QBE Shootout and South Africa Open – Betting Preview

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

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

2018 pts advised = 491.50

2018 pts returned = 495.74

ROI = 0.86%


QBE Shootout

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

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

Kevin Kisner

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

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


South African Open

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

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

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

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

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


Summary of bets

QBE Shootout

Kisner + Champ = 3pts win @ 11/2

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

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

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

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

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

Weekly pts advised = 11.5pts

@ttheGreek82

Advertisements

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

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

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

2018 pts advised= 483.50

2018 pts returned = 495.73

ROI = 2.53%


Hero World Challenge

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

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

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

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

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


Mauritius Open

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

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

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

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

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


Australian PGA

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

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

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


Summary of bets

Hero World Challenge

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

Mauritius Open

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

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

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

Australian PGA

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

Other bets

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

Weekly pts advised = 9pts

 

@theGreek82

World Cup of Golf and Hong Kong Open – Betting Preview

Dean Burmester saved the day last week as he landed both the Top 10 and Top 20 bets to make up for some average outright picks, particularly on the PGA Tour. It takes its Christmas break now but there are still enough lower key events on the go to keep the more obsessive golf punters happy. The World Cup of Golf takes place down in Australia on the Melbourne sandbelt while the Hong Kong Open is being held as usual at Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling. With just a few weeks left of the golfing year a winner is very much needed to finish the year in profit.

Total 2018 pts advised: 475.50

Total 2018 pts returned: 431.93

ROI = -9.16%


World Cup of Golf

The World Cup of Golf has never really lived up to what the name suggests it should be, but there is no question that moving it to the Melbourne sandbelt has boosted its draw for the pros. This week we are at the Metropolitan Golf Club and it is generally considered to be one of the best conditioned courses in Australia, which in itself is saying something. Thorbjorn Olesen and Soren Kjeldsen return to defend their title that they won 2 years ago at Kingston Heath. The format is the same with 28 two-man teams lining up for four rounds of team stroke-play. They will play two rounds of foursomes and two rounds of better ball.

The course is a typical sandbelt one with hard and fast conditions and large greens that are well protected by tightly mown run-offs and imaginative bunkering. It is exposed to any potential wind and the forecast for the week is for some rain and a moderate breeze. With these courses in Australia often playing like British links courses, scrambling is probably the most important aspect for me. You never see an Open winner who can’t chip and if we look at winners in Australia they all have tidy short games. Hitting greens is always important on difficult championsip courses and it will also be important here. With wide enough fairways I don’t think tee-shots will make or break the week here. With difficult fast greens I’m not sure how many birdie putts we will see so I’d be more interested in looking at those who hole out well rather than those who hole more than their share of 25 footers.

I was considering backing the defending champions here anyway but having just written down what it will take to win here I feel like I have just laid my case out. Olesen and Kjeldsen (Denmark) both have fantastic short games and as two British links winners they have shown they can handle playing the knock down approaches that windy, hard and fast conditions dictate. As well as the win here Olesen won the Perth International at Lake Karrinyup in 2014 and it has similar green complexes to the Metropolitan. Olesen won the GolfSixes this year with Luca Bjerregard further highlighting how much his laid back nature is suited to team golf. While Olesen has had a brilliant 2018 Kjeldsen’s hasn’t hit the same heights. His best finish was 6th at the KLM and he only managed two Top 10s in all. But over the last 3 months he sits 7th in driving accuracy and 5th in GIR so his reliable long game should compliment Olesen’s aggressive approach and we should see them dovetail nicely again. Given we know what they can do together I thought they were a tad over priced with Skybet at 14/1 and I’d definitely have them more in line with the firms who have them at 10/1.

South Africa’s team of Dylan Frittelli and Erik Van Rooyen looks very strong indeed on paper and if they gel together they could go well here. Both hit a very high number of greens on a consistent basis and while neither have been known for their short game, they have both been working hard on that aspect having realised that it was weak compared to their solid ball-striking. Frittelli’s record in Australia is brilliant having finished runner-up in the Australian PGA on his only visit in 2015. The winning score that year was level par and he showed that he can play tough championship layouts well. Van Rooyen had a brilliant first year on Tour even if he couldn’t quite bag the win when on his best run earlier in the year. He finished the year 22nd in stroke average and 38th in the Race To Dubai which is a very good starting point for his career. If we see that long-game assurance that has been present more often than not this year, they might make a pretty good team.


Hong Kong Open

Given the strength of the top 6 in the market it would be quite a surprise to see someone outwith that group lift the trophy in Hong Kong this week. But for the sake of singles I think we can take them on and try to find some each way alternatives. Motivation must be questionable in the likes of Garcia, Fleetwood and Reed while Cabrera-Bello and Fitpatrick simply don’t win enough to be backed at the prices despite their glaring suitability to the course. I will probably chuck the two Spaniards in some fun accas but I’ve found a couple of others that should be suited to the test and have more than enough ability to contend here.

