CIMB Classic and Italian Open – Betting Preview

There were returns last week on both Tours as Hadley and Warren both grabbed full places. That very nearly made for a profitable week but not quite (16.5pts) and we really need winners to get back into profit for 2017. Hadley looked like he was going to oblige as he started the final round as favourite but could only manage to shoot level par on a tricky day where Steele rallied with a few timely (and lucky!) birdies.

In Scotland we were in a great position early on but I’m not sure what happened to Coetzee and Fox after Thursday. I followed them around St Andrews and they were both playing very well on the whole. Warren did the opposite though finishing strongly after starting slowly on Carnoustie. Lagergren looked like he might have snagged a place again but a double bogey on the 14th did for his chances on Sunday.

2017 pts advised = 460

2017 pts returned = 376.35

ROI = -18.2%

I’m a little bit rushed for time this week having been away so will focus on the picks. Both tournaments are on the same course so a lot of last year’s info will still be key.


CIMB Classic

 

The CIMB Classic takes its usual position at the Kuala Lumpur Golf Club and we have a strong bank of form to look at with just two men having won the last four editions as both Ryan Moore and then Justin Thomas doubled up. That further confirms how important course form is this week as it’s played in serious humidity in Malaysia and there are quirky sea paspalum greens like those on Tour at El Cameleon and Puerto Rico. The course was designed by Nelson and Haworth who are responsible for several championship courses in Asia and the form often stacks up. It is an early start this week through the night in Malaysia and conditions are hot and humid. Both Thomas and Moore putted the lights out during their wins despite neither men being considered consistently great putters. Sea paspalum is a tricky surface and comfort levels need to be high in order to contend.

Rafa

Rafa Cabrera Bello had some excellent form at the course even before his 10th place finish on the PGA Tour in this event last year. In the Malaysian Open he was 3rd and 4th in 2011 and 2012. For years the Spaniard threatened to become a bit of a journeyman on Tour always failing to maximise his brilliant ball-striking by falling short on Sundays. Gradually over the last two years though he has moved his game to another level and he got his reward with a slightly back-door win at the Scottish Open as Shinkwin himself struggled to get over the line in July. Rafa has also recorded some strong results in elite company recently, making the semi-finals of the World Match Play in 2016 before his best ever Major finish at this year’s Birkdale Open where he was 4th. I think the market has under estimated him this week so he is largely getting backed on a value basis. His tee-to-green game is better than the majority of this field but as ever it’s his very average short game that can hold him back. Having said that it has improved significantly lately and therefore he contends more often than not now as he only needs to perform slightly above average on the greens to do so. The slight worry with regards to winning this week is how prevalent putting has been for the winner. But there is enough value in the each way price for that not to concern me and he has putted well on these sea paspalum greens before. A solid looking bet at 40/1.

Chris Stroud looks a little over priced here despite his run of poor form. Stroud finally got his first PGA Tour win this summer at the Barracuda Championship and chased that with his first Major Top 10 at Quail Hollow the week after. Having secured his card and had his best ever two results in the space of two weeks it’s easy to see why he lost a little intensity and missed his next three cuts in strong fields. He has had a month off since then and would have got rid of any rust last week in California so will be relishing his return to both Malaysia and sea paspalum greens. Stroud finished 3rd at Kuala Lumpur GC in 2013 and followed that up with another 3rd two weeks later on Mayakoba’s sea paspalum. He ranked 2nd and 10th for putting those two weeks and thrives on the different surface as two further Top 10s in Puerto Rico testify. Stroud has also finished runner-up in the Alfred Dunhill and 8th in the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan, showing he isn’t your typical PGA Tour pro who can struggle when playing on the other side of the world. May well miss the cut again but I think he has been a little bit too easily dismissed at the 200/1 available with Betfred. Top 20 too at 5/1

James Hahn’s claims are very obvious being the only man bar Thomas to finish inside the top 10 the last two years. He was the first name on the shortlist but his price is a bit of a joke now around the 40/1 mark. We know how good he can be in contention but he is so inconsistent that it is very hard to know when he will play well. There are a few other prices that I cannot get on board with this week. Yes, Lahiri loves the course but should he really only be 3 times the price of Matsuyama, or the same price as last week’s winner Brendan Steele? I don’t think so. In fact I’m going to leave it at just the two picks here as Thomas should really win this again but is completely unbackable at just 4/1.

 


Italian Open

The Italian Open returns to Golf Club De Milano for the third time in a row. Francesco Molinari returns to defend and Jon Rahm tees it up as favourite looking to get his quota in for Ryder Cup eligibility. His presence together with the always too short Molinari have set the tournament up as a strong looking betting heat.

The course is a very narrow one as I covered in greater detail last year. But unlike so many tree-lined narrow tracks, this is also fairly long and has some very small greens. So perhaps it’s a little surprising how low the scoring has been to date.

Anywhere that Molinari wins you would imagine can’t put much emphasis on putting and despite some of the stats conflicting with that a little (Moli ranked 18th for putting, Karlberg 17th in 2015),  I’m happy to assume it isn’t overly important this week despite the need for birdies as the greens aren’t too difficult. Many of the holes wind through the trees with dog-legs and as such it is an extremely strategic course off the tee. Not only will they have to be on the correct side of the fairway but more often than not they will only be able to take an iron off the tee, resulting in lots of long iron approaches, especially on the front 9. That sits very well with Molinari having won as he hits his long irons and hybrids as well as anyone on the European Tour.

It’s all about the tee-to-green at Golf Club De Milano and then trying to get the putter hot by giving themselves plenty of chances.

Tommy Fleetwood was the massive standout at the prices on Monday when they came out and subsequently everyone jumped on. I did tweet about the 25s along with many others so hopefully readers managed to get involved. The dilemma then for me was at what price I can still advise him in the blog. The 25s came and went and unfortunately so did most of the 22s about the new father this week but there is still a little bit around and 20/1 is still just about fair too.

We all know what a fantastic long game Fleetwood has and he showed that throughout the summer. An argument could be made for him being in the top 12 or so in the world in terms of ball-striking alone but I must admit I still don’t rate him as much of a putter which usually means I still struggle to back him at short prices. However, in this field, on a tight course with small greens, he probably won’t need to putt too well to get into contention. The fact that he is still a bigger price than Molinari and Tyrell Hatton is to ignore Fleetwood’s rise to the top golfing table in 2017. Therefore with a 7th place last year, where he ranked 1st in GIR, and having broken the Carnoustie course record last Friday, I’ve decided he is still a worthwhile play at 20/1 even if some of the early juice has gone.

Anyone following Martin Kaymer will have had an interesting time to say the least since his meltdown in Abu Dhabi in 2015. It has been very odd to see a double major winner’s form take such an abrupt downturn but even still there have been instances where he has looked backable due to course form and disrespectful prices. This looks like one of those opportunities but this week we also have the added bonus of the fact his long game is very much back to it’s best. He ranked 4th for total driving and 9th for total accuracy last week in Scotland.

So if we see more of the same from him this week he surely has to go well on a course that he was 2nd at in 2015, again throwing away a lead as he led by three at the turn on Sunday. The 40/1 might take into account the fact that hasn’t been able to close them out lately but for me it hasn’t factored in his combination of class, course form and current ball-striking level. Anything much over 28/1 looks generous for the German this week.

There are a host of outsiders I liked this week at the prices and I’ve decided to plump for three more. I’m backing them in the Top 20 market too.

Chris Hanson recorded a top 20 here last year on his first look and I think he is over priced here on his return. Hanson ranks 2nd in total accuracy over the last three months and that combination will be ideal this week on such a narrow course. He hit 79% of the greens at the course last year which ranked 10th for the week. His current form is good if we ignore his missed cut last week in Scotland in the pro-am slog. His results prior to that read 11-25-37-14 with the 11th coming at the tree-lined Close House layout. If his long game remains as sharp as it has been then he should play well again.

