Valspar Championship and Hero Indian Open – Preview

Georgie boy’s win very nearly took the blog into profit for 2018 and if the European Tour picks were good, my WGC Mexico picks were equally as bad. To be fair to Dufner, Luiten and Chappell, none of them played terribly but scoring was too low for three players who are better suited to a proper championship layout. I’ll be keeping all three in mind for the likes of Augusta and Shinnecock though later in the year.

Erik Van Rooyen nearly gave us even more returns in Pretoria but again he disappointed on Sunday. One thing worth noting though was how brilliant he was tee-to-green for 63 holes before his putting woes seemed to frustrate him so much they effected the rest of his game. Every time the camera cut to him he seemed to either be in the centre of the fairway 40 yards in front of his playing partners or on the green with a 20ft putt. EVR is definitely worth following through 2018 on ball-striking courses.

Total 2018 pts advised = 92pts

Total 2018 pts returned = 89.94pts

ROI = -2.2%

Valspar Championship

Ran out of time for much in the way of course details this week. It’s tree-lined, narrow, about 7300 yards long and requires accuracy and a good putting touch. Bombers don’t usually carry much of an advantage and the course is quite testing, rewarding those who enjoy a more technical test. The greens are bermuda and the course is in Tampa Bay, Florida. Canadian Adam Hadwin defends and Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy head a relatively strong field. For those wishing to dig a little deeper, I’m sure I covered the Copperhead course in better detail last year.

Webb Simpson looks my idea of the best bet here this week and I’ve been looking for a chance to back him since his putting improved somewhere back to its best. When Webb first came on Tour he was a very strong putter with his long, anchored putter but the ban really ruined his game. This year however he sits 6th in strokes gained: putting and he has had two Top 5s this year already. They both came on bermuda greens (Sony Open and Honda Classic) and there is no question that he performs better away from poa annua as his 4 wins have been split between bermuda and bentgrass greens. So he will relish the return to the surface and to an event where he recorded 4 consecutive Top 20s between 2010 and 2013, the best of which being a runner-up finish in 2011. He then struggled for a few years but you usually have to putt well to compete on the Copperhead course so his resurgence with the short stick should see another contending performance. He also ranks 37th in strokes gained: approaches which is another key indicator for the course. So often we have seen a major winner triumph here given the championship nature of the course and a fairly high winning score (average of -11). Webb ticks that box with his 2012 U.S. Open win and a quick look at that leaderboard gave me extra confidence that he should play well this week. Five Valspar champions recorded a Top 20 around Olympic Club that week and both courses are visually similar and provide the same sort of test where birdies have to be earned. There is still some 45/1 around which I think looks a fantastic each way bet but he is more of a general 40/1 now.  That’s a bit of a shame but he is still very much worth a bet, especially with Sky Bet’s 8 places on offer this week.

Luke List may well not have recovered from his play-off defeat to Justin Thomas yet but there was so much to like about his game at the Honda. If he can take the positives out of that performance then he looks a very fair price at 55/1. The shot tracker visuals for List’s approaches were absolutely amazing such were the height of his irons and his 100% commitment to his slight draw. This meant he was taking the ball in well over water on several holes under huge amounts of pressure on the back 9. Yet he delivered with the large majority and this was a player in complete control of golf ball. With his power he won’t even need to get the driver out too much around Innisbrook and if he can stay in play off the tee then there is no reason that he won’t enjoy another good week. His form isn’t fantastic around Innisbrook but he was 26th last year and with way his irons are performing  he should certainly improve on that.

There isn’t really much else that I fancy here but I think Gary Woodland looks over priced considering he won just 4 starts ago. Woodland won this back in 2011 so we know it suits and the power packed American has been putting brilliantly of late, particularly on his favoured bermuda greens. There isn’t much more to say really, I expect that win to propel Woodland to the sort of level that everyone expected when he first appeared on Tour and that could well mean multiple wins in a year. I’m more than happy to back him at 40/1 while in form at a course where he has already won. (there might even still be some 50/1 around with a few of the smaller bookies


Hero Indian Open

Link to The Golf Family preview;

Summary of Bets

Valspar Championship

Webb Simpson – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Sky Bet)

Luke List – 1pt ew @ 55/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Gary Woodland – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 8 places Sky Bet)

Hero Indian Open

Scott Jamieson – 1pt ew @ 33/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Ashun Wu – 0.75pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Renato Paratore – 0.75pt ew @ 66/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)


Weekly pts advised = 11pts

Total 2018 pts advised = 103pts




Honda Classic and Qatar Masters – Betting Preview

A little short of time this week so no moaning about last week and fairly short previews.