The course is Hong Kong Golf Club and it has hosted since 1959, making it one of the longest running tournaments in the world. The course plays to that historical status as it remains one of the tighter, fiddliest courses in the world and it is very difficult to overpower. The tree-lined nature together with tricky doglegs make this a course where strategy is a must off the tee. Over run it and they will be blocked out from going directly at the green. Miss left or right and they will have very little option but to pitch back out. The plus point for the bigger hitters is that it is perhaps the shortest course used on either of the main Tours at just 6700 yards or so. That allowed the bomber Scott Hend to win here two years ago as he took on plenty of tee shots knowing the shorter holes would give him plenty of wedges. That is not the norm however and we usually see accurate types like last years winner Wade Ormsby or four time winner Miguel Angel Jiminez. Although with small, fast greens that are well protected even the most accurate players will be missing plenty of greens. That means year after year the leaderboard is full of excellent scramblers and that together with tee-to-green accuracy are probably the go to attributes this week.

Aaron Rai probably hasn’t quite had the 2018 season he hoped for coming off a 3-win Challenge Tour season in 2017 but he kept his card and made it to the Tour Championship. He is normally a very accurate operator from tee-to-green but he isn’t a big hitter at all. This course should play to his strengths even if he did miss the cut on his debut last year. That was his first start with a European Tour card so it may have been a daunting week for the young Englishman. With a season under his belt he should be a little more confident and we could see him flourish at the more strategic courses. He did have a bad run of form in the early autumn which threatended to curtail his season but he picked up with a 43rd in Turkey and then an 8th at the Nedbank to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship. He finished the 2018 season ranked 4th in driving accuracy and 7th in GIR so looks the type that should enjoy the test in Fanling and he is a very fair each way price at 66/1.

There was a time when Thomas Aiken was the straightest driver on Tour but he has struggled with the big stick the last couple of years which has had a knock on effect on the rest of his game. He remains a very capable player when everthing is working well however and a few weeks ago he played one of the best shots I have seen all season. He found himself directly behind a greenside lake on a 30 degree downward incline and he managed to pitch the ball out to some 8ft or so. It was quite brilliant and was typical of Aiken over the years who is as likely to fluff a chip shot as he is hole one such is his inconsistency. That 10th place finish in Turkey though definitely got my interest so I was very happy to see the 80/1 in this sort of field. He has only played here twice and we have a MC and a 31st which again highlights how streaky he can be. Two of his three wins have come on fiddly tree-lined tracks and having been playing better of late he looks a decent each way price in a field lacking any real depth.

Elsewhere Georgia Hall returns to the LET for her first regular Tour start since her Open win in August. This is a massive drop down in grade but that is reflected in her best price of 7/2. She has solid event form having finished 4th last year and 3rd the year before. The course has changed but that was the same last year and the last event here was won by Mel Reid who putted the lights out. So the course should suit Hall who putts brilliantly these days. It’s no single price but I’m going to throw her in a small stakes treble for a bit of fun. Garcia is surely the man to beat in Hong Kong having just made his debut there last year. With his recent form and suitability to the course he is the standout of the favourites even if he is hard to back at 15/2. Over in Japan the Casio World Open has attracted very little in the way of star names and that leaves two of the Tour’s bigger names at the head of the betting. Japanese star Imahira heads the market but it’s the 2nd favourite and defending champ Seung-Su Han that I prefer at a slightly sportier price. He signed off last week with a 67 for 10th place (1 shot ahead of Koepka) and prior to his win he was 4th in 2016. We should at least get a run out of an each way treble at a best price 496.5/1.


Summary of Bets

World Cup of Golf

Denmark – 1.25pt ew @ 14/1 (1/4 odds 4 places)

South Africa – 1pt ew @ 20/1 (1/4 odds 4 places)

Hong Kong Open

Aaron Rai – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Thomas Aiken – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Other

Georgia Hall, Sergio Garcia and Seug-Su Han – 0.25pt ew treble @ 497.5

Weekly points = 8pts

@theGreek82

RSM Classic and DP World Championship – Betting Preview

Having been on holiday for a couple of weeks in October I missed quite a bit of golf so I was keen to try to get a handle on what was happening again before advising any more bets. I think I’m back up to speed and we have good events on both Tours this week so it feels like a good time to jump back in. There are also a few other decent events as we hit that stretch of the year where it’s fun to play small stake trebles, four-folds and even five folds for the hopeful.

2018 pts advised = 461.50

2018 pts returned = 415.18

ROI = -10%


RSM Classic

The RSM Classic has long been a standing dish for the accurate plodders on the PGA Tour as it is one of the few remaining stops that isn’t over-powered. Both courses at Sea Island are fairly narrow and tree-lined with small, well protected bermuda greens. That combined with the excellent resort facilities make it a must stop for some of the older family orientated pros as they look to take advantage of an event that the young powerhouses normally stay away from. The last two events however have gone the way of young Tour maidens so you shouldn’t be put off if you fancy one of the new crop of Web.com graduates. Every year they come flying out of the blocks in the Fall Series and that has been no different this year with Cameron Champ already notching up his first win. But for my money this event will probably revert back to the norm and I definitely want to be with the more strategic, accurate sorts who have seen the course before in some capacity.

