’m happy to play him at at a decent each way price of 28/1 with 7 places. I’m also adding another 1pt win only on the Exchange at 46.0

I did look at backing him up with an outsider but it’s amazing how these play-off event shave been dominated by the best players in recent times. I’d be confident the winner comes from the front 12-16 in the market and I’m not sure I want to be backing two from that bracket this week so will just play Fowler from the start and look at maybe another in play. Of the other classy each way options Ian Poulter probably makes most appeal and I’ll be keeping an eye on him.

Czech Masters

The Albatross Golf Club near Prague is a bit of a brute by European Tour standards at 7467 yards and while a hot putter is required to get to a winning score usually well into double figures, the five winners all tend to be quite effective off the tee too. Pavan last year only ranked 43rd in total driving but Porteous was 3rd, Peterson 9th, Pieters 5th and Jamie Donaldson 18th in that department. They also ranked 1st, 14th, 9th, 1st and 18th respectively in total putting. While I’d suggest those two attributes are the most important I should also mention that they averaged 7th in GIR during the week of their win. Unfortunately suggesting they need to be effective off the tee, hit lots of greens and putt well typically just suggests you want to find a good golfer! But I’d definitely make sure anyone you are backing this week has been performing strongly in one of these areas throughout the season.

Calum Shinkwin leads the European Tour in strokes gained: off the tee and that looks a good enough reason to back him here. The worry with Shinkwin is often the short game and particularly the putter so you can never be sure that he will make enough birdies to contend. But he will arrive here in confident mood having made his first ever major cut on his last start at the Open and he went on to finish 41st. He has also putted well on these greens before ranking 3rd in total putting when he finished 9th two years ago. This feels like a course he can contend on again and an average putting week is normally enough for Shinkwin to go well in this level of field such is the strength of his long game. So he looks well worth a bet at 80/1 with Boylesports 7 places.

I must admit to barely noticing Espen Kofstad’s return to Tour this year but after looking at some of the other events that Czech Masters champions had won, I noticed he popped up having won the Challenge Tour Grand Final at the same course as Andrea Pavan won his. Jamie Donaldson was also a runner-up there and the course doesn’t look dissimilar with exposed, undulating terrain, water in play and big greens. This was enough to get me looking at Kofstad and he was actually having a decent run of form before the regular ET break. His results read 12th-19th-26th-64th while he ranked inside the top 32 for total driving and total putting on all four of those starts. Kofstad has also won already in Eastern Europe as his last Challenge Tour win came in Slovakia in July 2016 so he is comfortable in the conditions. It’s fairly hunchy but these exposed, coastal courses are very much the sort that Scandinavians tend to go well on and at 200/1 he looks worth a small play in a difficult betting heat.

Summary of Bets

BMW Championship

Rickie Fowler – 1pt ew @ 28/1 (1/5 odds 7 places) and 1pt win @ 44.0 on Betfair

Czech Masters

Calum Shinkwin – 0.75pts ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Boylesports)

Espen Kofstad – 0.75pts ew @ 200/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred)


Weekly pts advised = 6pts




Wyndham Championship and Women’s British Open – Betting Preview

Webb Simpson played a brilliant final round to almost crash the Koepka v McIlroy party but it wasn’t to be as he could only make par on 18 after aggressively carrying his approach 10 yards too far on the Tiger line. I imagine Koepka would still have won had Webb posted -14 but he did wobble with the driver on 15 and 16 and it might have been interesting enough. It was very impressive stuff from Simpson though to finish 2nd and further highlights just how good he his when playing his best stuff on a suitable course. This is a rollover point this week too as Simpson heads the market in the Wyndham at 10/1, a price that has brought about lots of healthy twitter debate.

2019 pts advised = 393.50

2019 pts returned = 488.53

ROI = 24.15%

Wyndham Championship

After an eventful weekend at the WGC the focus very much shifts to the Play-offs as we have the last regular event before the field is whittled to 125 players for the Northern Trust. The Wyndham has been on the go for years and it’s been held at Sedgefield since 2008 so everyone has a fairly good idea of what is required.

The 7127 yard par 70 is a Donald Ross design and it is such a classic test that is one of the few courses on Tour where the bombers really have very little advantage. The tree-lined fairways are narrow enough but the fairways narrow even further as we reach the 300 yard mark off the tee. Therefore players either need to be extremely accurate with the big stick or club down and hit either irons or 3 woods. From there things get a little easier as the course isn’t tough and it becomes a battle from anywhere up to 175 yards and in. The short irons are key so too is a liking for bermuda greens as plenty of putts will need to be holed from the 10-20ft mark if anyone wants to contend. Snedeker won last year with a total of -21 and he opened up with the PGA Tour’s 9th round of 59.

Form at Ross courses tends to tie in nicely and this year as well as the usual East Lake, Aronimink, Oak Hill and Pinehurst leaderboards, Ross’ Detroit GC was added into the rotation as it hosted the Rocket Mortgage Classic just last month.

From a stats point of view I always find driving accuracy, par 4 scoring, scrambling and approach stats from 125-175 yards all very helpful guides for who might play well at Sedgefield. Given the low scoring nature it also won’t hurt to side with players who are putting well as a slow start on Thursday isn’t going to be much use if someone opens with a 59 again!

Scott Piercy isn’t a player that you can ever really trust sub 40/1 as he often seems to struggle when things are expected of him. But somehow he comes into this week very much under the radar. That’s despite a 15th on his last start and a 3rd at the RBC Heritage which correlates brilliantly with Sedgefield. He also made the cut at both the US Open and PGA and is having a very solid year as he ranks 26th in the Fed Ex Cup. Three of his four PGA Tour wins have come in late July or August so we can expect a strong finish to the season and he looks like a great each way bet at 50/1.

Piercy has played Sedgefield 5 times and he has had some success with an 8th and a 12th while he has only missed the one cut on his debut. He also posted one of his best major finishes around the Donald Ross designed Oak Hill in the 2013 US PGA where he came 5th. Piercy’s 2019 stats also look to tie in perfectly with Sedgefield as he sits 5th in par 4 scoring, 30th in driving accuracy, 21st in scrambling and 6th in GIR from 150-175 yards. He is even putting quite well as he ranks 68th in that strokes gained department. That is a huge improvement on recent years where he ranked 187th, 186th and 153rd. That improvement could be exactly what he needs to get his 5th win and ranked at no. 60 in the world I’m not convinced there should be 19 odd players ahead of him in the betting here.