2018 pts advised = 70pts

2018 pts returned = 55.94 pts

ROI = – 20%

Honda Classic

The PGA Tour heads east to PGA National at Palm Beach, Florida for what is one of the tougher stops on Tour. Pars are pretty good around a course where the wind usually blows and the greens are quite small and very well protected. We will be looking for links players in Europe this week and at a course where Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington, Adam Scott and Rickie Fowler have lifted the trophy, I’ll be looking at similar types here. Ability to hit greens in tough conditions and scramble well when you miss is the order of the day at PGA National. Having said that though Rickie Fowler putted his way to victory last year but a lot of those were completing his up and downs. Scrambling and bogey avoidance should be two good angles in while I’d be wanting evidence that a player can play in the wind and handle bermuda greens before I parted with my cash on the Honda Classic.

Louis Oosthuizen is getting advised this week largely on price but he also hit more greens than everyone else last year as he finished 21st. His first 2 appearances ended up in withdrawals and then he missed the cut on his 3rd so last year suggested he was finding his feet on a course that should suit. Despite the abundance of talent the 2010 Open champion possesses the fact he has never won on U.S. soil can make him difficult to back at his price some weeks on the PGA Tour. However that isn’t the case this week as the opening 80/1 looked a great each way price about him getting his 2018 season properly up and running with a contending performance. Unfortunately that 80/1 disappeared as I was writing this today but I still think the general 66/1 to 70/1 gives us some value if you look at the standard of player around the 50/1 mark this week.

My only other each way pick is another solid links player and after Graeme McDowell played so well last week at Riviera I think he is also a little over-priced at 66/1. McDowell has usually been a very good wind player through-out his career and there is no doubting that he prefers a difficult test of golf with his first win in the U.S. coming at the U.S. Open with a winning score of just level par. He was 12th in both GIR and scrambling last week so hopefully a switch to bermuda greens might bring about a change in fortunes on the greens for GMac. Another major-winner who is priced up alongside a few players who he is simply better than. So lets take advantage of that 66/1 as he surely shouldn’t be any bigger than 50/1 this week at a course where he has 4 Top 10s from his 8 appearances.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat makes a rare appearance in the U.S. this week having not played there since 2016. But he has made the Top 20 on 3 of his 14 appearances and he arrives confident and with his game in good shape. This test should suit him perfectly so I think the stand-out 5/1 on offer with Betfred for a Top 20 should be snapped up. Given several of those appearances in the U.S. were on courses that wouldn’t have suited him I think there is probably a little wiggle room down to 4/1 but no probably no lower than that.


Qatar Masters

Link to The Golf Family preview;

Summary of Bets

Honda Classic

Louis Oosthuizen – 1pt ew @ 66/1

Graeme McDowell – 1pt ew @ 66/1

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1 (Betfred)

Qatar Masters

Alexander Bjork – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Joakim Lagergren – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Thomas Bjork – 1pt Top 20 @ 6/1


Weekly pts advised = 9pts

Total 2018 pts advised = 79pts



Genesis Open and NBO Oman Open – Betting Preview

We came agonisingly close to the double this week as Mickelson surged through the back 9 on Sunday night after Aphibarnrat obliged earlier in the morning in Australia. Just like 2 years ago when Vaughan Taylor beat Mickelson in to 2nd place, inspired outsider Ted Potter Jnr played a superb round alongside Dustin Johnson to record one of the most remarkable wins of the season so far. I can’t complain though after Aphibarnrat somehow managed to land the World Super 6s event after seemingly being down and out about  six times over the course of the weekend. His class eventually shone through however as he made the up and downs and putts when it mattered as his opponents struggled with their own clutch putting.

Aaron Wise also grabbed a top 20 in California to make it a profitable week for the blog with some 41 pts returned.

Total 2018 pts advised = 59

Total 2018 pts returned = 55.94

ROI = -5%

Genesis Open

The PGA Tour remains in California this week to complete its west coast swing and we’re in L.A. for the glamour that Riviera Golf Club brings. Golf fans are truly spoilt at this time of year with the likes of Torrey Pines, Pebble Beach and now Riviera.

