The Greenbrier, KLM Open and Solheim Cup – Betting Preview

The 2020 PGA Tour season finally gets underway just 3 weeks after the 2019 season finished. Elsewhere the European Tour heads to another new course for the KLM Open and the Solheim Cup takes place at Gleneagles.

2019 pts advised = 427.50

2019 pts returned = 492.73

ROI = 15.26%


Greenbrier

The PGA Tour can barely have caught it’s breath here as it returns quicker than pre-season football in Scotland. The next few tournaments are often referred to as the “Fall Series” and they provide a great chance for the new batch of Korn Ferry graduates to make some good money straight out of the blocks. The courses are fairly straight-forward and often low scoring much like they see on the 2nd tier Tour. The fields are also quite poor as most of the top players take an extended break at this time of year.

Bryson Dechambeau is the favourite here and the fact that Viktor Hovland, as brilliant as he is, is the 2nd favourite tells us plenty about the depth of field. The course is TPC Old White at Greenbrier and it’s a fairly average length par 70 at around 7280 yards.

A look through previous winners shows a good mix of players and they did things different ways. Four of the last six winners led the field in putting while the other two both led the field in GIR. So while no one attribute is required, it looks like anyone wanting to win at Greenbrier had better either be pounding the greens or holing everything in sight.

The last man to win here was Kevin Na in July 2018 and given that he also won just 6 starts ago at Colonial I couldn’t believe that he was available to back at up to 50/1 this week. I really don’t understand it and I think we need to have a chunky bet on value grounds alone. Na was last seen withdrawing at the BMW as his wife was about to have their 2nd child. So he might be a little tired but I don’t think that warrants him being 3 x the price of Hovland here who hasn’t even played the course before. I’m not sure if it is the years of slow play or his long game yips that have made him unfashionable but he often goes off at too big a price these days. Na is a seriously good golfer and on a course where driving distance isn’t hugely important he is world class at his best. Lets hope we get some of that “nappy factor” this week! 😉

Robert Streb has some good finishes here and looks worth a go here arriving having regained his PGA Tour card via the Korn Ferry finals. His course form is 11-2-2-71-41 and that’s pretty much why I’m backing him. It’s an ideal stop for his first start back and as a PGA Tour winner he won’t fear too many in this field. With his priority ranking just 32nd from the 50 graduates he will know that he won’t get too many chances on ideal courses in the new year so he will be eager to make the most of this. At 66/1 he could be bigger but it’s a solid enough each way price given his course form.


KLM Open

The KLM Open moves to Amsterdam and the Ian Woosnam designed International Golf Club. It hasn’t seen any main Tour professional golf to date so everyone will be going in relatively blind to the new layout. It has however hosted the Dutch Seniors Open in 2013 and 2014 won by Simon P Brown and Ian Woosnam himself.

The layout looks to be a real mix of holes featuring elevation changes, dog-legs, short par 4s and par 5s and well bunkered, difficult green complexes. They feature several different tiers and are heavily undulating so could well be the main challenge on a par 73 layout which measures under 7000 yards. The most substantial review I found suggested the nature of the tee-shots provide a lot of risk-reward opportunities as they can go round a dog-leg to shave 40 yards off on some holes or attempt to carry water features and bunkers in order to elave themselves shorter irons in to the green. I think we could be set for a fun week and players who are happy to think their way around a course but also play aggressive golf when required should take to the International course.

I’ve been monitoring Jamie Donaldson closely over the summer since he started upping his schedule after hand and wrist injuries. At his best he was a strong driver of the ball and considered it the best club in his bag. After returning it was his long game that he struggled with, particularly his driver. So I thought it was very noteworthy that he has hit more than 70% of his fairways on his last three starts. You have to go back to 2008 for evidence of when he last did that. The confidence that he will have from being somewhere back to his best off the tee will be crucial for him the rest of the season as he looks to retain his card. His iron play is always rather steady and this year is no different ranking 24th in strokes gained: approaches. He is also 2nd around the green and with the multi-tiered, undulating greens both these areas will be crucial. The course resembles that of Gleneagles where Donaldson enjoyed perhaps the greatest week of his career. Both are parkland courses that feature links style undulations and lots of elevation changes. The varied nature of the 18 holes will suit someone who is capable through the bag and experienced enough to plot their way through the risk-reward nature of many of the holes. He signed off in Crans with a 69-66 weekend and if he keeps that momentum with the driver I’d expect him to out play his odds of 100/1 this week in what is a fairly modest field.