Ricardo Gouveia got my attention after last week as he actually ranked 3rd in total driving and 5th in total accuracy. Obviously that was playing three rounds on wide open fairways where comfort levels would have been high for the young Portuguese on the tee. So when I saw that he missed the cut here last year my enthusiasm was tempered a little. However when I delved a little further I noticed that one of his Challenge Tour wins was in Italy on an old-fashioned, tree-lined course with a premium on accuracy. He backed that up with a 6th place finish the year after when defending. I put him up a few weeks ago and he played well so I’m going to give him another go here but just a very small win bet and a bigger top 20 bet.

Jason Scrivener ranked 1st in total accuracy last week but still finished down the field in Scotland as he was let down by his putter. That’s not often the case so if he can improve on the greens he should go well. He was 5th on his last trip to Italy earlier this year at the Rocco Forte Open and has course form of 36-14 so he looks a little over priced.

 


Summary of Bets

CIMB Classic

Rafa Cabrera Bello – 1.5pt ew @ 40/1

Chris Stroud – 0.5pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 5/1

Italian Open

Tommy Fleetwood – 1.5pt ew @ 22/1

Martin Kaymer – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Chris Hanson – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 6/1

Jason Scrivener – 0.25pt ew @ 175/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 7/1

Ricardo Gouveia – 0.25pt ew @ 200/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 15pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 475pts

@theGreek

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Safeway Open and Alfred Dunhill Links Championship – Betting Preview

Shane Lowry just managed to snag a full place with most of the bookmakers offering 7 places for their home based event. He looked to be striping it most of the weekend but just couldn’t get the putts to drop. Paul Dunne was a very deserving winner but he wasn’t someone I fancied on a new course like Close House. Generally when shifting to a new venue you want to side with solid tee-to-green games but it was Dunne’s sublime short-game that won him the trophy. He has that very rare ability of chipping the ball almost stone dead from anywhere around the green and that masked a very average ball-striking round for him on Sunday where he hit just 6 fairways and 11 greens in reg. Should we return to Close House in the future it’s worth remembering how key scrambling can be there as some of the greens are small and very fiddly.

Ashley Chesters looked like bagging the Top 20 effortlessly but unfortunately the pressure of being in the final group on Saturday was a bit much and he had a horrible weekend as nerves took over.

The Presidents Cup was a little bit of a non-event and I really shouldn’t have got involved. I knew that from the start though and need to be more disciplined and just leave events like that alone.

Total 2017 pts advised = 442 pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 359.6 pts

ROI = -18.65%


Safeway Open

No sooner has the 2017 season finished but the 2018 season is underway and in all honesty it feels rather daft to have such a short break. That is even more apparent this year by the Monday finish of the Web.com Tour Championship which leaves the 25 players who have earned their card just two days to prepare for their assault at the main Tour.

The starting point is The Silverado Course at Napa in California and with it having hosted since 2014 we have a fair idea of what is required to win. The course is a par 72 and so stands fairly short at just 7200 yards meaning it isn’t usually over powered. It is tree-lined and although not overly narrow, positioning off the tee is crucial as the courses main defence are the slick, small greens. Approaches have to be from the fairway in order to hold the correct area to allow up hill putts as the greens become very difficult if out of position. The greens are poa annua so only those confident on the surface will fancy tricky 5ft downhill putts for par. Therefore proximity to the hole and poa annua putting will both be key this week. While the stats don’t suggest driving accuracy is too crucial, with thick rough and difficult flag locations, players will need to have full control of their golf ball and bombers are likely to struggle unless taking a more strategic approach off the tee this week.

The Fall Series provides a very welcome change to the betting landscape for punters having struggled to pick which one of the world-class players was going to win over the last 6 weeks. We are back to wide open fields without the majority of the game’s best players and we often see big price winners at this time of year. If you like a player here this week then don’t be put off by the price. Although it might pay to consider whether those who contended on Monday at the Web.com will be fully prepared for this just

Such is Kevin Na’s form around the Silverado course he was already on my shortlist for this before the horrific events unfolded in his home town of Las Vegas. It feels a little uneasy putting him up now but we only have to look at Stacey Lewis in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey hitting her hometown of Houston to see how such tragic events can give them a sense of perspective or in Lewis’ case a drive to donate as much money as possible. Quite how this will affect Na we really can’t be sure but its clear from a golfing point of view that the course suits so I’m happy to get behind him here despite claiming I would never back him again! Na is a nervous character that often seems overwhelmed when he is in contention so playing this week with his thoughts elsewhere might just free up his pre-shot routine should he find himself on the leaderboard on Sunday.

Na was 7th here last year and 2nd the year before that and the shorter track together with the requirement for accurate approaches is right up his street. In 2017 Na ranked 5th for Scoring Relative To Par on Approaches from 125-150 yards and he will find himself in that range more often than not around Silverado. The scoring stat rather than just proximity to hole is often more telling as we know he is taking his chances. Na is a solid enough putter and he has shown over the years he is comfortable on poa annua, none more so than when he was 7th at Oakmont’s U.S. Open last year but he also came 4th at Riviera in February. One of his main strengths is his scrambling which well help him over the weekend as the greens firm up. His recent form is good with a 4th and a 6th in his last four tournaments.

Pricewise it’s always a bit of a conundrum with Na as his win price always seems short yet his high number of top 5 finishes can help counter that somewhat. He has 8 placed efforts from his last 52 tournaments and 14 from his last 100. There’s also something quite genuine about him and I can’t help but root for Na so I would love to see him get his long overdue 2nd PGA Tour win here. Not going to argue that there is much value in 28/1 but similarly I think it’s a fair price with his combination of course and current form.

Martin Laird started playing some very good golf at the tail end of the 2017 season so a stop at one of his favourite courses looks very timely indeed. Laird has one of the highest ball flights on Tour with his irons and that helps him find the right portion of these slick greens. His record at the course is very good reading 8th-63rd-3rd and these are precisely the sort  of tournaments that the Scot thrives in. He targets these weaker events as great opportunities to contend and although he hasn’t won in 4 years he is a 3 time winner who doesn’t usually back up when the chance to win is there.

His last few results of the season were solid but ultimately too late to make a mark on the Fed Ex Play-offs. He closed the season going 20th-40th-44th and on that last start at the BMW his tee-to-green game was brilliant and he was only let down by the putter. A return to poa annua might help counter that and he generally performs well on the rougher surfaces having ranked 14th on the greens here last year. If he has kept his swing ticking over the last two weeks he will hopefully play well again.

Luckily Chesson Hadley wasn’t at the business end of last week’s Tour Championship on the Web.com so he will be fresher than most of the 2018 new batch this week. But he was the outstanding player on the 2nd Tour having topped the final money list so he doesn’t quite arrive on Tour under the radar. Hadley has the big plus of having had his Tour card before though, even notching up a win at the Puerto Rico Open in 2014. Hadley also has three other wins on the Web.com Tour. His record around the course is quite poor but he is playing far better lately and won just three weeks ago at the Albertson Boise Open which features poa annua greens. In fact three of his professional wins have come on the surface so he clearly enjoys putting on poa. Hedley ranked 6th on the PGA Tour in GIR over the last 6 months and while that is for quite a small sample size he also ranked 14th on the Web.com for the same stat over the 2017 season. Hadley will be determined to make his mark this time around on Tour and this looks like an ideal starting point.

Scott Brown always seems to be underestimated by the bookies and that looks to be the case again with quotes of 100/1 in a couple of places. Brown is coming off a very good 2017 where he was runner-up twice, in the team event in New Orleans with Kisner and at Riviera. He also recorded his best major finish to date with a 13th at the US PGA in only his 4th appearance at one of the big four events. It is the Riviera finish that stands out though, highlighting that he is happy putting on poa annua greens. He missed the cut here in 2015 but was 12th in 2014 when playing better. Brown will arrive full of confidence after a good finish to his summer and should go well.

I wanted to tip Andres Gonzales this week but unfortunately he isn’t in the field. Instead I will finish with Daniel Summerhays. He is a player who has really struggled to get that elusive win on the PGA Tour but one thing he doesn’t struggle with is poa annua greens. In 2016 he finished 3rd at the US Open and 8th at the US PGA, both of which were played on poa annua greens. He hasn’t done brilliantly at the course yet but he has made 2 out of 3 cuts and he did rank 6th in putting in 2014. It’s rather speculative but at these odds (150/1) he is always worth consideration on poa greens.