Riviera is a lush green course with sprawling up and down fairways running through parkland and huge elevation changes between tee and green. Despite there usually being plenty of thick kikuyu rough, driving accuracy isn’t as important as it once was. The poa annua greens are slick and tricky, again surrounded by thick rough or run-offs. The bigger hitters have enjoyed an advantage in recent years as they can attack many of the flags with a wedge or a 9-iron. The trees can certainly block players out from the green but many of the par 4s have a side where it is ok to miss and you will see a lot of the bombers hit their slinging draws or power fades around the subtle dog-legs to give them the preferred angle in. While you don’t absolutely have to be long at Riviera, if you aren’t, you need to be accurate through the bag with your irons and very capable around the greens. Last week’s scrambling stats are worth a look at given the very defined rough around the small greens at Pebble Beach. The challenge will be similar this week again chipping onto slick, sloping, poa annua greens.

It’s a course that has very strong links with both Augusta and Glen Abbey (host of the RBC Canadian Open) and that is a route I have gone down the last few years. It found me Chez Reavie at 250/1 in 2016 who would go on to finish one shot out of the places in 7th. I had been hoping for a decent price on him this week but he is well and truly exposed now after consecutive 2nd places. Both courses are not only visually similar but require much the same skill-set and there are players that thrive on all three. Distance off the tee, GIR and scrambling  are probably the most crucial stats to look at this week.

RBC Canadian Open - Final Round

I’m going down the value route this week with a couple of very big prices. Jonny Vegas has won the last two Canadian Opens at Glen Abbey and that combined with his 15th here last year makes him very interesting. Vegas is the sort of player who should thrive at Riviera with his length off the tee, high ball flight and a great chipping touch around the greens. He simply looks massively over priced here after an over reaction to a missed cut at Torrey Pines. Prior to that he was 11th at the CareerBuilder and 7th at the Tournament of Champions. Vegas isn’t always the most accurate of drivers so Torrey Pines doesn’t really suit his game off the tee. As we mentioned Riviera is more accommodating with missed fairways so I’m going to focus on his previous tournaments, his solid finish to the 2017 season and the fact he shot 3 rounds in the 60s here last year. Looks a great each way price at 125/1


Charley Hoffman goes well on all of these courses and is another player who the bookies have very quickly forgotten about. For a period in 2017 Hoffmann was the form player on Tour outside the bigger names and while he hasn’t been at his best so far in 2017 he shouldn’t be dismissed at tracks like Riviera. He lost in a play-off last summer at Glen Abbey and looked like he might win the Masters for a couple of days. In fact his Augusta record in general is very good as he has made the top 30 in all four appearances. Hoffman also has some solid form in the bank at at Riviera having finished 4th last year and he has made 9 of his 11 cuts at the venue.

So far this year he ranks 35th in strokes gained: off the tee and 65th in strokes gained: approaches to the green while he has only missed one of his last 22 cuts. He withdrew last week at Pebble but I’m hoping it was just precautionary and if he is fit then 100/1 is huge. I really like the price but given he might not be fully fit I will reduce stakes slightly to 0.75pts ew.

Luke List has the game for Riviera being one of the biggest hitters on Tour but he also has an excellent touch around the greens. It’s his iron play that can often let him down but he has been playing very well lately with a 12th at Torrey Pines and a 26th in Phoenix. List currently sits 9th in strokes gained: off the tee and in those last two events he ranked 6th and 7th in GIR. List has played Riviera twice with mixed results, he missed the cut last year while in dire form but was 20th the year before on his debut. With his tee-to-green game in fine fettle this looks a great course for him where putting isn’t usually as important as hitting greens.

Kevin Chappell’s price has gone a little this week but as regular backer of his I do like his chances this week. His driver has been on fire this year so far and if he makes a good start I may look to get him onside in-play. If Mickelson wins you might not hear from me for a while but at 22/1 he is a little easier to overlook this week.

NBO Oman Open

Link to The Golf Family preview

Summary of Bets

Genesis Open

Jonny Vegas – 1pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Skybet and others)

Charley Hoffman – 0.75pt ew @ 100/1 (1/4 odds 5 places Bet365)

Luke List – 0.75pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Skybet and others)

NBO Oman Open

Alexander Bjork – 1.25pt ew @ 50/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

Pablo Larrazabal – 1.25pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 6 places)

David Drysdale – 1pt Top 20 @ 9/1


Weekly pts advised = 11pts

Total 2018 pts advised = 70pts


AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and World Super 6 – Betting Preview

Before the final round on Sunday on the PGA Tour I said to myself anyone but Woodland or Reavie. Reavie is one of my regular plays and he has been trending towards a win for some time while Woodland was my main tip last week and has been one of the Tour’s best performers without a win over the last couple of years. I suppose I should be taking confidence from it as it shows I’m doing something right but with only small returns again this week it isn’t easy to be so pragmatic! Hadley played well and nabbed us some diluted returns at 100/1 but it was a losing week on the whole.