Jim Furyk received quite a hard time in the aftermath of the Ryder Cup, most of which was a little harsh. While it will have been a great privilege for the 2003 US Open winner to lead his country, there is no doubt that it will have been a long year with all the commitments involved. Coming off a decent rest it was interesting to see him play so well last week as he shot four rounds in the 60s to finish T6th. I think he will be looking to take advantage of another short, suitable course this week in Georgia. I’m surprised he never won here at his peak as Sea Island very much falls into Furyk’s wheelhouse, along with Harbour Town, East Lake and Copperhead where he has won. His course form is predictably solid though having finished 11th, 3rd and 6th on his only 3 appearances. He averaged 81% of fairways hit and 83% of greens in regulation on those 3 starts so the courses are clearly ones that fit his eye. Those same areas of his game were as strong as ever last week in Mexico where he ranked 1st in driving accuracy and 2nd in GIR. I’m expecting a strong performance and anything around 40/1 looks like a great bet to me.

Roberto Castro will be well worth following on these shorter courses this year. He confirmed that on just his 2nd start of the season where he overcame a poor start to post a 5th place finish at the Sanderson Farms. Castro gained his 2019 Tour card with a solid if unspectacular campaign but it was back in 2013 that he really announced himself with an opening 63 at Sawgrass to lead the Players Championship after day 1. He would finish down the field but it flagged him up as a player to watch on short courses where you have to keep the ball in play. In August of that year he also posted his best major finish of 12th at the US PGA around the ultimate plotters course at Oak Hill. (Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Zach Johnson and David Toms were 3 of those ahead of him!) I know there are plenty of people watching him closely this season and I’m expecting his price to be cut here so I tweeted this bet on Monday in the hope of people getting the best price possible. Castro’s event form isn’t great but his last start in Georgia was a 2nd place finish on the Web.com in April. He should be comfortable in the area given he studied at Georgia Tech and their former students have a good record in the state.

Chesson Hadley completes the PGA line-up this week as he remains a player that is hard to get away from when applying a stats based approach. It is surely just a matter of time before he wins again and last year he played the fall series brilliantly, doing everything but win. He has started similarly well again over the last month with a 2nd place in Kuala Lumpur and a 7th place at the Shriners. While his event form also isn’t fantastic he is another Georgia Tech alumni so should feel at home and his current stats match up perfectly for this test providing he is in control of his stock draw off the tee. He is 7th in ball striking and 1st in proximity to the hole and both should help him to another contending performance.


DP World Championship

For several years this was a benefit for the Tour’s best two players, Rory McIlroy and Henrik Stenson. From 2012 to 2015 nobody else got their hands on the trophy as McIlroy’s two wins sandwiched the Swede’s back to back triumphs. While that made it a difficult betting heat with strong single figure favourites, at least it helped to build a profile of what it takes to win around the Earth Course. Elite ball strikers who hit lots of greens and often miss plenty of putts. Despite neither being consistently great putters, they usually putted well here which tells me that perhaps the greens aren’t overly challenging. Matt Fitzpatrick was the next winner in 2016 and while he is normally a decent putter he is another brilliant tee-to-green player. Jon Rahm continued this mould again last year as another world-class iron player who isn’t always assured with the flat stick.

The Earth Course is one of the longer on Tour measuring nearly 7700 yards. It’s a Greg Norman design so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by that as he was consistently one of the longest and straightest drivers on Tour before technology changed the landscape.

Eight of the last nine winners had already won that season heading in but with only the top 60 players qualifying that perhaps shouldn’t be a big surprise.

Two of the last seven winners were doing the Dubai double having won the Desert Classic earlier in the year.

Rory McIlroy heads the market here at what would have been an unthinkable price (9/1) two years ago. That is gathering quite a bit of interest and there is no question it looks appealing on first look. However I can’t quite get his recent performances on suitable courses out of my mind. Yes he loves it here but he doesn’t appeal to me as a single bet. Those wishing to cover him could do worse than fire him in to some accumulators as the golfing world reaches silly season with multiple events.

A case could be made for the other 5 market principals but Rahm has only been seen once since an average Ryder Cup and he could only finish 22nd in the HSBC. Garcia is in brilliant form but at 10/1 I’d want to know that he wasn’t dwelling on last week’s loss. Fleetwood will probably play well but he just doesn’t win enough to side with at 11/1 at a course where he has never bettered 9th in 5 attempts. This all takes me down the market a little and to one of the most in form players in the European game.

Hao Tong Li will probably be quite popular this week despite not being the greatest of prices. Such is his level of current form and talent it would be no surprise to see him win a title this big. He has been knocking on the door heavily over the last month (5-2-11-9-5) and he has already shown his fondness of playing in Dubai when beating McIlroy head to head to win the Dubai Desert Classic. His event form is improving having finished 30th on his debut and then 13th last year. The Earth course should suit him perfectly with a bit of room off the tee for the sometimes erratic but powerful driver. His iron play has been excellent recently and that is usually what separates the field here. Li is so good that when he is putting well he should contend every week at this level and that explains the short odds as the bookmakers know what he is all about. His touch on and around the greens has been superb lately as he has been seen holing out lots of chips in recent weeks. On his last two starts he has ranked 2nd in the all-round ranking confirming just how well every part of his game is operating. With question marks about several around him in the market I see no reason why he can’t lift this title to cap off a career year for one of the most promising youngsters in the game.