Alfred Dunhill Links

This week’s Dunhill Links sits in its usual spot on the European Tour and having been on the go since 2001 almost everyone knows what to expect on the East Coast of Scotland this week. It takes the form of a pro-am across three courses during the first three days so the courses are set up extremely easily for the celebrity hackers. With the spot in the calendar being in October in Scotland we don’t see any of the hard and fast conditions that are prevalent at The Open. The greens and fairways are soft so trouble is even harder to find than usual at St Andrews and Kingsbarns. Carnoustie is usually a little more difficult but even still it will need the wind to blow to prevent rounds in the 60s being the norm. The flags are also very favourable to allow the amateurs to enjoy their experience so with all that combined you can see why the winning score is usually in the 20s under par. St Andrews and Kingsbarns both have wide open fairways and plenty of drivable par 4s so power is very much a weapon this week. Ultimately though, it is all about making birdies so aggressive iron play and a hot putter will be the order of the week in Fife and Angus.

After a round at each course everyone who makes the 3rd round cut plays the final round at the home of golf and things get a little more serious on the Sunday. The forecast for the whole week is a steady wind throughout but I’m hoping the rain stays away as I’ll be at one of the courses for the first round on Thursday.

Ryan Fox went firmly into the notebook for this after his superb summer of Links golf. Fox finished 5th at Le Golf National, 4th at the Irish Open and 4th again at the Scottish Open confirming himself a very strong links and bad weather player. The fact that he went a little off the boil through August and September isn’t of too much interest to me and merely serves to give us a good price here. His brilliant July guaranteed his Card for next year so it was no surprise to see him take some time off after the Open and US PGA and he would have needed a few events to blow the cobwebs off on his return.

The Scottish Open 4th is the one that interests me most with it having come at the Kyle Phillips designed Dundonald Links course. Kingsbarns is another Phillips design and together with St Andrews and Castle Stuart they are probably the 4 widest championship Links courses you will see in the UK.

Therefore we would expect Fox to be suited by them as most of his mistakes come with the big stick in hand. Fox hits it further than pretty much everyone on Tour and he will eat St Andrews and Kingsbarns up. He is aggressive with his irons and his putting improves on grainy links greens. The New Zealander first plied his trade on the PGA Tour of Australasia so is at home on the grainier surface as well as exposed golf courses. Having been brought up on firm, fast courses he has also shown he is comfortable knocking the ball down and chasing it onto the greens when conditions dictate.

This whole set-up just looks absolutely perfect for Fox and despite this being his debut in the event I think the easy set-up will help him adjust and he has already played St Andrews in the 2015 Open when it was set-up considerably tougher than it will be this week. Quite how he might fare at the tougher Carnoustie I don’t know but while it will be harder than the other two courses this week, it will be as soft so scoring should still be good. That will also suit a player who ranks 2nd for birdie average over the last 3 months. Fox looks like the best piece of value in the field to my eye at 66/1.

While Fox is a confident pick I also want a few players onside that have more recent form in the bag. Step forward George Coetzee yet again. I’m not going to bang on again about Coetzee too much but he is such a good links putter I’m pretty much going to continue to back him in this event whenever he is bigger than 33/1. There are few players who have been in better form over the last month and bizarrely it has been his long game that has had him at the right end of the leaderboard lately. If he keeps that up,  the extra room off the tee will take the pressure off his driving and his short game skills should help this birdie machine contend again this week. Ranks 6th in the all-round so with every part of his game in decent nick the timing of this event is ideal for someone who jointly holds the course record at the Old Course.

I’m in danger of going overboard and backing 7 or 8 players this week. I have to give Marc Warren another go after playing well at Close House. Warren is another sublime putter who thrives on links greens. He was 5th last year and is back in form again at the right time this year. His wild driving has been stopping him contending on Sunday recently but again he will be able to relax on most tee shots this week and let rip. He ranked 19th for GIR and 19th in putting so he should be looking forward to returning north to his homeland.

Joakim Lagergren is a very straight-forward pick this week. He has finished in the top 10 the last two years, returning a Top 20 bet for me here last year at a great price. That left me regretting not putting him up each way as he finished 4th. Not going to make the same mistake this year, especially at 90/1. The young Swede has one of the most silky smooth putting strokes you will see and enjoys the easy pro-am set up here. It takes the pressure off his tee-to-green game which isn’t always a strength. Everyone hits these huge greens so it’s often a battle between the putters and those who aggressively fire at every flag. Lagergren likes to do both so can be expected to go well again at a tasty enough price.

I was going to have a 5th pick of Robert Karlsson given how well he played last week. He opened at 175/1 with bet365 and with him being a past winner of this event that looked far too big. He has been cut into 125/1 which looks about right for someone who has struggled for so long. But I think he is still perhaps value to finish inside the Top 10 at 12/1.

Finally I’m also having a bet on Florian Fritsch for a Top 20 here. Fritsch is perhaps most famous for his fear of flying and he will be playing his 7th week out of the last 8 while we have been in Europe. Keeping hold of his card when he can only play half the schedule is very tough but he is learning to make the most of his strong periods of form and he usually has to play every event this time of year. Fritsch was 7th here last year and 19th the year before on his debut so he clearly enjoys the format. So with a 100% record of top 20s in the event he looks a rock solid bet at 5/1. I will have 2pts on this to return stakes for the event should everything else go wrong.

I’ve got bit carried away this week but both events are good betting heats so hopefully the extra picks pay off this week as I try to sneak back to level for the year.

 


Summary of bets

Safeway Open

Kevin Na – 1.5pt ew @ 28/1

Martin Laird – 1pt ew @ 50/1 (Unibet, 888)

Chesson Hadley – 0.5pt ew @ 60/1

Scott Brown – 0.5pt ew @ 100/1 (Unibet, 888)

Daniel Summerhays- 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 (Unibet again!)

Dunhill Links

Ryan Fox – 1.5pts ew @ 66/1

George Coetzee – 1pt ew @ 40/1

Marc Warren – 0.5pt ew @ 66/1

Joakim Lagergren – 0.5pt ew @ 80/1

Robert Karlsson – 1pt Top 10 @ 8/1

Florian Fritsch – 2pts Top 20 @ 5/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 18 pts

2017 pts advised = 460 pts

@theGreek82

Presidents Cup and British Masters – Betting Preview

I’m not talking too much about last week after Rose crumbled over the weekend and Coetzee’s triple bogey 7 at the 72nd hole scuppered his place chances. Very annoying. Finau landed the top 10 money however and Berger and Woodland both played well enough for top 10s but both threw in one bad round.

2017 pts advised = 429pts

2017 pts returned = 345.09

ROI = -19.6%


Presidents Cup

On paper and form this looks like a landslide win for the US team with the bulk of the star players for the International team having had poor 2017 seasons. But does it always work that way? In golf team events, it usually does I’m afraid. While the match play format can certainly bring about a change in fortune for some it is hard to see enough of the Internationals finding sufficient improvement to allow the team to be competitive as a whole across the 4 days, especially on U.S. soil. Two years ago many of the International team were in great form and they played brilliantly and still couldn’t win. Luckily though there are plenty of markets available so I have had a look at the course and individual markets to see if I can find any value.

The venue is Liberty National and it gets its name from its location sitting right behind the Statue of Liberty in Jersey City. It is a Tom Kite design and it has hosted two PGA Tour events previously, the 2009 and 2013 Barclays Championship. However it must be noted that a massive $250m renovation was carried out prior to the 2013 event with a view to hosting this very event. It was won by Australian Adam Scott who returns this week and will be expected to use his course knowledge to help his team this week.

Branden Grace and Louis Oosthuizen teamed up brilliantly two years ago to win all four of their matches and that very much set the foundation for the International team’s challenge across the week. I don’t expect to see returning Captain Nick Price split them up but they will find it a lot harder in the U.S. with so much expected from them. Instead I’m going for Jason Day in the top International market because of his incredible record in both New Jersey and indeed the neighbouring New York area. His recent results in New Jersey read 2-1-2, which is really amazing and his New York record is similarly impressive; 6-4-8. Day struggled in 2015 only winning a 0.5pt from his 5 games but his opening partner was Steve Bowditch and I’m not sure he would have been too pleased about that. I’d expect Price to find a more suitable pairing for him this time around knowing how crucial it will be to get his main man winning points. Day showed in 2013 what he can do with the right partner when he and Graeme Delaet won 2.5pts from 4.