I put Sam Ryder up for this last year and after a debut 45th I think his case is possibly more compelling this year. Firstly it’s worth pointing out that he isn’t having the best year in 2019 but a couple of October top 5s still has him inside the top 100 on the Fed Ex list at 98. He is generally making the weekend though and his last 3 results have been 45-18-34. His best ever PGA Tour finish was at last year’s John Deere Classic which is another short course that puts a premium on wedge play and holing putts. That is generally what Ryder’s game is about but he is quite solid through the bag and currently sits in a very lofty 12th place in the all-round ranking on Tour. More specifically he is 31st in scrambling, 19th in par 4 scoring, 12th in GIR 125-150 yards and 19th in strokes gained: putting. Ryder obviously comes in as a massive outsider but there are enough reasons to think he can out play his odds of 150/1 with Skybet’s 8 places.

Ryan Armour was 8th here last year and despite a fairly average season I think he is worth siding with at 125/1. Armour sits 4th in driving accuracy, 14th in scrambling, 36th in par 4 scoring and 42nd in GIR 125-150 yards. When a player is suited to a short technical course like Sedgefield it can often transpire that they pop up from nowhere as they struggle to compete on longer courses where bombers have such an advantage. That’s about the height of my reasoning for Armour!

It’s taken a long time for me to forgive Vaughan Taylor for pipping Mickelson to the AT&T at Pebble Beach in 2016 but I’m just about there. It has always stuck in my mind since then just what a good putter he is and this year is no different as he ranks 5th on Tour in strokes gained: putting. His record in the Wyndham isn’t actually great but he is in stellar form having finished 4th, 46th and 6th on his last three starts. The most recent 6th was at the John Deere Classic which is very much a fairways and wedges course like Sedgefield. He ranked 5th in both driving accuracy and GIR that week while he is 40th on Tour for scrambling. I’ll complete the line-up by having a small bet on Taylor to keep up his fine form.

Women’s British Open

Just a couple of small bets here.

The event returns to Woburn and its Marquess course where Ariya Jutanugarn won in 2016. The course is a winding, dog legged parkland course and the premium is very much on accuracy. With the women playing majors on consecutive weeks I’m keen to side with players who played well last week but avoided the heat of the battle over the weekend.

Eun Hee Ji was 25th last week but her long game was as accurate as ever ranking 5th for fairways hit and 11th in GIR. As is often the case with her, the putter was a little cold but we have seen what she can do when it heats up . Her 3 wins over the last 2 years have arrived when the putts started to drop. Although with recent warm weather and lots of rain I expect we might see a fairly difficult test this week with the rough up and the course playing very long. This should put the emphasis on the tee-to-green which will suit the 2009 US Open winner as she ranks 18th in total driving and 13th in GIR for the season.

Yu Liu is a very similar case as she was 30th at the Evian, ranking 1st in driving accuracy and 13th in GIR along the way. Liu doesn’t have the bank of experience of playing in Britain like Ji does but she was 7th on her Open debut last year at Lytham. It is one of the fiddliest links courses on the Open rota and not a terrible sighter for Woburn despite the lack of trees. Liu is 7th in total driving over the last 3 months and 21st in GIR while 14 of her last 16 rounds have been under par. Liu was 5th in this year’s US Open so already in just 7 majors she has two Top 10s. Looks a big price at 100/1.

I watched both events last weekend and was so impressed with Simpson and the Evian winner Jin Young Ko. I believe she will take a lot of beating here given how excellent her long game was in France. I also love Webb’s chances in the Wyndham but it’s hard to argue he is a good price at 10/1 so I’m going to have an each way double on them at 109/1.

Summary of bets


Scott Piercy – 1.5pts ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfair/PP)

Sam Ryder – 0.75pts ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Ryan Armour – 0.5pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)

Vaughan Taylor – 0.5pts ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)

Women’s British Open

Yu Liu – 0.5pts ew @ 100/1

Eun Hee Ji – 0.5pts ew @ 66/1 (both 1/5 odds 6 places)

0.5pts ew double of Webb Simpson (10/1 – 8 places) + Jin Young Ko (9/1-6) @ 109/1


Weekly pts advised = 9.5pts



WGC Fed Ex St. Jude Invitational – Betting Preview

A hugely disappointing week from a betting point of view. I was so close to putting Lowry up but there was some nagging doubt preventing me from pulling the trigger. To make matters worse all 4 live bets on Sunday morning fell away in the dire Portrush weather in the final round. Stenson, Kuchar, Langasque and Benny An all had days to forget as they slid down the leaderboard.

That being said it was still a great final round to watch and Lowry was immense all week answering every single question that was asked.

2019 pts advised = 385.5

2019 pts returned = 473.28

ROI = 22.8%

WGC Fed Ex. St. Jude Classic

After 19 years at the rather boring Firestone Country Club this particular WGC is on the move south to Memphis, Tennessee. I’m not sure why but it’s possibly because of the fact it was a fairly boring course with plenty of identical holes but TPC Southwind has been signed up for this year and we look set for a good event, providing everyone gets over their jetlag after travelling over from Northern Ireland!

Much like Firestone it is also a ball striker’s course where position off the tee and approach shots are crucial however there is more shape to these tree-lined fairways, unlike the famously straight fairways of Firestone. The nature of those tee-shots didn’t appeal to everyone and at TPC Southwind while accuracy is equally important there is more allowance for shaping the ball off the tee. It is a technical, tree-lined par 70 with slightly narrower than average fairways and some thick rough awaiting those that do stray a little too far off the tee. Being a par 70 there are only 2 par 5s so for those not finding the fairway it can be a long round. There are several long par 4s and trying to find these small greens from the rough won’t be easy. Therefore it is often a course that rewards steady, accurate play from tee-to-green. With small bermuda greens usually running quick enough plenty of greens will be missed and scrambling skills will also be tested.

The course has held the Fed Ex St. Jude Classic since 1989 so there is plenty of course form to pour over. Dustin Johnson is the most recent winner while Daniel Berger won two in a row prior to that. In all three of those events the winner led the field in strokes gained: tee to green so that looks like the best angle in to the event.

The course was designed by Ron Pritchard who is somewhat of a Donald Ross disciple. He doesn’t have too many other courses in use on Tour but he has been tasked with restoring lots of Donald Ross courses to his original plans, most notably Aronimink GC which has hosted two recent play-off events.