This week the Tour is back on the west coast for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am event while the European Tour heads down under for the rather gimmicky World Super 6s event.

2018 pts advised = 47.50pts

2018 pts returned = 14.25pts


AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

The PGA Tour is back in California this week for it’s first pro-am event of the year. The tournament takes place across 3 different courses in the area, Spyglass Hill, Monterey Peninsula and the iconic Pebble Beach Links. While all three are located in the same area, their characteristics do differ sligthly but the focus should be on Pebble where those making the cut will play the final round. It is an open, links style course with its main defence being its small poa annua greens which can be hard to hit and difficult to putt on for those who aren’t accomplished on the surface. If the wind doesn’t blow then scoring can be fairly easy with the course set up to allow amateurs to enjoy their week. It’s also never as hard and fast in February as we see when hosting the U.S. Open in June so there is a chance to be aggressive with the irons when the wind doesn’t blow.


All three courses are relatively short at under 7000 yards and driving accuracy doesn’t usually matter too much in this event with most of the rough minimal. While the other two courses have bigger greens the focus is still on hitting them with Spyglass featuring several elevation changes, making distance control difficult. It is also tree-lined with any wind a little harder to judge. Monterey is usually the easiest of the three courses so players will need their putter to perform whichever day they tee it up there.

Unlike when the U.S. Open pitches up at Pebble Beach, the low scoring nature of a pro-am event means you want to side with a player capable of making lots of birdies. The winners regularly hit plenty of greens but if the wind blows then the small greens will be missed on Sunday making scrambling vital. Those are the 3 main attributes to focus on this week in addition to a fondness for poa annua greens.


Two years ago Phil Mickelson should really have won this event as he failed to make a straight-forward up and down at the 18th to force a play-off with Vaughan Taylor who had holed everything down his back 9. I was on Phil that year and after what he showed over the weekend at Scottsdale, he looks to be close to finally getting the next W which he has been chasing since lifting the Claret Jug in 2013. It is madness to think that a player of Mickelson’s ability hasn’t won in 4 1/2 years but it speaks volumes to the strength of the PGA Tour in recent times. Despite him being 47 now it’s certainly not age that is holding him back as he is still long off the tee and there is no hesitancy whatsoever on the greens. He just hasn’t been playing well enough on a consistent basis. But he has been quoted as saying he has found something with the driver this season (I know, we have been there before!) and he hit more fairways than he missed in Phoenix which is usually about as good as it gets with Mickelson. He also ranked 1st in scrambling and 9th in putting which are always crucial  in this event with easy pin locations yet often strong winds at Pebble Beach resulting in missed greens.

I’m sure he will win again on Tour and if he does it is likely to be at one of his favourite courses. Phil is a 4 time winner around Pebble Beach and looks primed to go close again. The big five in the market means there are some fancy each way prices around for some very good players. Rather than try and pick between DJ and Spieth I have decided to avoid all the favourites.


I can’t seem to get away from Branden Grace this week despite this being his debut at Pebble Beach. Everything else looks to be in his favour. Grace’s record on U.S. championship courses with poa annua greens over the last two or three years is practically second to none. Grace finished 4th at Chambers Bay, 3rd at Whistling Straits, 5th at Oakmont and 4th at Baltusrol. The first two of those also being exposed links courses just like Pebble Beach. Grace has won the European Tour equivalent event, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which is also a pro-am format played across 3 different courses. Grace shot an all-time major record with his 62 around Birkdale last July. Five of the last six winners at Royal Birkdale have won around Pebble Beach and of the four major tournaments I listed above where Grace shone, three of those winners are also winners at Pebble Beach. One further link to suggest suitability is the location of his solo PGA Tour win, Harbour Town. It is also a coastal course with small greens just like Pebble and there are plenty of dual winners over the years but most recently Brandt Snedeker and Graeme Mcdowell have won at both venues.

The course looks absolutely ideal for him and I think he too looks a great each way price given his pedigree in similar conditions.