Henrik Stenson hasn’t been seen since the Ryder Cup so there are both health and rust issues regarding his game. But they are more than factored into his price and to be frank that’s what has drawn me to the Swede this week. The fact that we can back him here at 25/1 is too good an opportunity to pass up for me. It’s not like he has played poorly this year either he has just suffered heavily from his elbow injury. He still ranked 1st on the PGA Tour in GIR, 4th in strokes gained: approaches and 8th in strokes gained: tee to green so his tee-to-green game has been as superb as ever when he has played. He laughed off those injury concerns at the Ryder Cup winning all 3 of his matches and he has had minor surgery since then which will hopefully have sorted the problem out. Lack of competitive golf is certainly a worry especially as he has to find his swing again after the surgery but this is one of his favourite courses and he will surely have been preparing to give it his best shot this week. I’d be annoyed at myself to miss out at this price so I must have a small bet on him.

Dean Burmester looks over priced in all the markets here this week given his course and current form. He was 11th last week where his whole game was in great shape bar his normally reliable putter. The powerful South African came 4th here last year on his debut and while I’d be surprised to see him come out on top this week I think he has a good chance of landing some place bets so I’ll play him in both the top 10 and top 20 markets.

Elsewhere I’ll be playing some fun small stakes accumulators across the 5 big events this week. The Dunlop Phoenix will surely be a shoot-out between Koepka and Matsuyama while Matt Kuchar looks the man to beat in the Australian Open. He said himself how well he was swinging it during last week’s win and there are few players in the world more suited to the hard and fast sandbelt courses in Australia. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t contend despite the jet-lag and emotions from last week.


Summary of Bets

RSM Classic

Jim Furyk – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Roberto Castro – 0.75pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair Sportsbook)

Chesson Hadley – 1pt ew @ 35/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfair Sportsbook)
DP World Championship

Hao Tong Li – 2pts ew @ 20/1 (1/5 odds 5 places Betfair Sportsbook)

Henrik Stenson – 1pt ew @ 25/1 (1/4 odds 5 places)

Dean Burmester – 1pt Top 10 @ 9/1 and 1.5pts Top 20 @ 7/2

Weekly points advised = 14pts

2018 pts advised = 475.50pts

@theGreek82

2018 Omega European Masters and BMW Championship – Betting Preview

Erik Van Rooyen grabbed us a full place with a brilliant closing round of -7 but it could have been so much better. He failed to birdie both the par 5s on the back 9 as well as the driveable par 4 so while it was a great round it was a bit gutting that he missed out on the play-off by 1 shot. I was hoping there would be more returns on the PGA Tour with Fleetwood sitting 4th at the half way stage. But he played fairly poorly on Sunday and Monday to let us down again. I’m starting to think for all his talent that he might just be falling into the Rickie Fowler category of being regularly under priced due to his popularity.

This week on the PGA Tour we have the penultimate Play-Off event in Pennsylvania while the European Tour takes its traditional September visit to Switzerland.

2018 advised points = 412

2018 points returned = 404.5

ROI = -1.8%


European Masters

This week for some reason I thought there was a week’s break on the PGA Tour so I spent most of my time on the European Tour. But unfortunately I’ve not had time for much of a write up for either after noticing the BMW Championship was actually this week.

The Tour heads to Switzerland and the world-famous Crans resort where the pros enjoy one of the more relaxing stops on Tour. The course is a tree-lined fiddly one where keeping it in play off the tee is crucial to allow full visibility of the flags. From there it often resembles a wedge off as there are so many short holes. With fiddly greens though the aggressive flag-hunters will miss some of these and a look through the stats tells us that most winners here scramble brilliantly.

Erik Van Rooyen has to stay in the team after last week. He simply has to win sometime soon as the level of golf he is playing is quite brilliant for a rookie. On another tree-lined layout his accurate game will help him and from the limited action available last week his short game looked to be quite solid too. He ranked 26th in scrambling and 12th in putting which backs that up. Every year it’s all about hitting greens at Crans and Van Rooyen ranks 4th on the European Tour in GIR but that’s good enough for 1st in this field. If the short game improvement remains around the fiddly course then he surely contends yet again.

Ryan Fox is another player like EVR who has played some brilliant golf in 2018 and his win has to be on the horizon. He missed a few events over the last month that looked custom-built for him so he must have needed the rest for whatever reason. Crans doesn’t immediately stand out as a venue that will suit the bomber but you would have said the same about dual-runner up Scott Hend. The course is short enough that they can get the ball in play with an iron on the tighter holes and demolish some of the more forgiving ones. Fox’s short to mid irons have been very impressive this year and he ranks 14th in GIR and 5th in strokes gained: tee to green. He finished 9th here last year and is still improving. He should hopefully pepper these flags with his wedges so if he has a decent week with the putter then he could get that maiden win.

I was surprised to see Alexander Bjork leading the ET in strokes gained: approaches for the season and that pretty much made him an auto pick at 50/1. Everyone knows how brilliant a short game he has but his iron play isn’t always what it needs to be to contend. He is coming in off two missed cuts but they were at the US PGA and then the Nordea Masters in his homeland which brings about extra pressure. He has had a rest since and will be confident of improving on his debut finish of 16th last year. That was all about his putting though and with the approach play improvement we have seen this year then he might go even better.