We shouldn’t forget that Day is an accomplished match play exponent having won the WGC World Matchplay title twice already in his career. He has shown enough form lately to suggest he will play well this week and he has also played Liberty National twice before recording 12th and 25th place finishes. His price isn’t great but I think he looks like a solid enough bet in the Top International market at 9/2 as he may not have too much to beat, especially if he gets off to a good start with whoever he is paired with on Thursday morning. Additionally he will surely play all five matches which gives him a big advantage over most of his team.

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The main player market bet I like though is Brooks Koepka to be the top scoring rookie in the competition. He is 2nd favourite in the market to Justin Thomas but there are two key factors at play here which makes him look like the more solid option. Thomas just won some $11m dollars on Sunday and that will have taken a bit of getting used to. He was already a rich man but we have seen plenty of Fed Ex winners struggle for form in the aftermath. While Thomas and Koepka are Presidents Cup rookies, Koepka played in last year’s Ryder Cup and played very well indeed taking 3 pts from 4. He relished the team format from the start and he has stated in interviews just how much he is looking forward to this week. Being new to professional team golf Thomas won’t be entirely sure of the atmosphere and given that he looks likely to play with his mate Rickie Fowler, its possible they might not be fully focussed from the word go.

There are nine others in the market but none of those can be expected to play in as many matches as Thomas and Koepka so they will have their work cut out to win this. Thomas will probably take to the event and win all 5 pts but from a betting angle it looks safer to side with the man proven in the elite team golf environment.

I’m also going to have two speculative plays on the correct score. Like everyone else I’m expecting a fairly comfortable U.S. win but it should stay competitive early on. With 30 pts up for grabs I like both the 17-13 and 16.5-13.5 scorelines so will have 0.5pt on both at 10/1.


British Masters

We have had the Ian Poulter hosted event at Woburn in 2015 and then the Luke Donald hosted event last year at The Grove, this year it falls on European Tour stalwart Lee Westwood to host at Close House. Bringing the British Masters back has been a stroke of genius from The European Tour and getting Sky Sports on board has also really helped to capture the imagination of the fans. With the first two editions in the south of England they are now venturing north to Northumbria and I’d expect the crowds to be massive as they support their first regular European Tour event in quite some time.

The course itself holds Lee Westwood’s name and is known as the Lee Westwood Colt Course although neither he nor Harry Colt actually designed it. It was the work of Scott Macpherson who created it in 2011 but he based it very much on the great Harry Colt’s work. Macpherson is a scholar of the great British courses, particularly Colt’s work and he is even a published author on the topic having written “Golf’s Royal Clubs” about the courses in the world that have been given Royal approval.

Close House is a rather short course playing under 7000 yards and it reminds me visually of a combination of Wentworth and Gleneagles. It has the winding tree-lined fairways of Wentworth but the rolling fairways and elevation changes of Gleneagles.

The course has been used on the 3rd tier Europro Tour from 2015-2017 and also hosted the Senior PGA in 2015. That Senior event was won by Peter Fowler and looking at the other four names who made up the places behind him, they are all golfers who play well on tree-lined UK courses with numerous top 5s around Woburn and Sunningdale.

Shane Lowry was on my radar for this given his form on Harry Colt designs and classic British tracks on the whole. Lowry has a very solid record at Colt’s Wentworth with a 2014 runner-up finish being the pick of four top 10 finishes. Lowry’s best Open finish was at Colt’s Hoylake in 2014 when he finished 9th and he actually equalled Faldo’s course record 62 around Colt’s redesigned Sunningdale layout on his way to qualifying for the 2010 Open. It’s very clear that Lowry enjoys the classic Colt layouts so it makes a lot of sense to me that he should take to Close House given it was designed with all those layouts in mind.

Lowry.jpg

That might have been enough to make Lowry a bet anyway but his iron play has been back to its best lately and in Portugal he hit a rather brilliant 91.6% of the greens which means he missed just 6 all week. Granted they are huge greens but the most important attribute to take to a new course is solid approach play. Confidently committing to a number and target on a new layout will give Lowry a big advantage over those who are struggling to control their ball. Lowry has also played well in this event before at Woburn which is another similar course. We know he can beat better fields than this as he showed when winning the WGC Bridgestone, at another tree-lined, classic design, so returning to form he looks a rock solid each way bet here.

Marc Warren played brilliantly last week and therefore I was surprised to see 100/1 about him this week on a course that would suit a peak Marc Warren perfectly. Warren is a Wentworth specialist with 7 top 30s and he is a winner around Gleneagles. His best major finish is at the classical, Donald Ross designed Oak Hill where he came 12th and his best Open finish was around Hoylake. The only downside to Warren this week is that he still isn’t driving the ball close to his best since his injury. The rest of his game was in great shape in Portugal though as he ranked 4th in GIR and 14th in putting. With Close House being a short course he should be able to leave the driver in the bag on plenty of tee shots and flourish again on another suitable course.

One of the main disadvantages that rookies face on Tour is that they are playing a course for the first time while most of the field have seen it before numerous times. Not only is that not the case this week but several of the rookies have actually played Close House before. This completely turns things on its head and while it is still a huge step up in class from the Challenge Tour, it’s fair to think those rookies who have already shown up well on the European Tour can take advantage of their superior course knowledge to outplay their odds this week.

Aaron Rai doesn’t exactly fly in under the radar having won three times on the Challenge Tour this year to gain his card but he is a decent price given the field strength here. His form has been up and down so far on the main Tour but his talent is very evident and I like his chances of playing well this week. He came 5th at Close House in the 2015 Euro Pro event so given this is the first course he will have played before I’m going to have a top 20 bet on him here.

Marcus Armitage was 20th last week in Portugal and that’s the same bet I’m having this week. Armitage won around Close House in 2015 and hasn’t looked out-of-place so far on the European Tour. He ranked 8th in total driving and 5th in scrambling last week and both those attributes should help him here.

Ashley Chesters is another who has seen the course before having finished 4th there last year. Chesters plays well on these shores as he showed when he arrived on the scene at St Andrews’ 2015 Open when he finished 12th as an amateur. A few weeks later he would go on to take 3.5pts out of 4 at the Walker Cup around Royal Lytham. Chesters has shown glimpses on the main Tour so far and currently ranks 3rd for total accuracy this year. He has managed 6 top 20s from 19 events so far and looks over priced for another.

 


Summary of Bets

Presidents Cup

Jason Day – Top International  – 1pt @ 5/1

Brooks Koepka – Top Overall Rookie – 2pts @ 9/2

US 17-13 Internationals Correct Score – 0.5pt @ 10/1

US 16.5-13.5 Internationals Correct Score – 0.5pt @ 10/1

British Masters

Shane Lowry – 2pts ew @ 25/1

Marc Warren – 0.75pts ew 100/1

Aaron Rai – 1.5pts Top 20 @ 11/2

Marcus Armitage – 1pt Top 20 @ 11/1

Ashley Chesters – 1pt Top 20 @ 7/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 13pts

2017 pts advised = 442pts

@theGreek82

BMW Championship and KLM Open

A bit of a washout at Crans last week as 250/1 shot Gouveia finished best of the 5 picks. The winner was the fairly obvious Matt Fitzpatrick who I looked at for quite a while but I really didn’t think he was playing well enough to win despite his strong course record. It’s a further reminder however just how much better the top-tier of European Tour players are than the rest even when we see a reasonably deep field. Alex Noren, Matt Fitzpatrick, Thomas Pieters and Tommy Fleetwood are a class above right now and while they maybe still can’t be followed at single figure prices, similarly they shouldn’t be readily dismissed when out of form either.