The TPC Southwind course record of 61 was set twice, firstly in 1993 then again in 2001, yet the winning score has generally been around the -10 to -13 mark for most of the recent renewals. This suggests they made things a little more difficult during the 2004 restoration and I’d expect that to be even more of the case now it hosts a WGC event. The modern power players keep ripping up the rule book but with hot temperatures and a steady breeze forecast, I’d still be surprised if the winner made it much beyond -12 in Memphis.

This test looks right up Webb Simpson’s street. All 5 of his wins have come on short to medium length courses between 7100 and 7300 yards so TPC Southwind will be ideal at 7244. His form at the course is mixed but there was a standout 3rd place from 2014 proving he does like the course. Simpson was a popular pick last week but I couldn’t quite have him on a proper links course myself. He played quite nicely though in Portrush before wobbling on Sunday along with most of his fellow Americans in the grim weather.

Simpson is a Donald Ross lover and his first win on Tour came at Ross’ Sedgefield layout which prompted the naming of his first child Wyndham after the event. He has also very nearly won around East Lake with three top 5s and he has a brilliant record at Aronimink (6th-8th) which was redesigned by Ron Pritchard himself.

Simpson currently ranks 20th on Tour for strokes gained tee-to-green and leads the Tour in scrambling. While some might smirk at the 40/1 at least we are backing a player that is twice proven when it comes to beating elite fields, most recently of course winning The Players last year when he led the strongest field of the year a merry dance. He has become a different beast since finally finding a new legal putting stroke and he looks like the best bet in the field for me this week.

Although fading all the players at the top of the market will no doubt come back to haunt me, there seems no easy way of separating them to find a bet this week. So instead I’ll have a couple more outsiders.

Corey Conners should enjoy the layout given how little putting has mattered recently. The Canadian winner of the Texas Open is all about the tee-to-green and that TPC San Antonio layout is one of the courses where poor putters prosper the most on the PGA Tour. Conners ranks 10th in strokes gained tee to green while he is a lowly 197th in putting. He should be a little bit more refreshed than some of these having missed the cut in the Open so he will have had 2 more days to travel and recover. His results since his win have been quite average but he led the field in GIR on his last US start so clearly the long game is still in fine order. Looks a big price at 250/1 for someone who won just 3 months ago.

Nate Lashley also looks a huge price given he won just 4 weeks ago. This is a massive step up for him but he will be far more suited to TPC Southwind than he was to his 2nd Major last week in Portrush. Lashley has played the course before, finishing 37th last year and he sits T2nd in par 4 scoring this season on Tour. Throw in 19th in strokes gained: approaches, 11th in proximity to hole and 35th in scrambling and it looks like he could go very well indeed. Most recent WGC’s have featured a random name or two popping up on the leaderboard and Lashley might just be this week’s wildcard in Memphis.

I might be back tomorrow if I get a chance to have a look at some of the other events this week but for now I’ll leave it at those 3, with Simpson the only really strong fancy.

Summary of bets

WGC Fed Ex. St Jude

Webb Simpson – 1.5pts ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair)

Corey Conners – 0.5pts ew @ 250/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred) and 1pt Top 20 @ 6/1

Nate Lashley – 0.5pts ew @ 200/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair) and 1pt Top 20 @ 6/1


Weekly points advised = 7pts




The 148th Open Championship – Betting Preview

No returns last week although George Coetzee came up just one shot shy. On to arguably the best golfing week of the year with The Open Championship from Northern Ireland.

2019 pts advised = 362

2019 pts returned = 473.28

ROI = 30.7%

The Open Championship

The Open crosses the Irish Sea for only the second time ever and the first in 68 years and it’s safe to say the locals are rather happy about it. You don’t have to look too far on Twitter to find pictures of the pro’s practicing or detailed course previews from locals and we might be set for one of the best atmospheres ever at the Open. That’s before we even consider the ridiculously strong field and a course that by all accounts is in absolutely pristine condition. Royal Portrush hosted that 1951 Open Championship won by Max Faulkner but since then it has only seen a handful of Amateur Championships and the 2012 Irish Open won by Jamie Donaldson. The main problem holding the course back was a lack of space for the infrastructure required to host an event of that stature. So a few holes were changed and others were moved to create a large space at the old 17th and 18th holes. The result is a Championship course that will play to a par 71 this week and some 7337 yards. The original was a Harry Colt design way back in 1888 and the most recent changes were carried out by Martin Ebert.

There isn’t too much point me going in to great detail about the course as I would only be stealing material from others given I don’t know a great deal about the course beyond it being a classic Irish links course winding through lots of dunes. So instead I’ve just pasted the links to two excellent hole by hole guides created by @neverupneveron and @MattCooperGolf

With this info we can at least try to think about who might be suited to this test, one which I’m treating as a proper links test in the hope that we see at least some sun and wind to make things tricky for some of the 4 days. A proper links test usually requires one of two things and that is hitting greens relentlessly for 4 days when others are missing or scrambling brilliantly while others make bogeys. From looking at Portrush these appear to be the two challenges. The course is firm enough that there is some rollout on the the fairways but apparently most players will be looking to find the same landing areas resulting in approaches being paramount. The difficult green complexes will further highlight the importance of well struck approach shots as there are run-offs and hillocks a plenty around every green that will swallow up any shot that misses its target even slightly. The same undulations will require imagination around the greens if they are missed and you seldom ever see an Open winner that can’t scramble well under pressure. How important putting will be might depend on what the weather does, if we see a low scoring week like the two previous links events then the winner will need to have made plenty of birdies. If we get a proper test with some wind and the course firming up, I’d expect the flat-stick to be less important the more that par becomes a good score. I’m looking largely at players who excel with their approach play or scrambling and if you can find players who do both well then all the better.

Trends wise The Open throws up perhaps more than it should given the change of course every year. Some of these need to be given more attention than others however but I’ve highlighted 3 that can be useful this week;

  • 13 of the 19 winners this century had won a tournament already that calendar year, essentially all this tells us is that they are having a good year and in form. If they haven’t won for 6 years then ok it might be a stretch for them to win an Open but if they have lots of top 5 finishes, are playing well and won last season then you shouldn’t dicsount them. But definitely concentrate on players who are in good form.
  • 9 of the last 10 winners had previously recorded an Open top 10. Very important! There’s no point being too strict with this but you want your player to have played well in an Open before and contended in some capacity. Experience is crucial at The Open.
  • You have to go back to Louis Oosthuizen in 2010 to find a winner who had missed the cut in either of the Majors in the season of their Open win. Again not one to be too strict with but it basically tells us that they need to have been playing well in elite fields so far this season. It’s worth noting a couple of these withdrew or didn’t make the field for whatever reason but not a single major MC in that season for the last 9 winners tells us a lot about the state of their games.