Matt Kuchar should be respected this week but rather than take a 3rd player from the front of the market I’m going to add an outsider for a small each way bet and also Top 20. PGA Tour rookie Aaron Wise is a player with a very good reputation and big things are expected from him this year after his first professional win on the Tour last year. Wise is an Oregon native so is comfortable on the west coast and he has already won on poa annua greens when he took the NCAA title in 2016 in his home state at Eugene Country Club. It has a been a fairly slow start to his season having missed 4 of his 8 cuts but he turned 3 of the other 4 into Top 25s. He sits 18th over the last 3 months in birdie average so I think a low scoring event on the west coast could be the ideal time to get behind this deadly putter. We can take advantage of his low profile 2018 by getting very juicy odds of 200/1.

World Super 6s

Link below to The Golf Family preview

Summary of Bets

Pebble Beach

Phil Mickelson – 1pts ew @ 33/1 (1/4 odds 5 places general)

Branden Grace – 1pt ew @ 40/1 (1/5 odds 7 places Coral, Boylesports)

Aaron Wise – 0.25 pt ew @ 200/1 (1/5 odds 7 places) & 1pt Top 20 @ 13/2

World Super 6s

Kiradech Aphibarnrat – 0.75pt ew @ 25/1

Jason Scrivener – 0.75pt ew @ 25/1

Alejandro Canizares – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1

Connor Syme – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 (all 1/4 odds 4 places) and 1pt To Qualify for knockout  @ 13/2 (Skybet)


Weekly pts advised = 11.5pts

2018 pts advised = 59pts



Phoenix Open and Maybank Championship – Betting Preview

We got off the mark last week as Tyrrell Hatton flew through the field on Sunday to land solo 3rd. It promised to be even better than that for a brief spell as he had a 10ft putt to get to -21 at the driveable Par 4 17th. He missed that and then found water on 18 to leave himself 2 shots shy but it was another brilliant desert performance and he rewarded the faith shown in him. Hatton’s consistent play in both desert and links conditions is second to none over the last 18 months and this has to be factored in when assessing his price going forward.

Over in California, Woodland was perfectly placed for a Sunday assault as he was 5th and just 3 shots back. The wind did for him again though just like 2015 and he really doesn’t look to be a great wind player at all. There is no doubt that he loves Torrey Pines South course as his Saturday 66 testified but he doesn’t seem to handle even one round of wind.

This week the PGA Tour moves inland to the desert and the Phoenix Open while the European Tour has a little break from its Middle East swing and heads down to Malaysia for the Maybank Championship.

Total 2018 pts advised = 35.5pts

Total 2018 returns = 9pts

Phoenix Open

In the normally more reserved sport of golf, TPC Scottsdale is the one course that comes closest to typifying U.S. Sports. The course is somewhat famous in the game for it’s stadium seating around the par 3 16th hole and it helps create an atmosphere unlike any seen in regular stroke-play events. That’s not to do the course an injustice however as it is a very serious layout, with pristine conditions and the Phoenix Open usually throws up a classy winner.

Hideki Matsuyama has won the last two events and never finished outside the Top 4. To be honest that tells us everything you need to know about the course. The fairways are wide enough and it pays to have some length off the tee. The greens are on the larger side and in order to fire at the flags, a degree of loft will be required and the control that the fairway allows is also beneficial. TPC Scottsdale is a ball-strikers dream and rewards accurate, aggressive iron play perhaps more than any course I can think of. The greens themselves don’t usually require any brilliance and it is usually all about the law of averages and having more putts inside 15ft than the rest of the field. That is something Matsuyama regularly does when his mid-irons are dialled in and he is as ruthless as anyone on Tour from between 150 and 200 yards out.

With a 12th place finish last week where the putter was behaving, Matsuyama is almost certainly the player to beat and at odds of 10/1 I wouldn’t put anyone off. However with Spieth,  Fowler and Thomas all alongside him in the betting it doesn’t look like a week for a big play on any of the favourites. Instead I’m happy to play some of the healthy each way prices that the strong head of the market has given us.


Kevin Chappell’s long game was sublime last time out at the CareerBuilder and it was his horrible putting that stopped him from winning. He still managed 6th place though and with the greens being a bit of an equaliser here at Scottsdale I think this pure ball-striker looks to have a great chance. His form at the course isn’t fantastic to date but I’m not really sure why. He plays well in desert conditions and this tee-to-green test should be just about perfect for him on paper. Chappell has three missed cuts from 6 appearances and hasn’t beaten 24th yet but there were positives from that best finish in 2013. He fired opening and closing 66s and there were also some good rounds two years later in 2015 where he shot Friday and Saturday 65s to sit in the top 10 going in to Sunday. That’s enough to confirm to me that he can play this course and if we delve a little further into his finishes we see that they were more about his form at the time. Chappell normally takes a little while to get going in the New Year and that 24th finish came on his only effort in Phoenix where he was arriving off a Top 10 already that calendar year. On a ball-strikers course sometimes you just have to pick ball-strikers and that’s exactly what Chappell is, currently ranking 6th in strokes gained: tee to green. The 66/1 looks a big each way price.