Total 2017 pts advised = 402.50 pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 329.84 pts

ROI = -18.05%

 


BMW Championship

I have had a look into this week’s course as the BMW returns to Conway Farms, host of the 2013 and 2015 tournaments. However with the current form of the world’s best players, trying to find even each way value could prove futile given those trading under 20/1 could easily fill all five places! This means we should really only be looking at the head of the market for the remaining tournaments, certainly this week as East Lake next week can prove a horses for courses sort of week. The trouble with deciding between the top 4 or 5 players is that it can basically be pot luck as it often comes down to factors that even the shrewdest of tipsters can’t foresee. I certainly struggle with separating “the chalk” in situations like this so I’ve tried not to get heavily involved. (But largely failed!)

Jason Day and Zach Johnson are the previous champions here and that suggests touch on around the greens is required at Conway. That is reflected in the stats too as the first five home averaged 10th (2015) and 18th (2013) in scrambling and 7th (2015) and 8th (2013) in total putting. What does conflict between the two events was how important driving distance was, in 2015 it was crucial with the first five averaging 6th, yet in 2013 when Zach won the top 5 averaged just 45th in driving distance. I’m not too sure what the weather was like during those events but I’d still imagine the short game will be crucial at Conway Farms again this week.

It is a Tom Fazio design so form at Firestone may well be worth a look, Day and Johnson both hold very solid records there as do several of the names on the two final Conway Farms leaderboards; Scott Piercy, Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan.

I think the course should suit Jon Rahm perfectly given the locations he has gone well at so far in his short professional career. A winner of the Farmers Insurance at Torrey Pines and runner-up around Glen Abbey, it appears Rahm usually plays well at the same courses as Jason Day and that makes me think he could be set for his 2nd win here at Conway. Both have powerful, towering ball flights, an excellent touch around the greens and make plenty of birdies so I guess that shouldn’t really shock us. Rahm is still expected to reach the very top of the game, even with the current crop of stars around and while he might not represent any great value on a course he hasn’t seen before, we might be looking back at 14/1 on Rahm this time next year and thinking “wow”. Of course that’s not to say Rahm wont have an awful 2018 and end up being more like 40/1 next year but such is the make-up of these Fed-Ex events now that I’d rather take a slight chance on him at a more juicy price than try to find any reasoning for splitting those above him in the market.

I’m also going to have Jason Day onside here as my other main outright bet. He has firmly turned the corner lately with recent results reading 25-6-9-24-27 . He won here in 2015 and his US PGA win was a just a little further north along Lake Michigan. He was also 9th just last month on the Fazio designed Quail Hollow and he has a good record around Fazio’s Firestone course. This should arrive at just the right time for him to step up his season with a contending performance. Day ranks 5th in birdie average over the last 3 months and he looks another good alternative to the front three.

I’m also going to have a few place bets starting with Daniel Berger for a top 10. Berger was 2nd here in 2015 and having gone from strength to strength since and become a two-time winner, I think he has been dismissed a little too easily on his return to Conway Farms. While I could easily advise an each way bet I prefer the top 10 bet here this week with Berger.

Jhonattan Vegas gets in because of two wins at Glen Abbey and I think that together with a 3rd place just two starts ago makes him over priced at 125/1 for the win. But I’m not really prepared to back him in the outright as he isn’t someone I trust in contention, instead I will have a top 20 bet on the Venezuelan.

Despite him not usually being the best of putters, Bryson Dechambeau showed what he can do when his short iron game is on point at the John Deere Classic in Illinois just two months ago. The science based scholar of the game also won his U.S. Amateur in Illinois so he is obviously comfortable in that part of the country. Given Zach Johnson is a former winner here and also loves the John Deere I thought Bryson looked a little over priced here at 250/1 in a couple of places. I’m not sure whether he can trouble this leaderboard but I will have a small each way bet and a top 20 bet too.

 


KLM Open

After years of being a golf bettor’s dream, the KLM moved away from its two regular courses (Hilverschume and Kennemer) to The Dutch last year and left everyone with a bit of a headache. It turned out there needn’t have been any fuss as local favourite and event specialist Joost Luiten won the event for the 2nd time. The leaderboard also contained several with strong KLM Open records so The Dutch seemed to play much the same as the two previous courses. It wasn’t as exposed as the other two but it is described as an inland links course so that shouldn’t surprise.

The course is a short Colin Montgomerie design (6893 yards) and the emphasis last year was very much iron play with there being plenty room off the tee as most of the fairways have wide open landing areas. There is water in play on many approaches so it looks worth following those with solid GIR numbers as missing too many proved detrimental last year with Luiten ranking 2nd in GIR. Scoring was good at -19 so the putter will need to behave even if  short stick prowess isn’t the first thing you would associate with Luiten or runner-up Weisberger. They ranked 16th and 6th respectively on the greens.

The forecast this week isn’t good at all with plenty wind and rain on the way. That is usually the case at the KLM Open so event form shouldn’t be taken lightly as Luiten proved last year.

Victor Dubuisson is very much the enigmatic Frenchman but despite his troubles over the last couple of years he retains a lot of ability. Both his European Tour wins have come on another Montgomerie course at the Turkish Airlines Open. The reason he enjoys it so much is there is plenty of room off the tee and that suits Dubuisson whose talents start to shine from the fairway onwards. On his day he can drive the ball well but too often he his erratic and can find himself in trouble. With more fairways being found here he can let his approach play shine and despite a poor year that area of his game is still quite sharp, he ranks 10th in GIR over the last 3 months and he can be quite a streaky putter. However we often see him at his best on grainy links greens and he jointly holds the St Andrews course record of 62 while he also took brilliantly to Gleneagles at the 2014 Ryder Cup which plays very much as an inland links. The downside is that he is in no way certain to enjoy the bad weather that is forecast for much of the week. However when backing a class-act like Dubuisson in a poor field at a price like this, everything isn’t going to be in our favour. I’m taking the price and crossing my fingers we see the best of him this week.

Jamie Donaldson and Padraig Harrington are two who should enjoy the poor weather and links conditions but it’s proving very difficult to be able to follow either with much confidence. Both men have thrown in a couple of good performances this year but far more often they have disappointed.

I really like Ryan Fox for this test but I couldn’t believe the opening price of 22/1. He has been pushed out to a general 25/1 but that is still very skinny. Fox spent most of the summer being under rated by the bookies but it seems they have more than caught up with him now and despite another top 10 last week his price is far too short for someone who hasn’t even really properly contended in a European Tour event nevermind won one yet. He is very talented and I don’t think a win is too far away for the New Zealander but he can easily be left out here at he price. I am all over him for the Alfred Dunhill Links however and hopefully he can hold off until then and we might get 50/1 again in three week’s time.

Instead I’m going to take another speculative punt on Robert Rock who has often shown he can handle playing in bad weather. Rock has three top 5 finishes at the Irish Open in miserable weather and he also came 7th at Oosthuizen’s weather hit Open at St Andrews in 2010. Rock is one of very few in this field to have won a tournament with Tiger Woods  competing in it and that does remind you that he has a touch of class and this isn’t the deepest of fields. Rock has been playing better this summer and prior to a missed cut around Crans last week his form was promising; 10th-5th-71st-9th. That 9th was in poor weather at the Scottish Open and the venue was the Kyle Phillips designed Dundonald Links. It has huge landing areas and places the emphasis on iron play much like The Dutch will this week. He ranks 17th for GIR over the last 3 months and as others toil in the wind and rain he should enjoy the test.

 


Summary of bets

BMW

Jon Rahm – 1.5pt ew @ 14/1

Jason Day – 1pt ew @ 18/1

Daniel Berger – 1pt Top 10 @ 5/1

Jonny Vegas – 1pt Top 20 @ 7/2

Bryson Dechambeau – 0.5pt ew @ 250/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 11/2

KLM

Victor Dubuisson – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1

Robert Rock – 0.75pt ew @ 80/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 12pts

Total pts advised = 414.50pts

 

@theGreek82

Dell Technologies Championship and D+D Real Czech Masters – Betting Preview

Chris Paisley finished 3rd in Denmark for another profitable week and Kuchar should have made things even better but for a very uncharacteristic shocker of a final round. I didn’t really expect him to ever trouble Johnson and Spieth on Sunday but I was surprised that he fell completely outside of the places. I can’t complain though as that is now 8 weeks out of the last 12 with returns and getting back into profit for 2017 is now firmly in the sights. With plenty high-class golf remaining hopefully another winner or two can be found yet.