As most regular readers will know I like to get George Coetzee onboard whenever there is the potential for difficult greens given he is such a good putter. He can often be too short a price but that’s not the case this week as he is 80/1 in places. Often a wayward driver he should enjoy the shorter nature of the course that will allow him to keep the ball in play. From there he is a very good short iron player when he is on form and with his aggressive wedge-play he can get after the 5 Par 4s under 400 yards. It’s not been the greatest year on the course for George but the short-stick has been as consistent as ever ranking 16th in strokes gained: putting, 14th in putts per GIR and 39th in 3-putt avoidance. He is also 6th in this field for birdie average this season. A short course like this could well turn into a putting competition in benign conditions so it could pay to have one of the best on the greens on the team at a healthy each way price.


Solheim Cup

The Solheim Cup returns to Europe and it’s Gleneagles turn to host this time around making it just the 3rd course to host both the Ryder Cup and the Soheim Cup and the first in Europe.

IMG-20140929-WA0035

The 13th green at the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.

It looks very tough to call the winner given the number of rookies on the US team. Team USA are the favourites but with the Asian domination of the womens game, there aren’t too many of the games proper elite here. Lexi Thompson, the world no. 3, is probably the only superstar on show but that will mean that Europe will fancy their chances even if they are a little behind in the world rankings. The outright market isn’t one where you want to have a big bet given the low odds but I’m expecting a tight contest so some correct score plays in favour of a narrow Europe win look a sensible way to have an interest in the outright. But I have managed to find one standout bet in the player markets.

Lizette Salas has been in great form this year with her record in the big 5 majors reading 17-26-5-13-2 and the 2nd place coming on these shores in the British Open at Woburn. Salas is making her 4th Solheim appearance and in a team with 7 rookies that should make her experience vital. That combined with her reliable long game should mean that she plays a minimum of 4 matches and I think that makes her a standout bet in both the Top US market at 8/1 and the Top Overall market at 14/1. Only Lexi and Nelly Korda have won more money than Salas in 2019 and given she took 3pts out of 4 in 2017 I think she has been too easily dismissed in both markets. Not only does she have the runner-up finish in England this summer but on her British Open debut at St. Andrews she was 6th and she was 14th on her last start in Scotland at Kingsbarns in 2017. Both those featured lots of wind and bad weather so with the forecast looking distinctly Scottish over the weekend, Salas should handle the conditions.

My only other bet is one that I have to make on value alone even if it’s a low odds bet and it could go either way! Europe are 15/8 with Skybet to win the opening foursomes session on Friday morning with the tie 13/5 and USA 5/4. Europe have only lost one of the last 10 Solheim foursomes sessions and in that period they lead the shared ball scoring 46-34. In Solheim history I have them down as 58.5-50.5 leaders in this format having won 12 of 27 foursome sessions. Therefore we are essentially backing a historical 2.25 shot at 2.88 and I imagine US were the favourite in plenty of those sessions too. The US team does look stronger but we have seen them come unstuck in both the Solheim and Ryder Cup in this format. For whatever reason the strong team ethic needed for foursomes doesn’t quite come as naturally to them and Europe will know they need to win these sessions again to have any hope. With a largely home crowd (and Scottish Captain) cheering them on early Friday morning and in their favoured format I think the Europeans are over priced here. Europe have been cut since I started writing this as some shrewd money must have battered the opening 15/8 with Skybet. There are still several firms with 7/4 however and I still like that price.