Nacho Elvira is another who has been threatening to win but for a longer period than Van Rooyen or Fox. He came the closest yet at his home Open earlier this year when he led Jon Rahm briefly down the stretch. He finished 3rd and hasn’t really contended since but his results have been OK with just 2 missed cuts. He comes in off two consecutive top 25s and last week in Denmark he ranked 2nd for GIR. His course results are 59-MC-20 with the 20th coming last year when I backed him at a similar price. With his iron-play in great shape I think he should go well here again.


BMW Championship

I’m taking a break from backing the consistent, season long tee-to-green machines this week despite Matsuyama and Finau placing one week too late in Boston. This probably means Fleetwood or Cantlay will go on to win but they were nowhere near good enough last week so why should it be different on another classical ball-strikers course this week.

The course is Aronimink and its an out-and-out Donald Ross design. It hosted the AT&T National in 2010 and 2011 but hasn’t been seen since. It is a 7230 yard par 70 and on both those occasions it played tough enough for a regular PGA tour stop with Justin Rose winning in 2010 on -10 and Nick Watney reaching -13 a year later.

Nick Watney has only won 5 times on the PGA Tour with Justin Rose having won 9 times. But they still have 3 common courses on which they have won. As well as Aronimink they both won the WGC Cadillac at Doral and both won the Zurich Classic at TPC Louisiana. Cameron Smith won the new team event at the Zurich Classic last year for his first PGA Tour win and he looked back to his best when finishing 3rd last week. Watney and Rose both ranked 1st in the all-round ranking when they won at Aronimink and last week Smith was 3rd in the ARR. The list of winners at TPC Louisiana has more Donald Ross experts beyond just Rose and Watney and form at his courses always carries over. Despite not being a Ross design, the link looks solid and I think we can expect Smith to continue his fine play this week. We have seen plenty of younger, hungry players play well throughout the play-offs in recent years and Smith might be the man this year.

Pat Perez withdrew after 54 holes last week as his wife was due to give birth. He is now a proud father of a baby girl and he looks massively over priced with Paddy Power here if he does tee it up. That’s before we even consider the nappy factor! Perez has been playing steady enough since he contended at the Open in July, missing just the one cut when playing out of his comfort zone in Germany. Perez was runner-up at the Zurich with Jason Dufner this year and one of his wins came at the CIMB Classic where Watney has won and Overton (two 3rd places at Aronomink) has finished runner-up. If it plays too long then Perez may struggle but driving distance certainly wasn’t too crucial in 2011 with KJ Choi finishing 2nd so Perez should have enough short to mid irons to be able to compete. He at least has a good knowledge of the course as he made the cut in both 2010 and 2011.

Kevin Kisner has always struck me as someone who should thrive on Donald Ross courses and he did just that last year. He came 10th at Sedgefield before finishing 3rd at East Lake in the Tour Championship. Throw in a runner-up finish at TPC Louisiana and I think he looks massively over price here at 100/1. Kisner has had a couple of slower weeks possibly struggling with the pressure of trying to make the Ryder Cup team. There will still be a little bit of that but with 3 picks already announced he probably realises there are a few ahead of him in the pecking order. That will hopefully allow him to refocus and return to the form we saw in the summer where he came 2nd at the Open and 12th at the US PGA. That surely warrants him being a shorter price in just a 70 man field.

It’s a slightly different strategy this week with a few outsiders but we have seen plenty of unheralded players go well deep into the play-offs so a slight change might just pay dividends.


Summary of Bets

European Masters

Erik van Rooyen – 1.25pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Ryan Fox – 1.25pt ew @ 30/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Alexander Bjork – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Nacho Elvira – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

BMW Championship

Cameron Smith – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Pat Perez – 0.5pt ew @ 300/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Paddy Power)

Kevin Kisner – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

 

Weekly pts = 12pts

 

@theGreek82

Dell Technologies Championship and Made in Denmark – Betting Preview

Another disappointing week as Herbert did nothing in Czech Republic at a course that really should have suited his game perfectly. Over on the PGA Tour it was close but no cigar with 3 of the picks finishing inside the top 20 without managing to ever really make a run at the places. Luke List started the final round inside the top 30 but had a shocker to ruin the last chance of any returns. Both Tours have hit quite a difficult period and therefore I’m not planning on getting hugely involved this week, especially as the profits are now wiped out. In order to get back into profit for the year I’m going to have to be a little more selective and perhaps think about tweaking the strategy somewhat.

2018 pts advised = 400pts

2018 pts returned = 391.05

ROI = -2.2%


Dell Technologies Championship

No time for too much of a write-up for TPC Boston this week but I’ve found a few bets. Every year the course plays like a very scoreable championship course. It rewards mid to long irons and that is shown by the quality of players who have won here. Thomas, McIlroy (x2), Fowler and Stenson are among the recent winners. The score has been in the region of -20 but that is only usually out there for the most in form long games. While the winners don’t all stand out as great putters they all putted well during their win. This tells me that the 12.5 ft stimp, bentgrass greens suit most of the field and are rather straight-forward.

With plenty of trees around the correct placement in the fairway can be important and that often leaves lengthy approach shots. I’ve focussed on approach play between 175-225 yards as that is usually key to scoring in Boston. I’ve also given the all-round ranking a lot of consideration as these are the ARR figures for the season of their win for the last 9 champions here; 5-1-8-27-5-2-1-6-6.