Total 2017 pts advised = 388.50pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 329.84pts

ROI = -15%


Dell Technologies Championship

Fear not the brilliant TPC Boston is still in the Fed Ex Cup rotation, there has just been another change of name with Dell taking over sponsorship from Deutsche Bank. It means we still have 10 plus years of form around the modern Massachusetts course to look at. The original layout was an Arnold Palmer design in 2003 but Gil Hanse (Castle Stewart, Rio Olympic course) has been back twice since to renovate all 18 holes.

It’s of average length as a 7216 yard Par 71 and the one thing to focus on at TPC Boston year after year is ball-striking. Every year the course is all about hitting fairways and then difficult approach shots with water surrounding many of the greens. With tree-lined, dog-legged fairways the driving lines can be quite tight and  you need to be on the right side of the fairway to get close the flags. Despite all this its lack of length means it is highly scoreable with the average winning score being -18 over the 10 Fed Ex Cup events. But while that may suggest good putters can also thrive, they often do their scoring on the Par 5s so those with the best long games will be giving themselves short tap in birdie putts by over powering the three par 5s.

As I noted last week the Fed Ex events always have classy winners and if we look at the last five winners we have Rory McIlroy (x2), Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson and Chris Kirk (still a 4-timer PGA Tour winner). This tells us we need to look again to the elite players in the field in terms of a winner although there have been some more surprise players filling the places in recent times.

From a stats point of view, strokes gained: tee to green, GIR, par 5 scoring and birdie average all look to be good angles in this week.

Given their current run of form and the fact this is a ball-striking event, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler are the four who immediately stand out. Throw in two-time course winner Rory McIlroy and you have a very powerful head of the market in Boston. But it is no easy task to decide which one to side with here this week. Dustin Johnson v Jordan Spieth ended up a bit of a coin toss down the stretch on Sunday and that is what I would expect more often than not when the world’s two best players are at the top of the leaderboard. If Matsuyama finds his best stuff from a few weeks ago then he will contend again regardless of what others do. Fowler struggled on the poa annua last week but back at TPC Boston I would expect him to flourish again. McIlroy makes a little less appeal given his recent form troubles but at 18/1 he is certainly worth consideration as he can surely be expected to find extra improvement on a course he loves.

But ultimately this week I can’t pick between them so I’m leaving them all out for a player who has shown time and time again he can mix it with the best on courses like this and after finally getting the major win he craved for so long, I think Sergio Garcia is the value in the field this week. With a lack of recent golf he is in no way guaranteed to play well but that is more than factored into the dismissive price of 55/1. Garcia got married the week after The Open and so can be forgiven his poor showing just a week later at the US PGA. He hasn’t played competitively since but make no mistake that we will see a very different Garcia over the next few years. He can now relax having won his major and the confidence gained from his Masters triumph means he is likely to add to that major tally over the next 4 or 5 years.

Sergio Garcia of Spain celebrates winning the 2017 Masters in Augusta

However beyond the general excellent value, Garcia also has a case on his course form. While he hasn’t yet won around TPC Boston his form figures read 24-4-31-26-5-17 but the most interesting angle was from comparing his career GIR and DA stats at the course with those around him in the market. Garcia has hit 74.77% of his greens around the course and 69.05% of his fairways. This is miles ahead of the market principles who can only boast the following; Dustin Johnson 70.04% GIR 64.80% DA, Jordan Spieth 65.28% GIR 66.96% DA, Hideki Matsuyama 64.81% GIR 63.10% DA, Rickie Fowler 65.48% GIR 67.09% DA, Rory McIlroy 69.91% GIR 64.29% DA. The only player who comes close to Garcia is Henrik Stenson who boasts equally impressive course clips of 74.17% GIR and 70.72% DA but he isn’t playing this week.

Basically what that tells me is that despite all the current hype about those players mentioned, we can’t afford to forget that Garcia belongs in that bracket when it comes to elite ball-striking, and he has been doing it for nearly 20 years!

He ranks 12th in strokes gained: tee to green, 10th in par 5 scoring and 15th in GIR this year so his game has been in right sort of shape for TPC Boston. The only question mark is whether he can shake off the rust but the price factors that in and Garcia looks a must bet at the disrespectful price of 55/1 (Betfred, Totesport) in what is only a 100 runner field. Anything down to 40/1 still looks a great price to be honest but hopefully the 55/1 or 50/1 with others holds firm. Unfortunately Betfred cut their 55/1 sometime this afternoon and rather pathetically went straight to 40/1. Quite a jump! He is now a best price general 40/1 and while it is quite a bit shorter I’m sticking with the bet.

I really don’t see a lot else that excites me in the outright market but at 300/1 I thought Luke List was worth a small play. He hasn’t had much of a year in truth but he has still snuck in to the top 100 to play here. List has been putting terribly for most of the year and that was the case again last week as he finished 34th on Long Island. But he ranked 4th in ball striking in a strong field and he currently sits 13th in strokes gained: tee to green and 3rd in par 5 scoring.  So at a course where putting usually takes a bit of a back seat I think List might go well at a huge price. Also adding a top 20 bet.

 


D+D Real Czech Masters

There have been three editions so far of the Czech Masters around the Albatross Course in Prague, so again we have a decent amount of course form to go on. Immediately a course where Thomas Pieters has finished 2nd and 1st the last two years tells us that power is important and if we look through the stats that is backed up to a degree but perhaps total driving is more important than just length alone as the three winners ranked 9th, 5th and 18th for the combined driving stat. However shorter hitters can still contend but they need the rest of their game to be firing on all cylinders. Paul Peterson came 2nd in the all-round ranking last year while Pieters and Donaldson were 2nd and 10th respectively when winning the first two editions.

Par 5 scoring is always important at the Albatross course and while there is more than one way to score on Par 5s, generally we associate that with length off the tee. The winning score has averaged -16 so just like in the US, birdie average will also be crucial in Prague.

Thomas Pieters is a very fair price to win again at around 8/1 but despite his suitability to the course and how poor the field is, he has missed his lat two cuts. I also tend to struggle to get the single figure odds favourites right so instead I have opted for two each way bets where just a place will pay out at better odds than a Pieters win.

I tipped Callum Shinkwin in this last year for his long, accurate tee-to green game but he didn’t fare too well. I’m not prepared to give up on him here though especially when we consider how much worse this field is compared to the one he so almost beat at the Scottish Open when he took a one shot lead down the last hole. It wasn’t to be as his short game unravelled a little but he didn’t do a great deal wrong losing to a surging Rafa Cabrera-Bello. A missed cut at Royal Birkdale followed but we can dismiss that and expect him to be all together more comfortable again at this level. Whether he can perform well enough on the greens to contend I don’t know but he will be fresher than most and high on confidence.

Dean Burmester isn’t a particularly confident pick but he has shown over the course of 2017 that he really shouldn’t be a 70/1 shot in this poor a European Tour field. The piece of form that gets him on the team this week is his 7th in Abu Dhabi in March. Jamie Donaldson is a winner there while Thomas Pieters has already finished 2nd and 4th at the course. There are several others who have gone well on both courses and the link might just be worth consideration.

Burmester ranks 7th in Par 5 scoring and hits it further than most, ranking 6th in driving distance over the last 3 months. While he is by no means as good a putter as Pieters he does fit a reasonably similar profile and he knows how to win having picked up the co-sanctioned Tshwane Open in March. That was on a winning score of -18 so he also knows how to go low when conditions suit. He played here last year and finished 35th so he should be looking to go well on his 2nd look at the course.

 


Summary of Bets

Dell Technologies Championship

Sergio Garcia – 1.5pts ew @ 40/1

Luke List – 0.5pt ew @ 300/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 9/1

Czech Masters

Callum Shinkwin – 1pt ew @ 50/1

Dean Burmester – 0.5pt ew @ 70/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 8pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 396.50pts

@theGreek82

The Northern Trust and Made in Denmark – Betting Preview

Fairly miserable week last week made all the worse by Johan Carlsson making the semi-finals of the Match Play. He was the first name on my short list last week but left him out due to being in a very strong quarter of the draw. In hindsight it was a stupid move and his strong showing again together with Anthony Wall’s impressive defence highlighted how important event form is even after just three editions.