Summary of bets

Greenbrier

Kevin Na – 1.5pts ew @ 45/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Robert Streb – 0.5pts ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral)

KLM Open

Jamie Donaldson – 1pt ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred)

George Coetzee – 0.75pts ew @ 80/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Betfred)

Solheim Cup

Lizette Salas – 1.5pts win Top US points scorer @ 8/1

Lizette Salas – 1.75pts ew Top Combined points scorer @ 14/1 (1/4 odds 4 places)

Europe to win Friday Morning Foursomes Session – 3pts @ 7/4

 

Weekly points advised = 15.5pts

 

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Omega European Masters – Some bets

Snedeker had a shocker at East Lake and while Stevie Gallacher played very well in Sweden he couldn’t make enough birdies when it mattered to get properly into contention. Another losing week is slowly eating into 2019’s profits but there are still lots of good European Tour events to get stuck into, starting this week at the beautiful Crans in Switzerland. Just the picks though as I’m short on time.

2019 pts advised = 419

2019 pts returned = 492.73

ROI =17.6%


Omega European Masters

Matt Fitzpatrick won’t be for everyone this week at a single figure price but that’s not to say it’s a wrong price. He is chasing a hat-trick of wins here but I’m of the opinion that defending the 1st time must be tougher than coming back for a 3rd win (variance aside). Knowing he has already defended will be a huge psychological boost and remove a fair bit of the pressure I reckon. Fitzpatrick was superb on Sunday and only a combination of brutally bad luck and an inspired Van Rooyen putter prevented him from arriving here as the first Scandinavian Invitation winner.

I was so impressed by the way he bounced back from the bad break which saw his approach hit the 14th flag and bounce all the way back down off the green instead of stopping inside 5ft. He holed a 45 footer on the next green and also closed with two birdies to come up one shy of Van Rooyen who putted like a 2015 Jordan Spieth on Sunday. It reminded me of just how good a player Fitpatrick is and also how impressive he is in contention. I expect him to play well again on one of his favourite courses and assuming McIlroy won’t be at his sharpest then Fitzpatrick is definitely the man to beat. The 8/1 is short but when we look at it as a straight up percentage then I think the has at least an 11% chance of winning this. So I’m happy to back him and given how nailed on I think he is to place I’m going to go each way with a view to the place returns paying for both the win portion and a separate win press up on Betfair.

I’ve backed Nacho Elvira here several times and despite not having played for 5 weeks his price is too tempting at 150/1. At his best he hits a lot of greens and scrambles brilliantly which is why he finished 4th here last year as that’s the recipe for Crans success. I’m guessing he has deliberately timed his return in with Crans and while he might be a little rusty the price more than allows for that.

As an arrow straight driver of the ball and a fairly relentless green finder, Aaron Rai was an obvious winner for us at Fanling in Hong Kong. Given how well that course ties in with Crans he is yet again an obvious pick but I’m ok with that. He owes me nothing after that inspired performance and while he hasn’t had the greatest of calendar years so far in 2019 there is still time for him to finish strong and this looks like an ideal stop. Rai really struggles to contend on long courses where the bombers have an advantage so I think he should play well here and I’m jumping on the Rai bandwagon.

I was drawn to Arnaus’ price when I first saw it as he is another winner in waiting much like Van Rooyen. But this is his first look at a fiddly course and he will miss enough of these small greens. He doesn’t scramble well enough for a course like Crans and to be honest he is probably too wild off the tee. I think there will be more suitable weeks ahead for the Spaniard.


Summary of bets

Omega European Masters

Matt Fitzpatrick – 2.5pts ew @ 8/1 and 1.5pts win @ 9.4 on Exchange

Nacho Elvira – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1

Aaron Rai – 0.5pts ew @ 125/1 (all 1/5 odds 8 places)

 

Weekly points advised = 8.5pts

 

@theGreek82

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

 

@theGreek82

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

Wyndham

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

 

@theGreek82

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

@theGreek82

 

 

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

https://neverupneverinblog.wordpress.com/2019/07/09/hole-by-hole-guide-to-royal-portrush/

https://betting.betfair.com/golf/the-open/the-open-2019-in-play-betting-tips-royal-portrush-course-guide-080719-721.html

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

@theGreek82

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

@theGreek82