Keegan Bradley is another tee-to-green machine and you could make a perfectly good case for him being the most consistently long and accurate driver of the ball in world golf. His approach play isn’t too shabby either and he currently ranks 7th for strokes gained: tee to green. Bradley is a 3 time winner on Tour and also a major winner so given he finished 6th last week and has four top 25s in Phoenix, I’m surprised that we can get 66/1 about him. He has suffered considerably since the anchored putter ban but over the last year or so there have been signs that he is finding a way to get competitive again. We shouldn’t forget that when you strike the ball as well as he does, an average putting week is often all he needs to contend. That will be even more prevalent at TPC Scottsdale and he looks to have a great chance here this week.

I was going to leave it at two bets here this week but then I noticed Chesson Hadley’s price. I watched him closely during the fall series and his form was very good without getting over the line for the win. He has kept that going in 2018 although he has done so a little under the radar as the world’s best players have ousted him from the spotlight. Hadley is currently 10th in strokes gained: tee to green, 6th in strokes gained: approach to green and 29th in strokes gained: putting. All those combined suggest he is on the verge of grabbing his 2nd PGA Tour title. His form at Scottsdale isn’t great but he has taken his game to a new level of consistency recently and he looks a great price at 100/1.

Maybank Championship

Link to The Golf Family preview below;

Summary of Bets

Phoenix Open

Kevin Chappell – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1/4 odds 5 places general)

Keegan Bradley – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1/4 odds 5 places general)

Chesson Hadley – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (1/5 odds 6 places several)

Maybank Championship

Alex Levy – 2pt ew @ 16/1 (1/4 odds 5 places Ladbrokes)

Jason Scrivener – 0.75pts ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Boylesports)

David Horsey – 0.75 pts ew @ 70/1 (1/5 odds 6 places Skybet)

Weekly pts advised = 12pts

Total pts advised = 47.5pts


Farmers Insurance Open and Dubai Desert Classic – Betting Preview

It was a week for the obvious winners last week as Rahm and Fleetwood both obliged on the main Tours and Garcia romped home in the Singapore Open. Most of my picks were poor and we are still looking for the first returns of the new year. Hopefully they will come this week with a couple of high quality events on both Tours. The PGA Tour stays in California with the Farmers Insurance Open and the European Tour makes its second Middle East stop for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

2018 total pts advised = 20.5pts

2018 total pts returned = 0pts


Farmers Insurance Open

This time last year I wrote the following and there is a sense of deja vu in California this week.

“Tiger makes his much-anticipated return to the PGA Tour this week and there couldn’t be a more fitting place for him to return than Torrey Pines. He has won this Tournament 7 times along with a U.S. Open in 2008 which was his last major win. It’s anyone’s guess where he will finish but the signs were good in December so hopefully he will go well as it would be great to get to see a fit Tiger Woods compete again in 2017”

Somehow though Tiger has been cut into 25/1 which is surely the wrong price. It would be special to see him contend again around one of his favourite courses but ultimately he will surely just be looking to make the halfway cut.

Last week’s winner and 2017 Farmers Insurance Open winner Jon Rahm is back to defend as the 8/1 favourite and that is very hard to argue with. He looks to have a great chance but I’m just about happy to leave him out. Fowler, Rose, Matsuyama and Day are up next and they all have claims here given how well they are suited to a tough test of golf. But the bookmakers look like they have their number and barring 2015 winner Jason Day, they don’t have the greatest of records at Torrey.

As well as the South Course each player will have a knock around the easier North Course on Thursday or Friday before the South hosts those that survive the cut on the weekend. In addition to being suited to the tougher South course, if a player wants to contend this week it is important that they adapt also to the North course and record a low score. Historical form around the North may not count for as much as it used to however with the course undergoing a fairly substantial renovation prior to last year’s event.

Torrey has an element of Baltusrol about it where the rough is up and the fairways aren’t overly generous, yet the powerful players can still gouge their ball out and find the green from the rough. This will be easier from nearer the green though and the shorter hitters will definitely need to make sure they are finding the fairway more often than not.