Jon Rahm placed 2 starts ago at the US PGA and I think he can go even better here. It feels like following Rahm on courses like this will pay dividends just as long as he remains calm early on. Rahm ranks 1st for scoring relative to par for approaches over 200 yards and that will serve him well on the Par 5s here which are always crucial to scoring here. While Rahm’s first win was on poa annua greens and his 2nd on bermuda, he has shown a liking for bentgrass as he ranked 5th on the greens at Augusta this year. I’m forgiving him last week’s missed cut and with a better start this week I think he can go well here at a course that will reward his excellent long iron game. Rahm this season has largely either contended or missed the cut so any bet on the Spaniard comes with that risk. However that is factored into his price and with 4 top 5s in his last 8 events he looks a great each way bet again at 25/1.

Patrick Cantlay has also played very well in recent weeks and TPC Boston couldn’t come at a better time for this brilliant ball-striker who was 3rd in the all-round last week. Cantlay ranks 8th in scoring RTP for approaches over 200 yards. The fact he ranked 18th for putting last week is very interesting as that is often his achilles heel. If he keeps that going this week then this long game test looks an ideal place top get his 2nd win. He also ranks 7th on the season in the all-round ranking so he passes that trend nicely too. Cantlay is having his 2nd look at the course having finished 13th last year where he ranked 5th for GIR. His price has come in a little but I like his chances here even if it’s hard to argue there is any value left in the 30/1.

Tommy Fleetwood ranks 2nd in the all-round ranking and that should mean he can go well on his first look at TPC Boston. It is surely only a matter of time before he bags his first PGA Tour win and he would have probably placed last week if it weren’t for an uncharacteristically poor 3rd round. Fleetwood’s long and straight driving will leave him in the ideal spots to reach these greens and he ranks 3rd in the crucial scoring RTP for approaches over 200 yards. With the Ryder Cup looming I don’t expect Fleetwood to be feeling that much pressure here and maybe he can freewheel a little with his Fed Ex Cup expectations lower than that of his American peers. That could be the small difference that helps get him over the line.

Chris Kirk is having a decent enough season and looks over priced as a 200/1 rag here. Kirk won here in 2014 when he was 27th in the all round ranking for the season. This year he is in a similar position at 32nd and I think he warrants a small bet despite his game not quite firing on all cylinders. He hasn’t missed a cut in 10 events so a return to the scene of his biggest win might just get him up the leaderboard again.


Made in Denmark

The Made In Denmark moves courses this year having made its home at Himmerland Golf Course. The new venue is Silkebork Ry Golfklub the home golf course of Thomas Bjorn. The course is quite short at under 7000 yards and it is a tree-lined one again in the mould of Wentworth, Woburn, Crans etc.

With there being a lot of guesswork I’m going to plump for another 1st time winner as my main bet here. The last 4 European Tour winners were getting their maiden win and across the 29 regular ET events this year, 11 of those were won by first-timers. There was a similar theme last year with the 8 ET events following on from the US PGA throwing up 6 first time winners. With the Ryder Cup looming heavily that may be different this week as the market principals are fighting to show Bjorn what they can do. But with that comes extra pressure and Olesen and Pieters have both let down favourite backers on courses that suit in recent weeks.

Erik Van Rooyen will have none of that pressure and he will be arriving rather fresh having only played once since his excellent major debut at Carnoustie. That was a missed cut but if we forgive that for a little rustiness then he was very much trending towards a win through the rest of the year. On a course that should reward tee to green accuracy this set-up should suit Van Rooyen perfectly. He was 20th this year on his Wentworth debut and 7th at the Trophee Hassan around another tree-lined track. At 50/1 there might even be a shade of value there too.

I’m going to supplement the main bet with a small play on an outsider. David Drysdale looks very over priced on a short course like this. The veteran Scot can usually only really contend on shorter courses and the price seems to be a little bit of an over reaction to 2 MCs at courses where bombers had a huge advantage. Prior to that he contended in Germany while he has the made the weekend on all 4 editions of this event. No reason he shouldn’t play well again at a massive 200/1.


Summary of bets

Dell Technologies

Jon Rahm – 1.5pt ew @ 25/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Tommy Fleetwood – 1.25pt ew @ 35/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Patrick Cantlay – 1.25pt ew @ 30/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Chris Kirk – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred)

Made In Denmark

Erik Van Rooyen – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

David Drysdale – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

 

Weekly pts advised = 12pts

@theGreek82

The Northern Trust and Czech Masters – Betting Preview

More annoying than Marc Warren’s round on Sunday or Rafa Cabrera-Bello coming up a little short were my two short lists for both events last week. Paul Waring was one of the first on my list for his solid record around Gleneagles while Brian Gay and David Hearn were both on my Wyndham list for their proximity figures. It’s most frustrating to have found the players and then stupidly ignored my own process but I felt I was already on enough outsiders with Kodaira as my main bet. He was shocking and it was very strange to see a player who made cuts at Carnoustie and Bellerive struggle to make pars on one of the most straight-forward courses they will play all year.