Total pts advised = 380.5

Total 2017 pts returned = 300.96pts

ROI = -20%


The Northern Trust

The Fed Ex Cup Play-offs kick off this week with a new course to the PGA Tour. As is now customary the first event takes place in the greater New York area but Barclays have been replaced as the sponsor by Northern Trust. The course which the top 125 players head to this week is Glen Oaks Golf Club on Long Island.

It is a long Par 70 playing to some 7350 yards and while it hasn’t been used yet on Tour there are a couple of pointers we can take. It was renovated in 2012 by Craig Currier who was responsible for the works carried out at Bethpage Black prior to it staging the 2002 US Open. Bethpage held this tournament last year and both are in the NY area so form from last year and when BPB hosted in 2012 could be important.

They also both have poa annua greens which is a surface that always divides opinion. Some players thrive on the surface while others hate it. Glen Oaks is also said to have gone against the recent tide of new courses to the PGA rotation. We have seen Chambers Bay, Erin Hills, Pinehurst No. 2 and Whistling Straits all welcome majors in recent times due to their rugged use of natural terrain however Glen Oaks is very much the opposite. It is a lush green course with perfectly manufactured lines in the fairways, greens and bunkers. It is said to be similar visually to Augusta so form there could well be of interest and also Riviera which always ties in nicely with Augusta but it also has poa annua greens so form there could be key.

If we look at the list of winners at all the Fed Ex Play-off events since it began in 2007 we notice a pattern of very classy winners.

Of the 40 tournaments to date, 24 of those have been won by major winners and 36 of those by players who have played on either Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup teams. Of the 40 tournaments the only one which was won by a Tour maiden was Camillo Villegas’ 2008 BMW Championship.  While it makes sense that only world-class golfers would win the latter events where only 30/75 players are competing, the fact they have also dominated the first event tells us that the cream always rises and the weaker players in the field struggle as the better players start taking things more seriously.

With nothing else much to go on those look to be the pointers this week; form on poa annua greens, form in the NY area (specifically Bethpage is a bonus), form at Augusta/Rivera and already an accomplished winner on Tour.

Matt Kuchar is so often a player that has gone off too short a price over the last 5/6 years since he took his seat at the big boys table on the PGA Tour. This is nearly always due to the high chance of him playing well and placing rather than his chance of actually getting over the line and winning. This may sound a little unfair about a man with 7 PGA Tour titles, especially as it is almost knocking his consistency, but there is no question a player of his talents should have won more tournaments in recent times.

kuchar-630x420

A different Kuchar was witnessed at Royal Birkdale though as he pushed on to go toe to toe with Jordan Spieth during the final round. He didn’t wilt under the pressure or settle for 2nd place and it took Spieth’s best over the closing holes to beat him. All this makes me think he looks a little over priced here at 40/1. Kuchar hasn’t missed a cut since March, he has finished inside the top 16 in all 4 majors and inside the top 30 in all three WGC tournaments this year. He also has a very solid record in the New York area with two of his early wins having come at Atunyote Golf Club and Ridgewood Country Club. Ridgewood also has poa annua greens and is visually quite similar to Glen Oaks while Kuchar also has an impressive Augusta record with four top 8 finishes.

There have already been nine multiple winners of Fed Ex Play-off tournaments and I think Kuchar is a fair price to become the 10th with very few players in the field arriving in better form. Even if the 40/1 disappears I would suggest 33/1 is still a fair price.

Lucas Glover won the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black and he has shown enough glimpses of form in 2017 to suggest he can go well this week in similar conditions. He fits the classy profile of Fed Ex Cup winners and so looks a little over priced here at 125/1. He ranks 16th in strokes gained: off the tee which should help him on a 7350 yard par 70 layout. No more reasoning than that. Small each way bet at 150/1 and a top 20 bet at 8/1.

I was absolutely gutted to miss out on Jimmy Walker winning on the poa annua greens of Baltusrol at last year’s US PGA given how much I focussed on the putting surfaces and the fact he is known as the “prince of poa”. With his fatigue related illness at the moment it is proving hard for him to be competitive over four rounds but he showed glimpses at Firestone where he opened 68-65 to lead at half way. Despite his struggles his odds of 270 on Betfair look far too big so I’m advising 0.5pts win in the hope that he starts well. I’m also having 0.5pt ew at 125/1 in the first round leader market. Baltusrol is also a par 70 in the New York area and a return might see him find some extra energy levels this week.

 


Made in Denmark

This will be the 4th running of the MID at Himmerland Resort so we have a little bit of form to go on. The one thing that jumps out at me is how all the winners and leaderboard regulars are very strong putters. Not only in reputation but on the stats too and all three currently rank inside the top 27 for putts per round on Tour. Thomas Pieters won last year, ranking 3rd for putting and we know how good he can be on the greens. 2015 winner David Horsey regularly makes the top 20 in season putting stats and  2014 saw the silky putting stroke of Marc Warren triumph.

That evidence was enough for me to only consider very good putters this week but I have also given some consideration to a couple of courses that correlate well through the winners. Last year I mentioned how Doha Golf Club, Gleneagles, Crans, Tsleevo and Royal Golf Dar Es Salam all tied together with form here so I have had a look through recent leader boards at those events but didn’t really find anything too exciting from a betting angle.

Chris Paisley currently ranks 2nd for 2017 in putts per round and while he provided some returns for the blog earlier in the season, his game deserted him a little through the summer. But he looked to be playing well again last week as Alejandro Canizares needed extra holes to beat him in the quarter finals. He has played at the course twice before and finished 34th and 35th but that doesn’t tell the whole story as he shot a final round 78 in 2015 to fall away having been in contention after three rounds in the 60s. With putting looking crucial I think he can out play his odds given he arrives in decent form.

Johan Carlsson putted very well last week from the limited coverage that was available. He takes his time over them for sure but he seemed to roll in more 15-20 footers than he missed and while there is no doubt the stroke-play format suits his error strewn, aggressive game, he is a little bit of the Thomas Pieters mould in that respect and he won here last year. Across his 6 matches last week I make him around 31 under par and he made 4 eagles on Sunday alone. With confidence high he could be a little over priced here at 80/1 despite missing both his cuts here to date.

Other strong putters like Lagergren, Bertasio and Scrivener were all considered but none of those three have shown enough recently to suggest that they can contend here. Paul Dunne makes some appeal and should go well but he looks short enough at a general 25/1. Thomas Detry could easily have been included again this week having shown up well at the match play but again he hasn’t really done enough yet in the game to be odds of 40/1 in this sort of field.


Summary of Bets

The Northern Trust

Matt Kuchar – 1.5pt ew @ 40/1

Lucas Glover – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 8/1

Jimmy Walker – 0.5pts win @ 270.0 and 0.5pt ew @ 125/1 first round leader

Made in Denmark

Chris Paisley – 0.75 pt ew @ 150/1

Johan Carlsson – 0.5pt ew @80/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 9pts

2017 pts advised =389.5pts

@theGreek82

Wyndham Championship and Paul Lawrie Match Play – Betting Preview

As Matsuyama shot up the leaderboard on Friday with a brilliant 64 to tie the lead I was starting to think maybe I knew what I was doing again and stupidly expected the Japanese star to push on and win comfortably. Unfortunately though his long game unravelled over the weekend and that allowed Thomas to catch up and win with an impressive, albeit a little lucky, back 9. I’m not sure how much of Matsuyama’s play could be attributed to nerves but considering he wasn’t playing well at all he actually did quite well to hang around and only play the weekend in +2. While he has many major top 10s already in his young career this was the first time where he found himself favourite heading into both the 3rd and final rounds. I’d expect him to be all the better for the experience in the same way that Thomas, and many others before him, said he had learned a lot from his U.S. Open final round 75 in June.

James Hahn managed to oblige with a Top 20 for us but annoyingly Tony Finau had a final round shocker after sitting in the Top 20 for the bulk of the tournament. It returned just 6.6 pts which leaves the results as follows.

Total 2017 pts advised = 374.5pts

Total 2017 pts returned = 300.96pts

ROI = – 19.6%

I was going to sit this week out again but then I noticed it was the Wyndham which is usually a good horses for courses type event with a lot of form to go on. The Paul Lawrie Match Play didn’t look that exciting but it takes place at Bad Griesbach in Germany which has hosted a few tournaments already so there may be an angle in. The preview will be relatively short but hopefully still some bets.