Henrik 1

Having followed Henrik Stenson around The Renaissance Club on Friday afternoon I decided he would be my main bet this week despite the lack of the all important recent win. Basically all a recent win says is that they are in excellent form and there are other ways of proving that without lifting a trophy. Stenson absolutely flushed his tee shots and his approaches all week and it was extremely enjoyable to see him and hear him up close. Stenson’s putting let him down as he missed quite a lot inside 10ft but from what I saw his lag putting was absolutely spot on and if Portrush plays at all difficult then that will be every bit as important as the 8ft birdie putts. His nearly peerless tee-to-green game was right back to it’s best as he ranked 2nd in fairways hits (75%) and 1st for GIR (91.7%). While the immediate rough was basically non existent, some of the fairways were narrow enough and he really did have the ball on a string. Stenson plays a very light schedule these days at 43 years old and that probably contributes to his lack of a win as he tends to just play the big events with elite fields. His results have been decent enough recently as he is on a run of 8-9-4 while he holds his almost customary position at the top of the strokes gained: approaches category on the PGA Tour and 8th on the European Tour.

Stenson’s recent Open record is superb with his career achievement coming at Troon in 2016 when he beat Mickelson head to head and posted the all-time low Open score of 264 (-20). On top of that he has another three top 3 finishes and hasn’t missed the cut since 2007. His warm up last week looks absolutely ideal and a birdie fest never fully suits Stenson unless he is putting well but the fact he got to within 3 shots putting so poorly has to be a positive. I expect him to carry that form over and he will be suited to the more difficult test where any improvement with the putter has to see him go close. His odds have contracted a little but 25/1 for such a talented player close to his best still makes plenty of appeal for me.

Matt Kuchar’s odds to win golf tournaments these days never cease to amaze me. How he was 60/1 to win the Open two weeks ago I have no idea. He has rightly been cut but I still think the 33/1 on offer is too big for the man who currently leads the Fed Ex Cup rankings having won twice this year and has seldom been outside the top 20 wherever he has played. Kuch fits the veteran profile that so often wins the Open due to the required links experience and patience required if the weather turns. He lost out to Spieth in 2017 but in all honesty did very little wrong as he was three strokes ahead of 3rd place and Spieth rode his luck at times.

Kuchar sits 5th on Tour for GIR and 8th in scrambling and that is exactly the sort of combination that we want at Portrush. Playing in his 15th Open he is now a seasoned links player and only a poor round on Friday stopped him from properly contending last week in Scotland. His 2019 major season has been very strong indeed as he has gone 12-8-16 and another contending week seems on the cards therefore the 10 places look a gift for a top 10 machine like Kuchar. He just simply seems too big a price even having been cut and really should be backed on value grounds alone.

Kevin Kisner also make the team on price alone as it is hard to believe how he is 125/1 despite a poor performance last week. He is a far better player than those odds suggest and also having a far better year than those around him in the market as he won the WGC Match Play and also posted a 21st at the Masters as well as 6 other top 25s. Kisner contended all the way last year before finishing T2nd and this will be his 5th Open appearance, improving each year. He is one of the grittiest players around when it comes to saving par and he seems to thrive on the pressure of getting up and down when it matters. He is a proven winner with 5 professional wins and we have seen lots of players win a WGC on their path to a major and Kisner could join that list this week. Kisner was a little bit wild off the tee last week but that was quite out of character and he was perhaps trying to hit it harder knowing how easy the rough was. I’d expect him to get back to hitting fairways this week as normal and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he popped up as the latest in a long list of lesser known US winners of the Claret Jug.

I’ve been back and forth on Patrick Cantlay but I’m willing to forgive his relative lack of links experience due to the fact his price looks relatively fair at 25/1. Cantlay finished 12th last year at Carnoustie on his debut and that was a heck of an effort. But despite that being his debut he did have some very solid links form at Royal Aberdeen where he took 2.5pts out of 4 at the 2011 Walker Cup. He has been superb this year and his win at Memorial capped off an excellent run of golf. His tee-to-green game is almost as good as anyone already but his putting has improved this year while he leads the PGA Tour in scrambling. He really fits the profile of the type of player that wins their first major in a fairly obvious fashion leaving everyone wondering how they missed out. So I’m going to have to back him but maybe more as a saver.

I feel like I’ve got to include Romain Langasque after his performance last week and the fact he is an Amateur Chamionship winner back in 2015 at Carnoustie. He has struggled to get over the line on the European Tour since becoming a pro but he looks likely to play well again this week and while he maybe isn’t over priced at 200/1, I do very much like the place part of the bet with 10 places at Skybet. If he can keep the ball in play off the tee then he should take to Portrush as the rest of his game has been superb this year, ranking 12th in GIR, 10th in scrambling and 21st in strokes gained: putting. That looks like an excellent combination for Portrush however it plays. I’m going to advise a small each way bet and I’ve already had a few pounds on the Exchange at 610, which I couldn’t putt anyone off of. I’m also going to have a top 30 bet as he could realistically have a really good week but still find himself down in 23rd due to such a strong field.

Zander Lombard has been in awful form missing 7 of his last 8 cuts but the one blip was a 9th place at the Irish Open two weeks ago at Lahinch. Lombard’s scrambling game for links golf is superb and he clearly likes playing in Ireland as he was 6th in the Irish Open last year. He then went on to contend for the first three rounds at Carnoustie before falling away on the final day. But the main reason for me backing him is that he played in the 2014 Amateur Championship here and shot a 69 in the strokeplay before going on to make the final where he lost to Bradley Neil. That experience of the course together with his record in the Irish Open makes the 500/1 look huge despite current form. If he can keep the ball on the fairway, a big if with Lombard, then he should out play his odds. I’ll also include a Top 40 bet at 5/1.

Tyrell Hatton and Shane Lowry both came very close as their cases for links golf are very strong. They are even both decent prices I just couldn’t bring myself to back them though a they have both flattered to deceive lately with my money on. I think Lowry will have put a lot of pressure on himself while Hatton hadn’t been playing great until Scotland and he might struggle to sustain that form. I’ll be watching both very closely in-play though.

I’m going to continue yet again with my regular major bet of Hao Tong Li to make the Top 20. It hasn’t gone to plan yet in any of this 3 year’s majors but he has always given the bet a run only to fall short on Sunday. He missed the cut last week but was 15th prior to that at Lahinch and he showed us his links prowess when storming through the field at Birkdale on the Sunday in 2017. I’m probably going to keep going with this bet until it wins so it’s maybe best ignored!