Missing out on Waring is tough to take given he was literally the last man off the list and he would have given the figures a timely boost as I dip ever closer to negative ROI. But it shows I’m at least doing something right and perhaps just need to continue trusting the gut even if that ended badly with Kodaira this week. It’s important to remember that we can’t judge value with any degree of hindsight though and the price was still the best piece of value I’ve seen this year. Of course value is highly subjective but the 38th ranked player in the world just shouldn’t have been 200/1 in that field. Nevermind, on to this week.

2018 pts advised = 386pts

2018 pts returned = 391.05pts

ROI= 1.3%


Northern Trust

The Barclays is no more and after a name change the first play-off event now arrives packaged as The Northern Trust. As is now customary the venue has changed again and we are back to Ridgewood Country Club (7319y Par 71) in New Jersey. It hosted this event previously in 2008, 2010 and 2014 so there is a little course form to look at but with varying weather conditions and ongoing renovations they have played quite differently over the years. The course was designed by the legendary A.W. Tillinghast who was responsible for some of the most esteemed classical courses in the greater New York area and perhaps even the U.S. He designed Winged Foot, Baltusrol and Bethpage Black which have all hosted multiple majors over the years. The course has been reworked by Gill Hanse several times since 1995 as he sought to restore it back to Tillinghast’s original vision. He has widened the fairways, made the greens bigger, renovated the bunkering, removed some trees and since 2014 he has removed the semi-rough meaning that finding the fairways could be crucial this week. Anyone looking for Gill Hanse clues can look at the Olympic Golf leaderboard from Rio or the Scottish Open results at Castle Stuart as they are perhaps his two most famous original designs.

Ridgewood very much resembles the other New York Tillinghast designs in appearance as they are always lush green parkland layouts with heavily tree-lined fairways. Much like Winged Foot however, Ridgewood has an impressive variety of different types and lengths of holes. That helps create a course that tests every aspect of the game and that is evident when we consider Matt Kuchar (2010) and VJ Singh (2008) are both past winners. This year with all the recent rain it sounds like the rough might be even more lush than normal. That will benefit those that stay out of the rough but similarly there won’t be as much roll out so staying out of the rough should be easier in theory. The green complexes are poa annua and having been made bigger, lag-putting could well be crucial this year on greens that will be set-up as quick as possible.

Looking back at the three recent events just confirms this emphasis on doing everything well. Mahan and VJ were both 7th in the all-round ranking when they won while Kuchar ranked 1st during his win. This is something we have seen recently on Tour at other difficult, tree-lined courses as Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka both ranked 1st in the all-round at Firestone and Bellerive respectively. It could be that looking at the top 20 in the all-round ranking might just find you the winner again in a field of this strength on such varied and classic design as Ridgewood. From a scoring point of view the three winners all performed well on the Par 4s with Mahan and Kuchar both ranking 2nd in par 4 scoring and VJ ranking 6th. That is to be expected on a classic design where over powering the par 5s isn’t always possible so a look at recent par 4 scoring averages may also be worthwhile.

Jason Day is proving very hard to get away from this week. With course form of 1st-5th and having looked somewhere back to his best on his last few starts he looks like the man to beat, certainly at the price anyway. Dustin Johnson and Justin Thomas are ahead of him in the market and while they are probably considered better golfers right now it’s important that we don’t let recency bias cloud our judgement too much. Both those players have been excellent over the last couple of years but if we look at the last 3 years then DJ has 10 wins while Day is sitting alongside Justin Thomas on 9 wins a piece. He belongs up there in the market having found his form again this year. I’ve been guilty of following him unsuccessfully at times but with his brilliantly consistent Fed Ex Play-Off record I’m going to give him another go this week. The stat legend that is @JustinRayGC tweeted the best scores to par over the last 4 years of play-offs and Day is miles ahead.

Jason Day -128, PaulCasey -96, Dustin Johnson -94, Rickie Fowler -86.

He confirmed his suitability to Tillinghast courses with poa annua greens when he chased home Jimmy Walker at Baltusrol in 2016’s US PGA and then also finished 4th at Bethpage Black in that same year’s Barclays event. Back him to continue his play-off form on a course that he clearly loves.

Hideki Matsuyama looks to be a huge price on a ball-strikers course given that he looked to be getting back to form last week at the Wyndham. He put up his best GIR performance of the year hitting 83% and while we know Sedgefield isn’t the longest he still hit more greens than both Snedeker and CT Pan who came 1st and 2nd. It was back to the usual poor putting with Matsuyama but this looks like the sort of course that he will relish if he can keep the ball on the fairway. It’s tree-lined but with enough room so that he won’t feel too intimidated on the tee given his driving troubles this year. The right to left dog-legs will suit a player who thrives on similar shaped fairways at Augusta. There are definitely more in form players but there probably isn’t any better value if his long game is getting back in tune. Prior to his 11th at the Wyndham he was 39th at Firestone and a respectable 35th at the US PGA. A player of his ability has to bounce back at some point and the play-offs might just be ideal timing for him. A value play surely if nothing else.