With fast, undulating green complexes it will not only be hard to hold the greens but also to get the ball to stop near the flags. Accurate approach play will perhaps be the most important attribute this week closely followed by scrambling which is always more crucial on long, championship courses where greens will be missed. Unlike recent birdie-fests on Tour, make no mistake this will be a proper test and rather than holing putts this week, it will be more about making pars on the South course and trying to shoot a solid round on the easier North course. The greens at the South course are poa annua and they aren’t for everyone. Course form seems to sit nicely with both Riviera and Glen Abbey, the former also having poa greens.

A very strange thing happened after I decided on my picks this week, I looked at last year’s picks at Torrey Pines and I’d picked out the exact same three players again. So I guess I’m either doing something right or making the same stupid mistakes again! But I really like all of their chances despite them letting me down last year. Sometimes golf is  just like horse racing and you have to stick a line through the occasional piece of form.

Cameron Smith returns to Torrey Pines a far more accomplished player than last year having won twice since, once at the Zurich Classic team event and another back home in Australia where he won the PGA Championship at Royal Pines. That’s another long championship course and he has always looked like a player who prefers a difficult course to the normal target golf on the PGA Tour. That was evident at his first major where he finished 4th in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. Smith has an excellent short game and currently ranks 13th for bogey avoidance while he finished 2017 ranked 8th in strokes gained: around the green. So far in 2018 he has been playing rather well with two top 20s and having finished 33rd last year he will be looking to improve again with his confidence high.

Gary Woodland is putting very well this year again and currently ranks 14th in strokes gained: putting for 2018. When Woodland is putting well he is capable of winning anywhere but he is another who has the game for long, difficult courses like Torrey. At 50/1 he is similar odds to last year and his predicament is much the same. A player of his talent really has to start pushing on as several of his peers have overtaken him in recent years. Woodland is in fine form after opening his year with a 7th place finish in Hawaii where he did everything well. Another performance like that should see him get involved over the weekend in an event where he has three Top 20s and was sitting 2nd with a round to go before the wind took over in 2016. Woodland also enjoys poa annua greens and finished 4th on the surface in 2016 at Bethpage Black, which has long been considered one of the toughest courses in the U.S. Most things seem to be in Woodland’s favour this week which makes the 50/1 look like a very tempting each way price.

John Huh is the final pick after grabbing a back door 3rd place last week at the CareerBuilder. On paper he is probably a little short off the tee for Torrey but that hasn’t stopped him before as he has some solid course form having finished 6th and 8th previously and he is one of the best around at avoiding bogeys. At least he will be hitting most of his approaches from the fairway as he is usually deadly accurate with the driver. With his talent if he can add more consistency to his game then he could have a good 2018 and he looks worth following while he is in good form.

Cameron Davis announced himself on the scene when he beat a strong field at the Australian Open in December at just 22 yrs old. He is another tall, powerful hitter who thrives on long courses and I’d expect him to be suited to Torrey Pines and the Aussie won’t be phased if things firm up and the win blows over the weekend. I’m going to have a top 20 bet on him.

Given the way that Rahm and McIlroy performed last week without being at their best it is entirely possible that they blow these fields away so I’m going to have small 1pt win saver on the double as they will surely both contend.

Dubai Desert Classic

Link to The Golf Family Preview;

Summary of Bets

Farmers Insurance Open

Cameron Smith – 1pt ew @ 66/1  (1/5 odds 7 places several firms)

Gary Woodland – 1pt ew @ 40/1  (1/5 odds 7 places several firms)

John Huh – 0.5pt ew @ 125/1 (1/5 odds 7 places several firms)

Cameron Davis – 1pt Top 20 @ 9/1 (Betfred)

Dubai Desert Classic

Matt Fitzpatrick – 1.5pts ew @ 20/1

Tyrrell Hatton – 1.5 pts ew @ 25/1

Thorbjorn Olesen – 0.5pts ew @ 66/1

Connor Syme – 1pt Top 20 @ 16/1


Rahm + McIlroy win double – 1pt win @ 53/1


Weekly pts advised = 15pts





CareerBuilder Challenge and Abu Dhabi Championship 2018 – Betting Preview

I’m still so annoyed at not backing him that I’m not even going to talk about Chris Paisley’s win. Straight on to this week.

In the U.S we have the CareerBuilder Challenge while the European Tour starts its Middle East Swing with the Abu Dhabi Championship.