Benny An’s last win was around Colt’s famous Wentworth design and while he hasn’t showed too much on links designs to date he has a 5th at the Qatar Masters, a 4th and 6th at the Dubai Desert Classic and most importantly a 5th at the Abu Dhabi Championship where Jamie Donaldson has won. All three desert courses have been dominated by links lovers over the years and I just think An is a little over priced in most markets given what an assured long game he has. He will most likely infuriate on the greens if he gets anywhere near the top 20 but he looks worth a go given how key approach shots will be this week.

Andrea Pavan looks massively over priced given he has won twice in the last year and also finished 4th on a links course on Sunday. His most recent win was at Golf Club Eichenried where several Open champions have won this century (Daly, Stenson, Els) and plenty other links lovers too (Kaymer, Karlsson, Bjorn, Jimenez, Fasth, Romero). I couldn’t put anyone off an each way bet at 250/1 but instead I’ll advise a top 30 bet at 5/1.

I wanted to have a really chunky place bet on someone steady but after two good bets on Scott the bookies finally have his prices a little tighter this time around. I can’t really find anyone else that I’m particularly confident about but I might add something more tomorrow yet.
1st Round Leader bets

It just so happens two of my outright bets have very nice looking early tee-times and while I hate doubling up on this market I’ve done so to very small stakes. Romain Langasque tees off in the 5th group at 07:19 and Zander Lombard is in the group in front at 07:08. Both are very low-key groups and there is every reason to think that their best round of the week could be their first round. Langasque has shot 8 of his last 15 opening rounds in the 60s and opened with a 65 last week in Scotland. More of the same could be on the cards as he will be full of confidence and will be freed up having secured his European Tour card with last week’s 3rd place. Lombard shot a 67 to tie for 2nd place after the first round at Carnoustie last year and I’m hoping lightning can strike twice. Opened with a 64 two weeks ago in Ireland and even shot a Thursday 69 last week before missing the cut.

I’ll also add three more so that I don’t have too many eggs in one basket. I’m sticking with the early starters as rain is currently forecast all day Wednesday but it is supposed to be clear first thing on Thursday before raining again most of the day.

Andy Sullivan opened with a 64 last week and looked for a while like he was going to grab the first round lead. Eventually a few came in with 63s though to overtake him but I think he can do the same again here. In Ireland he opened with a 68 where he would go on to finish 2nd and he was 6th the year before at Portstewart so clearly enjoys this coast line.

Padraig Harrington could roll the years back from an early tee-time and if there is rain and win few handle it better than the 2-time Open Champion. He shot a Thursday 67 last week before adding a 72 on Friday to miss the cut but that is easily done when it falls at -4! He knows Portrush well and had the course record there before McIlroy shot his 61. Looks a decent price at 125/1 given the likelihood of some very average weather.

Finally I’m going to take a huge leap of faith and side with perennial Open disappointment Bubba Watson. Given how wet the course could play he might get something resembling the target golf that he loves on Thursday morning. He isn’t in great form but was still 12th at the Masters this year so can still perform when conditions suit. A very soft and receptive course will certainly have Bubba’s attention should it transpire and he is more than capable of shooting one good round even if he falls away after that. Probably too big a price at 125/1 even if when he shoots a moody 78.

Summary of bets

The Open

Henrik Stenson – 2.5pts ew @ 25/1

Matt Kuchar – 1.5pts ew @ 33/1

Kevin Kisner – 1pt ew @ 125/1

Patrick Cantlay – 1.25pts ew @ 25/1

Romain Langasque – 0.5pts ew @ 200/1 and 2pts Top 30 @ 5/1 (Betfair)

Zander Lomard – 0.25pts ew @ 500/1 and 1pt Top 40 @ 5/1 (Betfair)

(all outrights Betfair or Skybet with 1/5 odds 10 places)

Hao Tong Li – 1.5pts Top 20 @ 5/1

Benny An – 1.5pts Top 20 @ 13/2

Andrea Pavan – 1pt Top 30 @ 5/1 (Betfair)
1st Round Leader

Romain Langasque – 0.25pts ew @ 175/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred)

Zander Lombard – 0.25pts ew @ 200/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred)

Andy Sullivan – 0.25pts ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Unibet)

Padraig Harrington – 0.25pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred)

Bubba Watson – 0.25pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Unibet)

Weekly pts advised so far = 23.5pts


John Deere Classic and Scottish Open – A few bets

Paul Waring delivered 6th place for another profitable week, but only just. I’m short on time this week so I’ve pretty much just listed the bets

2019 pts advised = 356

2019 pts returned = 473.28pts

ROI = 32.9%

John Deere Classic

Dominic Bozzelli hasn’t been in great form at all but his skillset is very much one that is required this week. He is an excellent putter, ranking 23rd this year in strokes gained: putting while last year he was 42nd. But he is also 3rd in approach proximity from 125-150 yards and 1st from scoring relative to par from that range. With the course being very short it often turns into a wedge off with the players who can give themselves the most good birdie looks usually finding a place on the leaderboard. He has played here twice already with encouraging results of 25th-23rd. A very fair price at 200/1 with Coral’s 7 places but I’m taking the extra place with Betfair’s 175/1.

Scottish Open

This is another links course but not quite as classic a test as last week or indeed next week at Portrush. I think it should be a bit of a challenge for them though.

I’m not really wanting to get too involved as there is a very strong head of market here with Rory, Rickie, JT and Kuch all playing.

I’d earmarked Richie Ramsay for this a few weeks ago and while his poor form should have tempered my enthusiasm I think he should be able to turn things around at Renaissance Club given its his home course now. It might not count for much but enough to make him look a big price at 125/1, especially with a solid links pedigree and a decent record in Scotland.

Grant Forrest was 2nd in Final Open Qualifying at Renaissance Club last year, shooting rounds of 67 and 69. He lives in North Berwick and plays out of Craigielaw on the same coast. Few in the field will be as comfortable playing in this and his knowledge of the course can only be a positive. Forrest has shown some good signs so far on his rookie year on Tour but his 34th at Valderrama followed by 14th in Ireland is particularly encouraging.

There is no way I can leave my guy George Coetzee out at 150/1 this week. He missed 4 cuts in a row on his return in May but he has stopped the rot in recent weeks with a 26th at Valderrama and 34th in Ireland. He shot 67-66 on Friday and Saturday at Lahinch and with his putting touch on links courses he has to be backed on price alone for me this week.