Wyndham Championship

The Wyndham Championship takes place at its usual host course, Sedgefield Country Club and there is very much an established type of player that goes well here which often makes it a very good betting heat. The out of sorts Henrik Stenson is here chasing his quota of PGA Tour starts and his presence has thrown up a lot of very fair prices across the board.

Sedgefield is a fairly average length Par 70 designed by Donald Ross and repeatedly the same sort of attributes are required to go well. It is a tree-lined course with wide enough fairways but the bermuda greens are small so the more accurate drivers who can find the appropriate parts of the fairway tend to enjoy the lay-out as they give themselves the best chance of hitting the green. The last 5 winners have averaged 16th for driving accuracy while they have averaged 32nd for driving distance. The small bermuda greens generally slope from back to front as per the Donald Ross template but they also have lots of undulations and can be difficult to hold. The test around Ross’s courses is very much accuracy and that is the main attribute to consider this week. The greens are bermuda grass as per last week and we saw how uncomfortable many of the players were on the surface. The ball tends to break heavily at the death on bermuda and this can make the combination of pace and line difficult to deal with. Any picks should have shown a liking for bermuda greens in the past.

Form on Donald Ross courses also tends to stack up very well with Sedgefield correlating nicely with East Lake (Tour Championship), Oak Hill (2013 US PGA), Aronomink (2010 & 2011 AT & T National) and Pinehurst No. 2 (2014 US Open). There are lots of players who enjoy the test his layouts present and therefore have strong banks of form on several of these courses.

I really like Keegan Bradley for this as he should be suited to Sedgefield but yet he only played it for the first time last year when he finished 46th. Bradley currently sits in 5th position for Par 4 scoring and that combined with this 4th place finish at Pinehurst in 2014 are the two main points of interest for me but he also won his US PGA on bermuda greens in 2011. Despite struggling the last few years it really is just his putting that is letting him down since the anchoring ban. He has made his last six cuts, returning two top 10s in that time and I’m confident he can take advantage of the lack of depth this week. Bradley ranked 12th for total accuracy last week in the PGA and with other snippets of Donald Ross and bermuda form I expect a strong showing.

Trey Mullinax was one of the many players to congratulate Justin Thomas on twitter after his US PGA win but he is probably closer to the man who lifted the Wanamaker Trophy than most. Mullinax went to the University of Alabama with Thomas and played on the golf team with him for two years. It’s perfectly plausible that Mullinax gives himself a kick up the arse this week when he thinks of how well his mate is doing. However I’m not going to put him up on that alone, more so that he is a very talented golfer!

Mullinax currently ranks 11th in par 4 scoring and he finished 9th at the U.S. Open at Erin Hills, which was actually his first PGA Tour top 10. But it is some of his solid Web.com Tour form that interests me this week. His win came at the Rex Hospital Open last year some 80 miles to the east of Sedgefield at TPC Wakefield Plantation. Another of his best results in the second tier was when he was 4th behind Si Woo Kim at the Ellie Mae Classic in 2015. Kim would go on to win the Wyndham last year and with all these factors combined I think Mullinax is worth a play at a sporting 150/1. I’m also having a top 20 bet on him as I only have the 2 outright picks this week.

I wanted to back both Bill Haas and Jason Dufner here but neither of them have been quite at their best over the last 2 months so I’m reluctantly leaving them both out.

 


Paul Lawrie Match Play

Paul Lawrie takes his match play event outside the UK for the first time as the Bad Griesbach Resort in Germany hosts the 3rd edition of a tournament that has failed to capture the imagination of most golf fans so far. What it does do though is give the 2nd tier of European Tour players some valuable match play experience and while some criticise the need for it at all, it does at least stick to a simple knock-out draw which makes for a nice change from all the bracket nonsense we see at the WGC match play event. (I think, nobody really has a clue!!)

The Bad Griesbach course has hosted the 2015 and 2016 Porsche European Open as well as the Challenge Tour’s Aegean Airlines Open from 2013-2015 so while the format is different there is some course form to go on.

2016’s edition was a weather shorted one and Alex Levy powered his way to a win in three rounds on a soaking wet course. That is in direct contrast to 2015 Champion Thonghai Jaidee who has a more subtle approach to his game. Both players however have very accurate approach play when on their game and can be good putters if conditions are right, Levy thrives on slow greens whereas Jaidee is a proficient putter who excels on faster greens. This suggests that knowing the weather in advance could be important this week, at present it is a mix of rain and sun which doesn’t tell us too much.

With that said however if you can’t find fairways and greens in match play golf it can be very hard to apply any pressure so with relatively wide fairways I make accurate approach play the most important aspect here. Secondly I would say that a previous look at the course could be important as there is no chance to ease into the tournament as the straight knockout format means that all day 1 losers will be going home early. I’d also prefer to see at least some sort of match play pedigree in their careers to date.

I had a fairly big shortlist for this but annoyingly 5 of them have ended up in the same quarter of the draw. I thought Matthew Southgate, Max Kieffer, Johan Carlsson, Magnus Carlsson and Jamie Donaldson could go all go well but four of them are actually in the same 1/8th of the draw so I am leaving that minefield well alone!

Instead I have gone to the other half of the draw for my first pick and despite Robert Karlsson’s opening match against Edoardo Molinari, I think he looks a fair price at 50/1. That is a tough match but both those men have achieved more than pretty much anyone else in the field and despite Karlsson not having done much at all in recent years he makes some appeal. That was the same back in 2015 when he made the Semi-Final of the first edition of the tournament at the tricky Murcar Links course in Aberdeen. The match play format allowed him a nice change from his stroke-play struggles and I was thinking he might just have a good run again even before I saw his course form. Karlsson was 3rd at Bad Griesbach in 2016 and it’s a draw that could open up nicely for the winner of the first round match. With this format looking a bit of a lottery at this level I will just go small stakes and have 0.5pt ew @ 50/1.

I did like Richard Bland a lot for this but his price is short enough for someone yet to win on Tour and he also has a fairly tough draw that could see him face a couple of Ryder Cup players before even making the Quarter Finals. I also liked 2014 WGC Match Play finalist Victor Dubuisson but he is in the same quarter as Karlsson now and also has a tricky opener against Bradley Dredge. Marc Warren is a proven match play exponent and when fully fit he is a far better player than most of these so his odds certainly appeal. However he has missed most of the season through injury. I took a chance on him at the World Cup where he played quite well until the semi-finals when fatigue kicked in and his injury prevented him from swinging freely. Worth keeping an eye on should he appear fully fit.

In truth you could make a case for most of the 64-man field but I’ve decided to opt for a youngster in the hope that he takes to the format. Thomas Detry sits 20th on tour for total accuracy over the last three months and his best finish to date was runner-up in Germany earlier in the year at the BMW International Open. He ranked 2nd for putting that week and finished 2nd again in the flat stick ranks on his last outing. It seems like his whole game is in decent shape and he certainly has the talent to scare a few of these more exposed European Tour types. There are a few very good players in his quarter but on the whole it looks to be the weakest in terms of recent form. He looked like he was taking to the match play format in the Perth Super Sixes but eventually lost his first match at the 2nd play-off hole to eventual finalist Adam Bland. His odds of 33/1 aren’t fantastic but I’m hoping he will enjoy his return to the south-east of Germany and with the possibility of a relatively easy path should he win his first game, I think he looks worth the risk.

The draw looks a little bit too trappy to bother with a 3rd pick from the off but I will be paying close attention to who goes well in the competitive first quarter and I may add one more in play.

 

 


Summary of Bets

Wyndham Championship

Keegan Bradley – 1pt ew @ 45/1

Trey Mullinax – 0.5pt ew @ 150/1 and 1pt Top 20 @ 13/2

Paul Lawrie Match Play

Robert Karlsson – 0.5pt ew @ 50/1

Thomas Detry – 0.5pt ew @ 33/1

 

Weekly pts advised = 6pts

Total 2017 pts advised = 380.5pts

 

@theGreek82