2018 pts advised = 9 pts

2018 pts returned = 0 pts

CareerBuilder Challenge

The PGA Tour heads north to California this week for the multi-course, pro-am format of the CareerBuilder Challenge. In its 3rd edition since the name change from the Humana, the current courses on rotation are also in place for the 3rd time. They are the PGA West Stadium Course, PGA West Nicklaus Course and La Quinta Country Club. With everyone making the cut playing a final round at the PGA West Stadium course it is perhaps the most relevant course although the characteristics of all three are similar.

The Stadium course is a Pete Dye design and so far form on his courses has been the best pointer for the event. It found me David Lingmerth in 2016, who was one of the most unlucky runner-ups you will see in golf, and Dufner who beat him had already won at TPC Louisiana while also owning a 6th at Sawgrass. Last year’s winner Hudson Swafford had limited experience of Dye courses but he had shot 66 on his very first round at Sawgrass and proximity to the hole is his main strength.

Courses of Dye’s that are currently on rotation are TPC Sawgrass (The Players Championship), Harbour Town (RBC Heritage), TPC Louisiana (Zurich Classic), Crooked Stick (2012 & 2016 BMW Championship) and Whistling Straits (2010 & 2015 US PGA Championships).

All the greens are bermuda so those who putt well on the surface should be respected but ultimately any event that Dufner can win obviously can’t have the most difficult of greens. The short stuff at PGA West certainly doesn’t have the undulations we see at Dye’s Sawgrass so expect everyone to be holing putts. That is perhaps even more likely in the pro-am format where flags aren’t likely to be hidden away until perhaps Sunday. The greens are also on the larger side for a Dye course therefore this event is usually all about proximity to the hole and getting as many makeable birdie putts as possible.

The players at the front of the market all look to have a great chance of playing well but there isn’t a lot of value around with Reed and Harman looking short enough at sub 20/1. Chez Reavie has the game for the course and while he is a player that I like, you won’t see too many worse prices this season than his 40/1. Instead I’m happy to look a look a little further down the betting.

I’m probably going to continue to back David Lingmerth in this event every time he is 50/1+ providing he isn’t playing like an 18 handicapper at the time. His game is perfect for short Dye courses and when he is putting well he can be deadly from the all important 10ft-20ft range that we will see so much of this week. His scrambling skills are also impressive should the greens firm up and become less receptive over the weekend. He hasn’t been seen yet this season but he signed off 2017 in decent nick with a 17th at the RSM Classic where the test is similar. We know he likes the event having lost a play-off to Dufner two years ago and I’d expect him to arrive looking to make amends for that unlucky defeat where he did nothing wrong.

Scott Brown looks a little over priced here considering he was runner-up in the team event (Zurich Classic) at Dye’s TPC of Louisiana course in May last year. The rest of his season involved mixed results but that included a 5th and a 6th as well as his best ever Major result as he finished 13th at the US PGA in August. Brown missed the cut here two years ago but on that occasion he was making his first start of the season whereas this time he has already played in Hawaii. It wasn’t the best of performances but he did make the cut and I think he should be suited to this event as he thrives on shorter courses where accuracy is favoured over power. He isn’t a player that you can ever be too confident backing but I’d make him more of a 100/1 shot so I believe we are getting some value if nothing else.

Derek Fathauer is my stock outsider at Dye courses and while he will probably miss the cut I think his liking for the designer’s courses at least makes him a little bit of value at a huge 400/1. I’m not suggesting a big play by any means as he didn’t have the greatest of 2017s but there were two Top 10s in his last 8 events of the year. Fathauer won the Tour Championship around the Dye Valley course at Sawgrass in 2014 and also finished 9th the following year. He was also 17th on his only appearance at The Players Championship. Despite missing his last cut of the year at the RSM Classic he hit 72% of his greens which was a big improvement on his numbers before hand. Worth a small interest.

Abu Dhabi Championship

Link to Golf Family preview;


Summary of Bets


David Lingmerth – 1pt ew @ 66/1 (1-7 places 1/5 odds several places)

Scott Brown – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 (1-7 places 1/5 odds Coral)

Derek Fathauer – 0.25pt ew @ 400/1 (1-7 places 1/5 odds Coral)

Abu Dhabi Championship

Matt Kuchar – 1.5pts ew @ 33/1 (1-7 places at 1/5 odds Coral)

Jordan Smith – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1-6 places at 1/5 odds Skybet and William Hill)

Jordan Smith – 2pts Top 20 @ 9/2

Jamie Donaldson – 0.5pts ew @ 150/1 (1-7 places at 1/5 odds Coral)

Jamie Donaldson – 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1


Weekly pts advised = 11.5pts

Total 2018 pts advised = 20.5pts