Summary of bets

John Deere

Dominic Bozzelli – 0.75pts ew @ 175/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

Scottish Open

Richie Ramsay – 0.75pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfair/Skybet)

Grant Forrest – 0.75pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

George Coetzee – 0.75pts ew @ 150/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Weekly pts advised = 6pts


3M Open and Irish Open – A few bets

Another poor week and it looks the hot streak might be over! Nobody really got close to contending after Thursday and it has tempered enthusiasm for this week, certainly on the PGA Tour. It’s another new event and a new course and given how tough last week was to predict it could be more of the same this week. In Europe we have the start of the links golf stretch with the Irish Open. I’ve had a bit more of a look at that as there is more to go on and these are valuable weeks ahead of Royal Portrush in 3 weeks time.

Nate Lashley and Christian Bezedenhuit were two very popular and deserving winners however with both having endured plenty of hard times so far in their careers and it definitely was a week for the back story if not the punter.

2019 pts advised = 345

2019 pts returned = 460.28

ROI = 33.41%

3M Open

Yet another new course this week as TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota hosts for the first time. The course measures 7164 yards and the Par 72 was designed by Arnold Palmer and Tom Lehman. It has been in rotation on the Champions Tour since 2001 and their average winning score is around -20 so much like last week TPC Twin Cities looks set to play fairly easy. From a quick look at some photos it’s not too dissimilar to Palmer’s Bay Hill course with wide enough fairways, relatively short rough and big greens. There isn’t too much to go on but having a look at some other Palmer designs might just help.  TPC Boston is a Palmer layout and features bentgrass greens while two of the recent Hero Challenge courses, Albany and Isleworth were also his handy work. As was Cherry Hills Country Club which was used for the 2014 BMW Championship and is visually similar to Bay Hill and Two Cities. Looking at Kenny Perry who has won the Champions event here 3 times, he is also a 3-time winner at Memorial and 2-time winner at Colonial so they could also be worth a second look.

I’m sure the Value Police will be out in their droves hounding anyone who puts up Viktor Hovland at the sort of prices we are seeing now but it’s very hard to judge these elite amateurs when they arrive from the uber competitive US College system. If we think he is going to continue on a curve like Rahm did then who can say with any confidence that 40/1 is a bad price? From the little I have seen and the reports from many experts in the game, he has the whole package and is destined for the very top of the game. Of course that’s not to say he can get his 1st win so soon without any wobbles but again this week he is on a level playing field with none of the field having played the course competitively before. To be honest I fully planned on advising him at 40/1 on Monday but that has all long gone and he is more of 25-35/1 shot now and that really does look quite short.

Over the last 3 months (just 5 events for Hovland) he ranks 1st for ball-striking and he signed off with a Sunday 63 in Detroit where he was absolutely buzzing in his post round interview. I think he will win soon and without much of an angle in this week he looks worth taking a chance on. But with the bookies absolutely not taking any chances I don’t think I can quite advise an ew bet. You could do worse than chuck a few quid on win only at 42 on the exchange though and I must admit I backed that price on Monday so I’ll advise a win only bet for an interest, just incase this is the week where he blitzes the field. Beyond Hovland I’m struggling to find much though so I’m just taking a couple of big price stabs.

Peter Uihlein was 12th at Palmer’s TPC Boston last season, 13th at Colonial this year and 5th last year at Memorial. He’s a fairly inconsistent sort and a very wayward driver of the ball but he seems to pop up at tree-lined venues on the PGA Tour and it could be that helps narrow his focus on the tee. His win was on an Alister Mackenzie designed course at Ohio State University and it has a Bay Hill sort of appearance too. He missed the cut by just one shot last week and if it isn’t as low scoring this week that should help him. It’s perhaps not much of an angle but there really isn’t much to go on and at 200/1 it doesn’t need to cost much.

Sung-hoon Kang has hit a little bit of a flat spot since he landed his first PGA Tour win at the Byron Nelson Championship as he has missed his last 3 cuts. But he is still swinging very well and hit 75% of his fairways last week and 80.6% of his greens in regulation. He just didn’t putt very well and a move away from poa greens should sort that out. He ranks 2nd in ball-striking over the last 3 months and it always pays to have your long game in good shape heading to a new course. He looks a little over priced at 100/1 with Coral’s 7 places.

Irish Open

The summer links season gets underway with the first of 3 stops and it’s the Irish Open up first, this time from Lahinch GC on the west coast of Ireland. It’s a new course to the rotation and from what I can tell it has never been used for a professional event. It looks a great course to start the Royal Portrush preparation however as it is a classic links course carved into the dunes. It measures in at a very short 6950 yards and while it hasn’t been used on Tour it has no shortage of prestige. It boasts both Old Tom Morris and Alister Mackenzie as course designers with Morris having designed the original layout before Mackenzie redesigned it 5 years prior to his Augusta National design. He also designed Royal Melbourne whereas Morris was involved with several of the original Open rotation links courses including St. Andrews, Prestwick, Muirfield and Carnoustie. Given the differences between the designers it’s maybe not overly prudent but they are all layouts where the cream tends to rise to the top given the stern test of golf thrown up. My main angle in is links prowess as always at this time of year but I’ve also focussed on the classier players in the field.

Ian Poulter has a very solid Masters record as well as a very good links record up until recently. His best two finishes have come on Royal Birkdale (similar to Lahinch) and the Old Tom Morris designed Muirfield. I really think that this points to him enjoying the test in Ireland this week. Poulter was having a very good season, particularly when dropping down to ET level but his last few results have dropped off a little. He did post a Masters 12th and a RBC Heritage 10th though and both are well above what most of this field have been doing. This season he ranks 11th in strokes gained: approaches and 10th in strokes gained: putting on the European Tour. If he can maintain anything like that back at the lower level then I’d expect him to improve on his fairly patchy record in this event.

I have already backed Danny Willett for The Open but I might just follow him throughout these 3 weeks. His case this week is a very compelling one indeed as he finally looks to have come out from that post-Masters slump. He got the win last November at the DP World Championship before turning his attentions to the PGA Tour in 2019. The results have been mixed but after finishing 41st at the US PGA he went on a run of 27th at Memorial, 8th in Canada before he posted his best Major finish since his Masters win when he was 12th at the US Open. That puts him well ahead of everyone in this field bar Jon Rahm and suggests that 33/1 isn’t too shabby at all. Willett has always been a fairly solid links player as he can handle a breeze and his short game improves the firmer the course is. He was 15th around  Old Tom Morris’ Muirfield layout and his biggest win came at Alister Mackenzie’s Augusta National. Perhaps more pertinent though is his strong record in Ireland as he has 4 top 10s from his last 5 Irish Open events played. The 33/1 is disappearing fast so instead I’m going to take the 28/1 but with Boylesports 10 places offer.