I was very enthusiastic about Ryan Moore’s chances until I looked at his course form. But having regretted not backing Paul Waring last week on form reasons I’m not going to dwell on Moore’s 3 missed cuts at Ridgewood. Instead I’m focussing on his current form and the fact that the classic Tillinghast design looks custom-built for Moore. The course may well be dominated by a Dustin Johnson or Jason Day if they find their groove off the tee but I’ll be surprised if we don’t see some plotting ball-strikers up on the leaderboard too. Ryan Moore won his US Amateur on another Tillinghast course at Winged Foot and while all his courses differ a little they all have the classic Tillinghast trait of testing a golfer right through the bag. In another slightly tenuous link to Winged Foot, Geoff Ogilvy won the US Open there in 2006 and he has won around the only other course which Mahan and Kuchar have both won, the Golf Club at Dove Mountain. That hosted the WGC Match Play from 2009-2014 and it might also help confirm the type of player that could go well here. Winning the WGC Match Play at that course was often about who could consistently hit the most fairways and greens and Ogilvy, Mahan, Kuchar and indeed Moore all fall into that category. Moore ranks 6th on Tour in Par 4 scoring while he is 30th for strokes gained: off the tee, a very impressive number for a shorter driver. Having warmed up with a 6th at the Wyndham and 12th at Carnoustie in July I think he is rounding into form at just the right time for both the play-offs and perhaps a very late run at the Ryder Cup team.

This looks to me like Kevin Na’s sort of course and that might just be the case looking at his results here. His course form reads 31-36-9 with the 36th having come when the course was soaking wet and would have played too long. In 2008 he was 31st but led the field in GIR while the 9th was a very reasonable effort in 2014. For several years you had to back Na with the caveat that you would probably get a run for your each way money even if the win portion was very unlikely to come your way. But with Na having finally stopped the 8 year rot at The Greenbrier in July there is still plenty of time left for the 34 year old to enjoy the latter years of his PGA Tour career in a similar manner to Matt Kuchar and Jimmy Walker. Since that win his results have been trending again with a 51st at Carnoustie, a 31st at Firestone and an impressive 19th at Bellerive where the bombers dominated. He ranks 6th in Par 4 scoring over the last 3 months, 2nd in scoring relative to par for approaches from 150-175 yards and 41st in the same category from 175-200 yards. Na currently sits 6th in strokes gained: around the green too and is one of the best scramblers around. That will be important in the lush green side rough at Ridgewood. These should all serve him well around this classic layout. Na is in good enough form that 80/1 looks a fantastic each way price

I’m getting a little carried away here and wanted to back a 5th in the shape of Luke List but instead I’ll just have a top 20 bet on him. List has been showing up all year on ball-striking courses and he should enjoy Ridgewood given he ranks 5th in strokes gained: tee to green. The clincher for having to include List was that he lost in the US Amateur Final to Ryan Moore at Winged Foot. Looks a solid bet at 9/2.


Czech Masters

With the 7467 yard par 72 Albatross Golf Club now hosting for the 5th year we have a very clear picture of what is required to win this event. The course plays long and while there is plenty of water in play the majority of it only really becomes an issue on approaches. The landing areas are wide enough and both Thomas Pieters and Haydn Porteous were able to drive it as long as they liked without worrying too much about where the ball ended up. Paul Peterson was the opposite in 2016 when he won as he hit 83% if his fairways. What all 4 winners have done to date though is hit plenty of greens and putted brilliantly. There is no question that the bombers have an advantage here though as that extra loft in their hands allows them to attack the well protected greens. Don’t dwell on Paul Peterson and follow the profile of players like Porteous and Pieters would be my advice this week, even if I haven’t found too many options myself.

This means we should be looking at stats like birdie average, driving distance, par 5 scoring, strokes gained: approaches and also players who have been putting well lately.

Lucas Herbert has been having a very strong 2018 season and he has been doing that with limited status on the European Tour. Last week’s 5th in Sweden was his 4th top 10 of the year and it also continued a nice trend of results for the young Australian. He made the cut at Carnoustie before a 29th in Germany and 18th in Fiji heading into last week. I’m not sure he is ready to win just yet in the way that Porteous and Pieters were here but he fits a very similar profile. They are all young, aggressive golfers who hit the ball a mile and can score very well when the putter behaves. Granted that is more often than not with Pieters and Porteous while Herbert seems a little more streaky with the short stick. His long game wasn’t amazing last week but I think he looks very worth following here as he is scoring well. He is 18th in birdie average for the season, 26th in driving distance and 38th in strokes gained: approaches so statistically he should be a good fit.

I badly wanted to back Ryan Fox here this week and I’m a little surprised he isn’t playing as he has the perfect profile for this. Lucas Bjerregaard also appealed before I noticed that he withdrew last week. He should probably be monitored in play along with the always difficult to back Johan Carlsson. He is another who should be suited to the layout but given he has only finished MC or top 30 so far in 2018 it is probably worth waiting until the half-way point to see which version of the inconsistent Swede turns up. So I’ll just leave it at the one bet I think in a tough looking betting event where the favourite Pieters could hose up by 8 if he arrives with the right attitude.


Summary of bets

Northern Trust

Jason Day – 2.5pts ew @ 14/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Skybet)

Hideki Matsuyama – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Ryan Moore – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places)

Kevin Na – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 8 places)

Luke List – 2pts Top 20 @ 9/2

Czech Masters

Lucas Hebert – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

 

Weekly points advised – 14pts

@theGreek82