For a long time recently Thomas Pieters was far too short a price and would let punters down more than he would contend. However given his talent he obviously remains a player who should be watched closely, particularly on short links courses. This week he is one of the biggest prices I remember for quite some time on the ET after two missed cuts but I think a chance needs to be taken on price alone at 66/1 with Skybet’s 8 places.

Ryan Fox has had a couple of brilliant summers on the links of Great Britain and Ireland and having provided plenty of returns for the blog, I think we have to wade in again at 80/1 considering he returns to these shores as a ET winner and a happily married man. In theory the tighter, winding fairways found on some links courses shouldn’t suit him but the aggressive approach that he takes off the tee generally seems to pay dividends for him and with a lofted club in his hands he tends to pound the greens when playing links golf. With this being a very short course I can see him really over powering the course and even if he does throw in the odd mistake I think his strategy can pay off. He hasn’t done too much lately but he has been playing in some very strong fields. Average form had also been the case the last two years and 80/1 looks too good to pass up back in his comfort zone of links golf.

Paul Waring has a little more experience of this course than most having captained an amateur GB & IRE team to the Jacques Leglise trophy back in 2003. He has always been a steady links player and has an OK record in Ireland. It took him a long time to get his first win but that came in August at the Nordea Masters and he has had a good if unspectacular 2019 season since. But his three top 10s have come on the desert swing or at the British Masters on a links course so he should be relishing the next few weeks. The bonus of positive course experience can’t hurt and I’m willing to forgive his MC at Valderrama as he hadn’t played for a month and that’s no course to pitch up to with any rust in the swing.

Summary of Bets

3M Championship

Viktor Hovland – 1pt win @ 40.0 (Betfair)

Peter Uihlein – 0.5pts ew @ 200/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)

Sung-hoon Kang – 0.5pts ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)

Irish Open

Ian Poulter – 1.25pts ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Danny Willett – 1.25pts ew @ 28/1 (1/5 odds 10 places Boylesports)

Thomas Pieters – 0.75pts ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Ryan Fox – 0.75 pts ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Paul Waring – 0.5pts ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)


Weekly pts advised = 12pts



Rocket Mortgage Classic and Andalucia Masters – Betting Preview

A shocker of a week where nobody really ever looked like contending after Wilson’s opening 67 on Thursday. The first week in the last seven with no returns so hopefully it’s just a blip. Limited time this week so a shorter write-up than normal. (At least that was the plan….)

2019 pts advised = 332.50

2019 pts returned = 460.28

ROI = 38.43%

Rocket Mortgage Classic

The Rocket Mortgage Classic is a brand new event to the schedule so there will be lots of guess-work going in to the host course, Detroit Golf Club. It is another short, tree-lined layout with the test appearing to come from finding a good position off the tee and the heavily undulating greens which will make both approaches and putting a test. It was designed by Donald Ross and the appearance is very much in keeping with his ethos, a narrow, tactical course with well protected bunkers and greens that slope largely from back to front. Given we have very little else to go on I’m going to use other Ross designs as my main guide and also the stats that I would normally use at those courses. Ross layouts currently on PGA schedule include East Lake (Tour Championship) and Sedgefield GC (Wyndham) while we have also seen majors or play-off events at Oak Hill, Oakland Hills, Aronimink, Plainfield and Pinehurst No. 2 in recent years. While not always the case, his courses tend to remove the advantage that bombers have or certainly manage it better than most courses from the golden age. Hamilton GC in Canada was recently won by Rory McIlroy but that leaderboard was a good example of a an event where everyone was able to contend regardless of driving distance.

Backing players at short prices on new courses isn’t always the best of ideas but I feel like a shortish Donald Ross design with a weak field might present a good opportunity for a few multiple Tour winners that sit at the second from top table when playing their best. So I’ve sided with three fairly obvious and proven Ross lovers, a longer shot and one rank outsider who I’m chancing again.

Jason Dufner played so well at Memorial that I was absolutely gutted he pulled out of the Canadian Open. I thought Hamilton GC would have been perfect for him but I can see why he missed it having qualified for the US Open. He played ok at Pebble Beach but this looks absolutely ideal for Duf-man. He won his only major around the Ross designed Oak Hill in 2013 and while Detroit GC doesn’t look quite as fiddly and narrow there are still similarities. There were also plenty of bombers on that leaderboard which may well be the case this week. I like how adaptable Dufner is though as he can still compete with the more powerful players as he always used to hit his long irons and fairway woods so well.

Dufner has two top 10s at East Lake, two top 15s at Sedgefield and while his numbers aren’t too good for the season they have been better lately. Just 5 starts ago he led the field for strokes gained: tee to green at the Wells Fargo and was 6th at Memorial. His 35th at the US Open wasn’t spectacular but he did rank 3rd for fairways, 10th in GIR and 13th in scrambling. It was just a stone cold putter that prevented him from finishing considerably higher but the switch to predominantly bent grass greens should be to his liking. His odds have been cut a little but I feel like he is somewhere back to his best and his best on a suitable course like this would have him nearer the 25/1 mark than the 50/1 available.

Next up is Ryan Moore who again has been playing a lot better of late and should relish the more technical test of a Donald Ross course. Moore is a former winner at Sedgefield and lost a play-off at East Lake to McIlroy in 2016. With such a consistent tee-to-green game he is always more than capable of making hay where length isn’t the be-all and end-all. He ranks 36th this season in strokes gained: tee to green and for such a short hitter that is very impressive (192nd in DD from 203 players). His form is very much trending and last week he ranked 1st in fairways hit and 4th in GIR on very similar fairways and rough that he will face this week. Backing Moore at these sort of prices hasn’t always served me well but I think there is too much in his favour to leave him out.

Billy Horschel showed his affinity for Ross designs when he landed the Tour Championship in 2014. That followed a 7th place the year before and on his return last September he finished 2nd again. He has also been 5th at Sedgefield, 3rd at Aronimink and 23rd at Pinehurst No. 2’s U.S. Open. He wasn’t at his best at this year’s U.S. Open but on his previous two starts he ranked 8th and 7th in strokes gained: tee to green. Despite his excellent long game he has never really excelled on tougher championship layouts so a return to a regular stop should bring about that same form that was simmering prior to Pebble Beach. He also has a rather rotten California record where he has just 5 Top 20s from 31 events. I’m hoping if he returns to his form prior to that he can contend on a very suitable course.

Danny Lee is a player who does everything fairly well but not very often does he do any one thing brilliantly. That means when something clicks in any part of his game we can often see him pop up on the leaderboard. That generally happens on more classical courses where there is a proper ball-striking test. Away from his maiden win at the 2015 Greenbrier arguably his best ever result came at East Lake that same year when he finished 2nd at the Tour Championship. I have had him pegged as a Ross lover ever since then and unfortunately it has only cost me money to date. But even this season his three top 10s have come at courses where there is a proper tee-to-green test. Obviously we don’t know for sure that Detroit will present that in any way but that’s the angle I’ve taken. Lee maybe isn’t the best of prices but at 125/1 he is still a big enough price to allow a hunch bet. I think it will be the last time I back him on a Ross course if it goes badly wrong though!

Curtis Luck was my wildcard pick at Hamilton GC given how much it looked like a Donald Ross design. That was due to his US Amateur win around Ross’ Oakland Hills course in 2016. Not only is Oakland Hills a Ross course but it is also in Michigan, in fact it is just 13 miles away from Detroit GC. It’s also a fairly similar yardage measuring in at 7439 yards vs Detroit’s 7330 yards. It’s clutching at straws but he is 300/1 and he should at least putt the tricky greens well even if it turns out to be too difficult a test for him.

Andalucia Masters

The Tour heads back to Valderrama again this week having been back on rotation for the last couple of years. Players and fans alike absolutely love this place and you’ll struggle to find a golf course anywhere in the world that gives such a consistent test year after year. There is no bluffing your way around Valderrama as it’s course that punishes bad shots and will only reward the best. It’s a gem of a layout and the last two editions have been won by Spain’s main man Sergio Garcia on a winning score a little lower than you would normally associate with the course. They were both held in October though and with the move to June we can expect things to be even tougher with the course playing firm and fast with thicker summer rough.

It was designed by Robert Trent Jones back in 1974 and form at his courses can be a sound angle in, certainly his tougher layouts. The last one seen on Tour was back in April at the Trophee Hassan II while he is also responsible for the old WGC Bridgestone host course at Firestone. He has several more layouts used around the world but not too many that this European Tour field will have seen. Those that came up through the Challenge Tour will have no doubt played on Golf Club De Geneve though which hosts the Rolex Trophy. For those that like to go very deep on course links he also designed Adare GC which hosted the Irish Open in 2007 and 2008 and Royal Park i Roveri which hoseted the Italian Open from 2009 to 2012.

Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm take up plenty of the market this week as the two local favourites. It’s with good reason too as Garcia is looking for his 3rd win here in a row and Rahm is easily the 2nd best player on show. But at 6/1 and 7/1 I’m not in a rush to back either. Garcia has shown plenty of poor mentality this season, namely his tantrum in Saudi and a potentially firmer Valderrama might be enough to test his patience further. While Rahm’s antics on the course are actually improving he missed his only cut here in 2017. His current form is brilliant but I can pass at 7/1. Instead I’ll play the each way market where a place is more valuable than any potential win bet on the two Spaniards.

Marcus Kinhult got his maiden win 4 weeks ago at the British Masters and I think he can push on and double up quickly. It’s normally short game magic that I associate with Kinhult which always helps him on hard and fast links style courses where lots of greens get missed. But when his long game is in decent order he can be a serious threat much like he was at the British Masters. He was 7th in fairways hit and 14th in GIR while he ranked 1st in putting here at Valderrama last year. That was good enough for 22nd and that was an improvement on his debut where he was 42nd. Throw in the confidence of grabbing his first win and a first state-side major finish of 32nd at Pebble Beach and he should be more competitive than quotes of 50/1. There is a danger that he comes unstuck on such a ball-strikers course but the time of year should mean his short game excels on the firm course. Take Betfred’s offer of 7 places.

Ross Fisher looks a big price on a course he loves as he has Valderrama form figures of 6-23-14-11-14. With his long game you would expect him to thrive here but he has always scrambled well here too, which isn’t the case at every course as his short game can often let him down. He missed the cut in Germany last week but that was his first start since Bethpage Black where he finished 60th, ranking 6th for ball-striking in esteemed company. In theory all we should really need from Ross is a half-decent week with the putter to see him somewhere on the leaderboard. He was also 19th around the Robert Trent Jones designed Hazeltine at the 2009 US PGA and owns a good record around his Firestone layout that hosted the WGC Bridgestone up until this year.

It’s not been his best season so far but he still ranks 18th in strokes gained: tee to green and he looks to me like the best piece of value in the field with Betfred’s 45/1 and 7 places.

I could have backed about another six but it was hard to narrow it down and also find any more players that haven’t been found in the market. But in Kim Koivu I think I might have found one. In truth I’m not sure his long game is tight enough for a test such as Valderrama but I can’t quite believe his price given he was 16th last week in Germany. He has shown plenty of promise on his short time on Tour but has often struggled to put it together for 4 rounds. His best finish of the season was actually a 9th place at the fiddly Fanling course in the Hong Kong Open. That suggests he may be one of those wilder players who enjoys being forced to rein it in somewhat. However it was actually the location of his win on the Challenge Tour in August that got him in the team this week. That win in the Rolex Trophy was around Golf Club De Geneve which is another Robert Trent Jones design coming in at sub 7000 yards. The scoring has usually been lower but the course is very similar on the eye and again at 250/1 there isn’t much to lose taking a bit of a course link chance. He missed the cut there last year but he had been playing a lot of golf and with two recent wins he was probably a little bit drained mentally. He had two weeks off before Germany last week so he will be gearing up for a big summer in order to regain his card.

Summary of bets

Rocket Mortgage Classic

Jason Dufner –  1pt ew @ 50/1

Ryan Moore – 1pt ew @ 30/1

Billy Horschel – 1pt ew @ 30/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Betfair)

Danny Lee – 0.5pts ew @ 125/1

Curtis Luck – 0.25pts ew @ 300/1 (all 1/5 odds 8 places Skybet unless stated)

Andalucia Masters

Marcus Kinhult – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral /Betfred )

Ross Fisher – 1pt ew @ 45/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred)

Kim Koivu – 0.5pts ew @ 250/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred)


Weekly points = 12.5